Silent Assassin: Understanding Trauma

Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2004
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Silent Assassin: Understanding Trauma Creator(s): Brian Ferrara & Narek Gevorgian
Publishers: Terminal Press
From: USA
Price: $6.95 (US)

Well I’m certainly traumatised by the experience. This is a chilling comic that traces the story of a deformed and terribly abused child’s journey through trauma. This trauma shapes the protagonist into a hardened, random killer. I can’t say that I wasn’t warned, The beautifully painted cover features the main character pointing a gun directly at the reader. That’s a fairly unambiguous message and a good indication of what we find inside. This is a violent comic. Violent in action, there is a suicide in the first frame, a graphic sequence of a guard being beaten to death, a gut churning sodomy scene, a rapist gets shot in the groin• you get the picture. It is also violent in language, the obscenity count matches the body count.

This is not a read for the squeamish, nor was it meant to be. It is a graphic and direct exploration of the effects of intense trauma. It is not meant to be nice, it wants too shock and it wants to shock for a reason. I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience of reading Silent Assassin, but I was profoundly moved by it. In fact I continued to think about it long after I had finished reading it. So I guess it achieved its aim, it certainly packed an emotional punch that left me reeling.

Visually this comic is stunning. The choice of colour is effective and carries an overt symbolism, with a heavy leaning towards greys and blacks. The art work is stylistically contemporary and of a very high standard. It really looks very impressive. The wide range of angles used combined with the well controlled juxtaposition of close ups with mid and long range perspectives means that “Silent Assassin” has an energy to that is normally associated with an action movie. The first nine pages move at a frantic, breathless pace. We have no choice but to be rapidly drawn in to the action and then just as we start to catch up with the violent and frenetic opening we are slapped in the face with a disturbing rape.

The main character is a fascinating enigma. Most of the other characters are recognisably human but he is green and has two small dots for eyes in an otherwise blank face. Here again the use of symbolism is effective. No mouth to speak of the horrors he has had carried out on him. No way of expressing his pain, this blank mouthless face mirrors the emotional shut down that is the result of being betrayed by those who should have protected him. The sadness and pain that even these two dot - like eyes can show is moving, here is a case of less being more. The main character never speaks a word but tells the reader so much. We are allowed into his tortured mind via two dream sequences, it is not a pleasant experience.

Silent Assassin left me wanting more. Who is the little girl? Why did he •no that would be giving too much away. I have so many questions that need answering but I guess that will have to wait for the next edition. I await it with trepidation. Reading this comic is like driving past an accident, you know you shouldn’t look, you know that what you will see will not be nice but you somehow can’t help yourself, you need to look and so you do.

In a Word: Chilling.

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