Comic Publishers

February 6, 2018

DC Comics Reviews: The Silencer #1

The Silencer #1
Publisher: DC
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: John Romita Jr., Sandra Hope, & Dean White

The launch of DC’s “New Age of Heroes” line continues with another #1 issue, this time for Silencer, a female assassin with a special power trained by Leviathan. As an origin issue, this is much more successful than the previous entry in the series, Damage. While on the surface the concept of the retired assassin looking to lead a normal family life but getting dragged back in appears a bit tired, the execution of that basic trope is done very well in Silencer, via strong character development, a unique use of a metapower, a sense of humor, and great art.

The main protagonist is currently going by the name of Honor Guest, but the story leads the reader to believe that this is not her actual name. She is extremely dedicated to her family, consisting of her son Ben and husband Blake, and the interactions between these three characters ring very true. Honor is a doting mother but has fun goofing around with her son while shopping, indulging him while he tells stories about his action figures, and protecting him from learning about things that could traumatize him, even if those events are happening practically right under his nose. In just a few pages, we get a sense of Honor as a mother and a wife, and how desperate she is to cling to this “ordinary life” she has created for herself. The conflict comes, of course, when her old life as an assassin comes back to haunt her, and this is where some great character development for Honor occurs.

In an early scene in the book, we also see a unique power displayed by Honor – the ability to create a “cone of silence” around her, which she uses both offensively as well as to prevent her son from hearing what is happening behind him while he sits patiently in the car waiting for his mom to come back. It’s a well-crafted, very cinematic action scene, made all the better by Romita’s character designs and layout choices, accompanied by Dean White’s innovative use of washed-out colors to depict Honor’s silence bubble. The only minor problem with the entire sequence is an over-reliance on narration that distracts from the action. Abnett is a very creative writer, but still tends to over-explain things using too much narration rather than letting the art speak for itself.

In a book this dark, about an assassin mom trying to fend off constant attacks from the organization that trained her, a periodic sense of humor is a nice respite, and in this way, Abnett succeeds well. The humor is natural and mainly involves playful banter between Honor and her husband, but the scene in which this occurs happens at the perfect spot, pacing-wise, to give the reader a chance to breathe before a surprise encounter sets up the main plot of the story and leads to the next major action sequence and cliff-hanger ending.

Romita’s art is very good, especially his layouts and action scenes. His typical inconsistencies are still evident, such as the relative size of characters or their body parts changing from scene to scene, and sometimes it seems he has solely two faces in his repertoire: male and female. These are very minor quibbles, though. Combined with Sandra Hope’s detailed inking and Dean White’s spectacular colors, the art is definitely a strong point for this book.

Silencer is a very good origin issue with a compelling new character, an unexpected tie-in to the DC Universe via a surprise character cameo, an interesting story, and great art. It’s unclear exactly how this ties into DC’s Metal event (the cover has a Dark Nights: Metal tag on it), but that seems to be a common issue with these New Age of Heroes origin issues and is most likely related to Metal’s delayed publishing schedule. However, it does nothing to detract from Silencer #1, which is off to a great start for a new character.

 

Martin Thomas
martin@comicattack.net

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