[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Jack Herbert
Letters: Tom Napolitano
It’s a quiet evening and Blake, Honor, and Ben are enjoying a relaxing domestic evening at home. So, when Blake asks why they never go to Gotham, it sends the Silencer’s memories sprinting down memory lane. Turn back the clock eight years and see the mission that introduced Honor and the Silencer to Gotham, the Batman, Blake, and the choices and influences that made the family she loves a reality.
Honor met Blake on a mission for Talia Al Ghul. He’s the guy who rents her an apartment when she arrives in Gotham. It’s a one-month minimum for the rental on the second floor, even though she only needs it for a week. Blake shows up again in the final pages to see her off and give her his card. It’s clear from the interaction in both scenes that he is interested in her from the moment they meet, but she only thinks of him as someone she would consider by the end of the story. Not a strong selling point for getting married or having kids. I thought it was a cute hint of foreshadowing that was neatly demonstrated in two short examples. Each illustrated the limited role that Blake continues to play in the current storyline.
The introduction of the Silencer on page 6 is masterful. Not only does it set up the talent of the former League Assassins offering to work for Talia, but the succeeding splash page, broken into nine vertical panels shows Silencer break down each man with violent precision. And, it introduces the Zone of Silence, which is still in place when Talia tries to thank Honor for her protection.
The Silencer moves like a parkour-ballet-gymnast across Gotham’s skyline from the bottom of page 11 to the top of page 12. Jack Herbert does a masterful job creating movement and detail that capture a rhythm and flow that would make Nightwing and both Robins proud. Hell, even Batgirl would give these moves props. Of course, she would use hand gestures.
The Silencer has a moral compass that gets her into trouble, twice. First, she ignores the explicit instructions from Talia to not get involved. There will be a punishment for that insubordination. Second, she draws the attention of Batman when she takes out a small gang terrorizing a family in a parking lot.
When a body-mod assassin ruins the moment in an attempt to kill them both, the Silencer and the Dark Knight team up to take him down. On Talia’s instruction, Honor risks her life to keep Batman alive. When she gets her hands on the assassin’s sword, it only takes two short panels for her to remove his head.
During the fight, Talia instructs Honor to protect the Batman like he was her beloved like he was family. Later, when the mission is done and Honor reports to Talia, they discuss the challenges of her mission. When Honor acknowledges her surprise at letting him live, Talia prophecies that when the Batman dies it will be by her hand.
Blake always appears like an afterthought, and this issue only reinforced that perception. It feels like a missed opportunity to introduce a connection and ground the relationship in some actual history. A few added moments would bolster the relationship and resonate for years to come.
It’s a small thing, but the body-mod assassin in this story swings a sword in one hand and a scythe in the other. I like one or the other, by both is overkill.
A good comic book annual offers a look at the past and a promise for the future. The Silencer’s first annual illuminates key moments that led to a change in Honor’s belief system and a challenge to her League of Assassin indoctrination. By opening and then ending this book in her home with Blake and their son, Honor acknowledges that her greatest lesson from Talia was the value of family. A family she chosen and built with the people she loves.