Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Silk 19, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: Often, when we talk about the qualities of a hero, the conversation revolves around their bravery in the face of danger. Silk has taken the opposite road, however. Rather than an exploration of what makes Cindy Moon brave, the series has focused on what makes her afraid. In doing so, the series has tended to focus more on Cindy’s mental state instead of her heroics. Now, at the end of its run, it is apparent Silk stands unique among superhero comics because it has dared to focus on Cindy’s fear rather than her bravery. That choice matters in the final issue, and serves to remind us that good story telling, more than anything else, needs great character development.
In her last confrontation of the series, Cindy meets up with her dad to forgive him for working with Fang. Unsurprisingly, Fang herself shows up to spoil the apology, and makes a last-ditch effort to sap Cindy’s powers and give them to herself. Ultimately, this fails, and Cindy is able to make amends with her father, family, and friends. For all intents and purposes, it is an extremely satisfying finale.
Part of what makes this ending so satisfying is the commentary it offers on accepting our loved ones for who they are. Cindy’s dad teamed with up Fang because he was horrified by Cindy’s spider powers and wanted to “help” her by taking them away from her. The parallels between this situation and those of people in the real world who have an identity at odds with their society or family are not hard to draw. In particular, the fact that Cindy’s dad is motivated by making all of their lives “normal” again sounds depressingly familiar.
Previously, Cindy would have been afraid to disagree with her dad, but here she doesn’t back down. Cindy has learned to love herself and be happy with who she is. She now is brave enough to know that, just because her dad is afraid of her powers, it doesn’t mean that she has to be, too. Ultimately, Cindy’s newfound bravery convinces her dad of his misguided ways and suggests in the future he will try to understand her way of life better. The resolution to this conflict is satisfying because it doesn’t involve Cindy being brave in the conventional comics meaning. Instead of punching a giant robot, she just has a heart to heart with her dad.
Later in the issue, Cindy’s fears have another chance to take hold of her life once more. Spider-Man calls Cindy after her battle with Fang just to catch up on her life and see hows she’s doing. After some small talk, Peter offers a Cindy a job at his company should her gig with S.H.I.E.L.D. not work out, but she respectfully declines.
The point of this conversation is to illustrate how Cindy, once again, is no longer afraid of the things she used to be. Writer Robbie Thompson has done a wonderful job throughout this series illustrating the various ways Cindy is afraid of her life. One of those happens to be her inability to trust and believe in herself. Before this point, Cindy would have been afraid to turn down Peter’s offer. After all, given the chance to have a back up plan to work in Peter’s office sounds like a safe bet. However, by electing to decline his invitation, Thompson is showing us that Cindy believes in her own abilities and doesn’t need Peter’s — or anyone else’s — help.
On a personal note, this final issue of Silk was satisfying because it saw the return of Tana Ford on pencils. To me, whenever I think of Silk, I’ll always remember the fantastic way Ford depicted Cindy’s adventures. Happily, this wonderful artwork gets to be seen one last time in this issue. There are all sorts of places I could point out her work, but I think I like this full page spread the most.
This page has all the trademark work that defines Ford as an artist. In the first panel Ford uses a fish-eye effect to focus our attention on the action of Cindy kicking Fang. Ford has used this technique frequently in this series so it’s fun to see it get its swan song here. Ford also wonderfully balances her panels on this page to create an intuitive flow for the reader. Starting with that first panel, the story then makes a backward S shape across the page. What’s remarkable about this is that between panels six and seven your eye has to scan all the way from the right side of the page back to the left. However, this feels as natural as can be and is a testament to the planning Ford put into this page. Lastly, I love how Ford eschews background details to heighten our focus on the action. Just look at how powerful (and painful!) that last panel looks! Without other visual details drawing our attention away from the action, Cindy and Fang’s blows feel so damn strong and dangerous here.
Spencer, this issue reminded me all over again why I’ve enjoyed reading this series the last couple of years. Cindy is a unique hero who has battled her fear and grown as a character over the course of the comic. Similarly, the artwork has always been a treat and it’s kind of sad to think we may never see this talented team work together again. What are your thoughts?
Spencer: Taylor, I too found this to be an effective and moving finale for Silk. Most importantly, it’s a fitting one, as Robbie Thompson and Tana Ford close out the series in a way that honors everything they’ve done up to this point. While there’s been plenty of plot and action, Silk has always been a series highly concerned with Cindy’s growth and psychological state, and the finale’s success comes from the fact that Thompson and Ford recognize and honor that.
Centering the issue around those themes leads to a hiccup or two, but they’re worth it in the end. The fact that Thompson and Ford had to wrap their run up early shows; the first page feels like it’s starting in the middle of a story, to the point where I went back to reread the previous issue just to make sure I hadn’t missed something, and Fang’s backstory just doesn’t have room to play out as anything other than perfunctory. I can see now that the decision to have Cindy join S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t just about helping her find herself, but about creating a way to fast-forward the Fang storyline to its conclusion. S.H.I.E.L.D allows Cindy to do detective work that could have taken several arcs instantly, and Thompson then wisely skips past Cindy’s research and opens the issues on her confrontation with her dad. Even though it creates a few moments of pure exposition, it’s the right decision, because what truly needed space in this final issue weren’t the minute details of Fang’s plan, but the emotional ramifications and growth it creates for Cindy. Thompson and Ford were confronted with a difficult situation (Silk‘s cancellation), and I applaud them for handling it in the best possible way.
I’m in agreement with Taylor when it comes to the emotional beats the creative team hits here too. What’s been special about Silk has been seeing Cindy portrayed as having realistic issues and hang-ups — anger, fear, trauma — and seeing her truly work to overcome them. One of Silk‘s earliest emotional beats that really hit home for me was the first time Cindy returned to her bunker for comfort, so it’s especially cathartic to see her put aside that need once and for all.
In the past, Cindy’s bunker was like a security blanket. It felt safe because it was familiar, and when she was scared by the uncertainty of the future or overwhelmed by options and possibilities, she could go back and be soothed by its eternal monotonous routine. Now, though, learning what she has and growing as she has, Cindy can see that the bunker was never fully as safe as she thought. Given the choice, Cindy will now choose freedom over comfort, possibility over routine.
This choice is paralleled by the one Cindy’s father makes. I agree with Taylor’s interpretation of Albert Sr. as not accepting Cindy’s lifestyle, but I do think that he was at least coming from a place of genuine fear and compassion, as misplaced as it was. Cindy was locked away for a decade, after all; at first, it would’ve been easy to think that Fang was the only way to get his daughter back. But both before and after the bunker, Albert was clinging to a past that no longer existed, and which wouldn’t have lasted even if Cindy had never been bitten by that spider. No family or child is truly “normal,” and no family stays the same forever; Cindy would have grown up and moved on eventually, and if it wasn’t the spider bite, there would have been something else Albert would have viewed as coming between him and Cindy, between him and his family. Cindy’s decision to embrace the unknown, to embrace the future knowing everything will turn out okay even when things get hard, gives Albert the strength to do the same. Since their reunion Cindy and Albert were both afraid to embrace their new family, and it’s only by letting go of the past and welcoming the possibilities coming their way that they’ve been able to appreciate the family they have right now in the present.
Another aspect that’s made Silk unique throughout its run is the fact that Cindy sees a therapist, and I love how Thompson and Ford wrap that thread up as well.
Obviously, not every person who sees a therapist will keep going forever (and nor should they), but Cindy has a lot of unique, complicated issues, so it’s heartening to know that, even though she’s reached a happier, better place in her life, she’s still going to work at improving herself and being the best Cindy Moon she can be. It’s just another part of facing her fears, embracing possibility, and accepting help, all concepts therapy has helped Cindy learn and implement.
This really speaks to how Thompson and Ford leave these characters as the series closes. They’ve brought their general arc to a conclusion and bid farewell to supporting characters and concepts (such as Lola and Rafferty) that we’ll probably never see again, but leave Cindy’s future wide open, giving future creators plenty to work with as well. I’m sad to see Thompson and Ford’s time with this series come to an end, but I hope to, eventually, see someone pick up where they left off. Cindy’s not done growing as a person, as a superhero, and as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and she’s simply got too much potential as a character to be without a spotlight for too long.
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?