Silk #9: Pieces on the Board
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Travis Lanham
C.Artist: Helen Chen
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Location, Location, Location: Our issue kicks off with Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, unable to locate her undercover agent, Cindy Moon, aka Silk. At Cindy’s day job, the Fact Channel, her friends Lola and Rafferty discover a list of addresses that could belong to the mysterious Dr. Kapoor, who Cindy has been searching for in regards to her parents’ disappearance. They too are unable to reach Cindy but leave to check out their lead. The reason no-one can reach her is because Cindy is robbing Parker Industries alongside Felicia Hardy, the crime lord also known as Black Cat. They manage to retrieve a device capable of removing DNA presence from crime scenes, but Cindy traps them under an elevator for forty-five minutes. Cindy tells Cat all about her past trauma, while Cat explains why she turned from hero back to villain. Once they get free, Cindy goes to her therapist to talk about the conflict in her life. Her therapist suggests a visit to her ex, Hector, but Cindy is unable to locate him. Cindy goes to her bunker for some peace of mind, but Mockingbird finds her there. On a nearby rooftop, Mockingbird informs her that Silk’s time undercover is over and that Black Cat is about to be taken down. Lola and Rafferty happen to be on this rooftop and learn Cindy is Silk. And not far away, Black Cat listens in as Cindy and Mockingbird plot to take her down.
Cat and Bird: We are once again back in the thick of Cindy Moon’s life, after a brief detour in the land of Spider-Women. Silk’s (semi) regular artist, Stacey Lee is back to kick off an arc that looks to settle the score on Silk’s adventures with Black Cat. Lee’s art defined the series early on, even when replacements began to arrive. She returns in full force, delivering some strong sequential storytelling and emotive characters. Yet not even Lee’s pencils can make Mockingbird’s costume look anything more than terrible. We also get some weird artistic choices, like a focus on random items (books, bacteria, and board games) while the script lacks any clear connection to these things. There is also a sequence with Peter Parker that is visually devoid of the man or his heroic counterpart. But Lee delivers in the few action scenes and keeps this mostly verbal issue alive.
Speaking of Robbie Thompson’s script, it has some fantastic character work. Thompson takes it upon himself to redeem Black Cat and he does a good job of it here. We learn what lead to Felicia breaking bad again and while none of it is particularly new information, it is presented in a sympathetic way. The way Thompson hurts Felicia at the end of this issue, and the way Lee draws it, gives this issue a strong dose of emotion that elevates the issue. The series also explores the toll undercover life has taken on Cindy, torn between the good Mockingbird and the sympathetic Black Cat. I find the Silk/Bird/Cat relationship reminiscent of the Will Graham/Jack Crawford/Hannibal Lector relationship in the television series, Hannibal. I hope we see Cindy try and save Black Cat before the end of this arc.
Despite strong character work, the script stretches believability frequently this issue. Thompson has always relied on convenience in his comic scripts, but this issue has far too many convenient moments. Despite having to call Peter to ask for help locating Cindy, Mockingbird just happens to show up every place Cindy goes (which makes little sense, since Cindy herself did not know where she was heading for most of the issue.) The big twist at the end with Lola and Rafferty (still hate them, wish it had been Jonah) discovering Cindy is Silk is convenient beyond belief. And we have a good chunk of the issue spent with Black Cat and Cindy trapped under an elevator for forty-five minutes, but the elevator just happens to start working again right as Cindy asks Black Cat a personal question. I mean sure, they swapped war stories, but that is maybe fifteen-twenty minutes of talk time. All Robbie Thompson had to do was write how Mockingbird noticed something was up at Parker Industries, unlocked the elevator early, and then followed Cindy around. That is two of the three big stupid coincidences given story reasons for happening. I can live with one stupid convenient moment.
Colorist Ian Herring seems to take a page out of the Spider-Woman book of colors, with a lot of realistic looking skies, changing various shades as time passes. It is a pretty effect, but Ian Herring has defined Silk in a very different way from Spider-Woman. Herring paints specific colors over the art in Silk, using these bold colors to convey information about the scene; if a scene is fast paced it is bold yellow, if emotional blue. This type of coloring contradicts with Herring trying to create a more realistic background, jumping in and out of real colors and purpose colors.
Verdict: There is a lot to like in this issue, from expressive art to the character work at the heart of the series. Stacey Lee is an excellent choice of artist for this talk-heavy issue, although odd choices are taken with panel focus and colors. The script is fairly weak outside of the character work, relying on convenience over tight plotting. Still, it is hard not to be invested in the coming clash between Cindy Moon and Felicia Hardy.
- Character work
- Expressive characters
- Weird art choices
- Over reliance on convenience