Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Silk 7, originally released September 2nd, 2015.
Taylor: At one point or another we’ve all pondered what we would if the world was ending. At first glance it seems like a macabre question but in truth it’s anything but. Essentially the question is asking what’s important in life and what you value. Rather than focusing on death, I find that to be a rather life affirming question. Luckily, it seems unlikely any of use will have to face this scenario, but those in the Marvel universe aren’t so fortunate. As the world ends, due to the Secret Wars, Cindy Moon (aka Silk) must decide how she wants to spend her last day on planet Earth. In the process, I came to see exactly what she values in life and what drives her to be a hero.
The world is ending. Two versions of Earth are about to crash together and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it. Cindy gets a tip from J. Jonah Jameson that her brother has been picked up and is in an assisted living clinic after being picked up for drug possession. Even though time is short, Cindy decides to follow the lead just in case it turns out to be true. Along the way she performs some casual feats of superheroing but finally finds her brother, just before the end of all things.
It comes as no surprise to use that Cindy is primarily motivated by love for her family. After all, this run of Silk has focused on her efforts to find her family, which has been missing and presumed abducted by an evil gang. What makes this issue stand apart, though, is that her motivation seems real and palpable. After Cindy saves a bus about to crash down into a sinkhole, she is pinned to the ground unable to move. She passes out and remembers one the last times she saw her parents, right before she was placed in isolation. This scene is animated breathtakingly by artist Tana Ford.
As the door to the chamber closes, Cindy cries as she sees her family for presumably the last time. What I find moving about this sequence is how Ford shows us the door closing more and more with each panel. As the tears increase the panels get smaller and smaller and fall to the side. I appreciate how Ford is showing us that not only is a door closing, Cindy is literally falling away from her family. Speaking more metaphorically, Cindy is falling away into darkness in terms of her emotional state and literally in that she is pinned and blacked out under a bus. They’re evocative panels and establish why it is so important for Cindy to find her brother before the world ends.
Robbie Thompson also scripts some wonderfully subtle scenes which establish Cindy’s motivation in this issue. After she learns of her brother’s possible location, Cindy dashes to the top of the Daily Bugle to don her Silk disguise and be on her way. Before she can do this though, she unexpectedly meets her coworkers Lolo and Rafferty. The two lovers are enjoying their last moments on Earth together and despite the dire setting are managing to enjoy themselves.
It says a lot about the love between these characters that they can manage to enjoy the short time they have before their deaths. It also says a lot about what they value. You don’t see them downstairs with the rest of the Bugle crew freaking out. Instead they have taken stock of the situation and have chosen to enjoy their last moments as they see fit.
It’s telling that Cindy is here to see this scene. As she scrambles across town to her brother, she is interrupted numerous times by people that need her. Being a hero she manages to save some people, but that’s not her goal. Unlike Spider-Man or other Marvel heroes, Cindy’s goal isn’t to deal with the crisis at hand. Rather, she wants to see her brother and this decision is informed by what she on the roof of the Bugle. When she does eventually find her long lost sibling, it’s clear she made the right choice.
She’s partially achieved her goal of finding her family and ultimately that’s satisfying. That brother and sister didn’t get to spend more time together before the world ends though is simply crushing. I love the scripting of this last page. And by love I mean it basically tears my heart out. With each panel the destruction of world increases, fading whiter and whiter until there is nothing left in the last panel except that goddamn Secret Wars logo. Never have the words “There Is Only Secret Wars” been so heartbreaking and moving. There is nothing besides the Secret Wars, not even the love between Cindy and her brother. It has all been eradicated. I’ve never felt like the Secret Wars was that terrible of thing until this point. Now it just seems like the most horrible and rending event ever.
Still, there is hope. Instead of fading to black, as when she passed out, these panels fade to white. The color choice in and of itself is enough to inspire hope. More than that though I feel like it signifies mission accomplished for Cindy. She has found her family and instead of dying underneath a bus, she dies with knowledge that she got to see her brother one last time.
Patrick, you sent me a text when you read this issue that said “Jesus, the ending of Silk…” I hadn’t read it at the time you sent it but now that I have, that’s basically my reaction too. Do you have anything more to add about it? Also, I just loved Tana Ford’s art throughout this issue, was there anything I didn’t mention that caught your eye? And isn’t it great to see Triple J actually being a great guy?
Patrick: Yeah, man — there’s just so much sincerity stacked up in the Silk finale. The series has always found a pretty clever balance between humor and pathos — pretty well exemplified by “Pokemon Dude.” Both he and Cindy are down-on-their-luck costumed types that are stuck somewhere between earnestly trying to live hero (or villain)-lives and hum-drummery of day-to-day existence. That’s a fun tension, and so many of our favorite series from the last couple years have mined that for huge laughs: Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, etc. It’s almost disarming to see Thompson embrace a naked, scared sincerity going into the end of the issue — we don’t have the comfort of any jokes or irony, just the goddamn end of the world and people that have to live through it. Also, those final pages are beautifully absent of explanation. Cindy almost doesn’t check out JJJ’s lead because she couldn’t believe that her brother would be in a place like this, but here he is.
All the “whys” and “hows” in the world don’t really mean anything in this moment. The expression that Ford slaps on Albert’s face is more than enough to get the reader to a place where all we need to see is a sweet hug. The clippings on the wall of Silk’s heroics serve to underline the emotional story, rather than the story-of-incident. Albert loves his sister, and never stopped admiring her and following her in one way or another.
There’s also something else to notice in this scene, and it’s something that punches me right in the gut. The clock on Albert’s dresser reads 3:44. There are clocks all over this issue — in fact the first page is just Cindy running out the clock at her therapy session.
This is a powerful narrative trick: surely we’re not getting everything that transpired during the 35 minutes between 9:15 and 9:40, but we get the gist: Cindy’s not making the most of this time. She could be using it to honestly explore her feelings in a productive, safe environment, but instead, she’s letting it all slip away — wonderfully emphasized in that last panel with those repeated “tick tick tick”s. The rest of the issue will show us various clocks — there’s one in Lolo and Rafferty’s selfie, which Taylor posted above — that hammer home this concept of time. Cindy’s time is literally limited, and the readers all know that the end is coming. We may not know exactly when, but we know it’s coming. The fact that Thompson and Ford show us the time in the final moments places a certainty on the loss of everything — it’s 3:44 PM, not some distant, unknown time in the future.
So I guess the question because whether or not Cindy made the most of her time, both in life and with those last 7ish hours. I’ve always believed that you don’t get to dictate what kind of person you are or where your priorities lie: at the end of the day you have to look at how you spent your time and then that retroactively reveals your values to you. Want to read more, but spend more time gardening? Guess what: you’re a gardener. Cindy Moon is the same way — she may want to be this loving, functional part of her family, but when she looks back on her days, who is she? How did she spend the majority of her last day on Earth? Saving people. Even though she knew everyone was doomed, she couldn’t help but rescue them from immediate danger, and give them a little peace before facing the ultimate end. Ford delivers an incredible montage of Silk saving lives, and one that proudly places the hero’s image right in the middle of the page.
Ford is acknowledging that this is sort of a thesis statement for Silk: she is, first and foremost, a hero.
But that’s where the message comes full-circle and makes this a happy ending. Cindy may have missed out on spending time with her brother, but Albert is able to relate to Cindy through her heroics. In doing what she does naturally, Cindy has asserted herself into Albert’s life remotely. It’s a powerful, if understated, message: be yourself and the love will follow.
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