Current Reviews


Sunday Slugfest - Silent War #1

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2007
By: Keith Dallas

“Act One: The Warrior”

Writer: David Hine
Artists: Fraser Irving, Pete Pantazis (colors)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

EDITOR’S NOTE: The first issue of the Silent War limited series arrives in stores this Wednesday, January 24.

Average Rating:

Michael Deeley:
Chris Murman:
Kevin Powers:
Dave Wallace:

SPOILER WARNING: The following reviews reveal plot developments of the issue.

Michael Deeley

Son of M saw Quicksilver steal the crystals that created the Inhumans’ Terrigen Mists. They were later taken by the U.S. Government. Without these crystals, the Inhumans cannot create more of their kind. Months of petitions have gone ignored. Now Gorgon leads the first attack in the Inhumans’ war against Earth. He and his team are captured and subjected to a second dose of the Mists. Meanwhile, the Inhumans debate how to get satisfaction without risking the lives of their countrymen.

Ask yourself: What if Americans took The Black Stone of Mecca, the most sacred icon in Muslim culture, as revenge for the attacks of 9/11? Every Middle-Eastern country would unite against us in open war. Terrorist attacks around the world would skyrocket. And to an extent, they would be justified. Stealing the Black Stone would be blasphemy of the highest order. We would have committed an unforgivable crime against a culture of millions. That is the crux of Silent War. The U.S. Government is unjustly and illegally holding the most sacred relics of Inhuman culture. They literally cannot survive without them. The government is deliberately provoking a war, then using self-righteous rhetoric to justify themselves after the fact.

David Hine creates a perfect situation for a complex war between two powers. Passions on both sides have already led to unwarranted violence and cruelty. And it will surely escalate. Hine successfully captures the voice and tone of a non-human culture that considers itself superior to humans. My favorite scene is Medusa announcing Black Bolt’s wishes, as usual. But he corrects her. When the Queen doesn’t know her King’s thoughts, and when she and she alone speaks for the King, the situation is dire indeed.

The art of Fraser Irving reminded me of David Lloyd’s work, only darker. Like Lloyd, his people have dark, haunted eyes. Everything has a feeling of menace and impending doom, highly appropriate for a war story. The Inhumans are alien and powerful as they should be. Great job overall, although the art tends to look too dark. Perhaps another colorist could have added more depth, richness, and texture to the comic.

The parallels between Silent War and the “War on Terror” are obvious. Hine is challenging us to rethink our attitudes towards our enemy and maybe consider their point of view. And that’s what good comics should do.

Chris Murman:

“They do not know we are at war with them.”

“Well…they will know soon enough.”

This is what you want from a comic. Someone like me, who knows nothing of the Inhumans, Black Bolt or the Terrigen Mists, can pick this book up and still understand what’s going on.

I did not, mind you, read Son of M. I got lost trying to keep up with House of M and all the tie-in issues, just as everyone else did. I did give The 198 a try, and it turns out I was reading the wrong aftermath book to House of M.

The leader of the Inhuman army leads a small strike force to a New York production of The Tempest (nice touch, David) to send a message to the American people that their government has put them in this position of being at war. For those of you who are in the same boat as me, this war is over something seemingly simple: the Terrigen Crystals.

A quick read of Wikipedia told me that once Pietro (a.k.a. Quicksilver) stole the crystals, he managed to lose them and they were taken possession of by the United States government. Black Bolt asks the Fantastic Four for help, which he receives none of, and declares war on the nation until they are returned.

See how easy that was? Hine takes a subject I really had no interest in, nor knew any of the back stories, and managed to suck me in to the point where I will be adding this book to my list. Hell, he had me scouring the internet for nearly an hour trying to find out more.

Once the attack on the high and mighty is complete, the Fantastic Four show up to reason with Gorgon and his band of merry men. They were not ready to face such a resistance to their escape and are beaten easily. That’s when the plot really thickens. Gorgon becomes a lab rat, and the council wants fresh blood on their plate over the matter.

This creative team just keeps managing to churn out good reads, apparently. Since nobody else is interested in doing anything with the HOM story line, Marvel is apparently letting Hine and Irving go nuts. I’m not completely crazy about the art style, but I think it’s due to the coloring of the book. The Fantastic Four in particular looked off to me, but that’s just me.

You get the idea that the government is up to something sinister in their reasoning to keep the crystals, rather than to keep what they call “weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of fundamentalist terrorists.” You also get the sense that Black Bolt is tired of being silent over the mistreatment of his people. This war will be nothing close to silent in my opinion.

You should be getting the idea to go buy this book as well.

Kevin Powers:

When there’s a time of major events in comicdom whether it be hero vs. hero or the reshaping of an entire universe, both of which will change the make-up of a certain universe as we as readers know it, it is a large and difficult task to have a major event take place that doesn’t relate directly to either said major event. In other words, Silent War is miniscule in comparison to everything that is going on in both Marvel and DC. In fact, Silent War really doesn’t fit in the grand scheme of things going on and unless you are a real big Inhumans fan, it probably won’t hit your radar.

There are a great deal of titles that are starting to try and create stories that revolve around not only the current state of the world, but the way that American policies handle certain issues. Whether it be something huge like Civil War or something minor like Silent War, writers are trying to cash in on not only American feelings towards religion, war and policy, but also anti-American feelings on said issues.

I was always a fan of the original Inhumans, but over time my appreciation for them hasn’t increased nor do I feel like they have enough impact or significance in mainstream Marvel. That being said, a “War on Terror” twist has been put into a situation involving the Inhumans and their dimension. Apparently, America has a religious artifact that belongs to them, thus their motivation is blatantly stated and they have apparently started a war with America. Decent enough motivation but why effectively make terrorists out of the Inhumans?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal that turned me on about this issue. It seems a bit drab, and it’s just going to drag on and find its way to the “3 for $1” bin. The timing of a limited series like this is way off; the world (and readers) has been reeling from two of their mightiest heroes, Captain America and Iron Man, battling it out with each other and suddenly we are jumping back in time to an event that took place before Civil War? It just doesn’t work out that well for me, nor do I really want to see the Fantastic Four battle the Inhumans again. I do like the current break-up of the Fantastic Four; it opens up interesting character development between Reed and Sue, but this series seems to have just come at the wrong time.

There’s not a whole lot that is really stellar about this particular issue. The story is almost too blatant a parallel to the current state of America and the world. Also, the Inhumans and their actions (particularly) in this issue are a bit extreme even for them; thus it becomes very difficult to sympathize with them. When innocent people die, or at least those who appear to be innocent, it’s hard to sympathize with anyone’s motivations even if we may be in the wrong to begin with.

The artwork on the issue doesn’t save the title in the least bit. It’s dark, characters are drawn overly disproportionately; for example Reed Richards looks more like The Leader than he does Mr. Fantastic. There’s too much heavy shadowing featured in the art, and there are virtually no background images. When it comes to comic book art, I’m a heckler for detail, and I love to see the environments where heroes and villains battle it out; this issue gives me none of that satisfaction.

There is one scene featured in this issue that was actually fairly decent. The interrogation scenes were decent, but they too fall into the “War on Terror” category of easy cliché. There is also a scene featuring Black Bolt which describes how he feels about the events of the issue. While these scenes are fairly decent, they come much too late in the comic book and come across as too much of a blatant parallel to the War on Terror that they fail to raise this title from the depths. Unless you are a huge fan of the Inhumans, there’s really no need to pick this book up.

Dave Wallace:

Silent War picks up the dangling threads of last year’s Son of M miniseries (which itself followed on from the developments of House of M). Whilst I didn’t read Son of M, the outcome of the book was that the shamed and de-powered mutant hero Quicksilver chose to steal Terrigen Crystals from the Inhumans, which were then confiscated by the U.S. government, leading Black Bolt to declare war on America. Luckily, David Hine makes this new book as accessible as possible, offering brief descriptions of these recent events throughout the story so that even if you’re not up on current Marvel Universe continuity, there’s very little here that will trouble you. The issue opens with the Inhumans’ first attack on U.S. soil, ensuring that there’s no time wasted with unnecessary exposition, and when the Inhumans go too far with their first “warning,” the moral lines of their war begin to blur.

Hine’s greatest success is in making the conflict between the Inhumans and the U.S. government more complex and socially relevant than expected. The Inhumans are the stars of the book, and as such a lot of space is given to the exploration of the reasons behind their attack on America and the importance of the Terrigen Mists to their society. The capture and interrogation of Gorgon leads to an inspired back-and-forth about the nature of the Inhumans’ war, with the character’s dialogue reflecting the language used by many terrorist groups and his treatment reflecting the inhumane (and probably illegal) treatment of real-world terrorist suspects by George W. Bush’s administration in camps such as Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

The book’s art style isn’t particularly to my taste, combining realistic detail with some fairly cartoonish character models, but it tells the story clearly and does offer some memorable and striking visuals. The final page reveal is a great, scary image, the interrogation scene is stark and atmospheric, and the scene featuring Black Bolt (in which many elements have to be communicated completely visually) shows a strong grasp of storytelling. This issue also sees a cameo appearance from the Fantastic Four, leading to a brief action sequence in which Irving’s linework combines with Pantazis’ colouring to give us a particularly effective take on the Human Torch. There’s a lot of humanity in the characters, even when dealing with the colourfully weird and wonderful Inhumans, and that’s important to allow the readers to see the war from their point of view.

Hine’s intelligent writing allows us to sympathise with the Inhumans’ anti-American cause - if not their methods – and his depiction of a very modern style of warfare between the two peoples promises a thoughtful and intelligent miniseries with a fair amount of traditional superhero action thrown in. This should entertain those who have been enjoying the continuing fallout from House of M, and even those who are unconvinced may find themselves pleasantly surprised by Hine’s insight into the current “War on Terror.”

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