I usually have serious issues with crossovers. They tend to mess up the established narrative flow of the titles involved, they can be unwieldy and difficult to collect, and oftentimes it’s simply not worth the effort–or expense–involved in doing so. Then you’ve got the sharing (splitting?) of creative staff in trying to tell a unified story and the mess that typically comes with it. So when I heard the “Spider-Women” arc was coming down the pipeline, I was none too thrilled, and more than a little nervous.
Thus far, I’m pleased to be mistaken. A big part of what makes this event work is its relatively small size, which allows for the characters involved to actually explore their place in the narrative, as well as giving a chance for the writers and artists to collaborate and get a feel for how their works jibe with one another. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the titanic events involving every hero, ever (Avengers vs. X-Men, anyone?), or even every iteration of one (or a few) hero(es), ever (oh, “Spider-Verse”… you could have been so much better than you were).
Even though we’re already into the third chapter of the arc, as well as the seventh issue of Silk, this story doesn’t feel like a disruption to the sensitivities of either situation. Cindy had pretty much disappeared for most of the second installment in Radioactive Spider-Gwen #7, but this chapter gives Thompson the opportunity to explain why, as well as how Cindy handles the fallout from doing so. Even as she scrambles to get a look at the family she doesn’t have in “her” dimension, Cindy finds a weird inversion in both the fact that it’s she who “deserted” her family in Gwen’s reality, and that she’s some kind of villainous mastermind instead of a hero.
It’s a pretty brilliant way to reclaim this character’s momentum within this chapter and advance the event’s narrative while still exploring the themes that have been a part of her story since the launch of her first series. Jess and Gwen are briefly featured, each with some of their own brief and amusing character moments, but this installment is primarily Cindy’s, which I would argue is a good thing at this point, as she’s gotten the least amount of development thus far within this story. It seems if there’s a place to spotlight each of the women involved in this story, their own title is an ideal place to do it.
Cindy’s two-point adventure is well told. Her encounter with her estranged Earth-65 family, particularly her mother, recalls some of the earlier arguments portrayed between the two of them, but with Cindy deservedly (sort of) on the receiving end. Her realization that she’s the head of a criminal organization–and not a pop star–affords the readers some amusing moments as she pieces things together, from realizing that she’s crazy rich and has her own private elevator to the way she fumbles through her encounter with Otto Octavius, no doubt tipping him off that she’s not who she appears to be.
On that note, though, and without any spoilers, I will say that Octavius’s little “moment” at the end was a pretty big eye roller for me. I’ll give it a chance to develop, but I couldn’t help but shake my head and wonder just what rabbit (ahem) Jason Latour is going to pull out of his hat to make this iteration of the character as intimidating as the prime version of Doc Ock. At least, I’m assuming Jason Latour created this version of Octavius.
Tana Ford’s artwork continues to improve, though it’s still shaky in a few notable places. I can mostly forgive her for not capturing Gwen and Jess very well–she doesn’t work on them, after all–but some of the inconsistencies between facial features such as noses and such have been mentioned before. Her work on Cindy during her moments of discovery and self reflection, however, are getting better, from the expressiveness of her eyes when the rest of her face is covered to the emotions she quietly conveys while talking with her Earth-65 family. Ford seems to do close-up and intimate moments very well, where faces are concerned; the far-back, less introspective stuff seems rushed by comparison.
There isn’t too much action in this chapter, but what we get is enough to make a comment or two on. Ford illustrates Cindy with enough kinesthetic posing to make action scenes work, but in light of Octavius’s moment, I have some concerns about how she tells stories in pictures. The final page comes about in a way that really glosses over some of the action that would logically lead into it, and asks the reader to simply take things as they’ve been dictated. I realize that’s sometimes necessary, but here it feels forced and unearned.
Overall, I’m pleased with this issue, both as a progression of Cindy’s character on an individual level and with how it ties in almost seamlessly with “Spider-Women.” Thompson puts her through the wringer narratively, and Tana Ford illustrates her ably for the most part. If this event pulls any readers over to Silk, I think this is a decent if not ideal point upon which people can see Cindy struggling with both her family issues and her role as a superhero.
Exploring some of Silk's personal issues while throwing her off balance as she discovers who she is in this reality, Silk #7 balances both the needs of the character and the larger event story nicely. Artwork is shaky in some places, but Tana Ford is improving, delivering a good issue for this character.