You know those gifs of someone eating popcorn that you post as a response to watching something dramatically entertaining online? That’s how I felt reading this issue, because it’s ohhhh soooo good!
Whether she likes it or not, Honor Guest has been forced back into her old life as an agent of the underworld. A civil war within Leviathan has not only created devastating effects within the organization itself but has also rippled out into the underworld in general. Nothing is as it should be, and Honor isn’t the only one fighting the effects of this brawl, as Deathstroke steps into the fray to try and resolve the greater problem at hand.
Last month, we learned that Silencer and Deathstroke crossed paths during Honor’s heyday with Leviathan. In fact, their encounter occurred while Honor was working her final mission that would allow her to leave Leviathan with Talia’s approval and embark on a normal life. Her job then was to take out a man who threatened the integrity of Leviathan, and unbeknownst to Silencer, that man hired Deathstroke as protection. What resulted was a conflict full of revelations as Deathstroke’s presence delivered one hell of a reality check for Honor – a theme that carries forward into this chapter as the two cross paths again in the present day.
Their confrontation in the past was so entertaining that I knew we were in for a treat when Deathstroke showed up at the end of issue 4. This chapter picks up shortly after that moment, with Silencer in Deathstroke’s captivity. The lingering question I had coming into this issue was, “What angle is Slade working?” Does he want to kill Silencer, turn her into one of the factions in Leviathan, or use her? The answer to that question is a bit more complicated than any of those individual answers, but the scenario itself is also more complicated than we have been led to believe. What we, and Honor for that matter, think we know is far from the truth.
Yet again, Deathstroke comes in the form of a reality check as he tries to level with Silencer about the truth of the Leviathan civil war – why the war started, who’s to blame for this war, and why Honor was forced back into the fold. I have to give Dan Abnett huge props here because he delivers a damn good script! More than half of the issue features Silencer and Deathstroke in a verbal dance. The confrontation between the two is a captivating read as the two cautiously tiptoe through their current predicament trying to not only protect themselves, but also gain an understanding of each other’s truth so they can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
The lack of trust featured between these two characters is part of what makes this book so entertaining. When you’re predominately dealing with villains and assassins, you never know what or who to believe, so you take everything you read with a grain of salt, and anxiously wait for a double-cross because you know one – or twenty – are waiting in the wings. Abnett hits us with a number of twists in this chapter, as he manages to capture and explore each of the prominent characters (Silencer, Deathstroke, and Talia) perfectly. What really sells this book are the nuances of each character. Abnett has such a solid understanding and grasp of the textures and shades that separate these three assassins, and that makes the “slower” moments of this issue gripping and captivating.
There’s not much in the way of physical action here, but the dialogue is written in a way that there’s plenty of verbal conflict. When we are graced with a physical altercation though, it’s brutal and fun. We’re dealing with the best of the best as far as assassins go, so it’s nice to witness such a visceral battle. I can’t praise Viktor Bogdanovic’s art enough. The guy delivers! And it’s more than just his action. The general look and aesthetic of his art is pleasing to the eye, but he’s also an incredible storyteller. Like Abnett, Bogdanovic understands the nuances of these characters and captures them perfectly. Subtleties in characters – how they speak, how they move, what motivates them – are the elements that can take a story from good to great, and it’s something that both of these creators capture perfectly here.
I can’t talk about Bogdanovic’s art without discussing the cinematic nature of his panels here. The combination of his layouts, staging, lighting, and acting elevate Abnett’s script to unbelievable standards. You could remove Abnett’s dialogue, and you’d still be able to understand the main beats of the story – that’s how good Bogdanovic is! Across the board, this is an excellent book, and excellent run with a creative team that appears to pair perfectly with one another!
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Deathstroke. Deathstroke is perfect here! Not only is he written to be dangerous, but he’s smart and crafty. Whenever Christopher Priest decides to step away from the book, I hope they ask Abnett if he’d be interested, because not only does he capture the complexities of Slade in the way the Priest does, but he somehow manages to make the character fun without turning him into an anti-hero. Every action Deathstroke makes in this book is one for personal gain, and I don’t think he’s ever completely dishonest. He confronts Silencer and claims he doesn’t want to kill her because he needs her help to restore order to the underworld. I think there’s a lot of truth here. In fact, he has two opportunities to take out Honor and doesn’t take them. Then, at the end of the issue, we learn that Deathstroke is actually working for Gun from Leviathan and is planning to kill both Silencer and Talia – an action that would help end the unrest in Leviathan. It’s a great example of Slade and his ability to strategize and turn scenarios to his favor.
Thinking Like a Civilian. Typically, when a character co-stars in another character’s book, the title character will almost undoubtedly come out ahead. Here, the confrontation between Honor and Slade is roughly even – and I’d even lean towards the idea that Deathstroke was the “victor” in this scenario despite Honor escaping. That alone is a nice shift in the status quo, but what I really love about the Silencer/ Deathstroke altercation, is Slade calling out all of Honor’s shortcomings. He makes a point to tell her she’s thinking like a civilian instead of an assassin. He goes even further to tell her she’s handicapped because she never thought for herself, and instead, was a blunt weapon directed by Talia. He hints that this will be her downfall, and by the end of this issue, it looks as though Slade might be right. Not only that, it appears as though her downfall may actually come at his hand.
The action. As I said, the action is brief, but it’s great! The fight between Silencer and Deathstroke is entertaining because of the stakes and circumstances of the fight. Both are holding back from the kill because they each need something from the other, but the fight is still visceral none the less.
Family. One of the most surprising aspects of The Silencer is how relatable it is. A story about a former assassin getting drug back into the underworld because of a civil war within an organization of assassins doesn’t sound like something you should be able to connect with on an emotional level… But here we are, and this book features a family that is so familiar you can often see yourself or your family in them. It’s a brilliant move that hasn’t let me down yet!
Double Crosses and Revelations. This issue brought about a ton of revelations! The biggest revelation is probably the idea that Silencer actually started this civil war in Leviathan by killing Guile. Her act of freedom is actually her downfall, and the person she has to blame for this is Talia… In addition to this, we learned that Talia wasn’t actually overthrown by opposing factors, but was unanimously pushed out of Leviathan for breaking the assassin’s code. It was also Talia who drug Honor back into this world by revealing her location to Leviathan – something many of us predicted. Then there’s Deathstroke, who sets himself up as an ally to Silencer because of the share a common goal, but by the end of the issue, we learn he has no loyalty to Honor at all.
Full Circle. We finally reach the moment in the diner that started this entire run, and the timing of the reveal that Talia is, in fact, behind all of this came at the perfect time. As I mentioned above, many of us probably predicted this outcome, but I did have some questions pertaining to Honor’s husband, and I still fear that he may play a role other than her husband. I’m happy to see that he’s not the mastermind here, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t an agent of Talia’s. That’s not to say that he doesn’t love Honor, but it would definitely complicate things and force her to question everything. Regardless, with everything being revealed to Jellybean, Honor’s husband’s role will be revealed soon enough.
Jellybean. Before you get mad, I’m not saying I dislike Honor’s kid. I like the character quite a bit, and I think he adds a lot of depth to Honor as a character. What I don’t like, is that an all-out war is breaking out in front of him by the end of this issue. This isn’t even a moment that’s “bad,” it just breaks my heart because this will undoubtedly be the loss of his innocence. It’s going to be painful to witness and experience, but it is the reality of the situation. I just hope he comes out of this unharmed physically.
- You want to check out at least one book from the New Age of Heroes line.
- You like complex stories and characters.
- It’s a badass book with badass action!
Overall: I often get called out for nitpicking the books I review, but The Silencer #5 is an example of why I nitpick. When you have a creative team that diligently works through their story, fine-tunes their script, asks questions, tries to put themselves in the characters’ position, etc, you can be left with a masterclass work. That is exactly what The Silencer is under the creative powerhouse of Dan Abnett and Viktor Bogdanovic! These two creators are underrated compared to the quality work they deliver! This book is not only action-packed and exciting, but it’s relatable, emotionally gripping, and suspenseful. Not only is the plot strong, but the characters featured here are captured perfectly and there appears to be no end to this book’s potential as the book not only embraces its own identity but the DC Universe as a whole. If there’s one book I urge you to check out, this is it!