Review: SILK #1

SILK2015001_DC41SILK #1
Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Stacey Lee, Ian Herring 
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 18, 2015

Silk is the story of Cindy Moon, a Korean-American woman, who was bit by the same radioactive spider as Peter Parker and developed the same powers. We haven’t heard of her until now because she was trapped in a bunker for over to ten years and finally released during the Spider-Verse event. At the start of this new issue, we join Cindy as she tries to rejoin a New York that has moved on without her.

I was excited about Silk just on the grounds that it was a new female-led title, and one led by an Asian-American at that. I’m always trying to teach myself about the Marvel Universe too, so the new book seemed like an excellent gateway. However, I have to admit, I wasn’t wowed.

I think Silk and I started off on the wrong foot just based on how quippy it is. To be fair, this is a huge hallmark of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, so I understand that this is as much homage as it is a stylistic choice. However, I think I might be a little saturated with the sort of self-conscious, “I only sort of know what I’m doing!” style with the occasional 90s reference, given I’m also reading Ms. Marvel and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Thor, and even, to a degree, Batgirl. Each of those books enacts that self-consciousness in a different way and each is in a sort of “new” phase at the moment—Silk included—but I think it’s getting to be a lot for me to take.

There were quite a few thematic elements I appreciated. For example, I very much liked how the romantic (or perhaps not romantic) element between Silk and Spider-Man was handled. I had to do a bit of research to find out what was going on there after I read the issue, but all in all I’m quite satisfied with the direction the creative team decided to take it, considering that Silk is in an arguably vulnerable position given her newness to…well, the world.

I also very much value the fact that a Korean-American family was displayed without stereotype. In this issue, we see a flashback to Cindy revealing to her parents that she has a boyfriend. While this type of scene is often handled a certain way in depictions of Asian-American dynamics, things went in a direction that was, in a word, refreshing.

What kept me from really enjoying the issue, beyond the quips—or now that I think about it, in context with the quips—was that most of it didn’t stray too far from the Peter Parker script. We see her fighting crime. We see her being late to her job at the Daily Bugle. We see her tangle with J. Jonah Jameson. On the whole, we see Cindy doing things that Peter could easily have done or be doing, and I wanted to read the story that could only be told about Cindy Moon. We do get some of it, especially in flashbacks to her life before the bunker, but I wanted more. If she has the same powers and abilities as Peter, then I think the team has an obligation to capitalize on what’s different—and that’s her history.

The most successful and intriguing pages for me were the last five, where we really start to delve into who she is. There’s a choice that Cindy makes in those pages that spoke volumes about what those years in the bunker did to her and how it continues to affect her now. That scene alone was enough to sign me up for issue #2. I want to read more about that Cindy Moon, even though I don’t think we were given enough of her in this first go round.

On the art-side of things, Silk is joining this new and great tradition of putting young women in fashionable and appropriate clothing—and I love it. Even if I was tiring of the quippy trend in those other books, I will never stop being appreciative of seeing women in great clothes on the pages of my comics. I’m especially digging Cindy’s Spider-Suit (Silk-Suit), complete with an outlaw-style bandana that really suits her outsider-outlook.

In general, actually, I think the style of the book really suits the subject matter and audience. Everyone is cute as hell, the colors are incredibly lush and bright—and I’m 100% into it. Like Babs Tarr’s work on Batgirl (that I cannot praise enough), we see Stacey Lee calling up some visual quirks used in anime and manga that I think will call back to Sailor Moon and other shoujo for many readers. This isn’t to say that all women want all cute comics all the time. Everyone certainly has different tastes. However, I think it’s totally justified and appropriate to bring some cuteness into a media and/or industry that has shunned it in favor of all-masculinity-all-the-time. Lots of women are turned off by that kind of style—I think, for good reason—and I think this look of this will stand to bring a lot of them into the fold.

I will say, though, that while I’m completely satisfied with the art as it’s being done now, what I think could take the art to the next level is an attempt to play with the form itself. I’d like to see more variations in paneling and see the visuals engage just a little bit more with the actual telling of the story. I see a lot of potential with Silk’s eidetic memory and, in general, her enhanced spider abilities. There’s a lot that could be done and I look forward to seeing what the artistic team can really do.

While Silk #1 wasn’t a winner for me, I’m still very much looking forward to #2. The artistic team is hitting all the right notes and we’ve definitely got the makings of a great character on our hands. If she’s finally given the opportunity to show what makes her special, we could have a great book on our hands too.

The Verdict: 6.5/10

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