Thompson Readies "Silk" For the "Last Days" of the Marvel Universe

Almost anything can (and has) happened in the Marvel Universe, including the fantastic and the wonderful. But just like the real world, fate can be incredibly cruel. Case in point: Cindy Moon.

Bitten by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker, she also developed super powers. Instead of walking down a heroic path like the Amazing Spider-Man, Cindy was trapped in a bunker for ten years. Recently freed by Spidey, Cindy's new adventures are chronicled in Marvel's "Silk" series by Robbie Thompson, whose day job is writing for the CW series "Supernatural," and artist Stacey Lee.

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Making things doubly difficult for Cindy is that no sooner is she trying to make the most of her newfound freedom by working as a super hero and searching for her missing family than the Marvel Universe itself is coming to an end thanks to "Secret Wars." That end arrives for Cindy in August's "Silk" #7, a story that falls under the "Last Days" banner. CBR News spoke with Thompson about his upcoming "Last Days" story, the tales leading up to it involving Spider-Man and the Black Cat, and his abiding love for the guest stars in "Silk" #4, the Fantastic Fourta.

CBR News: Robbie, it was recently revealed that Silk will have to face the final days of the Marvel 616 Universe as the title will receive a "Last Days" arc during "Secret Wars." This seems like an especially harsh fate for Cindy Moon considering the world is literally ending right as she's making an effort to reclaim her life.

Robbie Thompson: It's heartbreaking for Cindy because she's finally out of that cursed bunker and she's just beginning to get her sea legs and a sense of her own fate and place in the Marvel Universe.

So it's bittersweet. As a fan of Cindy's I'm heartbroken for her, but as a writer it's great. It's the perfect environment to expand on her character and the story we've been telling over these first seven issues. It's kind of cool that Cindy came out of a large event like "Original Sin" and then had this huge event with "Spider-Verse." Now to tie in "The Last Days" of Cindy Moon with "Secret Wars" gives things a sort of bookend.

When Marvel and [Spider-Man group editor] Nick Lowe told me what was going on with "Secret Wars" it was like, "This is actually perfect." It's kind of like what we do on "Supernatural," a little bit of high stakes tragedy to help bring our characters out more.

How will the "Last Days" of the Marvel Universe impact the balance between Cindy's personal and super heroic lives? Will there be a push pull between her two identities?

We'll get the first hints of what's going on with "Secret Wars" in issue #6. Then we really deal with it head on in issue #7. One of the things that Nick really wanted from this series from the beginning -- even when we first sat down almost a year ago, which is crazy -- was to try and tell more of a personal story. So we're really focusing on a personal story for Cindy in issue #7 and how that relates to "Secret Wars" and the cast of characters that we've gotten to know over these first seven issues. We'll see her spending these potential last moments with J. Jonah Jameson, her co-workers, and some other familiar faces. So, like our other stories, this "Last Days" tale will be more of a personal one.

Part of Cindy's personal story in "Silk" has been the search for her missing family, and when the end of the world approaches there's a natural inclination to spend your last moments with loved ones. Plus it seems like her social awkwardness from years spent living in isolation in a bunker has kept her from forming tight bonds with people. Will her final hours be a little strange and uncomfortable?

Her awkwardness has kept her from getting close to people and that ties into what we were talking about earlier. One of the things I enjoy writing about on "Supernatural" is there's the family you have and there's the family that you find. That found family can be just as close as your blood one and Cindy is just starting to make some tenuous friendships.

So to have that potentially stripped away is sort of tragic, but at the same time we're going to see her interact with the people that have been in her life so far, post-bunker, in these last few issues, and I really hope that it shows that she's come a long way in a short amount of time -- but she still has a long way to go. And hopefully if she survives the events of "Secret Wars" we'll get to explore that.

Again, the word that we've been bouncing back and forth as we've been working on these issues is bittersweet. Because she's just had a taste of what it's like to connect with people and a taste of what her super hero life can be like as well -- and then along come the Secret Wars. [Laughs]

The end of the Marvel Universe isn't necessarily the end of Silk, and as a TV writer you have experience setting up season finales that wrap up some arcs, further others, and establish new ones. What's it like wrapping up what some could consider the initial "season" of "Silk?" I know you're juggling a lot of mysteries and characters.

That's a great way of putting it, and having worked for so long on "Supernatural," which has had a wide variety of cliffhangers not only in the time I've been there, but over the course of all of its seasons, the take away for me has always been that cliffhangers on "Supernatural" work the best when they feel like the resolution to one story, but they're opening up the door to more stories.
That's certainly been influential in how I'm looking at the ending of this first chapter or this first "season" of Silk's story. So we're going to get some resolution with regards to the story we set up, but there's still a lot more story to tell with Cindy Moon, and should she survive the events of "Secret Wars" I hope we get to tell more stories with her. Because I love her and I'm rooting for her. I want her to find the happiness that she's been deprived of for the last 10 years.

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It looks like artist Tana Ford, whose work has appeared in Vertigo's "Strange Sports Stories" and the latest volume of "New Warriors," will be bringing to life the "Last Days" issue of "Silk." Is that correct? What do you enjoy most about her style and work?

Yes -- Tana is coming in as a guest artist for Issue #7 and I'm really excited to be working with her. She's a brilliant artist and I cannot wait to see how she brings this story to life.

Let's back up and talk about the issues paving the way for your "Last Days" arc. I know when new writers get their first Marvel ongoing they tend to reach for characters that meant a lot to them. You were able to do that with "Silk" #4, a story where Cindy interacted with the Fantastic Four. How much do the FF mean to you as a reader and a writer?

"Fantastic Four" #243 was the first comic I remember buying. It's the one with Galactus on the cover and the caption is "Everyone Vs. Galactus." So Marvel's First Family was not only my gateway into comics, but specifically the Marvel Universe.

So I very slowly and deliberately asked Ellie [Pyle], Nick [Lowe] and then Devin [Lewis, Thompson's editors] about this notion of the Fantastic Four coming in. To me the appeal of it was they are Marvel's First Family and that's the one thing that Cindy is missing. So to put her in that setting felt right. Also though, selfishly I really wanted to write lines for Ben Grimm. [Laughs] That's something I've been doing as a fan in my mind since about age seven. I just love those characters.

I love the dynamic within the family and although we only get a little snapshot of them in that issue, it was a dream come true as a fanboy. I thought it was a way to show what Cindy is looking for without directly commenting on it. I really enjoyed writing that scene between Reed and Cindy. I think there's a tendency to have Reed be a little cold and academic, which he is, but he's also a father.

I think that moment was as close as he could come to realizing what Cindy has lost and also trying to help her. I think he wanted to come up with some sort of injection or pill she could take to make this all go away, but, as we're going to explore in the next couple issues, these problems are serious and come from an organic place, which is this post-traumatic stress she's going through from having lived in isolation for so long and then being flung into the real world.

One of the first questions I asked when I met with Nick was if Spider-Man was going to be in the book, because I really wanted to write dialogue for Peter Parker. Nick had to calm me down and say, "It's okay. He's a pretty big part of her world, so he's going to be in the book." [Laughs] Then I asked about guest stars, and the way that's talked about is sort of like casting a book. Having Cindy interact with other characters we all know and love helps ground her in the Marvel Universe. So once that door was open I just shoved a giant Galactus through it as quickly as I could. [Laughs] It was a way to comment on her situation and show she was carving out her own place in the Marvel Universe.

Cindy interacts with the full FF in the first part of "Silk" #4 and the second half chronicles her date with Johnny Storm. How do you think they left things? It seems like they enjoyed each other's company, but parted more as friends than anything else.

There's a great dynamic between Peter Parker and Johnny Storm that's always fun to play with. So when we were talking about this issue it felt like this would be a nice extension of that, but we were also trying to find moments where Cindy would be put in a "normal" situation and not quite know what to do. 
We thought it would be fun to set them up on this date and I loved that cover that Dave Johnson drew. It's so amazing. It's such a great image. Then when you see the actual date, and the date is kind of a disaster. It worked best when they decided to go out and fight crime together. So it's not a traditional sort of date. I feel they definitely connected more as friends and super hero colleagues.

The final pages of issue #4 had Black Cat unveiling a whole crew of super powered thugs to pursue Silk. How dangerous are these characters? Are they basically an army of operatives outfitted in a way similar to Dragonclaw, the first of her operatives that Silk tangled with?

Yeah, they're pretty tough and you're going to see exactly what they can do in issue #5. It's been great to explore Black Cat and her new position in the Marvel Universe. It's been great to watch how her character is expanding and growing in the Marvel Universe and to play a small part in that has been a lot of fun.

So, yes she's got her minions on the lookout for Silk in issue #5, but knowing Black Cat, she's an incredibly smart, agile and badass. It's good for her to have these blunt instruments like an army of people at her side, but she's pretty aggressive on her own. She really wants to take a piece out of Silk. That's something that you'll see over the next couple issues. It's so much fun! Black Cat is a great character to write.

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Is the Cat's vendetta against Silk strictly business? Or is it becoming a bit personal?

It's coming from a business standpoint, but you're going to see in the next few issues that it clearly is more than just that. She's got a little bit of a bone to pick. Obviously they have history with a certain gentleman, but it really more starts from a business standpoint, and is going to get personal between the two of them.

Speaking of that particular gentleman, we know from covers that Spider-Man figures into these next couple of issues. What's your sense of the relationship between Peter and Silk? I get a sense that she finds him a bit confusing to be around because of the attraction effect they have on each other, but is she also angry with Peter Parker?

Yeah, I think she is. There's a moment in issue #4 where she flat out punches him. I guess if I had to describe their relationship I would say, "It's complicated." They're connected forever, both by a spider and the events of "Spider-Verse." That connection is never going to go away. It's always going to be a part of their lives, and I go back to this conversation I had with Ellie early on when we first started talking about the book. If you look at the events of "Spider-Verse" as, for lack of a better expression, a giant one-night stand, now Peter and Cindy have gotten to the position where they're friends and trying to get to know one another. There's still this attraction though.

So it's a complicated relationship and one of the things we really wanted to focus on from the beginning was how do you become friends after something like that? And can you? Is that push-pull always going to be there? That's something that you'll see particularly in issues #5-6. They'll address that conflict head on, and it was really fun to write because they have this instant history, yet they haven't spent a whole lot of time together. They're connected going all the way back to that spider bite, but the actual amount of time they've been in each other's lives has been incredibly short yet incredibly focused.

They went on this huge adventure and now that they're finally coming off the events of "Spider-Verse" and unpacking what happened, it's fun to explore that relationship and talk about it. One of the things we touch on is they're both adults, but they're not really sure how to deal with this situation.

So you saw the spark from that in issue #4, and you'll really see in issues #5-6 that she is angry. A part of her wishes that she was still back in that bunker. There's an almost institutionalized nature to it of after being you've isolated for so long, a desire to create that isolation even though you want connection with people. I think part of her is angry with Peter. He opened a door, they went on this giant adventure, and she gained her freedom, but freedom can be a double-edged sword for a person that's experienced that kind of trauma.

I think Peter is the focus of that attention in terms of conflicting emotions about it, and that's the stuff that we're going to be digging into in issues #5-6. It's fun to write the two of them. The dynamic that was set up when Cindy was created was really fun, and to show the complications of that dynamic has been a blast to write.
From what you said it sounds like that will be the personal element of issues #5-6, but those issues will also tell a big, fun, street-level super hero adventure.

Yeah, I say all this stuff about feelings and emotions and what not, but there's always going to be punching and kicking in "Silk." Especially since Black Cat and Silk make a very cool match up in terms of combat. Stacey Lee's art in issues #5-6 is fantastic. She's really firing on all cylinders. It's great to watch what she does with the story and to see how much character and story she brings out in her art. She's fantastic. She's a real find and an amazing talent.

Yeah, it seems like Stacey is great with emotions, but also has a firm handle on the kinetic, action based nature of a character like Silk.

That is a great way of putting it. It really is a fine balance of performance in those close ups and really evoking what the character is feeling, and yet at the same time there's some great sequential story telling that she's drawing out from the story to give those impact moments real heft. There is a sense of weight to the fights that are going on and a dynamic quality to them.

As we talked about, you do have a day job, and I know you can't reveal if you're working on "Silk" post-"Secret Wars," but are you staying with the world of comics?

Absolutely. The more comics work I can find the merrier. This has been an absolute dream job for me and I've gotten to know a lot of the people at Marvel including incredibly talented artists like Stacey. That partnership and that sense of collaboration really kind of ties to my day job, which is real collaborative effort.
Every time I talk on the phone with Nick about upcoming issues it's so exciting. Every time I get an e-mail from Devin and it's got a lettered issue to do a pass on it's a thrill. Every time I see Stacey's layouts and every time I see Ian Herring's colors it's such a joy. This is not a job at all. It's an absolute dream come true for me, again as a kid who picked up "Fantastic Four" #243 at Perry's Drugs, which I don't even think exists anymore. [Laughs]

I hope to continue on and tell more "Silk" stories if she survives the events of "Secret Wars," and I hope I can continue working in comics, particularly Marvel Comics. They're sort of what I was raised on and I love working in that world. I'm forever grateful to Ellie for bringing me in and to Nick and Devin for taking me on and being incredibly patient with me. It's been a blast and I hope to have much more to come.

"Silk" #5 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.

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