You’re probably asking yourself, “Who is the Silencer?” The simple answer? She’s a total badass.
I have a confession… After reading Damage, I was quite underwhelmed. Yes, the book has incredible art thanks to Tony Daniel, but nothing happened. I walked away from the issue feeling as though it didn’t really establish itself. I’ll pick up the next issue because I’m genuinely curious about the book, but there was hardly any plot or character development, and the most exciting element of the book was the tease of the Suicide Squad. I couldn’t figure out why DC chose to lead with that title as the debut of The New Age of Heroes, because I assumed they’d want to put their best foot forward. That notion, unfortunately, caused me to then move from excitement to uncertainty with this title. Would The Silencer be lackluster as well? Quite the contrary.
As far as the plot is concerned, the solicitation covers this issue quite well. This is very much an example of “what you see is what you get.” The first page automatically creates a bit of intrigue as we meet our title character in a diner, where she blames someone for her current situation, then shoots them. Before we can get any additional details, the story goes back in time one week, where we see the other side of the Silencer – the human, perhaps even domesticated side of her.
So who is the Silencer? Her name is Honor Guest, and she’s a former assassin who operated with Leviathan under Talia al Ghul. Now retired, Honor is doing everything in her ability to live a normal life. That includes grocery shopping and planning coloring dates with her “Jellybean” (her child). Abnett and Romita do a great job in presenting your everyday family. From the script to Romita’s expert storytelling through art, Honor and her family come across as the idea of a traditional family, perhaps your own neighbors. In every sense of the definition, the family appears normal… Until Talia shows up and turns Honor’s world upside down.
I’ll admit the issue does start a bit slow and takes a little while before it finds its direction. When you’re introducing a new character, their history, and their current world though, that is expected. This is clearly going to be an action-heavy series, but characterization also appears to be just as important. The action scenes in this issue serve as a wonderful tease, and I can’t wait to see the creative team explore Honor’s abilities further. I do have some questions concerning the believability of certain scenes, but it’s only a minor gripe for now. In the end, the plot and depth of the characters solidify The Silencer with a solid debut that I’m looking to exploring further.
John Romita Jr. delivers the cover for this issue, and I can’t imagine a better concept for the cover. You have Honor, front and center, looking like a total badass. When you have a new book, you want to establish who it’s about immediately, and this cover does just that. She looks intense, dangerous, and like she’s ready to put a cap in some people. I’d call that a success.
As I stated above, I’m not the biggest fan of the technicality of Romita’s art. I tend to find a cartoony element to the appearance of his characters, and I prefer more realism in my art – or at least a distinct stylization that is artistic. That’s just a minor qualm on my part though. After reviewing Romita’s work on Suicide Squad (aka: examine it critically), I started noticing how incredible he is at telling a story. There are so many subtleties to his work: from the way a character stands or moves, to the scenery around their character, where he chooses to put as the focus of a panel, and even minor details like the texture of the carpet or the condensation from the lid of a pot that’s dripped onto the stove… The guy is one hell of a storyteller! No matter what preferences I may or may not have towards the technicality of an artists pencils, I’ll easily choose a great storyteller over beautiful art.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Characters. One of the things that surprised me the most about The Silencer, is how relatable the characters are! That’s not something you’d expect from a book about one of the most dangerous assassins in the DC Universe. But strangely, these characters feel like friends. I get the sense that I know these characters even though I’m just meeting them. Having spent years in customer service, the mundane conversation between the grocery clerk and Honor felt natural and actually excited me… because it felt real. The interaction with Honor and her son, as well as with her husband, and even Talia al Ghul was human. Hell, Talia al Ghul felt very human! And not in an out-of-character sort of way! It’s great writing, with a strong attention to detail.
The Plot. The plot is simple enough, but does raise some questions. Honor Guest is a former assassin known as the Silencer, who worked under Talia al Ghul. She’s left that life behind, but now that life is coming for her. It’s been done a million times, so it could easily come across as tired. I think the difference here is the characters and the ties that these characters have to the greater DC Universe. Beyond that, there’s a bit of mystery. Talia’s presence in this issue is strictly to warn Honor that a sect of Leviathan had broken away from her, and was coming for Honor… Unfortunately, as much as I want to believe Talia, I have some suspicions that she might want the Silencer back in her arsenal, and has set up a coup to force Honor’s hand. Only time will tell!
Abilities. As it turns out, Honor is a metahuman. Her abilities are that she can create a ranging field that eliminates all sound – hence, her codename. I’ve avoided the teases DC has been publishing at the end of each issue for The New Age of Heroes each week, because I want to go into each issue to experience the full issue at once. The discovery of her abilities not only surprised me, but also intrigued me. There’s a lot that can be done with this power, and I can’t remember another hero or villain having this ability, so kudos. And here I thought she was called the Silencer just because she kept people from talking…
The First Page. Abnett and Romita do something really well here. They get your attention on the first page. Despite the drama of the scene (I’ll get to that later), I do want to point one thing out. Honor is clearly operating as the Silencer again, and she has her son… with the father nowhere to be found. That automatically makes me think two things. Either her husband is killed during the week, or he’s the person he’s shooting! What do you think?
Are There No Witnesses? One quip I do have about Honor’s ability, isn’t really about her ability itself… It’s the circumstances. She gets in a fight with an opposing assassin in a grocery store parking lot, and uses her abilities to mute the sound of the altercation. I get how this would be beneficial if nobody could see you, but there would clearly be people going to and from their cars. Are we supposed to believe that nobody saw this? More importantly, do we really think nobody would involve themselves if they saw a big, burly man attacking a woman? They’re minor complaints, but they are something I thought about while reading the issue, so I felt the need to mention it.
Mother of the Year. On the opening page, Honor straight up shoots someone in a crowded diner. Talk about not giving a (insert word of your choice here)! I have to wonder if she’s always been this brash or blatant with her kills. And, while we’re on the subject, doesn’t this kind of eliminate the purpose of her abilities? Regardless of your thoughts, she does kill someone in front of her child, and that resulted in some raised eyebrows from this guy. After trying to hard to live a normal life, I assumed she’d try harder to shelter her “Jellybean” from this type of exposure.
- You’re looking for a new story that’s open to taking more risks.
- You’re looking for a book that focuses on characterization as much as it does action and plot.
- You had me at “Leviathan”/ Talia al Ghul.
Overall: The Silencer isn’t perfect, but it’s damn close. The simplification of the presentation, combined with the relatability of the characters, scores this title some major points. Abnett and Romita do an outstanding job of delivering their concept, which is already a step up from Damage. The ties to Batman and the greater DC Universe through Talia al Ghul also bring a strong element of potential to the book as well. These aspects, combined with a tight script and solid storytelling through art make this issue one that I feel most readers will enjoy if they give the book a shot! (And they should!) If there’s one hinderance here, it’s probably that the book will have limited appeal to some readers strictly because of its content. But hey, the whole point of the The New Age of Heroes is to deliver something a little different from the status quo, right?