Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (2016) #1 Review

Written by: Gerry Conway
Art by: Ryan Stegman
Colours by: Sonia Oback

Joe Quesada and J. Michael Straczynski’s “One More Day” story (yes, I know JMS wanted his name removed from the issue) ranks up there with “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” as one of the most important Spider-Man stories ever told. It’s by no means good, but its effects can still be felt to this day, every time Mary Jane Watson is onscreen or Peter is in a relationship. While many feel Marvel’s Spider-Man line recovered once Dan Slott came aboard, there are also those who feel his run has gone on too long, and those who just want Peter Parker and MJ back together. This issue, a follow-up to the well-liked Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows miniseries by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert, released during Secret Wars (2015), is meant to appease those people. So how does it do? Okay. Just okay.

Spider-Man veteran Gerry Conway returns to the franchise, and he does an adequate job setting up the status quo of the series. Peter is once again working at the Daily Bugle, MJ is a model, and their daughter Annie May Parker has her father’s smarts and powers, but is also very sensitive at her age. MJ also has spider powers thanks to some special suit I’m not sure was ever mentioned in the original Renew Your Vows. Relic, the villain of the aforementioned series who has since appeared in Spider-Man, is gone, so Conway sets up a new villain for the Parkers in the form of a manipulative and well-connected individual hidden in shadows. This villain invokes Norman Osborn in more than a few ways, but time will tell if they are a compelling character.

Conway has some fun with Peter and MJ as parents, writing some fun scenes of how they approach typical scenarios like wanting to have sex while also being parents. He goes a bit overboard with dialogue at times, but overall the characters feel distinct from each other and like a family. It’s fun to watch Peter as a cool dad, MJ as the stricter mum, and they play off each other really well. If nothing else, the characterisation is strong in this issue. Giving MJ powers feels completely out of left field and doesn’t add much to the status quo aside from some cool visuals, though. We’ll likely see the Parkers suit up together more often, but it just feels unnecessary. What keeps this issue from being anything more than average is the sheer lack of surprises. It’s all very predictable, a joke or two aside, and if you’ve read Slott’s Renew Your Vows, this issue offers very little that feels new. While it is setting up a new status quo, much of it is rehashed from Slott’s series.

I get why Conway’s writing like this. Doesn’t mean it can’t be annoying.

Ryan Stegman’s art is a bit mixed. It’s mostly good, very good in fact, rivalling Adam Kubert’s work on the original Renew Your Vows in places. It’s definitely an improvement over his work on Uncanny Avengers. Everything feels energetic, Spider-Man looks acrobatic and his webbing looks good but doesn’t go over-the-top. He lets things get messy in scenes with Peter at home, and the this helps to create this chaotic family atmosphere in the Parker household. However, Stegman really slips when drawing Annie Parker. The original Renew Your Vows had her at about half the height of MJ, and she’s clearly supposed to be in primary school (Kindergarten to Year 6 for non-Australian readers). And Conway rights her as such here. However, Stegman draws her as if she were a teenager, and it’s incredibly distracting, and those who haven’t read the original miniseries will probably think she is very sensitive for her age, given how she reacts to some things. Stegman himself told me there was confusion regarding her age, but I think it should’ve been made clear to him early on, if only by showing him this cover.

Behold, suddenly teenage-except-not-Annie Parker!

While Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman’s Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 doesn’t have the punch of Dan Slott and Adam Kubert’s, it does a good job with characterisation and establishing the new status quo. One or two twists would have made it truly stand out, but as it is, Renew Your Vows is merely an above average comic. It won’t excite you, but it will warm your heart a little if you care about these characters.

3/5 – Above average

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