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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, June 6, 2015

On the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: Renew Your Vows #1

Since his debut in 1962, Spider-Man has always been one of the most popular superheroes, up until 2007 when the third film from Sam Raimi came out. After that, he somehow dropped in popularity. The reboot movies did not do as well as the previous trilogy. Iron Man has seemingly replaced him for most popular Marvel hero. That was for the general public, the reason why a lot comic fans stopped liking him was because of the event known as "One More Day" in 2007, when Peter made a deal with Mephisto to end his marriage with Mary Jane to save Aunt May.

Why was this so bad? Think about it, Peter and MJ had been married for 20 years. They were the comic book couple, right next to Superman and Lois Lane. But because someone, in this case Joe Quesada, decided that Spidey is best left single. So, that event wiped away over 15 years of quality storytelling and character development. Peter was reverted to basically being a young goofball who has one night stands with Black Cat. You can see why it was a terrible move then, and sadly still affects today's comics.

That's why I was quite intrigued with "Renew Your Vows." This story takes place in a reality where Peter and Mary Jane remained married and their daughter, whom in the original storyline, died prematurely, is alive and well. My intrigue was hampered by the fact Dan Slott was writing it. Now to be fair, he wasn't the one responsible for "One More Day," but he has written some of the worst Spidey characterizations since. The current run is embarrassing when compared to runs such as Todd McFarlane's in the late 80's. Slott's writing is extremely juvenile for almost every character, including Spidey himself. (If I remember correctly, it was the first issue when Spidey was reduced to having his pants come off and then civilians taking pictures & tweeting them.)

Still, that's not to say Slott has written all bad stories. Back in the day "Big Time" was exciting. But almost everything since then has been a slap in the face to longtime Spidey fans and continually shows why "One More Day" was perhaps the worst move in comic history. But, that's an article for another day, let's take a look at the comic for today:

THE LAST SPIDER-MAN STORY Not even The Amazing Spider-Man is safe from Secret Wars! In this new Marvel Universe, Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson and their daughter have to scrape by to make ends meet, but they have each other? Face front, True Believers. This is the one you've been asking for.

The current Marvel event, "Secret Wars" is the backdrop for this story. Despite being part of that, what's cool (or not depending on the reader) is that it feels more like a standalone "What If" story. Dan Slott's writing of a married Peter is pretty solid for the most part. It doesn't compare to the writing of yesterday, but there aren't really any major complaints to be had. We have a Peter Parker who's more mature than the one we're currently seeing.

Mary Jane in recent years has been, well, pretty awful for the most part. In many issues the writer had seemingly no idea what to do with her. Her old role as Spidey's wife just gave her more dimension as a character. As seen here, where she tries to make a plan to help Peter. These two just go so well together in dialogue and chemistry that it's even more painful to think writers have tried (and failed) to give him another girlfriend.

The story is paced very smoothly. Being in the middle of a continuity driven event, Slott assumes the reader knows the history of Spidey being married. There's no backstory; the issue quickly delves into the fact that some heroes are missing due to the Secret Wars. (I'm assuming that's the case anyway, the issue doesn't make clear if that's the case.) But even this is put to the side for the main conflict of the issue, which I'm sure was a surprise to everyone reading...

Venom in the modern comics has been reduced in popularity lately. Ever since the cancellation of his series two years ago, he's rarely been popping up. It doesn't help that the current incarnation is a government agent. It's quite refreshing to see Venom as how he is meant to be: a Spider-Man tormentor. The writing is quite good, especially in the climax, "Oh, the things we're going to do your horrid spawn, HA HA HA! Even if you beat us now, we'll never stop, Parker! We will get her. We will suck out her brains!" The final battle in the burning building was definitely epic, in both punches thrown and the narration. I am not quite sure why artist Adam Kubert chose to use the Mac Gargan design for Venom when it's Eddie Brock who is in the suit, but it's hard to complain when it looks that good.

The art in general is solid. With such great scenes such as Spidey throwing a powerful punch at Venom to the former's up-close shot with the fiery backdrop, it's hard not to want Kubert on art duties permanently. Though, Peter Parker in some scenes, especially in the Daily Bugle, looks much too young considering the time period of the story. The main cover isn't anything dynamic, but its simplicity is perfect. If you're into variants, the Skottie Young one is easily the best. I've never seen a more adorable depiction of Spidey and MJ.

"Renew Your Vows #1" is an excellent comic for longtime Spidey fans. Ignoring for a second that it ties into a big event, it's a fun look at how things were back then, and of course with the added fact of a child. The arrival of Venom was a nice surprise and added some excellent drama to the writing. As a tie-in to Secret Wars however, it could be called disappointing. A part of the issue is dedicated to the Avengers taking on a being called Regent. It's interesting, (one of the reasons being Cap's inverted costume) but how that plays into the event remains to be seen. The final page is apparently a time skip, and it shall be interesting to see where the story goes from there. Dan Slott has written his best Spidey comic since Big Time. To quote the very first line of the issue from Peter himself,

Yes, in a perfect we would be getting quality, mature Spidey stories like this on a monthly basis.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good comic. My main gripe would be that Venom was possibly a little too...psychotic here. Naturally, he was like that in some of his previous incarnations, but I prefer the Venom from the 90's who mainly just had beef with Peter. He would leave Mary Jane and the others along as he just wanted to destroy Spiderman. The line that you quoted about how he's going to destroy Spiderman's daughter was way too over the top. A simple, "I'll destroy her" would have sufficed instead of that mini rant. sounds like a good comic beyond that, but I think Venom could have been written better.