It’s time for the fifth installment in my li’l series using only Spider-Man comics and characters to examine the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life). Cindy Moon attended the same scientific demonstration Peter Parker did when he was bitten by the radioactive spider that gave him his powers. Before it died, the spider would bite Cindy, too. She gained the same basic powers as Peter – albeit with a more attuned spider-sense, faster speed, and the ability to spin organic webbing from her fingertips – and would eventually take on the name “Silk” and become a superhero in her own right. She and Peter also have an overwhelming physical/sexual attraction to each other. Their relationship, such as it was, represents those “purely physical” attractions we have in our lives. It’s fun and it’s so hot but it was never really going to last nor was there any way they could’ve ever been “the one” as it was only ever just a physical thing.
Shortly after her powers began to develop, Cindy and her family were contacted by a man named Ezekiel Sims. He began to train Cindy in the use of her powers until it became clear a family of multiverse-travelling demigods called the Inheritors were tracking her. These beings (who’d ultimately prove the antagonists in the “Spider-Verse” story) hunt, kill, and feed on Spider Totems throughout the multiverse. To protect Cindy, Ezekiel locked her in a bunker beneath one of his buildings. There she would spend ten years without any human contact. She had food, water, VHS tapes of old Spider-Man battles to study, and a series of prerecorded messages from Ezekiel to help continue her training and to remind her, if she ever left, the Inheritors would sense her and it would begin a war that would result in their gaining control over all creation.
Ultimately, Spidey has a vision (long story involving the eyes of the Watcher, robots, and the “Original Sin” crossover event) that reveals Cindy’s existence and location to him. He thwips his way over to the bunker and frees her – resulting in Cindy attacking him. She’s incensed that he’d open the door, ruining her sacrifice and making the ten years she gave up all for nothing. Peter assures her Morlun (the lead Inheritor) is dead and, joyous to be free, they web-sling their way to her family’s apartment. Cindy is heartbroken to learn they’ve moved. She hasn’t seen them in a decade and has no idea where they could be. Wrapped in her grief, Cindy becomes furious when Peter mentions he’s killed Morlun twice. Knowing with certainty now he’s undermined the sacrifice that cost her years of her life and her family, Cindy attacks Peter with greater ferocity.
The battle is heated…annnnnnnd then they start makin’ out.
They met an hour ago, maybe two. Cindy’s grieving and furious with Peter. Peter’s confused. But they CAN’T KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF EACH OTHER. The physical attraction, the sexual chemistry, is electric. It’s magnetic. It overrides everything else. It’s unstoppable. They are just pulled towards each other.
Obviously, biologically speaking, to a degree this is natural. We’re programmed to enjoy sex because it’s required for the survival of our species. If we don’t make more little versions of us, we die out. But there are certain people we encounter in our lives who just turn us on and set this off in a completely inexplicable way. Peter and Cindy hardly know each other. There is no emotional connection between them outside of (presumably) a bit of empathy. There is no relationship here – not even the foundation for one. You couldn’t even call them friends. They’ve just met and BOOM. The people we meet in our lives who do this to us can prove as confusing and complicated as they are fun.
On the way to her parents’ house Peter thinks, “I can’t explain it…but my spider-sense – it’s leading me here. Drawing me towards her. It’s not supposed to work that way. It’s always steered me away from danger…never towards something. Or someone.” Then, in her anger, Cindy chastises Peter, “All my sacrifice! Locked away for most of my life! And you just made it all for nothing! We’re all in danger now! Can’t you feel it?!” Peter thinks, “She – she’s right! Spider-sense is out of control now! It’s pounding! Screaming! Not just in my head! Racing through my veins! Never felt like this before…” Peter offers a soft, “…yes” to Cindy’s question and then they are makin’ out while stuck to the side of the building. Yow wow!
Operating on base instinct and driven by passion, they begin to pull each other’s clothes off as they kiss. Peter thinks, “There’s a moment where I can’t even remember my own name. Let alone hers. I’m Spider-Man and she’s…Silk. Cindy Moon. Just met her. Don’t know anything about her…other than I can’t stop! I can’t let go! I can’t…” On the one hand, this obviously reminds the reader how little they know of each other. But it also captures the feeling of that moment when we’re lost in passion. This captures those kisses, those touches, that shoot through your body like lightening and fry everything in your mind except the here, the now, and the burning desire that pulls you to the other. Have you ever just been drawn to someone? It’s like this other-worldly force has grasped you and you couldn’t fight it even if you wanted to. Damn! What an amazing feeling! You’re so alive!
Peter’s moaning as they kiss and tells her, “Mmm…no. Mask stays on” as Cindy tries to pull it all the way off. She then tells Peter she knows who he is and that proves the cold shower he needed.
Peter – “You know my secret identity?!”
Cindy – “You’re Peter Parker.”
Peter – “Don’t say it out loud!”
Cindy – “You’re almost in your birthday suit…on a rooftop. And you’re shy about that? Fine. I won’t say you’re name while we’re…”
Peter – “Whoa! We’re not doing anything. I mean, we were. But now we’re not, because…because…?”
Cindy – “That’s a good question. I – I don’t know what came over me either. I felt something…basic. A primal connection. Is it because we were bitten by the same spider?”
Peter – “Still don’t know if I believe that…or any of your story, really.”
This is such a cute scene but it also shows us how quickly our passion can rob us of our senses, taking us out of conscious thought and plugging us into the moment with an all-consuming desire. While it may not happen as we tear away our spider-costumes on a pebbly rooftop, having those moments where we lose ourselves to passion can be all sorts of fun. It can be complicated, too! But it’s fun And again, it’s primal. Sex is wired into us. It is literally the only way our species survives. So, from a biological standpoint, when we are aroused we’re being driven by the same forces that have propelled our species along since we first crawled out of the prehistoric ooze. It feels good so we do it. And what’s so bad about feelin’ good? When we do it, in addition to feeling good, our species survives. But some people – some connections – just trigger that in a far more raw, primal way.
They calm down and head back to Peter’s apartment (which he shares with Anna Maria Marconi (who moved in with Peter when they were dating (but she wasn’t really dating him because Doctor Octopus had swapped minds with Peter so Ock’s mind was in Peter’s body for a while (because…comics (but Anna knows this now and she and Peter are friends and trying to sort it all out (and still living together as they do)))))) to plan their next step. When Anna Maria comes home she’s hit in the face with Spider-Man’s top before she sees Peter and Cindy passionately making out on the ceiling.
Peter – “Ah. Anna. I can explain. Um, first…what does this look like?”
Anna – “Like you’re making out. With a Spider Woman. On our ceiling.”
Peter – “Ah, right. Well…yeah. That’s pretty much it.”
Cindy – [jumping down to be face-to-face with Anna] “You. Back off. He’s mine now! Understand?!”
Anna – “Whoa. Personal space. Not really your thing, is it?”
Cindy – “Sorry. I…don’t know what came over me. I’m actually very mad at him…but when we’re together our…spider-sides kick in and…”
Anna – “‘Spider-sides’? That’s silly.”
Cindy – “No, it’s for real.”
Peter – “We don’t know that yet. This is all new. I just freed Cindy from a bunker today and…”
Anna – “Wait. You just met her?”
Peter – “Yeah. And we can’t find her family. So I brought her here so we could Google.”
Anna – “That didn’t look like googling.”
They are being driven by something baser than their rational brain. It’s just a physical attraction. It’s just a sexual thing. And it feels good! It’s an interesting angle that it has something to do with the “spider-pheromones” they share because they both got similar spider powers from the same radioactive spider. It’s a clever narrative way to explore the fact that there are just some people we have an undeniable, uncontrollable physical attraction to.
Once Peter and Cindy join the other Spiders to fight the Inheritors, Cindy strolls the room to see if she gets a “hit” off any of the others. She doesn’t, which illustrates an interesting part of all this. Really, who the hell knows why we have this sort of instant, overwhelming, physical attraction to certain people? It’s a mystery. But it isn’t universal. We just feel that instant spark with certain people. It’s rare and it’s AMAZING. So, in a base surrounded by dozens of Spiders from dozens of worlds, Cindy doesn’t find that instant attraction with anyone save her Peter.
In the U2 song “Elevation,” Bono sings about “the corner of your lips” and “the orbit of your hips.” It’s a clever rhyme and I’ve always liked the lyric. Hahaha, but then I experienced it and…WOW. I will never forget the woman who first made me really understand, made me feel what he was singing about. Damn. To watch her hips gently swing as we walked – to feel drawn to watching them, to be pulled into their orbit – there is nothing quite like it. To be attracted to someone is one thing. To be turned on is one thing. But this…this is something else. It’s a whole other level. That shivering sensation ripples all through you as you blissfully forget anything else ever existed.
When this happens within a loving, caring, committed relationship it’s fantastic. But it doesn’t always occur with that sort of foundation. Life’s not always that thoughtful or accommodating! Sometimes we just feel it, just find it with someone. We don’t have to love them. We may not even particularly like them. But that spark can still be there all the same. And it can be strong…which can be complicated. Peter and Cindy wonderfully illustrate this, too.
There’s this cute sequence where Peter, Cindy, and Anna are all trying to work in the apartment together. Anna has a water bottle by her side to spray them each time they start getting heated. She has to squirt them at 9:23, 9:46, 9:58, and 10:06! More than a little annoyed Cindy says, “That’s enough, Anna! Give me that bottle!” Anna replies, “Nope. Sorry. Act like dogs in heat and I’ll treat you as such.” Cindy considers her point and grants it. This arousal outside of a real relationship is a problem. She spent ten years trapped inside a bunker and now she wants control of her life back. She doesn’t want to be a slave to anyone or anything – even her own hormones.
But it’s not like Cindy and Peter hate each other! In fact, they make a good team. Silk and Spider-Man battle and defeat a super-amped-up version of Electro and the Black Cat. So, just like Peter’s time dating the Black Cat, Silk is someone who can share the superheroing side of Peter’s life. But unlike Peter’s relationship with the Black Cat, they aren’t dating. There’s no love, no romantic relationship, nothing outside of their arousal and physical desire. And their passion fades as soon as they are physically away from the other.
Realizing this needs to be addressed, Cindy arrives in Peter’s apartment, startling him as he wakes up one morning, to talk about it:
Peter – “Ahh! Silk! What are you doing here?!”
Cindy – “Good morning.”
Peter – “Why didn’t you set off my – ah. Right. You don’t set off my spider-sense.”
Cindy – “We need to talk.”
Peter – “One sec. Clothes. I need clothes…and possibly a chastity belt.”
Cindy – “I’ve been thinking about our problem. And while it’s a nice problem to have…”
Peter – “No. It’s not.”
Cindy – “Well, I’ve come up with a solution.”
Peter – “I’m all ears.”
Cindy – “Mmm. You do have nice ears. But that’s not the point. You should move.”
Peter – “What?!”
Cindy – “I’ve been training. Getting my spider-routine down. I’ll take care of New York…you go somewhere else. Maybe even off-world. How about the moon?”
Peter – “Okay, that’s silly…”
Cindy – “C’mon. You know it. I know it. If we share the same space…”
Peter – “…we get too…”
Cindy – “Yeah. One of us has to go…”
While this is another cute scene, what I really like about it is how it directly addresses this sort of thing can be a problem! It’s an admirably honest plot point. Exploding sexual attraction is fun, obviously. But it can complicate your life – and not always in the “fun complicated” sort of way. I know there have been people in my life who have consumed my every thought…when we were around each other. But when we’re apart they hardly ever enter my mind. It’s so uncomfortable! Because I think we’d all like to believe we’re better than this. We’d all like to believe we’ve evolved above and beyond our baser instincts. Yes, passionate physical attraction and sexual chemistry are so much damn fun. But none of us want it to kick in without “something more” to it because none of us want to believe these baser impulses can still control us like that.
Biological wiring or not, this alone is not a great foundation for a relationship so the unavoidable sexual chemistry becomes a problem. There are plenty of bad relationships built only on wild, physical attraction and they ultimately crumble. We are complex beings who live connected within networks of nuanced relationships. We need more than sex and/or physical attraction to make a relationship last. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fun. It can be fun for a while, too. But there comes a time when you have to own you can’t live on bread alone. Or…well, you get it.
Ultimately, Cindy and Peter realize the only real answer is distance. They don’t love each other. They aren’t romantically attracted to each other. So, as opposed to living as slaves to a physical attraction they can’t ever fully rein in, they do the responsible thing and put some distance between themselves. They both stay in New York and they remain friends…from a distance. They call each other when they need someone to talk to and of course they will cross paths for big Spider Team-Up events. But, by and large, they go their separate ways. They respect each other and themselves enough to own this is the right thing to do and they are mature enough to do it.
Still, for Cindy and Peter – just like all the relationships we’ve had like theirs – it was fun while it lasted. Thankfully for both of them, they broke it off before it turned into a trail of bad choices leading to broken hearts. Now it will always remain a wild, crazy, fun – if, at times, awkward – memory. It’s also something they can always joke about…with a healthy amount of space between them.
Want more of my li’l series exploring romantic archetypes using Spider-Man comics? Well you’re in luck! Check out:
Spider-Man and the Black Cat: Flirting with Perfection to see how the Black Cat represents those people we know may be wrong for us and/or we know it won’t work out with in the long run…but we’re drawn to them all the same and we seemingly can’t stop flirting with or the pursuing them no matter how hard we try :).
Spider-Man and Mary Jane: Soul Mates? (Y/N/Maybe) for an examination of Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship, with a focus on the question of Soul Mates as well as the classic romantic tropes of the will-they-won’t-they and best-friends-first relationships.
Spider-Man and the Spider Family: A Look At What Might Have Been… to contemplate the “What if…?” people we think of when we consider our romantic “what might have been”s care of the alternate reality series The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.
Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy: All the Beautiful Angst of First Love to consider how Gwen Stacy has far more significance than just “the girl who died” and how her relationship with Peter perfectly presents all the awkward, cringy, and still oh-so-magical moments of the first time we fall in love.
Spider-Man and Captain Marvel: The Super Friend Zone which uses the one date Peter and Carol Danvers went on as the frame to examine the friends we’re attracted to, the nature of “the Friend Zone,” and what we do when, consequences be damned, we start to feel a li’l romantic chemistry percolating in a platonic pairing.
Spider-Man and Betty Brant: Complicated Affairs of the Heart uses one of the oldest characters in Spider-Man’s character history to explore everything from first crushes and first dates to the confusing pull of falling in love with someone who’s married.
Spider-Man and Michele Gonzales: Hook-Ups, Hang Ups, and Bad Habits and explore how all the personal problems and issues and baggage we have that we refuse to acknowledge/own/see can hurt our ability to make it work with a really fantastic partner, as well as what happens when we meet someone who calls us on all our shit.
Spider-Man and Mockingbird: The Allure of the Workplace Romance looks at Peter’s relationship with Bobbi Morse during his time as CEO of Parker Industries to consider why we are so drawn to the workplace romance…and what awkwardness may be waiting for us if it doesn’t work out.
Spider-Man and Jessica Jones: Harkening Back to the High School Crush opens the door to reminisce about allllllllllll those awkward, anxiety-filled high school crushes we had and could never find the courage to act on while also considering the influence we may have on all the people we hardly know who come in and out of our lives.
Spider-Man and Jean DeWolff: The Lonely Echo of Unrequited Love is a sort of mirror to the cute-anxious experience of the crushes we don’t voice in high school, as it examines the very real pain we can carry in our hearts when we love someone who has no idea how we feel nor loves us back in the way we love them.
Spider-Man and Debra Whitman: Substitute People and Surrogate Relationships explores the toxic relationships we find ourselves in when we don’t articulate our boundaries and advocate for our own needs within our relationships, why we may struggle to do so, and briefly considers the nature of abusive relationships as well.
Spider-Man and Danielle: Wait…Is This A Date? dives into those oh-so-awkward questions that haunt the beginning of any would be romantic relationship were you try to figure out if you’re on a date with someone or just hanging out and all the discomfort and relief trying to figure that out can bring.
Spider-Man and Lily Hollister: She’s My Best Friend’s Girl dives right into the uncomfortably taboo waters we find ourselves in when that inexplicably magnetic attraction ignites within us and we realize we are freely flirting and passionately infatuated with our best friend’s significant other.