Good guys always finish last. Especially in today’s market, where Loki dominates the Marvel Multiverse and the Lex Luthor helped take over during DC’s “Forever Evil” run. The same can be said about The Complete Silencers, the collected run of the Silencers series by Fred Van Lente and Steve Ellis.
The story follows a band of super-powered villains who serve as muscle to a crime family. In the thick of tracking down distributors of a new drug in town, the Silencers become the hunted and decide to get even. Though there are a few predictable twists and turns throughout, the conclusion of this fast-paced tale harkens back to the days of Watchmen and Transmetropolitan, where, in the end, all bets are off.
Van Lente’s storytelling offers a shoot ‘em up narrative with moments of character reflection. The reader is immediately thrown into the action, which sets the pace for the rest of the book. The one drawback is playing a little catch up on character backgrounds and often acceptance that not all the answers will be given. This is a slight and almost necessary sacrifice, as the stakes rise per turn of the page. The reader walks away an accomplice, not knowing all the answers, but in knowing true villainy never fully reveals itself, leaving some truths in the shadows.
If the end of Van Lente’s story does not bring about a sense of nostalgia, then Ellis’ artwork definitely will. From character design to cityscapes and page layout, there are nods to not only characters and drawing styles from the big two, but sister Dark Horse publications, as well. This world allows super humans to exists and work on both sides of the law, and Ellis drives that home with silhouettes of the comic book world’s most beloved good guys. There is grit in this artistry, and it informs the reader as much as the dialogue does that the world of the Silencers is not a pretty one and seldom forgiving.
This book has the potential to reach mature readers who like the edgy and high energy. But, the real treat of this book is left for the comic book aficionados. It is an ode to the works of Millar, Moore, and Warren Ellis. It is a commentary on what true evil is, as well as true heroism. Life is never as black and white as some comic books make it out to be. Sometimes, the good guys finish last, and sometimes they need to be a little bad.