If the Comics Code had existed from the very beginning of the funny-book industry, we probably never would have seen the likes of MLJ’s Hangman.
The brother of a deceased super-hero – Jack Cole’s Comet, to be exact – The Hangman struck fear into the hearts of evildoers by projecting the menacing image of a noose on a nearby wall before pounding the $h!t out of the unfortunate soul who crossed the vigilante’s path.
The Hangman also was a strong proponent of the death penalty, to the point of carrying out such sentences himself when he deemed fit. As a result, the hero’s rogues gallery – which did include its share of colorfully murderous misfits – was rather sparse. Few villains made return engagements.
But if The Hangman was far from your garden-variety wholesome super-guy, the antagonist in the following story was far worse than any generic gangster. Can you imagine any story under the Comics Code that featured an unscrupulous minister as a villain? Kind of goes against the whole “no disrespect for authority” bit.
Ironically MLJ Comics eventually morphed into Archie Comics, one of the strongest supporters of the Comics Code. The publisher would adhere to the provisions until 2011, long after most comic book companies had either ignored or outright abandoned the Comics Code Authority.
From Pep Comics # 26 (MLJ Comics, April 1942), here’s “”The Menacing Missionary.” The Grand Comics Database guesses the story was written by Bill Woolfolk and drawn by Paul Reinman.