There are few books in Marvel’s lineup that offer such a consistently delightful visual experience as does the work of artist Stacey Lee in Silk. While some might complain that the metered storytelling of Robbie Thompson has drawn out the book’s story, I’ve found my experience to be the opposite. Thompson understands the visual style of Lee and has allowed her to create a cinematic, if cartoony, experience with her wide paneling and delightful, full-page spreads. This decompressed storytelling really pays of in issues like Silk #5, where all of the dangling threads established in the story really begin to pay off.
Characters like… Pokémon dude… (sorry, it seems no one can remember his actual name) did little to impress me in early issues of Silk and made me wonder what the hook of the book would eventually be. I honestly didn’t know if I could considerably be expected to turn up month after month just to read about Cindy beating up on a group of D-list villains. While that hasn’t necessarily changed, Thompson has done a wonderful job of humanizing these characters and acknowledging just how small-scale his Silk book is. To be honest, it has quickly charmed me and felt like the appropriate level of challenges for a rookie like Silk to be facing. I’m still not quite sure how the search for Cindy Moon’s family ties into her dealing with the Black Cat, but as this book warms up I’m more willing to give Thompson time to tie it all together.
Silk #5 opens on what I suspected was a flashback, a somewhat awkwardly, inserted motif of the series, but is eventually revealed to be a present day kidnapping of Pokémon dude’s daughter by the now villainous Black Cat. Readers are treated to a heartwarming scene between J. Jonah Jameson and Cindy, proving that he can be a big softy when the time comes, before she is alerted to the kidnapping and burst onto the scene as Silk. As is typical of this series, Spider-Man shows up for a humorous team-up with some delightful back-and-forths and pop-culture references just dated enough to go over Silk’s head.
With just one flashback sequence this time, Silk #5 is far less disjointed in structure than previous issues. It isn’t that the flashbacks aren’t interesting, they really are, or necessary, Silk needed some fleshing out after her lackluster debut, its just that they interrupt the narrative flow of the story. I am glad that Thompson has stuck with finishing up the Pokémon dude and Black Cat’s interactions with Silk for this chapter instead of diving into another new subplot for Silk along the lines of dating the Human Torch, battling HYDRA robots in the sewers, and bumping into ex-flames (pun-intended).
I can’t stress enough just how comfortable this book reads and feels in the hands of Thompson and Lee. Silk #5 has no grand schemes and no socially relevant themes it is trying to hammer home, it’s just good comic book storytelling. Each page, line, and image is crafted with just so much care that its easy to blow past the charm and craft that went into creating it. Small details, like Black Cat’s grin or the beautiful, bright color choices of Ian Herring, are not showy but deserve the attention that showier comics typically receive.
Silk #5 isn't groundbreaking, revolutionary, or a masterpiece, but it is what superhero comic book storytelling can do the best... tell a fun story through snappy dialogue and smart visuals.