While it’s not difficult to make the case that “Spider-Women” could be nicknamed The Silk Show, I think there are definitely character beats that give each of the characters a chance to have their moments. With Silk #8, the sixth chapter of this crossover feels mostly like filler, though there are a few interesting moments and exchanges Cindy has with her co-stars.
This installment is punctuated with enjoyable and interesting moments from each of its characters as Gwen and Cindy are arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D., then rescued by Black Cat, with whom Cindy has a heart-to-heart after Gwen abandons her. I very much enjoyed that one of the few outdated pop culture lines came from Gwen, when she referred to Mockingbird’s costume as cheap and coming from TJ Maxx–while also being struck by her declaration that she doesn’t want to become like Cindy. It’s a believable excuse for some of the harsh dialog that Gwen had rained on Cindy moments ago about her inability to not take the easy way out, though whether it’s justified is a matter for some debate.
I also thought the dialog Cindy has with Black Cat, and to some degree herself, was an interesting way to deal with the dimensional doppelganger smearing her name and actions. While I’m not thrilled with Bobbi’s dismissive attitude towards Cindy at the start of this issue, it does raise the idea that Cindy may have to roll with this development and change both her tactics and her thinking. When her internal monolog starts arguing with the things Cindy says out loud, and eventually disappears, it felt a little clunky and Deadpool-esque, but also marked a significant change in attitude, which I’m eager to see play out, for better or worse, as this event winds down and possibly afterwards.
With all of that said, however, I have to say this was probably one of the less interesting chapters of “Spider-Women” so far. While the above moments helped keep me interested at points, the overall vibe of this installment felt like it was done out of obligation more than anything else. The sequence of events feels like they’re plots on a graph to be followed, rather than building upon one another naturally.
There’s no real development between Cindy and Bobbi, who has caught and arrested her at this point, mostly because there’s been little actual focus on the ‘undercover’ portion of her story. Instead, Mockingbird simply arrests her, accuses her of getting in too deep, and has Cindy and Gwen shipped off to prison, only trying to contact Jessica about them after they’ve been hauled off (though I do like that this action is paralleled later by “Cindy” calling for Jesse when she’s in her home dimension). While I can understand this approach from a logical standpoint, there’s a certain amount of leeway she could have given Cindy, both given their supposed working relationship (come on, develop that undercover beat!) and Bobbi’s experiences as a superhero (you’re seriously telling me she wouldn’t at least suspect Cindy could have a dimensional doppelganger?). Something about the whole exchange just falls flat for me, as though they just needed to be hauled off so they could be busted out by Black Cat.
There’s still a frustratingly tiny amount of information being given out about Gwen’s powers, or possible lack thereof from the last chapter. And while I get that that plot thread will hopefully be expanded on soon, I feel like that turn was brought up and referenced just so Gwen would run off and leave Cindy alone with Felicia. Given Gwen’s words to Cindy about taking the easy way out, this development also didn’t feel genuine. Which in turn leads to the feeling that Gwen is running away just so Cindy can be alone with Felicia and they can in turn go off on one more score together. I just have a hard time seeing Gwen allowing this to happen.
And then there’s the artwork. I think my biggest gripe with Tana Ford’s art style is that its quality is consistently inconsistent, and in this issue that trait is on full display. On the first of three splash pages she has in this issue, we have an impressively drawn and detailed closeup of Mockingbird and her tablet, detailing “Cindy’s” crimes–and then on the very next page we get a Mockingbird with misproportioned, bow legs and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent whose forearm is noticeably too thin at the wrist. One panel of a page shows a full shot of Cindy, her finger webbing retracting, and her hands are too large to be properly foreshortened, while the next panel is a nicely rendered closeup of Black Cat looking slightly annoyed with her.
Ford has certainly come a long way in terms of her overall quality, and she definitely has her illustrative shining moments in this issue, but they tend to get starkly counterbalanced by the tarnished ones, and it’s impossible not to be yanked out of the narrative by the changeups. This unfortunately seems to extend to all manner of scenes, be they kinetic action sequences, or the closeups that tend to come with dialog heavy character work. I want to be in this illustrator’s corner, as she definitely has the potential to be good, but until her work gets more consistent, it’s going to be hard to characterize it as a distraction from rather than an enhancement to the story.
It’s not like this is a particularly bad issue of Silk, or even a bad part of the crossover. The narrative and artistic elements line up to produce a story that’s passably interesting and serviceable to the event and the characters, but the overall experience feels a bit less engaging than I’m used to. Hopefully the events of this story will continue to affect Cindy in a genuine way, and we’ll get a little less plot-by-checklist and a more natural focus once she’s back on her own. In the meantime, I’m a lot more interested in what’s going to happen with Jess in the next chapter.