We often find out what kind of people we are at the strangest times in our lives. Be it during a classroom exam, on the field or the mat during team sports, or even during the private trials and tribulations our lives throw at us, the question of who we are tends to come at us in the form of what actions we take to resolve certain situations and obstacles. In Cindy Moon’s case, it seems to be during a 45-minute stint under an elevator and a subsequent rooftop rendezvous.
Fresh off the heels of the imperfect but enjoyable “Spider-Women” crossover, Silk #9 deftly delves right back into the arc Cindy was exploring just beforehand, particularly her developing relationship with Felicia Hardy as she tries to keep up her infiltration of Black Cat’s criminal empire. In what ends up being a compelling exploration of two women bonding over their shared experiences involving isolation and bad fortune, we witness Cindy’s struggles with her duties as a S.H.I.E.L.D. mole while her co-worker friends follow up on a lead she sent them ages ago. It’s clearly taking its toll on her, and while she agrees with Mockingbird that her time undercover is soon to be done, she’s clearly conflicted about what she’s had to do and how she feels about Black Cat as a person.
In some ways, we can see the spectre of “Spider-Women” having delayed some of the plots Robbie Thompson was playing with when he only had to focus on Cindy, and it does hamper things a little bit. For instance, this issue does set up a plot thread or two on the first page, as Cindy’s Fact Channel co-workers Lola and Rafferty try to find out what they can about the mysterious Dr. Kapoor, whose name Cindy dropped to them several issues ago. While I’d have liked to have seen some progress having been made off-panel by these two in order to account for the passage of time since that occurred, it does lead to a somewhat amusing situation that pays off later in this installment.
There’s also the pairing up of Cindy with Felicia as she and Black Cat pull off another heist at Parker Industries, fight their way out of security’s grasp gracefully, and then have to spend some time bonding while they’re both trapped for nearly an hour together. This is all written and rendered smoothly and enjoyably, contrasting starkly with Felicia’s appearance during “Spider-Women,” which seemed color-by-number and bizarrely random at that point. These two are shown to have a believable understanding of one another, and while both may want to trust the other–and they each play at showing each other they do–neither is quite able to do so, setting up a potentially personal conflict for their next encounter.
Writer Robbie Thompson continues to take advantage of the relatively new, controversial status quo surrounding Felicia, and characterizes her as someone who remains ever the proverbial chess player, continually testing and gauging the loyalties and motivations of those around her. While I still resent how she’s been written over the last year or two, she’s ably demonstrated how she’s been able to create her own criminal organization, manage the people who work for her, and stay on top of things by knowing their intentions. She’s a believable threat in this role, and I’m cautiously interested to see how this ends up serving her as she continues to set her criminal sights even higher.
There were a few small issues I had with some of the things Thompson did. I was more than a little concerned when Cindy tried to go to her old (and engaged) boyfriend Hector’s apartment after her therapist told her that she deserved to be happy too. Maybe it’s just the timing that bothers me, and I’m certainly no licensed therapist, but it would seem to me that statement was made purely for the purpose of encouraging Cindy to do something stupid, and I couldn’t stifle a groan as the next scene set up. Thankfully, Hector had moved, but Cindy’s thoughts about her happiness being irrelevant led me to believe things wouldn’t have played well if he had been there.
I also continue to believe Peter Parker is being poorly used in this title. First of all, I think a faceless, words-only cameo is a pretty lame means of utilizing the character in the first place, but I also can’t help wondering what he’s even being included in this issue for. It’s been well established that Cindy is trying to stay away from him, but it feels like the writing or editorial staff can’t help but keep reminding the audience of that fact. There’s also a noticeable ambivalence these two characters have for one another, whenever the topic comes up, that needs to be definitively resolved and moved on from.
With all of that said, however, Thompson continues to write a strong, compelling main plot that gives readers a few more emotional stakes as these two women bond, and figure out their trust issues as the inevitable conflict looms between them. Will Cindy be able to ultimately betray Felicia, or will Felicia convince her that S.H.I.E.L.D. is no better than she is? Will Silk and the Black Cat finally have it out in a no-holds-barred final fight? And how ready is Cindy for Silk to be “a good guy again?” These are the questions I’m asking as things move forward, and I don’t think I’m alone.
It’s a joy to see Stacey Lee back on the artwork for this issue. Her clean, simple style is a natural fit for this comic, and gives the story a classic cartoon feel that works nicely for the elegant expressiveness she imbues in these characters. Black Cat in particular gets a few nice renderings, but any scene where she and Cindy are together and hanging on to things, or each other, are also a lot of fun to look at, both for their composition and also for the characters’ expressions during these situations. Combined with Ian Herring’s masterful color work, this issue of Silk is a visual joy to behold.
This all makes for an overall very enjoyable issue that’s easy for me to recommend to readers. Having Stacey Lee back certainly helps, but it’s also Thompson’s characterizations and pushing of this plot that have me eager to see what happens next. This week’s issue of Silk is definitely worth the purchase.
Robbie Thompson plots a good story that allows for strong characterization for Cindy, as well as setting up a compelling conflict with Black Cat. Stacey Lee's lines are a welcome return, and help propel this installment as a worthy read.