You’ve read The Silencer before. It’s the noir-infused tale starring a hard-boiled-whoever constantly muttering to themselves, “I’m done with that life, that’s not who I am anymore.” Are they done with that life? No. Are they the person they swore they weren’t? Definitely.
Luckily for readers, it’s John Romita Jr. and Dan Abnett in The Silencer. What could’ve been a by-the-numbers book causing the New Age of Heroes! banner to stumble out of the gate is instead a brutal and subversive take on a tired genre.
In Silencer, we meet Honor Guest (early frontrunner for Best Bad Fake Name of the year), a mom who is about to blow someone’s brains out in a North Carolina diner. We’re then taken back to a week ago, before any onomatopoeia occurs, when Honor and son are in a supermarket shopping for food and a last-minute addition of pencils.
While shopping, Honor muses on this lowkey life of hers, thinking, “People say ‘ordinary’ like it’s a bad thing. Like a quiet, steady life is this awful fate. Like finding peace is an unforgivable sin.” Sorry, Honor. If our introduction to you is death during breakfast, I’m hard-pressed to believe you’ll find any semblance peace of without an unfortunate amount of immediate sinning.
While packing groceries into the back of her car, Honor is visited by a mountain of a man (err, “bio-modded combat chasses) with the comic-bookiest of names, Killbox, an old associate of hers trying to bring her back into the fold of her aforementioned previous life.
Honor’s slight build looks to be thoroughly outmatched until she weaponizes pencils just bought for her son, sinking them into Killbox’s body, eventually methodically dismantling the goon, our first intro to Honor’s Particular Set of Skills™.
This action sequence is a stunning work of art from the veteran Romita Jr., clearly, an artist for which a prime never peaks or valleys. You can literally see each line of detail Romita Jr. adds to the tech entombing the character, adding depth, weight, and nuance to what essentially amounts to just a background player in the series. No line is wasted in Romita’s angular world.
Aside from the art, Abnett writes an interesting Honor. The thing with these New Age of Heroes series is that the character, not just the hook, has to be intriguing, and Abnett does so with this murderous mom. Honor’s story unravels at a steady pace, evolving from Smiling Mini Van Mom to Bloody Pencil Pusher back to a woman just wanting a sense of normalcy in her new life. Humor’s new life with a ‘normal’ civilian husband is a wrinkle I hope Abnett explores; much like any comic couple, I think there’s a lot of drama to mine there to give us a break from the action.
Aside from violence and family, a Gotham villain makes a surprise cameo in the book, reminding us of this shared universe and intriguing possibilities for this book going forward.
This is just issue #1, and an entertaining one at that. Although the story beats may feel familiar, Abnett and Romita Jr. have provided enough intrigue with Honor to look forward to an issue #2.
The Silencer #1
Written by Dan Abnett and John Romita, Jr.
Art by John Romita, Jr., Sandra Hope, and Dean White
Lettering by Tom Napolitano