Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Silk 6, originally released March 16th, 2015.
Taylor: Many of the stories I’ve encountered in my time reading comics exist in a world that is split into two halves. There are those who are good and those who are bad. S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra. The Light Side vs. the Dark Side. While these worlds are the setting for compelling stories, they aren’t necessarily a reflection of our own world. It’s rare today that something or someone can be considered entirely good or evil. Silk 6 recognizes this, and in doing so, shows us that sometimes choosing between right and wrong isn’t as easy as most comics would have us believe.
Cindy is being debriefed by Mockingbird about her assignment as a mole in Black Cat’s crime syndicate. It turns out that Cindy has been busy. Not only has she been injected and cured of goblin serum, she and Black Cat have taken down the entire Goblin King’s operation. Cindy has also finally managed some time for herself and reconnected with her friends, her job, and her therapist. While these are all good things, they cause Cindy to reflect on her path in life and what role her anger will play in it.
One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Silk is that it has created a complex and interesting character in Cindy Moon. Unlike other heroes she often suffers from anxiety, depression, and anger. Of these, the last emotion has been the focus of the series of late to my previously mixed response. However, issue 6 finally begins to address the issue of Cindy’s anger with a complexity that I consider the hallmark of Silk.
Cindy’s anger comes to a head when she and Black Cat bust into the Goblin King’s layer to take down his crime syndicate. When Cindy is ordered to kill the Goblin King she throws him off of a roof. Whether she did this actually knowing he would survive is left wonderfully ambiguous by writer Robbie Thompson. The confusion that Cindy feels at this moment, and perhaps hinting at the fact Cindy herself doesn’t know if she wanted to kill the Golbin King or not, is rendered wonderfully by the artistic team of Tana Ford and Ian Herring.
Ford, making a triumphant return to the series, draws Cindy anchored to the side of the page. Tellingly, her hands are drawn so that the red at the tips of her gloves resemble blood. In drawing Cindy this way, Ford is showing us the guilt Cindy feels at having nearly committed murder; maybe she still feels Phil’s blood is on her hands, since that might have been her intent. Ford has also drawn the sky in a twisted and swirling pattern, echoing Cindy’s loss of control of her emotions. These touches make me think that even though Cindy claimed she knew the Goblin King would survive his fall, she actually didn’t. Her emotions took over and with that feelings of anger and guilt are what drive her action. All of this is hinted at through Ford’s pencils.
Herring amplifies these elements in the scene with his coloring. The sky is a crazed mixed of purple and red, again hinting at the mixed emotions Cindy is feeling during her near fatal act. I think it’s telling that the de-goblinizing gas pictured here is a calming blue. In the last issue, Cindy was able to blame her extreme actions on being pumped up on Goblin Serum. Here, on the other hand, she has no excuse. With the calming de-goblin gas flowing she has no excuse for letting her anger take over so much. In stark contrast to that blue stands the final panel of this page, which is all hot red and yellow. If anything, Black Cat represents the giving in to anger for Cindy. That Black Cat is shown here, justifying her actions in front of a red back drop, almost screams that Cindy’s anger is justified too.
And this issue of Cindy’s of anger is just so damn complex! It would be one thing if nothing came of it or it hurt people, but in this case it doesn’t. Later, when Cindy is recounting this episode with her therapist, she has a realization.
Giving into her anger felt good for Cindy. Honestly, it’s hard to blame her for feeling that way either. As her therapist notes, the Goblin King hurt her in more ways than one. Even more, by giving into her anger, by following the orders of Black Cat, she she actually affected good on the world. The Goblin King is defeated and all of his subverted cronies are going to shelters instead of the streets. By having Black Cat achieve good through her “evil” plans, Thompson has shown us that she isn’t just a straight up evil person. Sure, she advocates for killing people, but is that a fair price to pay for getting things done? For ultimately helping those in need? Who’s to say, but Thompson at least has us asking this question. All of this is framed through the lens of what is justifiable and if the ends of our actions outweigh the means. For now, it would appear Cindy feels her anger, and the outcomes it produces, are indeed justified.
Spencer, I thought this was a great issue! Silk seems to be rounding back into form after a couple of off issues. What’s your take? Is Cindy trending towards the dark side? Could her anger actually be a good thing?
Spencer: I really enjoyed this issue too, Taylor, and you’re right that Cindy Moon is a surprisingly complex character. It’s rare to see a superhero actually sit down and try to hash things out with a therapist, and even rarer for their sessions to be played entirely straight (instead of, say, their therapist betraying them or something). While Silk is actually one of Marvel’s more traditional superhero titles these days (not a bad thing at all!), it’s touches like these that have helped Silk gain an unique identity all its own.
Anyway, Taylor, your question about Cindy’s anger isn’t a bad one, but honestly, whether her anger is “good” or “bad” feels almost immaterial to me. Cindy’s therapist actually sums up my view best.
Anger is simply a symptom of a bigger problem that needs to be solved. Anger can be destructive or it can be channeled productively (Cindy’s probably done both), but probably the best reaction to anger is to figure out the root of your anger and take the necessary steps to resolve it. Cindy’s made some progress in that area, both by seeing a therapist in the first place and by coming to the realization that she is angry, even if she can’t quite vocalize it yet.
It’s going to take more than that, though, for Cindy to put her demons to rest. Cindy needs a support system who will be there for her more than just an hour a week. The thing is, Cindy has that, or at least the beginnings of one — I just don’t think she fully realizes it yet. Look at how patient, calm, and understanding Mockingbird is with Cindy at the beginning of the issue — when the supposedly locked door makes Cindy anxious, Bobbi is quick to put her fears to rest. More surprisingly, JJJ does the same thing just two pages later.
I love how Thompson writes Jameson — it’s almost out of character, but I can somehow buy that he’d have a soft spot for a smart, old-fashioned young woman such as Cindy in a way he wouldn’t for Peter or Spider-Man, especially in his old age. Again, I don’t think Cindy realizes how good she has it. That’s not to say that her life’s perfect or even easy, but just that there are so many people in her life who want to help and support her, even when that kind of display of emotion runs counter to their very nature. Cindy would be wise to take better advantage of their offers of kindness.
Then again, I suppose that’s something you can’t rush, something Cindy has to openly accept herself. It warmed my heart to see Cindy finally accept her co-workers’ invitation and go dancing with them, but it’s a salve that only worked for so long.
Ford, Herring, and Thompson again do a fantastic job of illustrating Cindy’s insecurities here. She starts out this scene having fun, blending in with her friends to the point where all three of them are practically interchangeable in the second panel, losing themselves to the music to the point where they start losing their very features. But then Cindy’s issues come back to haunt her. She’s snapped out of her reverie, and reminded of how different — and seemingly more complicated — her life is than her friends’. While they continue to dance away and blend into the room as red streaks, Cindy alone stands out, unable to find the same escape they do.
I suppose that’s ultimately why Cindy starts feeling drawn to Black Cat. While Cindy has many well-meaning friends, she feels like they don’t really understand what she’s feeling or what she’s been through. Black Cat, though, speaks directly to the issues Cindy’s facing on a daily basis. She does bad things to accomplish noble purposes, and that must be appealing to Cindy when she’s so filled with anger herself, and especially when Cat’s target is someone Cindy hates as fervently as the Goblin Nation. Mockingbird and Cindy’s therapist draw attention to the grim reality of her throwing a dude off a roof, but Black Cat not only encourages and enables it, but preaches through both her words and her actions that good can come from an undeniably immoral action. It’s easy to see why Cindy, especially in her current state of mind, might be drawn to that line of thinking.
That puts Cindy in a precarious situation, and it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that this issue leads right into the “Spider-Women” crossover. If Cindy’s civilian friends can’t understand what she’s going through, maybe Jessica Drew or Gwen Stacy will — maybe they can be the support system Cindy so desperately needs right now. Of course, these are the kind of plot points that usually get overlooked in crossover stories, so I’m not holding my breath that things will play out this way, but it certainly seems like a possibility. No matter what, though, as long as Thompson, Ford, and Herring continue to explore Cindy with the same deft, subtle touch they displayed in Silk 6, the next issue should be fantastic.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?