Battle View: Three for One (Spider-Woman/Silk #4, Silk #5 Review) (Spoilers)

detaildetail (1)Will two issues worth of material allow the Sinister Silk to dethrone Spider-Woman from her throne, or will Jessica take the win from Cindy for the fourth month in a row?

Silk #4/5

Writer: Robbie Thompson

Artist: Veronica Fish

Cover Artist: Helen Chen

Colorist: Ian Herring

Letterer: Travis Lanham

Editors: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe

Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

Spider-Woman #4

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist/C.Artist: Javier Rodriguez

Inker: Alvero Lopez

Letterer: Travis Lanham

Editors: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe

Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

12795200_1122127354494914_1867197757785823426_oSilk Recap: After being betrayed by Killer Shrike in the third issue, Silk is able to escape the Goblin Nation with help from the mysterious Espectro. Rather than flee, she decides to sneak around their headquarters. After discovering some information on her brother, Albert, she is captured. The Goblin King offers her a place within the Goblin Nation, but she declines. GK injects her with a goblin formula and sends Silk after her boss, Black Cat. Espectro tries to stop her, but is unable to. She attacks Shrike and Cat, defeating the former before being cured by the later. Cat reveals she has been stealing tech to formulate a cure for the goblin serum, but needed a test subject to try it on. She also reveals she knew Killer Shrike was untrustworthy and ships him off to SHIELD. Cat formally invites Silk into her inner circle and the fifth issue ends with them setting out to stop the Goblin King.

Spider-Woman Recap: After going into premature labor as the Skrulls arrive to kidnap Prince Klundirk, Jessica is saved by Klundirk’s intervention. They manage to escape thanks to Klundirk’s takeover of the hospital’s super computer and he gets her to some holed up doctors. Jessica gives birth to a baby boy, before disabling her nervous system and taking out the Skrulls on her own. Carol Danvers and Alpha Flight arrive immediately afterwards and Jessica wakes up several hours later to meet her child.

I will be comparing the two titles in the following categories:  Supporting Cast, Series Progression, Arc Progression, , Emotion, Colors and Creativity.

Supporting Cast: I feel like this is one of the first times Robbie Thompson is balancing his cast well. We get more of Thompson’s excellent portrayal of Jolly Jonah, escaping caricature-ness through concern for Cindy. We learn more about Cindy’s parents, that her mother is a hardheaded scientist and her dad is a supportive handyman. Mockingbird and Jessica Drew show up, paving the way for the Spider-Women event coming in a couple issues time. We have the best portrayal of Black Cat since her villainous turn. She is intuitive, catching flaws in Shrike’s lie about Silk’s betrayal as they change. She is tough but caring, with a soft spot for Silk. And best of all, all her recent thefts seen in past issues actually lead to her creating a cure to the goblin serum, so she can help those the Goblin King has turned. It might be done out of selfish purpose, but it is indication that heroism still resides in Felicia Hardy. Even the two weak links in the supporting cast, Lola and Rafferty, actually put to good use as they are put on the trail of Ajay Kapoor, one of the scientists Cindy’s mother was working with.

12794673_1122127184494931_2972666270226878035_oNot that the supporting cast is not well used in Spider-Woman. It is just smaller, with Prince Klundirk and Carol Danvers filling the roster. The panicking Prince Klundirk we saw last issue gives way to a clever child, who shows an uncanny gift for technology. You can see Jessica’s admiration grow for him throughout the issue and the scene where she asks him to hold her hand during pregnancy is a touching one. And Carol Danvers continues to shine. Dennis Hopeless writes Jessica and Carol as ideal best friends, yet the relationship feels genuine. He showcases their friendship through necessary and unnecessary concern, forgiveness, and plenty of snark.

Both books boast an impressive supporting cast, but due to the larger size and the redemption of Black Cat, I’m giving this category to Silk.

Series Progression: Spider-Woman tells better self-contained stories than most Marvel series. I don’t mean this in an issue to issue sense. I mean that when one story arc wraps in Spider-Woman, you feel like you’ve gone through an experience than profoundly changes a character. All the loose ends feel wrapped up and the players are shifted into place for the next adventure. It is a pretty good way to write in the fickle economy comics find themselves in now-a-days and sadly, Spider-Woman is selling the least amount of copies out of the 3 Spider-Female titles (Spider-Gwen lead last month with 48k in sales, Silk with 33k, and Spider-Woman had half Spider-Gwen’s sale with 24K.) This doesn’t really allow the series to progress as much in a single issue as series telling multiple stories at one time does.

In the last two issues of Silk a lot happens, especially in the fourth issue.  We learn that Cindy’s parents disappeared two years before her brother joined the Goblin Nation. That they were working on a cure with a scientist, Ajay Kapoor, who Cindy begins to look into. The Goblin King learns she was looking for someone amongst his ranks, putting him on the trail of Silk’s secret identity. Espectro knows Cindy’s secret identity. Silk gets injected with the goblin serum and is cured. Black Cat reveals the motives behind her recent thefts and she takes Cindy into a position of trust after ousting Killer Shrike. And Jessica Drew appears in the role of Cindy’s mentor (as well as Gwen’s) to set up the events of Spider-Women. There’s payoff on multiple story fronts, as well as setup for future story events.

Because it’s written in a way resembling a television season, this category goes to Silk.

12794780_1122127301161586_34210921989128029_o Despite delivering a lot for future developments, Silk’s current plot is pretty bare bones. Cindy gets captured, transformed, cured, and then teams up with Black Cat to fight the Goblin King. We have an issue left in this arc and I feel like a lot of open threads will be left when the sixth issue wraps. Using the television season analogy from before, this is our mid season finale. Something explosive happens, before we return with a brief Spider-Women interruption. Once that is done, we’ll move into the season endgame, wrapping all the story lines by season’s end. I thought Robbie Thompson did a great job of closing Volume One of Silk, so I’m okay with this. Thompson is writing for the season, not the arc.

Spider-Woman on the other end is practically finished with its opening arc. The baby is delivered and the Skrulls dealt with. While there is one issue left, I feel it will serve as an epilogue to this current arc, setting Jessica up for Spider-Women. And Spider-Woman did this all in four issues, whereas Silk is looking at six with loose ends.

This category goes to the incredibly well paced Spider-Woman.

Emotion: If there is an area that Silk falters in from month to month, it is emotion. I’ve only been genuinely touched by the comic twice and both were in Volume One (the scene with Rage and his daughter at the end of the third issue and Silk’s reunion with her brother in the seventh.) I’m never concerned for our character’s well being, nor am I ever moved by an amazing display she puts on. The family plot has never struck a cord with me, nor has her personal life. I’m invested in the adventures of Silk, but not the life of Cindy Moon, despite being in love with the way Robbie Thompson writes the character.

Not the case with Spider-Woman. There were tears shed in the scene where Jessica Drew gives birth and meets her child for the first time. The stakes are high, with potential for a stressed based miscarriage as the Skrulls come close to gaining access to the delivery room. Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez are both new parents, with Rodriguez’s daughter being born as he was drawing the events of the second issue, and it shows. The emotion leaping off the page is powerful and it kills me more people aren’t reading this series, because this creative team is one of Marvel’s hidden gems. 

And then they immediately follow this powerful scene up with Jessica Drew kicking all kinds of ass. It may stretch believability, but Hopeless wisely throws in a device that allows Jessica to turn off her nervous system. And the resulting splash page is Jessica going full ‘mother bear’ on the Skrulls. Is there any other superhero that devastates the Skrulls quite like Spider-Woman?

Thanks to an emotionally riveting scene followed up by pure badassery, this category goes to Spider-Woman.

12525589_1122127437828239_5501606977163216505_oColors: There is no other book that looks quite like Spider-Woman in Marvel’s current lineup. Inker Alvero Lopez provides plenty of thick shadows that Javier Rodriguez’s colors cut through to provide atmosphere. And even when the book is operating in the light, Rodriguez delivers a barrage of vibrant colors that gives the book an alien look. We’re talking neon greens, blues, and purples. Sadly, there isn’t an obvious rhyme or reason to the color palette of the comic.

Colorist Ian Herring is the strongest component of the Silk creative team. He is a constant, as artists change and the quality of Thompson’s scripts fluctuate from issue to issue. He brings visual consistency to the series, with obvious color schemes. Red indicts power. Yellow is indicative of speed. This book is a testament to Ian Herring’s skill as a colorist.

Thanks to the consistent skill and reason of Ian Herring’s colors, this category goes to Silk.

Creativity: It is a shame that Veronica Fish is the new series artist for Mark Waid’s new Archie series, because she would be perfect on Silk. She is a happy medium between Stacey Lee and Tana Ford, delivering a more simplistic style reminiscent of Ford, but without the facial hiccups. And she can compose a page beautifully, having Silk navigate it with fluidity and grace. She’s the first artist on the series that has been able to compete with Javier Rodrgiuez’s page composition.

However, she is not quite on his level. Rodriguez continues to deliver tons of unconventional panels in Spider-Woman. Characters often break through panels, but his strength lies in how he composes his pages. He turns them into labyrinths for the characters to navigate through, but the reader is able to follow them with ease as they move. His pages never feel cramped, no matter how much he stuffs into them.

12819322_1122127251161591_3854736258792379231_oDespite a strong showing from guest artist, Veronica Fish, Javier Rodriguez captures this category for Spider-Woman.

Verdict: So, we have three wins for Silk and three wins for Spider-Woman. Both series continue to deliver strong storytelling, but Spider-Woman #4 is the first contender for Issue Of The Year for me. The passion of its creative team leaps off the pages and the faults found in the categories it didn’t win aren’t weaknesses against it, but rather areas where Silk triumphs over it because of the different nature of each book. It will kill me if Spider-Woman gets cancelled anytime soon, so please go out and read this series. I promise you’re in for a treat. 

Grades: Spider-Woman #4 (A+), Silk #4 (A-), Silk #5 (B+)

For those keeping track of all 3, Spider-Gwen #4 got an A+ as well. 

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