Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Tana Ford
C.Artist: Helen Chen
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist/C.Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Inker: Alvero Lopez
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Silk Recap: After being cured by Black Cat at the end of the fifth issue, Cindy Moon finds herself faced with a long day. She returns to her day job, where she faces constant concern for her well-being. After work, she Silks up and joins with Black Cat to take down the Goblin Nation. They release the cure into the tunnels and quickly take down Phil Urich’s Goblin Nation. Black Cat tries to make Silk execute Urich, but Silk lets him escape into custody of SHIELD. Cat asks Silk to help her take down the criminal underworld, before helping all the refugees of the Goblin Nation find shelter, while Silk reports to Mockingbird. Mockingbird is about to take her off the job, when Cindy snaps and argues her way back on to the case. As her therapist notes near the end, her anger is growing, as if something is fueling it.
Spider-Woman Recap: After a few weeks of raising her child, Jessica Drew finds herself unable to return to the superhero life. She is constantly afraid for her baby and is terrified by how often near-death experiences are involved in super-heroics. Several people try to help her overcome this, but in the end it is Roger Gocking (Porcupine) and Ben Urich that get through to her. Porcupine shows her that things will get easier as a parent, having raised a baby of his own, and Ben gets her to dip her feet into the superhero pool by reading some case files. Jess, being Jess, decides she is ready to dive right back into things after that.
I will be comparing the two titles in the following: Gags, Innovation, Fatigue, Supporting Cast, Conclusion.
Gags: I often ignore the little things in the series when comparing them, so I am going to start small. Both series use gags in their opening pages to add a little levity. In Silk however, we get a joke that actually shows Cindy’s stressed state of mind. Most of the past thirteen issues have been about Cindy moving past her experience in the bunker, but a simple repeated joke about closed doors shows that Cindy is very emotionally vulnerable. Considering the events she’s been through in such a short period of time, this makes sense. The weight of Cindy’s responsibilities are starting to crush her.
Over in Spider-Woman, Dennis Hopeless starts the book with a humorous dramatic monologue that appears to be breaking the fourth wall as Jessica is talking directly to the camera. However, as soon as he breaks down the wall, he rebuilds it by revealing She-Hulk and Patsy Walker on the other side of the camera. A little chuckle worthy moment, in an issue full of them. The ones that occur later show a strong sense of unity between artist and writer, as scenes are told without words and in the shadows.
Innovation: Javier Rodriguez continues to use the page in whatever way tells the story, conventional things like panels a secondary concern. This is nothing new, but he does play around with a couple scenes in this issue. The first is Jessica’s first night out since the baby. There is no dialogue in the scenes and the faces of each character is shaded, something very reminiscent of the Pizza Dog issues of Hawkeye that David Aja drew. The characters are all assigned familiar colors (Jessica is Red, Clint Barton is purple, and so on) and their little caption bubbles say a lot, despite barely changing (Clint is given a heart with an arrow through it, and it’s broken or whole depending on Clint’s mood in the scene.) It’s fun and Jessica’s bubbles being little Bill Waterson-esqe cartoons of Roger with her baby makes it even better. The second scene is told through shadows and body parts, as Ben and Jessica discuss her returning to superheroing. I don’t think it’s as clever as it could have been, since the shadows are rather static and the camera doesn’t shift much, but it is still a cute moment.
This issue of Silk is Tana Ford’s best yet and by a long shot. Her facial work is improving issue by issue and this time around she gives a lot more clear faces, rather than using rough lines to try and create emotion. It makes her work much easier to take in and helps to highlight the use of lines to display intense emotions on character’s faces. More importantly, she starts to move away from using only archetypal panels and play with things. Characters break through panels at times, framing them at others. The last few pages of the issue in particular are really strong and I encourage more creativity from Tana now that her fundamentals are really starting to shape up.
I wouldd also be remiss not to mention Ian Herring here. This time around, he gets to add a new color to his repertoire to display the effects of the Goblin Serum. This is seen in a dark blue that blends in with the red color used for strength. We see it to different degrees, breaking through the red background when she attacks Phil Urich and then lightly floating above the red when she loses her temper briefly with Mockingbird later on.
This category goes to Tana Ford and Ian Herring, in part for her progression and in part for an addition to the core colors of Silk.
Fatigue: One of the biggest faults of Tana Ford’s art continues to be how she tries to portray fatigue. She subtly tries to distort the features of her characters, but it either comes off looking awkward or it is not noticeable. She can portray drastic emotions like shock and anger really well, but the more subtle emotions like fatigue and concern elude her.
But Javier Rodriguez nails portraying fatigue. I think a lot of it has to do with the heavy inks Alvero Lopez is throwing on Jessica’s face, but it is also because Rodriguez knows what and when to emphasis. He knows what part of the face to zoom on, he knows not to emphasis Jessica’s fatigue when she’s yelling at someone, and he knows how to place his lines in the right places.
This category goes to Javier Rodriguez and Alvero Lopez, they know how to create an exhausted looking Spider-Woman.
Supporting Cast: I think one of the strengths of this issue, and Silk in general, is the way it portrays Black Cat. Felicia Hardy has had it pretty rough these couple years, thanks largely to Dan Slott and Otto Octavius. But in the same way Robbie Thompson liberated Cindy Moon and made her a real character, he liberates Felicia Hardy. She is shown embracing her more criminal side, such as attempting to execute Phil Urich and conquer the criminal underground, but she continues to shine as anti-hero through it. When she takes down the Goblin Nation and then immediately goes about setting up the orphans and street rats with shelter, you can’t help but like Black Cat and lean her way when she states there is no right or wrong side of the street, because the street does not exist. Cindy certainly seems to be falling under her sway, much to Mockingbird’s disliking. Mockingbird is used well to explore whether Silk is actually breaking bad, when she questions her about whether Silk knew Phil Urich would survive the injuries she inflicted or not. There is evidence going both ways, as Cindy both warns Urich that she will go easy on him if he cooperates, but also gets pleasure from nearly killing him. As Mockingbird and Spider-Woman put Urich away, he mutters to himself that he will discover who Silk is.
It’s a full house over in Spider-Woman. Nearly everyone in her supporting cast is used this issue to help Jessica Drew back on her path to super-heroics. In particular, I love the scene with Clint Barton (Hawkeye.) Hopeless does such a good job of continuing the portrayal of Clint Barton that Matt Fraction created in Hawkeye and showing the evolving relationship between Jessica and Clint, finally moving past the awkward stage of being exes. It is Clint’s incompetence that spurns Jessica into action and I’m hopeful that Jessica and Clint can get back together when Marvel decides they want Clint to have a kid, like the movies (there’s no father, Jessica used a sperm donor and insemination.) Carol is used more forcefully, actively trying to convince Jessica to return to the superhero life. When she tells Jessica about her week though, all Jessica can see is how close to death she came. So while Carol is too forceful, Ben Urich is clever. He tricks Jessica into looking into a case file and lets her drag herself back into the superhero life. It is a clever way to use her supporting cast, but I think it is too much, too soon.
The real star of the issue is Roger Gocking though. Having him be a horrible superhero at first, but an excellent father is a nice parallel in his character development, which in turn nicely parallels Jessica Drew who is an amazing superhero, but not the best mother. I feel like he is a mouthpiece for Hopeless’ own experience raising children, but I’m okay with it. Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez have made Porcupine their own, developing Roger into a wonderful character that continues to shine whenever around.
This category belongs to Spider-Woman, who utilizes a star-filled cast.
Conclusion: The biggest flaw of this issue of Spider-Woman is it moves too quickly . I am sold on Jessica’s concern over her well-being as a superhero and what it means for her child. I bought everything this issue is selling me, except how quickly Jessica decides to return to being a superhero. As far as I can tell, this issue takes place within the span of a week and I think a week is far too soon for this much character development to happen. I would be happy if Jessica decides to take some time off and was slowly dragged back into the thick of things over the Spider-Women event. Or decides to remain a crime consultant, advising Porcupine on the sidelines with Ben. Everything about this arc was so strong, except for this ending.
On the other hand, Silk delivers a surprisingly adept conclusion to its first arc. Sure, there is little disappointments like yet another dead end with her parents, but Silk is in quite an interesting position now. She is in deep with Black Cat, who she is finding to be more sympathetic than Mockingbird. Phil Urich is defeated, but closer than ever to her secret identity. And she may not be as cured of the Goblin formula as everyone thinks, which means interesting things for the future of Silk, Phil, and the Goblin Nation. It is an interesting thing to consider, going into Spider-Women since Spider-Gwen nearly lost her Harry Osborn to a goblin formula.
This category goes to Silk, thanks to the creation of a decent resting point in current plot lines.
Verdict: This is it. After several months, Silk is finally coming out on top. Robbie Thompson delivers some a strong closing for his first arc, filled with fun little moments and a brief reprieve for Cindy Moon, even as things continue to boil under the surface. And my hat is off to Tana Ford, who continues to improve with every issue and totally deserved to close out this arc. And Ian Herring, who is the consistent strength in the creative team. It is nice to have a victory looming over Cindy Moon, as uncertainty looms over her as well.
Grades: Spider-Woman (A-) Silk (A)
For those keeping track of all 3, Spider-Gwen #5 got an A. Looks like all the Spider-Woman books are in top shape heading into their first crossover since all 3 leading ladies shared the pages of Spider-Woman back during Spider-Verse. I will be doing solo issue reviews for the duration of Spider-Women.