Renew Your Vows #1
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Adam Kubert, John Dell, Justin Ponsor
As a friend said to me earlier: “I vowed to stop reading Spider-Man comics until they fixed ‘One More Day’…” –Bobby Johnson. Which is a fair point, “One More Day” was like a turd in the swimming pool, I’m not going back in until the whole thing has been flushed and thoroughly bleached. Marvel seems to have finally heard the fan base on this one and excitedly unveiled “Renew Your Vows” which completely erases that Mephisto malarkey so Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got happily married and had a family—Yay! In an alternate universe—boo.
So here we have another Secret Wars title only in this one didn’t get tea bagged by Joe Quesada and Peter is together with Mary Jane… only it’s not exactly like it was in comics. See, Peter sold his marriage to Mephisto for two things in the comics. First and foremost was so his Aunt May didn’t get a bullet to the brain pan but also so everyone would forget his secret identity—because he Fucking told everyone! And yet in this book Spider-Man swings into Avengers Mansion (Did Peter’s marriage to MJ also rebuild Avenger’s Mansion?) and they’re having an emergency meeting.
“Gee shucks Spider-Man, we tried to call you but we didn’t know how to contact you because there was no listing for Man, Spider.”
Well did you try Parker, Fucking Peter because that was the name he said on television during Civil War? So no, this is not a book that seeks to undo the damage that was done to Spider-Man, this is a book solely for the purpose of placating errant fanboys. If this were a comic to undo the damage it would acknowledge that Spider-Man was an Avenger. But no, Peter is just a guy struggling to get by with a wife, a kid, and radioactive spider powers which is essentially the same state he has been trapped in since the 1980s.
But what about the book, Patrick? We don’t care about your irrational nerd rage. Fair enough, let’s talk about how Peter has evolved in this new universe created just for him. Well, he hasn’t. Peter is Spider-Man, perpetually broke, struggling at the Beagle, and secluded from the rest of the super hero world. I started playing a game with myself as I tried to figure out what year they were possibly portraying this as and for a while I had some solid evidence. All of the Avengers were from the 70s, Iron Man in his Mrk II armor and pale white vision. But then Avengers Mansion was full of blue pop up screens straight out of the Iron Man movies. Okay, so past but with future technology? And then Mac Gargan showed up as Venom! So now? But then it was Brock wearing Gargan’s symbiote… So past?
Okay, maybe I’m being too nit-picky. How was the actual story? Decent I suppose. Pretty standard affair: they set up that heroes are dying and they gotta save them; Peter finds out Brock escaped prison; goes home to find Brock, fights, has to save Mary Jane; then the Avengers confront the man actually responsible for the dead heroes. It turns out he’s been stealing their powers so he could become the biggest bad guy in all the land. My question is why the Hell would Doctor Doom create all these lands in Secret Wars only to make a guy who could get enough power to beat him? Because here’s the kicker, this character didn’t exist anywhere in Marvel before Secret Wars. So Doctor Doom, while making the world exactly the way he liked, thought maybe it might be cool to make a guy with the potential to become a God and that this would in no way be a problem later.
You know what I loved about Spider-Man before “One More Day”? He wasn’t trapped in an endless loop. He had overcome his old problems and had to face new challenges, making the character fresh and interesting. If Marvel keeps trying to repackage “Teenage Problems” Spider-Man, I’m going to go back to reading my copy of “New Avengers vol.1: Breakout”. The thing is that this book could have set up a great dynamic for balancing parenthood and fighting crime. “Invincible” just did it. Mark, knowing there was no way to defeat Robot opted instead to move off planet with his wife and new daughter and “give up” the hero work. Sure he would still work during regular hours to rescue people from fires or help others in need but he in no way wanted to risk his own life again because he wanted to be there for his daughter. It was still a compelling read and there was decent action. The point is that if you care about a character you want to see that character grow. Is “Renew Your Vows” going to be the new continuity for Spider-Man. I hope not. There’s a growing contingent of people that want Peter to pass on the mantle to someone like Miles Morales, and I am one of them. Marvel simply doesn’t know how to write compelling Peter Parker anymore and I’m tired of the failure loop he gets trapped in. That doesn’t mean get rid of him! Peter Parker was my first foray into comic books and I don’t want to lose him. But what if Peter did have a daughter? What if he decided to spend more time with her? Sure he’d still be around, probably show up for every cross over. But leave the heavy lifting to the other Spiders.