To say it’s been quite a ride, development-wise, for Cindy Moon is something of an understatement. She’s gone from sexed-up, Mary Sue, Spider-Man girlfriend-in-waiting in her introduction to a brash, yet more than slightly inept supernoob in “Spider-Verse.” Since then, she’s gotten her own title, and has moved beyond those tropes to become a solidly grounded, self-taught superhero whose struggles and personality are much more relatable than they were during her debut.
That’s due in no small part to the efforts of a creative team that has done everything in its power to keep Cindy’s world relatively small, self-contained, and free from outside (read: editorial) meddling. By downplaying the necessity of having her connected so closely to Spider-Man and giving her the time and space to grow on her own, they’ve crafted a book that has notably defied initial expectations and shown that there is plenty of potential to make this character interesting, believable, and appealing to potential readers.
Which is why it’s completely believable that, three issues into her solo series, Silk has yet to have a big, momentous superhero experience. It’s mostly been a series of small, significant steps towards self-reliance and self-reflection, as she learns the ropes of superhero-ing on her own, often to painful effect, and tries to piece together where her family might be. Sure there’s been the occasional drop-in by Spider-Man–including one in this issue–and the very significant emotional gut punch of running into her high school sweetheart, who’s now about to get married and wonders what ever became of her–but it seems Ms. Moon has a long way to go before she finally feels comfortable with who she is and what she’s missed so far.
That feeling of being out of sorts and missing out on what we feel life might owe us is something we’ve all experienced at some point or another, and one that Robbie Thompson drives home masterfully. He puts Cindy through the physical ringer in a drawn-out fight with Pokemon Dude, then a small emotional ringer as she loses her temper, realizes it, and tries to make amends by showing him some compassion, and then another physical one as Felicia Hardy shows up and beats the snot out of an exhausted Silk. It makes for a long day, at the end of which Cindy seriously could use a win, and while she may not care for Spider-Man’s continued interference in her life, his willingness to bring in a quartet of experts in superhero-ing for her at least shows he’s watching out for her well-being.
There’s much to enjoy about this issue, from Cindy’s quips and one-liners as she tussles with her dragon-winged nemesis whose name currently escapes me (I like Pokemon Dude) to her emotional and physical exhaustion as the fight wears on, interspersed with her memories of her exasperation with Ezekiel Sims’ suggestion that she go into solitary confinement to avoid the Inheritors. It shows that being a spider-powered superhero is not all fun and high-flying acrobatics, and that getting to the point of being good at this sort of thing entails a lot of bumps and bruises on the way up. Either the Parker Luck was transmitted to her by the spider that bit Peter, or there are similarly trying circumstances whenever you try to suit up and become a superhero.
The only issue I have with this installment is the use of Felicia Hardy to be set up as a foil or main antagonist for Silk, and for the most part this is no fault of Thompson’s. I’ve had problems with the new direction in which they’ve decided to take Black Cat from the moment it started, and while I’m willing to accept out of necessity that this is just the way things are, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Also, I’m able to believe Felicia is capable of cleaning Cindy’s clock in an initial scuffle, but her being faster than a woman who’s supposed to be even faster than Spider-Man? Color me skeptical, if not outright dismissive of that setup.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Stacey Lee continues to knock it out of the park with her artwork on this issue. Her style and sensitivity make for a charming and impressive array of cartoony illustrations that both fit the tone of the narrative and make the book an enticing visual introduction to this still relatively new hero. She balances the appeal of this style without delving too far into hyper-stylized craziness, making it expressive and memorable for the reader. In addition to drawing two separate fight scenes in this issue, there’s a mult-part flashback with Ezekiel that helps explain her temper, and even a beat where she gives an enemy a shot at redemption. It’s a lot to juggle in just twenty-two pages, but Lee does it with aplomb.
With strong artwork, a clear narrative focus, and a serviceable if not particularly fresh throughline for the beleaguered Cindy, it’s time to declare this title the gem it has proven to be. I’m happy to say that the creative team on this book, as well as the one on Spider-Gwen, has taken a young female superhero and made her into a likeable main character who is both easy to relate to and not without her flaws. If you’re not already following Silk’s adventures, now is a good time to get onboard. I daresay you’ll be glad you did.
Silk #3 continues to show how great this character can be when left to her own devices and less to the whims of the universe at large. With wonderful artwork and a charmingly flawed heroine, this is a Spider-title worth reading.