Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Amazing Spider-man: Renew your vows #1

The Spider-man story One More Day is one of the most controversial mainstream comic book stories ever published since it took away the marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, a pairing that remains popular to this day. The Spider-man fans who are pro-marriage have been hoping for the undoing of the marriage to be undone in a follow up story and they're hoping that this Secret Wars tie in is going to be that story.

If that hope will be fulfilled remains to be seen. But so far Renew your vows has given us an intersting story with a married Spider-man at the center of it.

Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Adam Kubert (pencils), John Dell (inks) and Justin Ponsor (colors)
Publisher: Marvel

Summary: Peter and Mary Jane are happily married and have a little daughter named Annie. All is well, except that heroes seem to be disappearing left and right. A world altering event is approaching and Spider-man has to decide where his responisbilities lie.

My thoughts: I do hate One More Day and I have been missing reading new comics where Peter and Mary Jane are married. So that alone makes this a great little read. The story itself isn't entirely what I was expecting though, and this time around that's actually rather good.

This issue is mainly for getting the cast into a setting where Peter has to weigh his responsability to the world against his responsability to his family. There are promising and interesting ideas and themes at play here that concern the core of Spider-man as a character while also expanding on it by showing how he handles being a father, which has been dealt with in the on and off adventures in the Spider-Girl comics, but not in this kind of situation where the kid is young and the world is in the state it's in by the end of the issue. I am interested in seeing where Slott will go with this and at the same time I dread it a bit, it could easily turn into an anti-marriage story. But that just keeps me invested and will allow me to save up any potential nerd rage for a later day.

The characters are well written in general and I am immensely pleased to see how Slott portrays Mary Jane. When Peter and MJ were still a couple lesser writers tended to see her as a story telling burden since she's just a puny, normal civilian type person. So they'd have her sit home and worry about Peter, complain about him being Spider-man and/or just not matter in the story. This is not the case here. In this story MJ manages to be resourceful and keeps her head cool even when faced with Venom, one of Spider-man's most menacing villains. Her actions are ultimately what leads to Venom's defeat since she changes the location of the fight to some place more suitable for it. It's a simple thing but it's just the kind of action that MJ has done in several other instances when faced with super villains. It's a deligh to read.

Slott's been writing Spider-man for around 8 years now so he's got that character down pat. But this time around it's a married Spidey and you get the feeling that this is a marriage of equals. The way Peter and MJ interact is very reminiscent of the glory days of their marriage when they were happy to be together and became better people because of it. This issue does play a lot on nostalgia for the marriage, and I welcome it with an open heart.

Annie, the daughter, is a toddler for most of the issue so we'll see what kind of person she is later on. It'll be interesting to see how she differs from May, the aforementioned Spider-Girl, besides age.

My only real problem in the character department is how Venom is portrayed. He's always been a crazy man with a huge ego and singularly focused hate of Spider-man, but he's always had this kinda honor system and desire to be the good guy. In this issue however he's repeatedly taunting Spider-man by threatening to torture and kill Annie and MJ. In the past Venom would at most use threats against Peter's loved ones as leverage to keep the fight personal and between the two of them. He would never actually do anything to anyone who wasn't in his way. So it's a bit weird to see cross the line from revenge driven madman to complete monster that would hurt children for no real reason.

The last thing I want to bring up is whether or not this story is meant to undo One More Day. The answer is probably no. It takes place in an alternate universe compared to One More Day, the Spider-man from the 616 universe where that storyline took place is one of the survivors to appear in Secret Wars so he'll most likely still be the main Spidey when all is said and done. There is still a chance that the 616 Spider-man will die and that Peter Parker, Mary Jane and Annie get to live in refurbished universe that'll be in place after Secret Wars. But I doubt it.

As it stands this is just a What if? kinda story that plays a lot on nostalgia for those who enjoyed the marriage and want it to return. That alone makes this issue very enjoyable. The interesting setting, ideas and themes at play along with solid characterizations has me very interested in seeing where the story is going and I'll enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

But I am keeping my nerd rage close by until the end.

Just in case.

Grade: 3 - Solid

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