Silk: The Miles to Gwen’s Peter

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Stacey Lee's Silk is a heroine we want to hang out with.

Silk is a superhero we want to hang out with.

With the support of readers and moviegoers, the comic book industry is finally moving towards showcasing a more diverse series of heroes. Last year, Marvel gave us Kamala Khan as the new Ms. Marvel, the first Muslim heroine to headline her own comic in the publisher’s history. In 2015, Marvel followed up the progressive move with its first Asian-American superheroine to helm her own series: Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk. First appearing in the Spider-Verse event and going solo as of February—with a post-Secret Wars series to come—Silk is a fresh take on the world of web-slinging, with clean writing and dynamic art that invites new comic readers as much as old pros.

Though Cindy’s entry into the Spider-family is a little obvious, as a means to introduce a new character (a never-before-mentioned classmate of Peter’s who was bitten by the same spider just before it died and has been in hiding in a bunker for ten years? Okay, sure), her solo series fleshes out the character that didn’t win as many hearts in the Spider-Verse. Before the bunker, she was a high school hockey player with an eidetic memory, who dated her teammate Hector in secret while balancing her mother’s pressure to excel in academics. Unable to control the powers she garnered from her radioactive spider bite, Cindy ends up the trainee of Ezekiel Sims, another Spider power-user, who seals her in a bunker to protect her from his nemesis Morlun, antagonist of the Spider-Verse event.

Guest artist Annapaola Martello captures Silk’s emotional side

Guest artist Annapaola Martello captures Silk’s emotional side.

Post-Spider-Verse, Cindy is freed thanks to Peter and opts to stay out in the world and pick up her life again. Her family has disappeared without a trace, so she interns for Fact Channel, a news network, in search of them. Additionally, she teams up with S.H.I.E.L.D fighting crime. Cindy’s story is psychological, coming to terms with a world that marched on without her, and the crux of Silk is family, whether it’s seeking her parents who’ve disappeared without a trace or making new connections with the people she meets. For someone who has been alone for so long, Cindy’s reemergence into the world links superhero duties with self-discovery.

Not to say it’s all doom and gloom. She makes nerdy puns about her powers and superhero name—as well as those of her opponents—and struggles with what’s hip and happening after a decade sealed away (“Is Pokémon still a thing? Asking for a friend.”). With snark and style, Cindy is a clear counterpart to Spiderman, but taking on the name “Silk” instead of “Spider-Woman” gives her an identity all her own.

So why is it that the only Spider-heroine anyone seems to be talking about lately is Gwen?

The Moon family sticks together.

The Moon family sticks together.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a long-time Gwen Stacy fan, and an alternate timeline where she’s the superhero mourning Peter gives us a chance to see her character in a new light. Not to mention that she’s the drummer of an all-girl band and the daughter of a policeman who knows she’s the controversial web-slinger. Roll up all that tension into one character, and you’ve certainly got a story worth telling and a series worth collecting. Spider-Gwen was a last-minute addition to Marvel’s lineup after she proved incredibly popular in the Spider-Verse event. On the positive side, hooray, the breakout star is a superheroine! On the negative side, Silk got to be the exciting new Spider series for a grand total of one week before Spider-Gwen hit the shelves.

Marvel had to know Spider-Gwen was going to be a home run. Not only is Gwen Stacy one of the most iconic female characters in the history of comics books, she’s newly recognizable by superhero fans outside of the comic world, with her appearance in the rebooted Spider-Man films as played by superstar Emma Stone. Gwen’s Spider-Woman design is sharp enough to garner cosplay attention and fan gear that sold out in record time. Rumors are already flying that Spider-Gwen may even be in line to get her own film adaptation. Is all of this exciting news for women in comics? Absolutely.

You get the idea.

You get the idea.

Presumably, though, one of the goals of the Spider-Verse event was to launch Silk’s solo series, not Gwen’s. With Cindy’s prominence during the event and a statement from Silk’s creator Dan Slott that including more Asian characters in the Spider series was a goal of his, it’s safe to assume that Marvel wanted its new Asian-American heroine to be the talk of the town. They certainly put together a terrific team for the solo series, with writer Robbie Thompson, whose investment in the character speaks for itself, and artist Stacey Lee, whose fluid style breathes life, humor, and vulnerability into Cindy’s story. Having a female Asian-American artist portray Marvel’s first female Asian-American-led series lays such important groundwork for diversity in the comics industry. Cosmopolitan magazine even gave Silk a wink as one of their “fun” picks in February 2015’s “Fun, Fearless, Fail” feature.

Stacey Lee's Silk swings into action

Silk swings into action.

Gwen is a staple of the Spider series, smart, interesting, and more than just a gal pal to be rescued. I have so many good things to say about her. However, bringing back an old fan fave, rebooted and ready for the spotlight, right after a groundbreaking move to make comics more diverse—well, it reminds me a little too much of how the new (white, straight, teenage) Peter Parker actor was announced almost immediately after we learned Miles Morales would become the new Amazing Spider-Man. It’s not that I don’t like Peter; quite the opposite; I’m a Spidey girl from way back and got more into superheroes and comics because of him. Still, the superheroes we read and see on the big screen should reflect the world around us, and Marvel has given us black Hispanic Spider-Man and Asian-American Silk. With great diversity comes great responsibility, right?

My fingers are crossed that as Miles takes over as primary Spider-Man, Silk will see more of the spotlight as well. She’s a fun, interesting, emotionally complex character ready to be Marvel’s next star, and I can’t wait to see where Thompson and Lee take her—and us readers—next.

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About Author

Paige Sammartino is a writer and book publishing professional. Her parents had serious foresight when they named her. Part-time superhero, full-time Slytherin.

11 Comments

  1. I love Cindy/Silk. She’s my favorite new Marvel character in a long time and definitely my favorite Spidey character. I really like both Gwen and Miles (especially their costume designs), but int terms of personal arc/place-in-universe/design she’s my favorite. Her costume design is so unique and original compared to the other Spider-characters. Plus Stacey Lee’s art is both cute and energetic at the same time.

    • Paige Sammartino on

      She’s my new fave, too! Cindy is just such a fun character. I feel like Silk is a good pick for first-time comic book readers, too.

  2. I absolutely love Silk! I have been devouring her comic. I love her character, I love her sarcasm and her desire to get back into the real world. I love that she doesn’t want to jump into a relationship with Peter just because he’s there. I love that she has some ethnicity/Diversity to her, and the art and story is SO MUCH better than Spider-Gwen, the only reason that Spider-Gwen is popular, because She’s Gwen and she’s a crowd favorite. Marvel needs to spend their time marketing the others that make their universe go around instead of the well known, popular white ones.

    • Paige Sammartino on

      Silk is a lot of fun to read! I enjoy Gwen as well and am pleased that she’s gotten a lot of attention, but I would love to see Cindy generate the same level of excitement. She’s a good character!

  3. I love Silk! Spider-Gwen is great too, but Silk is in the main universe and that’s my favourite to follow. I was a bit disappointed that, as well as talking about the great things about Cindy’s comic, the article also had to put down another female character. There’s a lot more female characters than there used to be, so why make it a catfight?

    • Paige Sammartino on

      I’m so glad to see all the Silk fans! Adding a new female character to the main universe is an excellent point—one more reason to root for Cindy. 🙂

      My intention certainly wasn’t to put down Gwen in favor of Cindy, as I enjoy and collect both comics. The fact that Spider-Gwen has been so well-received is great news for both a solid character and story and for women in comics. With the two being the solo spin-offs of the Spider-Verse event, though, it’s easy to compare their marketing and promotion, and Gwen has been placed front-and-center far more that Cindy.

      My standpoint isn’t to decrease love for Spider-Gwen but to increase love for Silk. You’re absolutely right—all female superheroes should be showcased, especially as more join the roster. It sends an important message not only about women being superheroes, but about women working together to accomplish great things.

  4. Silk is a great book; I’m immensely irritated my #6 can’t come in already. Frankly, all three books centered on female Spider leads (and 2099, for that matter) are really good right now, and I hope they all keep going.

    Why is Silk not talked about more? I can only assume it’s lost in the shuffle. I’ve been talking it up more than Spider-Gwen, personally.

    • Paige Sammartino on

      It’s true, all the Spider series are strong! With the Secret Wars and the relaunch of both Gwen’s and Silk’s series, I’m looking forward to what comes next.

  5. Minor quibble Miles book is simy called Spider-Man.

    Peter has two ongoing titles one called Amazing Spider-Man the other Spidey about Parker’s teen years.

  6. Ok you won me over HARD. I jumped on Amazon to grab the first volume and I see it’s not coming out until DECEMBER. T.T and I got so hyped for her too.

    • Paige Sammartino on

      It’s awesome that you want to check out Silk’s story! Her book is worth the wait.