Wide Web: How Artist Stacey Lee Plays With Power And Distance in ‘Silk’ #1
For Silk, everything is a matter of distance.
In the first issue of Cindy Moon’s ongoing series, it's artist Stacey Lee who makes this clear throughout, establishing boundaries in every aspect of the hero's life that mark her separation from a world that she's trying to reintegrate herself into, in a story that offers our first real look at how the character weaves her own web.
Distance is a defense against power, something that is frequently and casually thrown around in Robbie Thompson's script. Spider-Man appears early on to ‘rescue’ Cindy from a fight, for example, and he immediately follows up with an advantageous/creepy come-on line as a consequence of their unusual shared chemistry (he comes across as really eerie throughout the issue, in fact). Lee is careful to make sure that Cindy absolutely refuses any eye contact with Peter Parker at all times.
When Cindy later gets her revenge on the henchman Dragonclaw, she over-powers her punch by accident and sets off a chain reaction that will likely lash back at her in later issues. We see the punch from a distance, watching the full arc of Dragonclaw's flight backwards into a dumpster.
At the end of the first issue, a humiliated Dragonclaw takes his grudge before an annoyed boss --- and wonderfully, Lee places him in front of a dartboard as he pleads his case. Clearly, he's not aware of the target he’s made of himself. Dragonclaw is trapped in this room, but the reader gets to realize that long before the character does.
In the issue's fight scenes, Lee chooses to use perspective to establish the momentum of each punch. When the characters are apart from one another, she widens the panels and offers a full picture of what’s going on – yet when Silk swings in and lands a punch, she tightens the frame and goes so close-in on the characters that it’s hard to see what they’re doing. It creates a sense of movement that mirrors Silk’s own view of the fight. We get her perspective, and it’s a unique one.
Lee plays similar tricks at several other points in the issue, as a means of highlighting Thompson’s script and providing an artistic underlining of the themes. In one scene, Cindy gets ahead at her writing job by being the only person using a pad and pen rather than an iPad to write down her notes, and Lee draws a brilliant panel showing Cindy in the foreground, lost in her own thoughts – whilst everybody in the background, without exception, stare at their phones, lost in everyone else’s’ thoughts.
The distance between Dragonclaw and the people he works for, and between Cindy and everybody in her life; these are the sort of power imbalances that establish Silk as a different book from the other Spidey titles. Lee’s artwork impressively connects the two characters; opposing forces both lost in gigantic power-structures they can't even start to connect together yet.