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The Silencers #1 By Matt Martin
Moonstone Books – Fred Van Lente (w); Steve Ellis (a)
Moonstone Books is known primarily (at least to me) as a company that produces overpriced, but entertaining, black-and-white noir comics. Those same comics are produced by a variety of creative teams, some well-known and others less so. For the most part, it appears that the Moonstone Noir line is a series of one-shots, at best a range of “pilot episodes,” if you will, testing the waters for possible ongoings. As such, the closest thing Moonstone has to a regular series is the fact that they’ve produced a relatively large amount of comics based on The Phantom (as well as some White Wolf Games licensed material) in a short amount of time. That is, until now.
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The Silencers, as I recall, was billed as being something akin to The Sopranos, only in comic book form and with superpowers. Having read it, I can without hesitation say that the similarity between the two works begin and end with the fact that both their titles are plural s-words. That and their revolving around crime.
That is not to say, however, that The Silencers isn’t a good book, because it is. I just thought the promotional high concept was particularly inaccurate (and maybe it’s just my memory that’s inaccurate, in which case I’m way off base here).
Fiore Carlino, better known to the underworld that he serves and the law that he avoids as the Cardinal, leads a team of super-powered enforcers for the New York area’s most notorious and powerful crime family, the Provenzanos. It is a job that he is brutally effective at; however, it is not one that he particularly enjoys, nor is it something that he wants to continue. To that end, amidst a burgeoning turf war between the Provenzanos and a cartel of shadowy drug pushers known only as the Syndicate, the Cardinal enacts a plan to fake his own death, in effect allowing him to retire from his criminal lifestyle safe from reprisals from his former employers. However, as they say, just when Carlino thinks he’s out, they pull him back in.
The story itself is quite compelling. It reads like the reverse version of Powers, focusing not only on a world populated by non-DC/Marvel superheroes, but also on the criminal underbelly of that world. Van Lente spends a considerable portion of the issue in flashback sequences, showing the Cardinal’s time in prison and giving us a logical reason for why he would want to escape his violent lifestyle. Also to his credit, Van Lente rips out a sudden, violent ending that leaves the fate of nearly the entire team in question and gives the book’s readers more than ample reason to come back in a few months for the second issue.
In the end, there’s very little for me to complain about. While I find it hard to believe that actual Mafioso use the word “whacked” nearly as often as Van Lente’s do, the dialogue is, overall, quite solid. In fact, I’m not certain that the word is even used that often throughout the issue, it’s just that it’s such a hallmark of bad mobster movies that it stuck out to me in what was otherwise an exemplary effort. All in all, The Silencers is a solid beginning for Moonstone’s newfound ongoing line-up. Best of all, it’s much more reasonably priced than most of the company’s previous books.