Cindy Moon AKA Silk: Marvel’s Most Underrated Spider

cindy moon

In honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month 2018, we’re taking a closer look at the web-slinging Korean-American heroine Cindy Moon aka Silk. Though relatively new to comics, with her first appearance happening in 2014, Silk has already become a well-developed character with two solo series and numerous spotlight issues in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Still, Silk lags in popularity compared to other female spider characters, such as Spider-Woman and Spider-Gwen. With a solid origin story, a well-designed costume, and a unique cultural perspective, it’s strange that her character hasn’t garnered a bigger following.

Silk is still a newbie in the Spider-Verse, but creators Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos gave her a lot of potential — much of which has remained untapped due to a lack of interest. It’s been over a year since the end of Silk’s last solo series, and Marvel has not done a lot with her character since then. It’s a mystery whether Marvel plans to do anything big with her in the near future.

So, why does Silk deserve more than she’s getting? Let’s take a closer look at what makes Cindy Moon one of the most badass spiders in Marvel comics.

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Spiders Can Bite Twice

I won’t go too deep into Silk’s history because you can already read about it on ComicsVerse here. Mostly what I want to talk about is how creative and innovative Silk is as a character. Since her spider-adventures technically start at the same time (and place) as Peter Parker, readers frequently write Silk off as a Spider-Man copycat. If Cindy Moon got bitten by a radioactive spider and became a friendly neighborhood Silk, I might have a problem with her origin story.

But that isn’t what happens at all. The same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker does bite Cindy, giving her spider-like powers, but instead of becoming a superhero, Cindy is forced to hide in a bunker for ten years because the totemic hunter Morlun is tracking her via her power signature. If you want to read all of Silk’s origin story for yourself, check out AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1-6 (2014).

cindy moon
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 (2014). Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

While the real thing that separates Cindy Moon from Peter Parker is what happens after the spider bite, I still think the idea of having the spider bite another person, along with Peter, makes sense. Say what you want about originality, but if a radioactive spider got out and was bent on biting as many people as possible, it’d probably get to more than one person. Peter and Cindy’s superpowers aren’t genetic or the product of experiments. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong (or right) time. A spider randomly infecting two people at the same time is plenty reasonable — if not probable.

Bunker Days

Bad things happen to superheroes. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have the majority of published comic books. There has to be conflict to move things forward. But, for Silk, her “bad thing” isn’t resolved in a single issue or arc like normal superhero problems. Cindy Moon is trapped in a bunker, away from human life, for ten years. While Spider-Man is out saving the world, getting the girl, and living the life, Cindy is completely alone.

cindy moon
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3 (2014). Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The amazing thing about Cindy is that although her time in the bunker is deeply traumatizing, she doesn’t let those painful memories hold her back from being a hero. Her story sounds more like a villain’s than a hero’s. The situation can easily cause anger and resentment which can turn into violence. But for Cindy, her experience in the bunker only causes her to be more in-tune with the need for superheroes. If something like that can happen to her, she realizes that it can happen to anyone. It’s up to her to stop it from ever happening again.

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How to Overcome Trauma: Cindy Moon Style

With how dark Silk’s origin story is, one would assume her solo series would have a similar tone. But, surprisingly, SILK is pretty lighthearted, like Cindy herself. Even after everything she’s been through, Cindy is upbeat, funny, and incredibly grateful for life. I think it’s great that SILK writer Robbie Thompson decided to portray a different reaction to a traumatic experience than what’s normally seen. So often, comic characters who go through similar situations are constantly portrayed as deeply depressed and irreconcilable. While that’s a valid and realistic reaction, it isn’t the only reaction. Cindy is down sometimes too, but I like how she shows how positive life can be after a traumatic event.

cindy moon
SILK #1. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Korean Roots

One of the coolest things about Silk — and one of the things readers tend to forget — is that Cindy Moon is Korean-American. Asian-American representation in comics is pretty pathetic, especially when you take into account the recent increase in comic book diversity. Comics writers have finally given numerous other underrepresented groups the exposure that they deserve. But, sadly, Asian-American characters continue to be slighted.

Silk is one of the few Asian-American superheroes to have her own solo series. But, unfortunately, writers underutilize her representation. Writers pretty much never mention Silk’s heritage and some artists give her Westernized features. I wouldn’t know that Silk’s Korean-American if Marvel didn’t “advertise” her as such. I understand the importance of having a character who is more than just her heritage. But with Silk, writers and artists just seem to ignore her heritage completely.

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If Silk gets the spotlight again in the future, I hope writers and artists respect her unique background. Female Asian-American heroes are hard to find so writers should include Silk’s heritage whenever they can. Still, there’s a fine line between representation and mockery. In order to more authentically explore Silk’s heritage, I’d love to see Asian-American and/or Korean-American writers and artists take up the task of a new Silk solo series. Artist Jen Bartel, who’s shown a strong awareness of underrepresented voices in the series AMERICA, and writer Amy Chu, founder of Alpha Girl Comics (a company that totes the slogan “comics for everyone”) would be great additions to a new Silk series. With creators with a lived experience at the helm, Silk would have a more genuine perspective that her characterization has often lacked.

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SILK #5. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment 

Final Thoughts

At the moment, Silk’s underrated. But I think a major reason for that is because people see her as just-another-spider. Silk has a big future ahead of her. She just needs a creative team who realizes what makes her unique in a sea of other spiders. I think it might take a while for Silk to finally get the recognition she deserves, but I have confidence that eventually, someone will pick up her story again and make readers realize what they’ve been missing.

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2 Comments

  1. Cindy Moon

    June 12, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Curious if you guys ever caught the Protectors team up, including Silk, in Totally Awesome Hulk? That one had a decent focus on their heritage and I think is the only time it’s really given the spotlight for Cindy.

    Reply

    • Peyton Hinckle

      June 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      I haven’t read that before but I definitely will now. Her heritage is such a rare topic so it’s good to know at least one writer has focused on it. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

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