‘Silk’ #1 Remembers The Past While Looking Towards The Future [Review]
Silk, the wall-crawling hero with slightly less baggage than the other spider-people in the Marvel Universe, gets a new #1 this week in the relaunch (that's really a continutation) of her solo series. It's a first issue that finds its strongest and weakest moments in how it handles the status quo.
Marvel has done a great job in recent years of finding excellent artists whose styles wouldn't normally fit in a Big Two superhero book, and Stacey Lee's art on Silk is no exception. Her art has a gentle roundness to it, with a natural sense of animation, and strong character designs. Lee stuffs her panels with character details that round out the characters presented without needlessly distracting the eye.
The above three-panel sequence, in which Silk saves an oblivious dad walking with his daughter, shows the sequential strength that Lee brings to the comic, but the little detail of the dad carrying a too-small, colorful backpack for his daughter demonstrates her more subtle skills.
The sequence also shows off the tone of the book, largely one that's cheery and excited. In contrast with the older Spider-Man comics that used to start off with Peter Parker monologuing about how miserable his day has been, Silk #1 begins the issue with "So, today has been rad."
Likewise, colorist Ian Herring uses a lot of bright, exuberant colors to set the tone, matched with mostly flats to show off Lee's strong figurework. Unfortunately, the tonal consistency isn't quite matched by the narrative consistency; a thwarted robbery that occurs non-linearly throughout the first issue is clarified by a character to have taken place at night, but Herring colors the scene identically to the ones before and after. When every scene is colored in the same sunny tones, it feels a little bland.
Speaking of sunny tones, Silk's origin story is largely a response to Peter Parker's (she's the second person bit by the spider immediately after him), and that's where the issue shines.
Silk calls back to the original Spidey stories that Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita Sr. created, without being overly derivative. With Peter Parker off gallivanting as a globe-trotting scientist, and Miles Morales working from his own backstory and continuity, Cindy Moon's similarities to the original Spider-Man stories fill a niche that's been absent for a while.
Cindy's got her own unique problems --- finding her family, who disappeared while she was trapped in a bunker for 10 years --- but also faces the classic Spider-Man problems of a double life, balancing superheroics with romance, and working in a news organization headed by J. Jonah Jameson, who wants stories about your alter ego. Writer Robbie Thompson's script is light and engaging, playing off those similarities without feeling the need to circle them in red pen.
Unfortunately, this issue is largely taken up with establishing the status quo, and consequently it feels short; a problem compounded by the fact that the issue has two single-page splashes and multiple pages with only three or four panels in only a 20-page comic. Still, complaining about decompression in modern comics is a bit like pointing a water gun at a house fire; even if you're in the right, you're probably not going to be able to do much.
Silk falls under a similar umbrella to DC's Batgirl relaunch, with similarly engaging characters, stand-out art, and a status quo that pays homage to what came before without letting itself be constricted by it. As a relaunch, the creative team does a good job setting up the character and her situations, making an enjoyable all-ages, diverse book without having to explicitly market it as such.