By Dan Abnett, Jack Herbert & Hi-Fi
The Silencer Annual #1 acts as a good introduction to the character for readers who may not be aware of what makes her tick, making the most out of the extra pages that annuals can provide. Dan Abnett is always reliable so it’s no surprise to see another solid book from him that leans into the tropes of the spy genre very nicely. It feels like Mission Impossible but with costumed vigilantes, and the spy approach works in its favour to produce excellent results.
Some may groan at Batman acting as a guest star in yet another book, but The Silencer doesn’t feel like a cash-in. It works as a way to find reasoning for him being there and more than that, his very presence makes an impact. The book lives up to the potential matchup between the characters like The Silencer and Batman, and by putting them together in the same panels Abnett weaves an entertaining, action packed storyline. The Batman guest appearance never feels cheap or ham-fisted, and Abnett stays true to the character. His entrance alone is suitably Batman-appropriate, and it serves as to a reminder that yes, Gotham is his city, and if you’re operating there you answer to him.
It’s all-in from the get go and thanks to Abnett’s pacing, the book maintains its energy and suspense throughout. The story’s opening is framed around Honor’s husband asking her why they never visit Gotham. Given how many supervillains are present in the city, she could probably come up with a number of excuses as to why visiting Gotham is never a good idea without even being reminded of her confrontation with Batman, but it works as a good bookend.
Penciller Jack Herbert and colourist Hi-Fi work reliably together to create a suitably gothic imagery of Gotham that really comes to life. The best artists can make the city feel like a character in its own right and that is what Herbert and Hi-Fi do here, making the most out of the splash pages to really leave an impression on the audience. The care shown to Honor’s family helps make them feel more human and authentic, and combined with excellent character-centric storyline, it makes their brief moments in the storyline feel important and not tacked on.
The espionage is something that Herbert uses in the mood and the tone. It feels appropriately noir-ish, and as a result of the mood-setting happening fairly early on, Herbert can craft memorable action scenes with little difficulty, paying just as much attention to the combat as the quieter, less action packed moments, which are admittedly few and far between.
The character-centric storyline is one of the best things about The Silencer #1. It puts Honor first and foremost and Abnett understands what makes the character work, and the espionage approach continues to be a big draw to the Annual. As a standalone piece it works wonders, and should easily encourage readers to pick up this book based on the strength of the Annual alone.