As Fred Van Lente Day draws to a close for this year, after you have put out all the ceremonial Van Lente candles and cleared up all the wrapping paper from the presents, I will now explain to you why Silencers: Black Kiss, a comic from Moonstone Press, written by Fred Van Lente, and illustrated by Steve Ellis (colors by Dae Lim Yoo).
The basic concept of The Silencers is one that is familar to a lot of us out there. A group of superpowered criminals working for the mob are double-crossed, sending them off on an attempt to gain revenge against the mob boss who betrayed them, and ruined the leader of the team’s (The Cardinal) last chance to have a “normal” life.
So yeah, the concept, while good, is not exactly earthshaking stuff. Nor are the characters astonishingly original. Basically cliched supervillain stuff. No, the hook in The Silencers is how Van Lente writes these characters. The way he handles it all is what makes this such an enjoyable comic to read.
The Silencers exist in, basically, the “Comic Book Universe,” so Spider-Man and Superman are IN the book, just in the shadows. And Van Lente makes sure we realize that these characters are NOT designed to combat, like, the Justice League. They are far too down and dirty for that.
The obligatory “betrayal” scenes were handled very well, I thought. Van Lente gives us only glimpses into these characters (except Cardinal, who we get a lot of depth behind), but by the end of the book, all of these glimpses work out to give us pretty well-developed folks.
Steve Ellis’ art works quite well, and Yoo’s colors are good.
Van Lente’s story, though, really carries the day, as he infuses the book with enough charm to carry it past any problems anyone has with the plot. He does so by rooting the book in the “Superhero Universe,” but quietly undermining the tenets of said universe. The Silencers may stop an alien invasion, but they don’t give a rat’s ass abou that – they just want revenge.
There is also a bonus story in the trade, which explores the powers of the Silencer called Hairtrigger. He can see all possible futures, and then plan ahead for a fight. It was a neat trick by Van Lente showing us HOW he uses his powers in a fight. There is also a really funny bit, as Hairtrigger can also see UNLIKELY futures, so seeing the unlikely future is amusing (the bad guys deciding not to shoot him, and instead invite him in for a beer…hehe).
The Silencers: Black Kiss is a charming, fun, action-packed work, and it is great to see how Fred Van Lente can show us two totally different sides of himself as a writer, from Action Philosophers to Silencers.
Let us sing the closing carol of Fred Van Lente Day now:
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Chagrin Falls.
Come and behold Him, born the King of Tranquility;
O come, let us call for Him,
O come, let us ask for Him,
O come, let us send for Him,
Fred Van Lente.