Image Courtesy of Marvel.com
Spoilers: Keep in mind that my method of reviewing involves spoilers for purposes of analysis. If you care about being spoiled and have not read Silk #4 yet, please avoid this review until you do!!
My immediate reaction when I opened this issue is that the art looked different, and, upon checking earlier Silk issues, it definitely IS different. Stacey Lee has, for some reason, changed her art direction for this issue. It’s not a complete divergence, but it’s noticeable. The art feels less manga-inspired, the line work is less prominent, and Cindy actually looks a great deal different; she is more angular, has less rounded features, and just, generally looks older. I am not a fan of this change. As you all know, I LOVED the art in the first three issues of this book, and I hope Lee decides to go back to it moving forward, because it really was some of my favorite art in Marvel.
Rodriguez’s writing, though, stays as sharp and funny as ever, which is especially important in an issue that features the Fantastic Four. Anytime the “First Family” of Marvel comics is in a comic, things tend to lighten up. That isn’t to say there can’t be dark FF comics. There definitely CAN be, but as a general rule, their stories tend to commit to the lighter side of comics (This is the main reason why the new darker Fantastic Four cinematic reboot has me very nervous, but that’s a post for another day). Light and fun is precisely what we get in Silk #4. That’s not hard to do. This comic has always been a lighter, more uplifting book to read, so the addition of the Fantastic Four seems to fit naturally. The issue opens with Cindy in some sort of VR training program fighting a virtual Galactus, as piloted by Reed Richards, causing The Thing to say “How come I never get to play Galactus? I look great in purple” to which Sue promises that he can play Galactus for the kids anytime. Those kinds of jokes are pretty much the persistent tone throughout the book. Cindy makes Star Wars jokes, she and Johnny Storm joke about The Hobbit, and, eventually, she and Johnny go on a dinner date. They sit there in silence for a while before realizing that they would rather just be out fighting crime together, so that’s what they do.
My problem with the issue, though, is that it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s got some funny jokes, sure, and it was a nice break from all of the super serious and epic Secret Wars stuff, but nothing really HAPPENS in this issue. The overarching plot doesn’t progress, Cindy doesn’t really learn anything new, except that her problems with her powers are likely anxiety induced (which actually was kind of cool, because it shed some light on how serious a problem anxiety really can be) and her discovering Black Cat has luck powers. We get one flashback sequence about when she discovered she has spider powers (how come it seems that Peter is the only one who doesn’t get organic webbing as part of his “bitten by a radioactive spider” package?), but overall, it feels like a filler issue, which is a weird creative decision when we are only on issue #4. This is especially apparent, because we just had another low-action issue with Spider-Gwen #4, and that one was done VERY well, because, unlike this issue, that comic used every page to further the character development of the protagonist. I’ve said it before, but when this book is good it’s AMAZINGLY GOOD, and then it has issues like this, where I just feel like Marvel doesn’t really know what to do with this comic. All of this is an especially big letdown coming off of Silk #3, which was hands down one of my favorite comics last month. Let’s hope we go back to that quality in June’s issue.