Ever since Silk premiered on the Spider-scene some months ago, I’ve been of two minds about the character. While I found the idea of yet another person bitten by the same radioactive spider that gave Peter Parker the powers to become Spider-Man to be somewhat intriguing (if a bit far-fetched), she’s also a thunderingly obvious example of a character that was created–and developed–by editorial mandate. She’s also gotten so little in the way of real character development that it’s still difficult for me to commit one way or the other on how I actually feel about her.
I will say that, in the short time since her introduction, she’s developed many hurdles to overcome among fans. From a contrived and shoe-horned introduction to her consistent upstaging of the webslinger, who should have been the one showing her the ropes–and, I will argue, saving her from danger instead of vice versa–it’s been hard not to think of her as a classic Mary-Sue character, given life by the manic fever dreams of Nick Lowe and Dan Slott. Add in missed opportunities to write compelling arcs about her particular situation–namely, being socially isolated for a decade from the world at large–and it’s understandable that a sizable segment of Spider-Fans have given voice to how little they care for her.
With the first issue of her own self-titled series, Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee and Ian Herring are taking steps to correct some of those editorial and writing missteps committed during Silk’s introduction. “Spider-Verse” has mercifully ended, for now at least, affording them an opportunity to explore situations and character motivations for Cindy that make sense in light of her backstory. The result is a promising start to a story that pleasantly surprised me with its change in approach to the character.
Thompson’s writing really does help sell the character anew. Where in her debut I simply got a female, attractive new Spider-totem who developed new powers and tricks by the panel and had a habit of making both herself and Spider-Man lust uncontrollably for one another, here readers are getting a marked improvement in character development. The consent-ambiguous, spider-pheromone-induced attraction between those two is still present, but it’s notably toned down, and even cleverly made light of, making for a refreshing change in the dynamic of the character.
But that’s not the only change. Cindy Moon in Silk #1 may still be powerful, but she’s now aware that she may be out of touch with how her powers work, and to what effect that might have on her ability to fight crime. The result is someone who is more cautious and less overconfident than she was in “Spider-Verse” — which frankly makes for a more relatable and believable character to whom readers will have an easier time connecting.
There’s also decent focus on the results of her isolation in the bunker for the past decade or so, thanks to Ezekiel’s intervention shortly after the spider bite. We find that she’s dealing with several family issues, including finding out where they’ve gone and what’s become of them since she went into hiding, as well as the lingering conflict and heated words she exchanged with her mother. She’s also fairly out of touch with the rest of the world, something that’s played to decent comedic effect in several scenes as she asks if Pokemon is still “a thing,” and unwittingly gets the nickname “Analog” from a briefly-yet-brilliantly penned J. Jonah Jameson while working at the Fact Channel.
It’s nice to see these issues finally given more development than the mere lip service they received at Cindy’s introduction, but it’s even nicer to see a more complete picture of the person who might exist behind the editorially mandated creation. Silk in this story feels like a character I can actually care about and potentially root for. She’s not perfect, and it’s refreshing to actually see that having an effect on her character.
Things aren’t perfect, of course. I didn’t think using Cindy’s social awkwardness to rather smoothly hook her roommate up with a workplace crush felt like very realistic portrayal of someone who doesn’t generally relate well to people. And in setting up Black Cat as a potential foil and arch-nemesis for Cindy, Thompson is choosing to build on the way Dan Slott took a sledgehammer to Felicia’s character in the last year. I realize there’s probably no way to put the genie back in that bottle, but I can’t bring myself to get behind any further development of Felicia in that direction.
The art in this issue does a great job of supporting the story. Stacey Lee does a great job with the line work, bringing a cartoony style that emphasizes simple compositions to maximum effect. She also does a good job of drawing distinctive versions of Cindy as a teenager as well as a young woman. This all works well with Ian Herring’s colors, which take expression into account more than actual realism and help Lee’s lines capture the dynamics of Cindy’s life. The choice to use a slight fade for Cindy’s flashbacks was also a nice touch, as was Herring’s use of gradual color spectrum change in some of his panels to make for interesting backgrounds.
Overall, it adds up to deliver a comic that breathes new life into Silk and gives her a fighting chance to become a fully developed, three-dimensional character to whom fans can actually begin to relate. I won’t yet go so far as to say this issue turns everything around for the beleaguered newbie, but I think Thompson, Lee, and Herring have done a lot more for her in this one issue than any of the other creative teams have in the many other issues in which she’s appeared prior to this. This issue is worth reading for anyone, but especially so for anyone who hasn’t yet been impressed with Silk. It gives me hope that we can get a character worthy of the editorial mandate that spawned her, instead of a character whose only reason for existing is an editorial mandate.
Written from a more personal viewpoint and delving into Cindy's character, Silk #1 shows readers what the character has the potential to be. Distinctive artwork and telling glimpses into her past give a much more compelling look at Silk than readers have yet gotten, making for a promising new lease on life for her.