Spider-Man is caught in a fight against the Scorpion. He is contacted by his wife – with dire news – they have a code green. Webbing up Scorpion, Spider-Man takes off in a hurry. Harry Osborne and his associate watch the hero pass their window. It’s been difficult, but they’ve finally achieved access to any technology found in the remains of Augustus Roman, the Regent’s compound. It’s all his, now.
Back at the Parker home, Peter greets Mary Jane. Code green is a go – Annie is asleep and has been in bed for about an hour. As the two embrace, Annie suddenly calls out. They find her webbed up in her room, having been trying to enhance her father’s web shooters. She starts crying, but her parents understand. They were like this when they were her age. She is relieved, thinking they aren’t mad, but, well, they wouldn’t go that far.
The next morning is another busy day in the Parker home. The family has lots to worry about but are happy, but when Peter nearly drops a pancake, Annie uses her powers to catch it. The Parkers reprimand her – she’s not supposed to use her powers without her parent’s express permission. In an emergency, Peter made her a special communicator so she can contact them if she ever feels she does need to act, but she must always talk to them first. Reluctantly, Annie accepts this.
Peter then goes to sell his latest batch of photos to the Daily Bugle. J. Jonah Jameson is not pleased with their quality, and only agrees to pay Peter properly after some prodding by his employee Gloria. Our hero is grateful, and catches up with Gloria, whose son goes to Annie’s school, when Jonah comes charging out of his office. There’s something going down at the Regent’s old headquarters.
Spider-Man races off to the scene with his drone, which he uses to take pictures for the Bugle. All told, it is far more effective than rigging up a camera like he used to. Mary Jane thinks Peter wastes his talents as a scientist selling photos, and she’s probably right. But where’s the fun in working in a lab? If there’s one thing Spider-Man is about, it’s having fun. Peter tries to subdue the T-Rex but it breaks through his webbing – no easy feat. Suddenly, Spider-Man is swarmed by Moloids, who pin him to the ground. This isn’t good, but Spider-Man then feels something. His Spider-Sense is tingling. He’s being tapped.
Mary Jane frees her husband and they begin fighting the small creatures off. Her costume is designed to tap into Peter’s powers, meaning they can share his abilities and the responsibility of being a superhero, together. As they ponder how to defeat the dinosaur – they hear a familiar voice. Annie has been captured by the Mole Man!
Well, I had a lot of fun with the Secret Wars tie-in, so when I heard this had come out, I knew I had to review this one. And it did not disappoint. Renew Your Vows is back and this comic on the whole, does a pretty good job at kicking off a new series for it. What’s really great about it is not that it is one of the best Spider-Man comic ever, it isn’t, for the record, it’s that like the Secret Wars tie-in it gives us a glimpse of how great modern Spider-Man comics could be and sadly aren’t.
The biggest problem with contemporary Spider-Man is that his modern stories don’t have much soul to them. They’re all about grabbing headlines or going for big and broad stories. They opt for trying to be cool and action heavy over sincerity, and that really shows a lack of understanding when it comes to what makes Spider-Man great. Renew Your Vows challenges this, and we get to see a Peter Parker grown up – he’s still got challenges in life and development ahead of him – but he’s matured. He’s a father now and has gotten used to it. He has a real relationship – one that might be idealized and part of the ongoing male fantasy that is Mary Jane, but there’s more depth than classic MJ Watson used to have, and we’ve moved on from that old criticism. She has a personality and value to this story beyond just being a love interest. She’s a partner, through and through, and I find both her and Peter act as very plausible, worried parents. It’s refreshing to have some superheroes that aren’t just like all the others – like current Superman comics, it’s neat seeing something different and a familiar character move on to a new phase in their life.
I also like how this comic continues the already established story of Renew Your Vows. This keeps the situation of the Parker family unique – Regent may be gone, but so are most of the heroes. There are no allies to help them out, no rich billionaires to take the family in if needed, no lawyers to protect them in court, nothing. The family is alone in this world against any villain the story might throw at them, although, thanks to the nature of Secret Wars, if the need ever arises, they can still bring back some characters without worrying about continuity, too. That’s going to make for an interesting ongoing story and dynamic from which to tell Spider-Man stories, and I’m looking forward to it.
This comic does a lot well, which does make the mainstream Spider-Man stuff seem far behind in comparison. Clone Conspiracy is getting better but doesn’t hold a candle to what I saw in this comic. There’s even that line which I feel very much calls out just how boring it is having Peter in the lab all the time that I can’t help but feel is a very deliberate jab at the core Amazing Spider-Man series. And the fact this comic is so much better isn’t just because Mary Jane is back and for someone like me who constantly harps on Marvel over it, that’s a big deal. Little things like Peter’s inner monologue feels more in line with the Spider-Man I know than anything I’ve seen come out of the prime universe Peter Parker in some time. This one worries about what groceries he needs to get and ponders his family, feelings, and thoughts of love, while prime Peter is almost entirely focused on the story, enemies, and conflicts at hand.
So this comic gets an easy recommendation. It’s not perfect – in fact, my biggest complaint is the design of Annie and Mary Jane’s costumes. Annie’s is alright but Mary Jane’s just doesn’t feel as iconic or memorable as it should be. That being said, the more I get used to them, the better I think they are, so it’s not terrible, nor is anything about this comic. That and the few bonus stories included in this issue make this pretty much a must read for Spider-Man fans. Get this issue while you still can.