By Latonya Pennington
By issue 6 of Silk’s first ongoing series, Cindy Moon has hit rock bottom. After moving back to the bunker in which she was isolated for ten years, she has learned that the one place she felt safe in is no longer safe. Her anxiety has spiked, causing her to wreck the bunker and crack a wall to destroy a hidden camera she just learned about. Then, she curls up on the floor amid the wreckage until she spies a scrap of paper with the phone number for Dr. Sinclair, a psychiatrist.
The personal journey of Cindy Moon hasn’t been an easy one. As a teenager, she was bitten by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker. After she accidentally webbed up her family, she was taught to control her powers by Ezekiel Sims. Not long after, Cindy had to go into hiding via a bunker to protect her family from someone hunting her. Ten years later, her existence is revealed to Peter Parker and he frees her from the bunker. However, her family had gone missing during the years she was locked away. Now, she has to readjust to the real world again and try to find her family with seemingly few allies and resources.
Even though Cindy’s bunker was filled with several years’ worth of food, books, and tapes on the outside world, it didn’t make her years in isolation any easier. There are numerous statistics that have shown how social isolation negatively impacts mental health, and although the impact of Cindy’s isolation wouldn’t be felt until Peter Parker freed her, Cindy would eventually be diagnosed with anxiety by Reed Richards in issue #4 of her first ongoing series. Cindy is then referred by Reed to Dr. Sinclair, a psychiatrist that specializes in superhuman patients – but Cindy doesn’t think she needs help.
Initially she doesn’t want to get help because she doesn’t know it’s okay to ask for help. Due to her long period of isolation, she is used to being alone and handling things by herself. Not only is she attempting to become a superhero by herself: she’s also attempting to find her family. When Jonah Jameson of all people tells Cindy it is okay to ask for help, and offers his professional contacts to help find her family, the message slowly starts to sink in. However, it isn’t until Cindy hits rock bottom in issue #6 that it truly hits home for her that she needs a change.
One major reason that Cindy initially refuses to get help is because she thinks nothing is wrong with her. After all – she has managed to juggle her lives as a superhero, an intern at Fact Channel, and as an everyday person. While dancing with her friend Lola at a club in issue #4, her internal monologue says, “See, I’m fine. If I were anxious, I couldn’t dance.” As a person who also deals with anxiety myself, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself that I’m “fine” just because I managed to get work done or have fun. A major misconception about anxiety and other mental illnesses is that a person can’t have a mental illness if they manage to be productive or be sociable with others.
In fact, something that refutes this is that anxiety can appear in multiple areas of your life in ways that aren’t always obvious. With Silk, her anxiety is so prominent that it overwhelms her Silk-Sense (i.e. what she calls her Spider-Sense) and causes her to be off, in-and-out of battle. Cindy’s Silk-Sense causes her to sense whenever someone is in danger… but being a superhero means that someone is always in danger. As a result, Cindy is always sensing people in danger even if she is already helping someone else. This causes Cindy to either be distracted when she is fighting an enemy or sense a lot of people in danger at once.
Cindy’s anxiety impacts her powers even when she isn’t suited up. In one panel, she recalls her Silk-Sense waking her up in the middle of the night because a college girl was crying after being abandoned at a party. Despite being only one panel, this little scene reminded me of when my anxiety would disrupt my sleep. Her anxiety also makes her angry a lot, which causes her to try and vent that anger through crime-fighting.
Given how overwhelming her Silk-Sense and anxiety is, and how she is used to being alone, it isn’t surprising that Cindy decides to move back to the bunker in order to find some peace and quiet. Although Cindy was staying with her co-worker Lola at her apartment, Cindy decides to move back to the bunker after she felt she was inconveniencing Lola when she brought home a date one night. And while the reasons Cindy moves back to the bunker are understandable, this action shows how much she still does need help: however, her trauma taught her isolation is the only way she will feel safe. She has friends and allies in people like Peter Parker, Jonah Jameson, and Lola… but Cindy has difficulty opening up to and trusting them.
Seeing glimpses of her anxiety through the early issues of the run means that it feels all the more emotional when she finally hits rock bottom in issue #6. At this point, Cindy has been captured by the villain known as The Repairman. When he tells Cindy that he works for the people who have her family, he also reveals those same people have been watching her every move in the bunker. Before Cindy can free herself and get more information, Black Cat comes along and “rescues” Cindy by killing him.
On top of learning that the bunker where she learned to feel “safe” from her anxiety is no longer safe, the one major lead to finding her family is now gone. This pushes Cindy’s anxiety to majorly spike, resulting in anger that causes her to attempt to beat the crap out of Black Cat, once again trying to vent her anger through a violent response. When she returns to the bunker, she throws things around until she cracks a wall.
As mentioned earlier, cracking the wall allows Cindy to destroy the hidden camera belonging to whoever had been watching her after sending them a threat. However, this crack also represents how Cindy’s emotional walls have finally been broken open. She curls up into a ball and thinks “Dammit.” as she notices Dr. Sinclair’s phone number on the ground nearby.
As Cindy stands on the roof of her bunker, she dials the number for Dr. Sinclair saying, “Getting help is good. It’s not the end of the world right?”
Ironically, in-universe it actually is the end of the world at this point, as the “Last Days” tie-in to the universe-ending Secret Wars is coming up in Silk’s next issue.
Yet the fact that Cindy finally decides to get help shows that she has realized that handling things alone is impossible. As a result issue #6 marks a major turning point for Silk’s character arc, as she starts to open up to others and realise she can turn things around for her own better future.
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Latonya Pennington is a poet and prolific critical writer whose work has been featured on sites including WomenWriteAboutComics and The MNT, amongst several others. You can follow them on Twitter right here, and their website is here!
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