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Story Time Mike Oliveri Review by
Mike Oliveri
City of SilenceCITY OF SILENCE - 2000
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Gary Erskine
Image Comics

"Yer crazy, Mike! That ain't horror! That's science fiction!" someone shouts from the peanut gallery.

Well, they're wrong. It may be set in the future, but it's definitely horror.

Now let's talk about why.

CITY OF SILENCE takes place in an indefinite future, where information and ideas have run rampant through society. As a result, a special police force known as the Silencers has been created to make sure those ideas don't get too extreme. In simplest terms, they're the censors.

And if they censor you, that means you're a dead man. Imagine a place where knowledge can kill you. A place where if you spread controversial ideas, you'll have your skull smashed to bits and your brains strewn about the pavement. You have to be careful what you write, for fear you'll piss off the wrong people. You have to be careful what you read, for fear you'll piss off the wrong people.

Englishman Warren Ellis (TRANSMETROPLITAN, STRANGE KISS) and Irishman Garth Ennis (PREACHER, HELLBLAZER) are perhaps two of the comic writers best known for their extreme, pull-no-punches style of violent action. Whereas Ennis typically has a darkly humorous slant to his work, however, Ellis is balls-out gruesome. His villains are vile and despicable, and his heroes are sometimes even worse.

Which brings me to the particular heroes of this book: three Silencers, a man and two women, who are a trio of the most brutal bastards you would ever care to meet. Whether using guns, knives, or their bare hands, their victims die a nasty death. They have penchants for torture, booze, drugs, and violent sex. They love their job and they do it well.

They're the kind of characters that readers love to hate, and can't quite help but root for the "bad guys." The bad guys in this case are fighting the establishment, trying to exercise the long lost Freedom of Speech that in today's world is often taken for granted (which is perhaps one of the whole points of the series?).

It's here that I should say this is my only gripe about the book: sure, they're interesting
characters, but their entire purpose just goes against the grain of what the majority of readers will be feeling. It doesn't really harm my overall enjoyment of the book, but leave it to Ellis to go against the grain and present some real bastards as the protagonists.

Back to the good, I'm a big fan of Ellis's wild imagination. Yeah, I hate what the Silencers get up to, but it's damn fun watching them do it. In issue two alone, they start their day by beating information out of a man on the street. They then threaten a group of lesbians for their next lead, which leads to a car chase with a pornographer. The pornographer is instead apprehended from some deviant pseudo-cops who torture him. Far be it from the Silencers to give up a victim, they wipe out the other guys and steel the pornographer back. After leaving him with some bizarre radioactive (and also quite brutal) nurses, they pick up a monk that was a customer of the pornographers. After torturing him to death, they level the monastery until finally getting that last bit of information that will lead them to their ultimate target in the final issue, the man known as Metalghost.

The miniseries is a Hell of a ride of you can stomach it, and Gary Erskine's (DECAPITATOR, ZOMBIE WORLD) artwork is well-suited to Ellis's hyper-violent writing in this particular series. He almost gleelfully depicts every bit of blood and fire, and packs a fair amount of background detail into every panel. There are a few panels that are skewed, however, as if the originals were too wide or too narrow and were stretched/ condensed without proportionally altering the height. As a result, the characters sometimes appear distorted. I have yet to determine if this is Erskine's style or if this was indeed a printing error or problem.

I give CITY OF SILENCE three rabid fanboys.

Review copyright 2001 by E.C.McMullen Jr.



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