Review by Ian Keogh
The Cardinal leads the Silencers, a team of super powered enforcers for the mob, and his derisive nickname stems from his days in a seminary studying for the priesthood before being coerced into his life of crime. He’s done time for the mob, and now wants out, but of course, there’s only one route out of the mob. The Cardinal thinks he’s managed to put together a convincing alternative, but before he can act on it he’s provided with a very good reason to postpone his retirement. Someone has the Silencers in their sights.
Fred Van Lente’s concept is good, the cast are interesting, he includes plenty of nice little touches, and his plot is consistently unpredictable, but The Silencers never quite gels. While Van Lente has a good plot on the boil, Steve Ellis might not have been the ideal person to draw it. His pages are extremely packed, to the point where it’s often difficult to make out exactly what’s happening, and it’s not a case of being able to pick up later. Van Lente’s plot is relatively complex, and he regularly segues between past and present, which is difficult to distinguish due to Ellis’ methods of telling the story. His design for the Cardinal is good however, resembling that of Mister X for those who remember him.
Among the nice touches about the Silencers is that they operate in a city of superheroes. These are briefly seen, often only as shadows, but Van Lente’s script plays with a fair few known characters and their accessories. Also good is the way the first plot eventually develops well away from where it seems to be headed.
The mob return in the second story, not taking too kindly to what happened in the first, and they have an old fashioned way of keeping people in line that they now apply to the Silencers. Again, the story’s good, and again the art leaves something to be desired. The book is completed by a text story, background information on characters and creators, and some of Ellis’ pages before the colour with commentary by Van Lente. An earlier collection titled Black Kiss collected the first four chapters of this graphic novel.