“Silk” #1 by Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee gives one of the newest characters in the Spider-Verse her own title after her debut in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man.” In contrast to her convoluted and action-heavy introduction, Thompson keeps it simple for the first issue, letting Silk’s voiceover speak directly to the reader.
Lee’s costume design is fine, but having heroines with long swinging hair always emphasizes a female hero’s attractiveness over common sense. The linework is graceful, but the action on the first few pages is ho-hum. The opening full-page spread does give Silk a classic entrance, but it also doesn’t take any risks with composition and the result is that Silk feels derivative.
Silk’s quippy dialogue is also reminiscent of Spidey’s, and Dragonclaw’s overwrought repartee tries too hard to be funny. The opening scene ends with a rescue by Spidey himself. The artwork looks great with Lee’s bouncy, strong linework and Herring’s attractive version of the classic red and blue. Although Silk’s need for a rescue is a let-down for readers, it’s clear that Silk herself is pretty upset that she wasn’t able to hit the ground running.
Dragonclaw’s boss is seen later, but that reveal and subplot feels beside the point. The major conflict in “Silk” is how Cindy’s years in the bunker have left their mark. Cindy’s first swing through the city on her own is like a duckling on their first walk, and Spidey steps in as the mother duck.
Thompson weaves in three flashbacks to Cindy’s childhood. Herring’s faded palette for the past makes the timeline clear, but the narrative transitions are a little too abrupt. The flashbacks are all normal family life scenes of rebellion, school, siblings, dating and so on, but Thompson’s dialogue and Lee’s facial expressions are strong enough to make these scenes feel bittersweet.
The J. Jonah Jameson cameo is hilarious. It riffs on well-known Spider-Man history, but it can stand on its own legs as a joke. JJJ’s nickname for Cindy is cute and appropriate as well. The scene where Spider-Man is eating a sandwich and talking on his mobile at the same time is simple, classic physical humor, and it works.
Cindy’s narrative voice is inviting but, for new readers, it’s not enough yet to get a grip on her personality. There’s not enough exploration of who Cindy is apart from her ten-years-in-a-bunker shellshock. The moment where she helps Lola out doesn’t fit in with her general discomfort, but it’s fun and helps the reader see what she might become.
On the last page of “Silk” #1, Cindy is creating her own Big Board for her investigation, using webbing in place of push pins. The last panel of “Silk” #1 lacks shock value since the execution of that particular plot twist is stale. Despite that, the ending is memorable for the sentence “she came home.” As an insight into Cindy’s psychological state, it’s chilling, even though Thompson’s been laying down the hints all along.
Cindy’s self-chosen isolation, despite potential friends like Lola or a romantic interest and mentor like Spider-Man, is also a red flag. Her freely chosen decision to return to the “comfort” of the bunker seems backwards, but it matches up exactly with the known difficulties that ex-prisoners have with re-integration after being in a tightly controlled environment. The ending panel is the darkest moment in the whole comic, because it turns out that the person that might know Cindy the best isn’t a friend and their knowledge of her was obtained without her consent.
“Silk” #1 has strong humor and unusually fine attention to psychological realism. If Thompson and Lee can step it up with the character development in future issues, “Silk” will be a winner.