Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Silk 14, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: As if it weren’t apparent already, humans are walking studies in contradictions. One minute we may say or feel one thing and the next end up saying the exact opposite. Often this isn’t the result of bad intentions – few people want to be so wishy-washy – but it’s hard for people to predict how they will feel about something in the future compared to how they are thinking about it in the present. If there is anything that defines Cindy Moon from other flawed superheroes, this is the feature. Despite her best efforts, Cindy is constantly in a state of flux, desiring something one minute and dismissing it the next. While this could make her unlikable as a character, I find it makes her all the more interesting because it is something that makes her truly human.
Cindy’s life is going good. Her family has been reunited at long last, she has an undead boyfriend, and she no longer has to walk the line between good and evil working undercover to bust Black Cat. But if everything is so perfect, why does Cindy have the nagging feeling that something isn’t as it should be? If she has everything she’s been fighting so hard for, why does she feel so alone?
There’s something instantly recognizable in Cindy’s situation here. As soon as she has what she wants, she doesn’t want it anymore. Call it buyer’s remorse, but the feeling of achieving something desired for a long time sometimes feels hollow. Perhaps it’s because we expect something to change in us the instant we achieve this and when that doesn’t happen it just feels like “is this all there is?” Cindy certainly seems to have a sense of that here. However, the artwork of Irene Strychalski hints at something more. In the spread above it is clear that while Cindy’s family is reunited, they aren’t necessarily together. In all four panels pictured here Cindy stands apart from her family. She is always watching as they get along without her. The broken picture symbolizes this split in not so subtle terms as the broken class physically separates Cindy from her family. Still, the acting in these panels is really good and shows why Cindy feels an empty loneliness now that her family is back together.
It’s interesting to consider how Cindy reacts to these feelings. In many ways she is a tough hero able to deal with the most adverse situations. This, though, covers her fairly fragile emotional state. After years of being on her own, Cindy has learned to bury her feelings and not think about them. This reaction is what causes her to flee New York and her family for a seemingly random J. Jonah Jameson assignment in San Francisco.
Cindy is running from suddenly “perfect” life in NYC because it’s maybe not all she hoped it would be. At the risk of projecting too much, it’s not beyond reason that Cindy left her family because she doesn’t feel a sudden bursting of love for them by suddenly having them altogether. This is a scary emotion and it would be hard to blame Cindy for running away from such a complex and difficult emotion. While I don’t doubt that Cindy loves her family and wants to be with them, maybe just the thought that things aren’t immediately perfect is enough to send her packing.
This is where Robbie Thompson makes Cindy such a frustratingly real character. Despite her obvious issues coping with her feelings, Cindy maintains an attitude that she’s always right, as she realizes all too late at the end of the issue.
But Cindy isn’t always right. She fucks things up a lot and coming to San Francisco might be one of those things. Not because she finds a secret, probably evil lab, but because she should be at home working out her emotions with her family and her therapist. That she would affirm that she’s always right in the face of such an obviously poor choice is maddening but so goddamn endearing at the same time. Those who have read Silk for awhile now can easily detect that Cindy is trying to pull one over mostly on herself. She’s trying to convince herself she’s made the right decisions even though deep down she (and we) know she’s made a mistake. This situation is so easy to empathize with and while it’s frustrating, it shows just how complex, flawed, and human Cindy is. In short, she’s just like all of us.
Spencer, I enjoyed this issue a lot. Some issues of Silk seem to miss the mark when tackling Cindy’s emotions but I think this one hits the mark squarely. Do you agree? What do you make of Jonah seeing his supposedly dead wife? And when do you think we’re going to get a Silkworm series?
Spencer: The name “Silkworm” sounds like a 40s crooner, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Cindy’s new West Coast costume stick around — it’s quite fab.
Taylor, I think we both reached similar conclusions about this issue, but from somewhat different angles. Cindy is clearly running away from her problems and uncomfortable with her family being back, but I don’t think it’s because she doesn’t love them as much as she thought she would or because they don’t live up to her expectations — it’s because Cindy’s been alone for so long that she’s still uncomfortable being close with other people.
That’s been Cindy’s default throughout both volumes of this series. She’s been slowly opening up, but whenever things get difficult, she shuts people down and isolates herself. Cindy spent ten years by herself, and as awful as that was, it’s still what she’s most used to, and it’s something that’s comforting to her in its own twisted way. When physically returning to her bunker was an option, she’d often do so in times of stress — now, she can only do so mentally by pushing people away.
I can completely understand why being reunited with her family would be overwhelming. Several of my friends have recently had to move back home with their parents for financial reasons after living on their own for extended periods of time, and I’ve seen how difficult that transition can be — they still love their family, but readjusting to their presence and renegotiating their dynamic is a challenge. Cindy’s dealing with that, but on an even grander scale: she hasn’t even seen her parents in over a decade. They haven’t seen her grow up, she hasn’t seen them grow old; they’re practically different people. You can absolutely work through that, but since Cindy’s still somewhat scared of intimacy and retreats emotionally when stressed, of course she’s gonna run away.
(Sure, running all the way to the opposite coast is a bit much, but superheroes generally aren’t the kind to take half-measures.)
I do find it interesting, though, that after working so hard to push away her family, friends, and therapist, Cindy ends up spending so much one-on-one time with Hector. Why doesn’t her long-lost, drastically changed boyfriend intimidate her in the same way her long-lost, drastically changed family does?
My first guess was that maybe Cindy just thought Hector wouldn’t pressure her the way her family or friends might — even Hector perfectly summing up Cindy’s issues in that second image Taylor posted looks more accidental than anything — but then I started to notice that Hector actually needles Cindy about running away from her problems a few times throughout the issue. So perhaps Cindy just feels more comfortable around someone a bit more like herself, someone with abilities who’s also gone through massive upheaval recently? I’m really curious to see if it comes up.
(Hm, I just realized that this may be an overriding theme of Silk in general: the way time changes us all and how we’re forced to deal with it and move forward. I’ll have to keep an eye open for more of this in future issues).
As for Taylor’s question about ol’ JJJ’s wife, that one’s a bit easier: Marla Jameson’s return is part of the Jackal’s grand cloning/resurrection plan, as revealed and explained over in The Clone Conspiracy and its Amazing Spider-Man prelude/tie-ins. Actually, I’m going to consider the fact that Taylor could write his entire lead without even mentioning Silk 14‘s event tie-in status a major success for the issue: it’s the definition of a seamless tie-in.
The fact that the issue stands alone as a compelling story while still directly tying into a major crossover is impressive enough, but even more impressive is how writer Robbie Thompson has connected this story to Clone Conspiracy‘s overarcing themes. Once you put aside the zombies and Gwen Stacy fetishes, that story’s all about people dealing with their dead loved ones returning to life, and in a way, isn’t that exactly what Cindy’s dealing with? She didn’t see her parents for over a decade; they could very easily have been dead for all she knew, and being reunited with them is very much like having her parents suddenly come back to life after being dead for many years. Cindy’s parents returning just in time for Clone Conspiracy is either an extremely lucky break, or the result of some smart, smart planning, that’s for sure.
Thompson also makes sure to keep other Clone Conspiracy plot points closely linked to typical Silk concepts as well.
The return of a dead Spider-Man character is all Clone Conspiracy, but making the no-longer dead character a Spider-Woman absolutely fits Silk‘s aesthetic — remember the Spider-Women crossover from just a few months ago? This particular Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin, probably isn’t familiar to Cindy, but just the name alone ensures that they’ll probably have a lot to talk about — as does the fact that Mattie once replaced/worked with Cindy’s friend and mentor, Jessica Drew. The fact that Mattie is also JJJ and Marla’s niece just further ensures that she has connections on as many of this arc’s major characters as possible. Using Mattie is a really smart character choice on Thompson’s part.
So between its intelligent plotting and character insights, stylish action, and fun, quippy banter, I’d say that Silk 14 delivers everything you could possibly ask for — except, maybe, for more Silkworm?
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?