Somehow, over the last five or so years, Marvel have built up a proper franchise around Spider-Man and I never really noticed. Partly that’s because I don’t read any Spidey books, but also because, as far as I can tell, they just got on with it, and didn’t make a big deal of it.

Spider-Woman has been around in various incarnations for several decades now, and anyone who has the barest contact with Spider-Man’s history knows about The Clone Saga, and its lone survivor Kaine (aka Scarlet Spider). More recently however, Marvel have reawakened their “2099 universe” with Miguel (aka Spider-Man 2099) travelling through time, and, by now every-man-and-his-dog have heard about Spider-Gwen arriving from a universe where she was bitten by the spider, not Peter, to become her world’s Spider-powered superhero. Renewed interest in Venom as played by disabled war veteran Flash Thompson has launched that character into greater public awareness than he’s had for years, including a stint in space as a Guardian of the Galaxy. But amidst all of that the least spoken about, almost forgotten member of the Spider-family is Silk.

Bitten by the same radioactive spider that gave Peter Parker his powers, locked in an underground bunker for a decade, Cindy Moon suffered moreso than her male counterpart. Introduced as part of Marvel’s Spider-verse event, Cindy was separated from her family for her own good, being targeted by the “big bads” of the Spider-verse event, The Inheritors. Once Spider-Man set her free, and they took care of the bad guys, Silk was now left to rediscover her place in the world (or at least New York City) as well as trying to reunite with her family.

And that’s where we begin, with Silk: Volume 0 – The Life and Times of Cindy Moon, collecting issues 1-7 of her first solo series.

Cindy Moon punches a Hydra robot.

Lee’s art is simply but effective, and always very kinetic.

The trade’s been labeled “Volume 0” because, like every other title Marvel is publishing, it’s being relaunched at the end of the Secret Wars event. Silk will be getting her new solo series, which will be collected later as “Volume 1” but this book takes us all the way through her first series to the beginning of the Secret Wars event.

With Robbie Thompson on words and Stacey Lee on pictures, Silk has a modern voice and look, something Cindy Moon benefits greatly from. With diversity and representation hot topics right now, a female, Vietnamese-American superhero tangentially related to Spider-Man could have been an easy place to drop a stereotype in and hope for the best, as many books on the stands have tried with their own pushes for inclusiveness. Many have failed but, so far, Silk seems to be doing it right.

Cindy’s story is, in a nutshell, a search for her family and a search for herself. It’s an interesting hook for a character, and it separates her from Peter enough to make her feel unique. For Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility, meaning he does the things he does because he can. Silk does what she does largely because she has no other place to call home. The world she has been brought into – Spider-Man’s world – is the only one she knows now. She could simply exist, working her new job and trying to find her parents, but she goes out of her way to help because she’s needed help herself. She knows what it’s like to need a hero.

Apart from Kaine, obviously, who is an actual “clone” of Peter Parker, Silk comes closest to being a “knock off”, a character with little definition outside of the original. But for me that’s just part of her charm. I play as Luigi on Mario Kart, Ken in Street Fighter, and Knuckles in any Sonic games that let me. I really like “knock offs” and while I feel that’s an unfair description of Cindy Moon – being a Vietnamese American girl helps a lot – there is a certain amount of similarity, but Thompson manages to contrast Cindy against Peter in a few key scenes and really shine the light on their differences. Sure, she shoots webs out of her fingers instead of mechanical web shooters, and everyone always comments about how fast she is, but it’s her actions, and reactions that make her stand out. She quickly and earnestly teams up with a “bad guy” to save his daughter, despite Peter’s protests, partly because she’s less experienced with supervillains and their shenanigans, but also because she holds family as something dear to her, and can see the bad guy in question is only doing what he’s doing for his family. Silk even has her own quips and comments while fighting, Spider-Man style, but is ill at ease with that persona and relishes just being able to punch a Hydra robot. Simplicity is something Cindy Moon’s life needs more of.

Mr Jameson leans against a desk... oddly.

It’s uncommon, but sometimes Stacey Lee’s pencils just feel a little “off” like J Jonah Jameson leaning on the table here.

It’s not just her powers, though, that can come across as “knock off” territory, when her day job is working for a media company and her boss is J. Jonah Jameson. She even gets stories about Silk to keep herself employed. This could have been an awful risk, giving her the exact same set-up for her civilian identity that Peter Parker had for so long, but her character shines through, and Thompson shows us a side of these supporting characters that isn’t shown to Peter, and even made me truly love J. Jonah Jameson, even if I do still read all his dialogue as voiced by JK Simmons.

Visually, Stacey Lee’s kinetic artwork could easily be described as “manga inspired”, with large, expressive eyes and clean, bold lines, but would be selling it short. The bold colours supplied by Ian Herring could almost make Silk’s world look like an anime, but it’s more than that. The paring work well together to make a bold statement about a character who knows more –or-less who she is, but can’t seem to find her place just yet. And while occasionally Lee’s artwork can be a little “off model”, it’s all very emphatically pushing towards selling its main ideas, of bright characters being who they are and doing what they do, all of them highly animated examples for Cindy to learn from and emulate in her own way.

Cindy Moon chats to Dr Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four

Annapaola Martello’s delicate linework is perfect for a simpler, slower scene/issue.

Issue 4 and issue 7 of the series were drawn by Annapaola Martello and Tana Ford respectively, and both lend their own “feel” to their parts of the book. Martello’s thin lines and expressive poses highlight Cindy’s date with the Human Torch, enlivening an exposition heavy issue, and still manages to deliver the best looking Ben Grimm and J. Jonah Jameson I’ve seen for a long time. If the Fantastic Four are around after Secret Wars, Martello’s lively pencils would be a great choice for their return.

Tana Ford draws the final issue, the tie in to the Secret World event, which feels oddly lumpy and ugly compared to the previous six. It’s by no means bad, giving a bulgy quality to the figures, faces and especially Silk’s webs, that is reminiscent of Frank Quitely or, dare I say it, even Robert Crumb. It’s not bad, in any way, but feels odd placed against the rest of the book. The issue stands alone, a one-and-done, so the impact is less jarring, but Ford remains a strange choice for a book entitled Silk, with the allusions to smoothness and elegance it provides. Tana Ford drawing Howard the Duck, or an X-Men title, would be something I’d love to see, but even when Todd MacFarlane draw angular, creepy Spider-Man in the early nineties, he had a beauty, an elegance, that Ford’s work purposefully eschews, and I was slightly saddened that the emotional moment captured in this final issue was not drawn by Lee, given it’s importance to the rest of the book and this issue’s “outlier” status.

Silk is getting the relaunch treatment post Secret Wars, keeping the same creative team of Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee, and while this trade’s finale is somewhat… final… It does set up some nice threads for the future, and I’ll be reading the series when it kicks off this week.

Overall Score
83 %

A good read if you're after something a bit different in the Spider-Man family. Not a complete journey, but a great opening act. Plus a great book to support People-of-Colour and Women characters in mainstream superhero comics.

Words 78%
Pencils 85%
Colours 80%
Presentation 85%

About The Author

Living in Australia, my life is probably quite like yours, except hotter and with more dangerous animals. I've had a love of comics for the last 20 years, which is almost exactly two thirds of my life, and very little else has been with me that long. I fancy myself as a writer, but I fancy myself as many things that I'm not all that good at, so go figure. I have strong opinions but I love to discuss things, so please comment, cos I'd love to hear what you think of what I think.

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