If you were as amped and excited as I was going into this issue, then you’re probably feeling my same disappointment if you read this chapter… Cause it’s a major speedbump for The Silencer.
I’m not sure what’s going on at DC at the moment, but they can’t seem to keep a good thing going! From an outside perspective, it comes off as though DC thinks of an idea, puts a lot of work into developing it, begins the actual work for said idea, then comes up with a new idea and mostly abandons ship… And it’s really frustrating!
I mean, look at the overall trajectory of Rebirth at the moment… DC “relaunched” their line for Rebirth to return characters and stories to the core aspects that made them fan favorites to begin with… And then after a year, it started to feel as though they were pulling away from those core concepts… Now that we’re roughly two years into Rebirth, I get the sense that DC is completely jumping ship from Rebirth altogether. Aside from the obvious removal of the Rebirth banner (which if I’m being honest, I wasn’t a fan of visually), the narrative of the books – thematically, structurally, and creatively – are making a sharp 180 back to the notions that made the New 52 and DCYou failures… And they’re doing so without even exploring many of the exciting aspects that were teased and promised for the Rebirth era. In fact, I feel this way so strongly, that I often find myself wishing that the writers, editors, and publishers would stop being so self-serving, because that’s honestly how it comes across. I get the sense that there’s no loyalty to these characters overall, therefore there’s no loyalty to the fans either.
I know I’m focusing on big-picture opportunities that I feel I’m experiencing from DC rather than focusing on my actual review at this moment, but I promise you, my rant is relevant. See, the problem I have with the DC universe at the moment, is the very thing that hurts The Silencer #3… DC and the people involved with this title are hastily moving on to other things, putting less attention into their current project, and it shows. You can clearly tell. The attention to detail, the care for the art, story, and characters, etc. all drop in quality. And that sucks for the readers.
Remember when DC announced the New Age of Heroes Line (which at the time was called Dark Matter)? They made a huge point to discuss how the artists are as much of a creator as the writer, and that they were the focus and reason behind doing these books. In case you’ve forgotten, I have it for you:
Then the press release for the actual titles came out and drove this point home even further considering the article is titled “Artists Take Center Stage as DC Introduces ‘The New Age of Heroes.’” I’m calling this out because for all of the projects they initially announced, the artists that are meant to make this book special, are only doing two or three issues, and moving on… While DC is saying one thing with their words, their actions are saying the complete opposite. Their actions are saying, “These books aren’t worth the investment of our best artists, they’re only worth the advertising gimmick.”
Which is how I’m starting to feel about The Silencer. For The Silencer #1 and #2, I gave high praise to Dan Abnett and John Romita. Their storytelling was off the chart, and the plot was balanced really well with strong, relatable characters. But this chapter doesn’t meet those standards.
When we left off last month, Honor came face-to-face with Remedy – a member of Leviathan that separated from Talia’s reign – to officially announce she’s done with the underworld. She wanted no part of the war developing within Leviathan, she just wanted a normal life with her family. As it turns out, that’s not an option for Honor according to Remedy. She can join his mission or die, and she made it clear she’s not joining. With that offer serving as the cliffhanger for the previous issue, I fully expected this issue to be an all-out brawl. I was excited too! Romita delivered some incredibly fun and creative fight sequences in the first two chapters, so having an issue packed full of action would really let him flex his artistic muscles! But upon opening and reading this issue… I was severely underwhelmed. The art is honestly a mess.
We jump right into the action, but Honor is fighting so many assassins, and the panels are so tight and cluttered that you can’t tell what’s actually going on half of the time. To a degree, I understand that this is the point of the scene (it’s meant to be so chaotic that the assassins don’t know where she is compared to where they’re shooting), but the reader should still be clear on what’s occurring. Each panel is just a mess of lines and objects as the silence field scatters with gunfire, shrapnel, and destroyed machine parts from the electronically modified assassins. Where’s the grace and characterization that Romita imbued into previous fights?
The real hit comes in when you realize that it isn’t just the art that feels uninspired or rushed, but the writing is quite lazy as well. At the start of this brawl, Silencer is standing at the door of a room with dozens of armed assassins aiming guns at her. And yet, somehow, none of these armed assassins – who are supposed to be the best of the best – can manage to shoot her. To make matters worse, they go on to completely decimate each other because they become confused as to Honor’s whereabouts in the room. These guys know her abilities. They know how she operates. Having them act or react in this way is nonsense, and not what I expect from trained, lethal assassins, even if they are “blind and deaf” for a moment… The scene feels more like it was pulled from a slap-stick comedy rather than a serious action comic.
Most of the issue is full of action like this, which is disappointing, but there are some moments of saving grace. Later in the fight, enough assassins are taken out that the panels aren’t so chaotic, and we get glimpses of what made the action in the first two issues so great! One instance showcases Honor silencing only her weapon so the assassins can’t hear where her shots are coming from. Then there’s a badass scene where she commandeers a tank using some tech she has. Both of these moments are perfect examples of the great storytelling we’ve come to expect, but only serve as a reminder of how poorly the initial pages are executed.
The big absence her though, is the sense of relatability. The debut of The Silencer made a point to setup Honor’s family, and establish that her husband and son define so much of who she is now. For the most part, these elements are completely lacking in this chapter. We get a few pages concerning her Jellybean, but there’s nothing emotional or character driven to relate to. In fact, what should serve as a larger, “What happened?” moment is completely glossed over. The inclusion of her family in this issue is literally there to serve as a reminder that they’re around. They probably should have kept this issue focused on the action, and saved the domestic troubles for the next issue… that John Romita won’t be drawing.
I know I’m being a bit of a pessimist, but this release let me down and I’m concerned that it’s only a sign of things to come. Viktor Bogdanovic takes over art duties with the next issue – and I love his work – but it would’ve been nice have Romita at least stick around for the first full arc…
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Honor. As a character, Honor Guest is incredible! She continues to show depth, and this issue highlights her skillset and tech even more. While most of the action didn’t work for me, seeing her intelligence and quick whit concerning her abilities is a win. The aptitude she has to not only confuse her opponents visually and auditorily but then use that similar strategy to only silence her firearm, thus hiding her whereabouts, was a lot of fun.
I equally loved her commandeering a tank to plow down her assailants and break free from the building.
Boom. The fact that the man leading the hunt for Honor is willing to send a missile to blow up a building holding not only a number of his assassins, but many of his weapons as well, is shocking. I didn’t see it coming initially, but the moment Remedy is told he’s a good soldier, I knew what was going to take place. It made for a nice “Oh $#!%” moment and becomes even when Talia comments on the financial cost it took for them to execute a strike like this. It’s these textures in the narrative that have, and will, set The Silencer apart.
Lazy storytelling. I mentioned this in the main overview, so I won’t harp on it too much here. If the books from New Age of Heroes are going to tout that they’re bringing in a masterclass of talent to spearhead these stories though, then I expect something better than lazy action sequences that are completely incompetent. The fact that Honor doesn’t take a hit right away is so unbelievable that it pulled me from the story. Then, when she does take a hit, all I kept thinking was, “Oh, now she gets hit… sure…”
I have a hard time bringing myself to say that the art for the panels of this scene are lazy because, from a technical standpoint, there’s so much included in each panel. I mean, Romita clearly spent a great deal of time drawing all of this shrapnel and destroyed, mechanical body parts… But as cool as that idea is, if the execution comes off as cluttered and confusing, then it doesn’t work. Sadly, both elements – the script and the art – fail to meet the mark.
Say what? Speaking of confusing, there were moments where the script really threw me. There’s a scene where Remedy is talking to his boss on the phone, and before hanging up, he says, “Bye, bye! Love you… Gah! Idiot!” It isn’t a crucial moment, I just couldn’t figure out its purpose. Was this meant to be funny, snarky, or is it supposed to imply there’s a relationship between these two, thus making the surprise of blowing up the facility (and Remedy) more shocking? It’s just another confusing moment on top of all of the confusing action.
Then there’s a scene where Remedy peaks out of a safe room and comments, “That… is a lot of blood.” Honor had barely been shot, so I have to assume that he’s referring to the assassins, but they’re all machines. Again, it’s another small moment that isn’t really important, but the confusing nature of it pulled me from the story because I was trying to understand what I was missing.
Domestic Troubles. There’s a very brief scene that puts the focus back on Honor’s family life, but it’s glossed over so quickly. A conflict is presented in the fact that Honor is late to pick up her son. She is never late, so the school is concerned, but when the school contacts her husband, he has no idea where she is… There is no follow-up. Yes, Honor shows up – clearly bleeding out, mind you – but there’s no interaction with her husband or concern from him. Nor does he appear to make any effort to come pick-up his kid. It’s… weird. If I were the husband/father and I got a call that my wife didn’t pick up our son from school, then I’d be concerned and do something about it. And for all I know, we might see this next month, but if that’s the case, then all of this should have been saved for next month so the fight could’ve been fleshed out, ending this chapter with the missile strike.
But, that’s not the case. And rather than go home after picking up Jellybean, where Honor has a defense system to help protect her and her family, she goes to get ice cream. Mind you, she’s still bleeding out. These moments are so brief, but I feel they completely ignore the care and relatability that was established for this family in the debut.
Deathstroke. No. Look, I’m excited by the idea of these two crossing paths, but I’d rather save it for later. I’d much rather focus on the current problem, then when the Silencer is fully back in action, have these two assassins meet. This feels like nothing more than a cheap gimmick to gain readers because DC didn’t feel confident in the character or story on its own… Plus, the only people who know that Honor is even operating as Silencer again, is the Leviathan. Even then, she’s not back, she’s just protecting herself. The set-up with Deathstroke is ultimately premature and poorly established.
- You want high-octane action!
- You’re looking for a book that portrays diversity well.
- You’ll read anything involving the Demon’s daughter, Talia al Ghul.
Overall: Abnett and Romita’s third chapter isn’t a bad one, but it is a step down in quality that will doubt leave many readers unfulfilled. Will this dip serve as a swan song for The Silencer? No, but if it doesn’t return to its standard quality, then that inconsistency of quality storytelling will.