AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #1
Written by Gerry Conway, Anthony Holden, Kate Leth
Art by Ryan Stegman, Sonia Oback, Joe Caramagna, Anthony Holden, Marguerite Sauvage
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Following the success of other-dimensional Spider-Folk, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 goes back to the adventures of the Parker Family from the Secret Wars miniseries of the same title, with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson happily married. Their daughter, Annie May, exhibits some of Peter’s Spider-Man abilities, but only after writer Gerry Conway and artist Ryan Stegman introduce readers to Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Mary Jane (as well as a mysterious, shadowy madman), so we can grasp the full scope of the series.
From the first panel, Stegman, colorist Sonia Oback, and letter artist Joe Caramagna collaborate nicely, established the look, feel, and voice of this comic, as we see Spider-Man leaping over a viciously-fast tail with speedlines and gradients stitching it all together and completing filling the panel with color, movement, and excitement. The visual creative team melds well and stays on track throughout the issue, albeit with minor wobbles, like Annie’s eyes in the bottom-left panel of the breakfast scene. Normally, artists choose to fill youthful eyes with iris and pupil, but in this case, Annie’s irises are swimming in a sea of white, and, unfortunately, are distractingly divergent. It’s one panel, on one page, right before a ten-panel page and after an eighteen-panel page, so I am getting a bit nitpicky. I’m also identifying an area where I have no doubts this team will only get better and mesh tighter as their collective work continues forward.
My only other concern with the art will certainly shake out as the series continues: just how old is Annie? When we meet her, she’s larger-than-life, in-your-face, dealing with a crisis of her own design, which skews perception a bit. My first impression is to put her at 11 or 12. Later on in the issue, it is implied that she’s in the first grade. Either is believable from specific examples of Stegman’s art, but, like I said, I suspect that’ll get locked down in near future issues.
As I mentioned, this is a very full comic. I have the floppy copy of this book, but I elected to read it in guided view through the Marvel app, which was a wise choice. In that aspect, Stegman’s lines, Oback’s colors, and Caramagna’s words become the screen. The art becomes immersive and breathtaking. Which is something I really enjoy in my Spider-Man comics. Stegman packs each panel with enough detail to fill a page, and every line brings energy and vibrance to the characters and their world. This is definitely another example of Marvel finding the exact right artist for the assignment.
Add in Conway’s masterful crafting of the Parker family interactions and routines, and Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 is a wonderfully engaging read. Conway gets these characters, and, better still, he’s able to share that he gets them. This is Peter Parker and Mary Jane as they should be – marriage intact, humor present, and love undeniable. Mary Jane makes Peter human, and Peter makes Mary Jane believable. Add in Annie, a typical kid who wants typical kid things, like light-up shoes and carrots for her pet turtle, and the family is complete. Conway doesn’t just settle for making this a family drama in a Spider-Man wrapper. He adds in bits that make this a story that could ONLY be a Spider-Man tale: webs and powers, secret identities and repercussions of battles past. Furthermore, Conway proves his skill as a veteran writer by giving Stegman drawing assignments that call to the artist’s strengths: dinosaurs and hover-drones, action poses and rubble, and even quiet moments filled with rangy expressions.
A pair of cute stories serves as bonus material in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1. “The Earnest Adventures of Spider-Dad” told by Anthony Holden gives readers an adventure that Peter Parker shares with Annie when MJ leaves for the day, and does so in a manner that is visually humorous and light-hearted, but polished and charming.
“Make It Work” by Kate Leth and Marguerite Sauvage flips the cast, giving readers a playful adventure that spins out of costume discussions between MJ and Annie. The ol’ Parker luck strikes this scene, with Rhino showing up to rampage through, but that just opens up the story for whimsy. Like “Earnest Adventures,” this story is a nice addition, and shows the range of possibilities this series and the cast of Peter, MJ, and Annie are capable of.
Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales, Web Warriors and Spider-Man 2099 have all demonstrated the power of the Spider-Man brand. Tweaked just a bit and shifted from another Earth, timeline, or dimension, those Spider-variants have been fan favorite, and I have no doubt this title can find its way there as well. Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 is a wonderful introduction to a new world that answers some questions, discards other questions, and turns it around on the reader, asking, “Are you ready to have some fun?” If you answer, “Yes!” then get out your webshooters and start slingin’.
The Verdict: 8.5/10