Battle View: Framing The Fight (Spider-Woman/Silk #3 Review) (Spoilers)

detail SILK2015B003-DC11-LR-7cb8aAfter a pretty solid beating last month, will the Sinister Silk finally be able to knock down a very pregnant Spider-Woman? Will they both overcome a weaker second issue? One is a yes, one is a no, but which is which? 

Silk #3
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Tana Ford
Colorist: Ian Herring
C.Artist: Helen Chen
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

Spider-Woman #3
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist/C.Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Inker: Alvero Lopez
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

Spider-Woman Recap: After getting the pregnant women to the safest location in the hospital, Jessica has to save the hospital’s architect, Doctor Larnyk Volgrotten. Doctor Volgrotten is actually just his preserved head/brain, but Jessica gets him back to the safe room without detection. Doctor Volgrotten discovers once the Skrulls complete their mission, they’re going to blow the hospital up. Jessica learns their mission is to kidnap a thirteen year old Skrull prince. Jessica goes to rescue the kid, but as they’re escaping the Skrulls find them. Jessica prepares to fight all two dozen of them, when her water breaks. 12698366_1104848349556148_2358577129760643672_o

Silk Recap: Silk and Spider-Man stage a fight to help sell the image of Silk breaking bad. Jonah misconstrues it to the public as Spider-Man returning to his sinister ways. Peter lets Cindy know he doesn’t approve of her plans. Cindy acknowledges this, but tells Peter he’s too busy being Parker Industries’ CEO to deal with Black Cat. After her visit with Peter, she also visits her brother and her therapist. She vents her anger on the Goblin Nation and then meets up with Black Cat. Cat sends her to the Goblin Nation sewer hideout, with Killer Shrike as backup. They infiltrate the base but Shrike betrays her, leaving her to fend for herself against the Goblin Nation.

I will be comparing these two titles in the following: Framing, Fluidity, Facial Work, and First Mates. 

Framing: This Battle View is going to have a heavy focus on the visual, as I have a tendency to focus on the written elements. I am very interested in how Robbie Thompson and Dennis Hopeless script their comics. If I had to warrant a guess, I would say Thompson provides a lot more visual direction than Hopeless does in his scripts. Silk uses a standard framing layout, a lot of square panels that fit 2-5 panels on a page, often throwing a couple over a larger backdrop panel. This is the true tried method and for myself, it is how I envision my scripts as I am writing. There are breaks from the standard variation, mostly in the form of splash pages, but they are few and far between. Tana Ford works well within this system, since she is good at condensing figures to fit in smaller frames. It’s not groundbreaking, but it allows Ford to focus on her art work and she continues to show signs of progression.

Over in Spider-Woman, Javier Rodriguez is not messing around. His technical mastery of the page is astounding and he delivers career making art work, ignoring the borders of pages and panels if he has to. Each page is entirely his to craft and he does so in a way that I imagine makes it difficult to provide precise written direction. However, I think the unity between Hopeless and Rodriguez shows here; Hopeless’ faith in Rodriguez is an unspoken boon to the series. Alvero Lopez should get a shout out here, as he is the one that has to go over the labyrinth of Rodriguez’s artwork, adding depth and dimension to it.

Tana Ford is starting to grow on me, but she is not on Rodriguez’s level. This category goes to Spider-Woman.

Fluifluiditydity: There is a page in Spider-Woman #3 where Jessica Drew navigates her way through a page full of turning gears, moving up and down, left and right on the page in a single trail. This could easily confuse readers, but Rodriguez makes it fluid, guiding the reader’s eye perfectly. It is technical mastery and it is one of the most impressive things I have seen the artist do.

And yet, this is where Tana Ford shines. Back in 2008, when the Spectacular Spider-Man was first coming out, there was a lot of fan backlash on the art. People disliked the simplistic style the show was going with, but this was actually one of the series’ strengths. Because the art was simplistic, they could animate so much of it and it really brought Spider-Man’s agility to life. Tana Ford is similar in this aspect; her figure work is simple, yet incredibly fluid. Silk is a blur in battle, but you never lose sight of what is going on in the scene. Ian Herring helps Ford with his color scheme, creating solid backgrounds of emotive color to rely the information in a scene. A scene is red if force is involved, yellow if speed is the primary focus. Together, Ian Herring and Tana Ford create something powerful, through simple figures, powerful colors, and exaggerated motion.

I am really glad I can give this category to Silk, because I do think Tana Ford has earned some praise.

Facial Work:Kid If fluidity is Ford’s strongest element, facial work is her weakest. I find Tana Ford to be quite similar to artist, Kate Beaton, except Beaton has the stronger facial work. There are pages in the issue where Cindy looks like she is eighty. The more detail Ford puts into her faces, the worse I find them to be. When she’s conveying simple emotions, like surprise, she delivers fine work but when she’s trying to rely the subtext of a scene through emotion, the work crumbles.

Javier Rodriguez draws the most attractive females in comics, this side of Jamie McKelvie. And this is largely because his facial
work is stunning. He is constantly framing pages with talking heads, so I am sure he is aware of this. Every aspect of his faces are expressive when focused upon and when he has to minimalize the focus, he knows exactly what part of the fact to animate to convey what he needs.

I could sing endless praise of Rodriguez’s art, so this category is Spider-Woman’s.

First Mate:
Both issues shift focus to a character 2/3s of the way through (Spider-Woman on page sixteen, Silk on page fifteen) so I thought this would make for an interesting category. Both of these characters serve larger purposes in the narrative, but had little time devoted to them before this.

In Spider-Woman, this character is Prince Klundirk of the Skrull Empire. He is the catalyst for the Skrull invasion, as they hope to use him as a political puppet to take the throne. This series is about Jessica’s entry into parenthood and there is at least three cute moments between Jessica and this child in the six pages they get together. It has me ready to see Jessica as a mother, even if her child is going to be in infancy for god knows how long in the Marvel chronology. This interaction with the kid also includes a great joke about the Milo Manara variant cover from last volume.

Over in Silk, this character is Killer Shrike. Shrike is Silk’s rival in Black Cat’s group and a perfect bantering partner. I am sad he betrays her so quickly, since there is a lot more fun that could have been had between the characters. There is a really nice scene that precedes the betrayal where Silk goes out of her way to help him out. A single panel, but still a nice reminder that Silk is a hero, which this book is constantly telling not showing.

This 12593817_1104848419556141_7429504105250638484_oone was really close, but Hopeless’ script is a little tighter, so I am giving this one to Prince Klundirk and Spider-Woman.

Verdict: Once again, Spider-Woman is our victor. Not surprising, since this book is back into the A groove that it had most of last volume. But we should not count Silk out, because this book is slowly improving as well. Tana Ford is an artist I enjoy seeing, just because her progression as an artist is unfolding on these pages. But Javier Rodriguez and Alvero Lopez are a powerhouse team, making some of the best superhero comics currently coming out.

Grades: Spider-Woman (A+), Silk (B)

Spider-Gwen got an A, making this the first issue where Jessica Drew did better than Ms. Stacy since relaunch.

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