Renew Your Vows 2 SpiderManBaseball fans know just how fun it is to watch a pitcher hit a home run. Likewise, comic fans can stand up and cheer because Dan Slott, despite going 0-25 in his last 25 at bats, finally knocked one out of the park with issue #2 of Renew Your Vows. He bumped his batting average up to .038 with one home run. He also managed to expose once and for all how Tom Brevoort’s “medicine” (i.e., his comments on the decision to end Peter Parker’s marriage to MJ) was in fact poison.

Tom Brevoort Twitter OMDA lot of people joked about Annie’s name when it was first revealed, likening it to a cheap take on “Little Orphan Annie” because of her red hair, but after reading issue #2 of Renew Your Vows it is hard not think of her like a super-powered Anne Frank.

Just as the Frank family had to go into hiding during World War II, so too must the Parker family. An evil dictator with a penchant for genetic testing once controlled Germany and sought subjects on whom he could experiment; likewise, Regent hunts down a minority group — superheroes — and kills or experiments on them. If all of this was on accident, then Dan Slott stumbled onto a powerful accident. If the parallels were purposeful, then at least with this issue he did an stellar job.

On almost every level, the second issue of Renew Your Vows works.

  • Peter struggles with nightmares linked with having killed Eddie Brock (Venom), just as any cop or soldier might.
  • The dialogue between the entire family is touching and emotional.
  • Peter springs into action and acts like a true hero. He exudes grit and determination.
  • Mary Jane becomes the mother everyone knows she would have been — if it weren’t for Tom Brevoort’s “medicine.”
  • Annie is intriguing, and her reactions to Peter’s heroics touch anyone who once watched their own parents come through in a difficult situation.

All of this begs the question: Why has Marvel denied readers these kinds of stories — for years? Why has Marvel pretended like readers could not relate to a married Peter Parker when this issue proves them incredibly wrong?

Yes, it’s true: Dan Slott wrote an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man that is, for all intents and purposes, flawless.

It is inexplicable that fans have had to deal with man-child Peter Parker, the death of Peter Parker, and “Please-help-me-Silk-and-Anna-Maria” Peter Parker when Dan Slott could have been writing about Peter Parker the grown man, who is trying to raise his super-powered daughter with a strong woman by his side.

Come out for a curtain call and tip your hat, Dan Slott. You earned it. But as you return to the dugout, I highly suggest telling your team manager that he should stop administering his preferred “medicine.”

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

47 comments

  1. RYV has been the first Dan Slott Spider-Man story I have purchased since ASM #700. As much as I don’t really like alternate universe stories, RYV offers a good insight to what could’ve been, had Marvel administered a much more palatable kind of medicine.

    Thanks for the review Doug. Looking forward to picking up #2 today. Kids are on school holidays, I’m on holidays and we’re all heading out to the comic book store. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the read, Magnetic Eye. Be careful of my glowing review of this issue, because Dan Slott calls this blog “crazy town.” Or is it that I’m only “crazy” when I’m critical?

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue. Like you said, there’s definitely a “what could have been” feel to the whole story that instills it with a bit of sadness.

      Marvel’s editors have been lying to Peter Parker fans for years, and they know it. The marriage was never the thing that tripped up ASM — it was bad or lazy writing.

  2. Renew Your Vows has a “too good to be true” feel to it…it’s boundless, mature, balanced, and above all else optimistic even in the face of overwhelming odds. You just know that the monkeys paw is being rubbed by story’s conclusion, but this is the first genuine instance where I can sit back and go “Yeah, you got me, but you know what? It was a lot of fun getting here and I can only hope this toy box won’t stay locked indefinitely”, when you get stories like this, where the Parkers are a united front and spring into action regardless of their stature or their ability, all in the name of responsibility, you feel encouraged and as empowered as they are to do the same for your own. The use of Power Pack I thought was a fine touch too, showing that Peter is’nt just fighting for one child, but a whole team full of ’em. Peter is fully prioritized and thinking about everyone.

    Incidentally, overall sales of the first issue resulted in more orders than the initial issues of Spider-Verse and the hatchet job that was Superior Spider-Man. That is something I wouldn’t mind Dan bragging about to others on CBR or some places he dwells (particularly on Byrne’s change-loathing forum who insist Peter be a high schooler forever, they’d go nuclear)

    Between the dailys and Renew Your Vows, it’s been a sound summer so far for marriage fans, and an Indian summer of sorts for Dan as he finds a way to become relevant to the more seasoned fan, and truly shows what he’s capable of playing with all the toys out of the box. I think it’s brought out the best in him, and from all the goodwill I’ve read, the best in all sorts of fans, even people who like the man-child Peter like those over on CBR.

    1. “Between the dailys and Renew Your Vows, it’s been a sound summer so far for marriage fans, and an Indian summer of sorts for Dan as he finds a way to become relevant to the more seasoned fan, and truly shows what he’s capable of playing with all the toys out of the box. I think it’s brought out the best in him, and from all the goodwill I’ve read, the best in all sorts of fans, even people who like the man-child Peter like those over on CBR.”

      When Marvel used anger to push sales of SSM back in 2013, I asked what would happen if its editorial team made a conscious effort to unite fans behind something positive.

      Imagine what ASM sales would be like if Marvel united the following groups: 1. People who will buy anything with Spider-Man on the cover. 2. People who buy anything by Dan Slott. 3. Casual fans who just buy something their friends say is good. 4. Fans who left at OMD. 5. Guys like me, who are not only unhappy about the direction of the book, but willing to write about it on blogs that have decent traffic.

      For the longest time Dan Slott has acted like I have something against him when in truth I have only cared about the quality of his writing. This issue proves it. If the rest of Renew Your Vows is written with this kind of quality, you will see three equally-supportive reviews. Dan Slott has not been able to grasp this point because all too often he takes hard-nosed criticism of his work as criticism of him as a human being.

      Now that we know Dan Slott is capable of this kind of excellence, I hope to see more of it. I really do.

  3. Good review Doug. This is why I read your blog as you write things as you see them. This review shows you are not out to bash Slott for the sake of it but truly care about spider-man as a character.

    These are the stories we should have been getting. They show a true growth in the character.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. I’m always grateful that readers like you take time out of your day to check out my musings. 🙂

      “These are the stories we should have been getting. They show a true growth in the character.”

      Agreed. I think it’s quite ironic that Dan Slott’s own (strong) writing on this issue chops down an argument his bosses have made for years. If he writes twelve issues in a row that are this good, then he will get twelve salutes from me. If he decides to revert back to writing Peter Parker as a man-boy goof, then my reviews will adjust accordingly.

  4. And yes, while this is only the second issue of a presumably 5-issue limited series, the first sold through the roof (upwards of 200k).

    So if Slott’s justification for anything that he does in the title is “well, it sells”, and this continued to sell high, what argument would there be left against the marriage?

    I could almost see this series continuing being produced in tandem with ASM Vol 4. Bit of a shame it’s in the ghettoized realm of an alt-u spinoff, when Stark-Spider-man should be the “what if” title and not the real continuity.

    1. Interesting that you bring this up, because in one of my stays on CBR, I made the suggestion that Dan could do his own Parkers Industries-led stuff with Amazing Spider-Man but it would be its own continuity, Dan quoted me in that thread, BUT he left out the bits I mentioned there OUT.

    2. These guys have tried to put the blame on everyone but themselves over the years for declining ASM sales and a seemingly rudderless direction. Mary Jane was the problem. Then the marriage was the problem. Then Peter’s age was the problem. In each case it was soon apparent that the editors were merely making excuses.

      Sorry Marvel, but the “problem” almost always rests squarely on the writer’s shoulders. It’s the writer’s responsibility to reach into the creative ether and pull out cool stories. If he or she can’t do that, then it’s not the character’s fault or the fault of his supporting cast.

      I could almost see this series continuing being produced in tandem with ASM Vol 4. Bit of a shame it’s in the ghettoized realm of an alt-u spinoff, when Stark-Spider-man should be the “what if” title and not the real continuity.

      Agreed.

  5. I really think the problem goes back to the keys to the character being handed to a group of creators who fundamentally did NOT understand the character.

    Peter had to lose his marriage to the devil in OMD. The Gauntlet storyline was constructed on the bizarre premise that even when Peter wins he must lose somehow. ASM #700 dictated that Peter must lose to Otto who took over his life, and only relinquished it when he suddenly decided he couldn’t hang with being a hero anymore.

    Slott seems to know better than this, he’s now shown that he CAN write the character properly, but the fact that he seems to go along to get along is what makes me question his fidelity to the character.

    1. “Slott seems to know better than this, he’s now shown that he CAN write the character properly, but the fact that he seems to go along to get along is what makes me question his fidelity to the character.”

      It’s comments like that where Dan Slott completely loses it. If he stepped back and looked at the situation objectively, however, he would see that you have come to a rational conclusion. Your questions regarding his fidelity to the character may be totally wrong, but they are not illogical. If a man reads issue #2 of Renew Your Vows and then he looks at some of stories that Dan Slott has written that are 180 degrees off, it is hard not wonder.

      Your statement seems not far removed, in many ways, from the guy who wondered if Dan was only in it for a paycheck. Again, that guy may be 100% wrong — I get that — but when a man shows that he has the ability to write [insert character X], but doesn’t…and then he backs his boss’ bad “medicine,” those charges are bound to come up.

      How does a writer respond to charges that his fidelity to a particular character is suspect? I don’t think the answer is to say “Go f**k yourself,” as happened on Crawlspace years ago. (I believe Dan actually apologized, if I’m not mistaken.) I think the better options are to ignore the critic completely or to simply state facts that demonstrate otherwise.

    1. I wonder if he’s having a weird meltdown like Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura when he realized that Einhorn was Finkle and Finkle was Einhorn. 😉

      “Douglas Ernst is my critic. Douglas Ernst is my advocate. Nooooo!”

      For so long he said I just had some personal animus against him, when in fact that was not the case. I only was waiting for him to write a good issue of ASM.

  6. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the modern representation of Peter grates even more when contrasted with the very clever, constructive runs that preceded it: JMS, Jenkins, Millar, PAD and Sacassa. I would even throw Fraction’s annual in there.

    1. It’s funny you should mention JMS. I drifted away from ASM for a couple years, and it was his run that actually brought me back. Don’t get me wrong, there were some aspects of his work that I’d rather not discuss…but I enjoyed going to the comic shop to see what he was going write. I felt like he understood Peter and it gave me hope that Marvel would right the ship. I always want the S.S. Parker to do well.

    2. JMS wrote some of the best Peter/MJ interaction I’ve seen in a book, and RYV feels like a natural lead-off from that, but yeah, he wasn’t without his controversies (I think I know what you’re hinting at, and if we’re on the same wave length, I did’nt like that particular thing either) even before OMD. I think what made his run flawed near the end was the over-abundance of tie-ins and stalling the Totem mysticism storyline for a couple of years after Romita Jr. departed the book.

  7. It seems a couple of jokers have started accusing me and some friends of being “weirdly obsessed” with Slott and calling us out on Comicvine

    http://www.comicvine.com/spider-man/4005-1443/forums/spider-man-comics-discussion-739993/?page=239#js-message-11940

    Here’s a little of what I said to them:

    “You might as well say we’re all obsessed with JMS, or Howard Mackie, or Tom DeFalco, or Roger Stern, or whoever else is driving the car. If you’re the prolific writer of a flagship magazine, you will be talked about extensively. ESPECIALLY in the online age”

    1. As of today I have published 1,086 blog posts. A tiny fraction of those have been about Dan Slott. How am I obsessed with Dan Slott if I’m reviewing a comic book? That doesn’t even make any sense. I’m actually creating content in my spare time that people can read and talk about. What does “comicawesome” do? Oh, yeah, he sits around and complains (from afar, of course) about guys like me.

      Shocker: A blog that bills itself as one that covers politics and popular culture actually covers politics and popular culture.

      I have regularly purchased Marvel comics since 1984. I’m not sure why suddenly I’m not supposed to write on my favorite character or the person who pens his adventures. It’s incredibly telling how all these guys take pot-shots at me from across the bow. If they thought for one second they could embarrass me on my “home turf,” then they would. They almost always stay away because deep down they’ll get taken to the woodshed.

      My guess is that many of these guys are jealous that they don’t know how to create something (e.g., a blog that has grown for five years), so they get bitter and then just spend their time trying to tear people down.

    2. And now it seems I’ve been blocked from posting on the ‘vine, despite me coming to the defense of my fellow posters. Strange too, given the people on the ‘Vine are a little less conformist to Slott’s writing. The last thing I wrote feels almost like an impassioned final speech from a battlefield.

    3. What?! I read your response. I don’t think that was really ban-worthy. That’s ridiculous. It’s funny how people can denigrate you all day, but the moment you strenuously defend yourself then somehow you must be silenced.

      That’s why so many of them dislike this blog — they know they can’t shut me up. They know that I allow everyone to have their say. They know I’m not going to just randomly ban someone unless they start swearing, they get vulgar, or they blow me off when I give a warning. There was a woman not too long ago who said something along the lines of “Ban me. I don’t care,” so … I did. Heh. 🙂

      My WordPress stats tell me that there is a good portion of these guys reading my blog. They rarely comment, but they certainly are reading. And every single time one of these sites bans a guy like you for no reason, I gain another reader. This blog is a place where I actually welcome a vigorous debate.

    4. Yep, we had a great time debating the first issue of this, I sort of wish this one had something you could have objected to so we’d continue that, as I got a rather good insight into your own expectations of a married Peter…I feel the next few issues will test those expectations, which will be all the more fun to discuss.

    5. Even in that review though, you’ll note that it wasn’t completely negative: “Marvel gave fans what they were thirsting for, but its creative team made sure to spike the product with something bitter.”

      It was obvious that the book was on the right track; I just objected to Peter’s reaction to killing Venom. I always thought the “no one dies” mantra was juvenile and something that a hero with Peter Parker’s experience would quickly leave behind. What kind of hero would think he could stay in that arena, for years on end, and not think that maybe — someday — he might have to take a life? He’d have to be delusional, and Peter Parker is not delusional.

      I think he would do everything in his power to avoid having to take a life, but if that day ever arrived then I don’t think he’d view that as the “death” of Spider-Man. I just don’t.

    6. True enough, and sure enough, despite being shaken still by the events of that day, he still goes in and protects his kid as well as other younglings

      BTW, the ban’s been lifted on comicvine

  8. These other sites seem to be run by the Marvel version of Swifties. Say one critical thing about Taylor Swift’s music or behavior, and you’re gone. I also imagine that Marvel Publishing has quietly threatened them with some sort of retaliation (like, withholding of news release, availability of interviews), because Marvel seems to be the sort of company that would do that sort of thing (starting the retaliatory ethos with Ike Perlmutter and going right down the line).

    1. It’s fitting that this would happen to zariussi so soon after my conversation with emac1790. He’s telling me to go to CBR because it’s a changed place and as long as I keep it clean the moderators will protect me. Yeah, right. Why should I expect it to be any different when Dan Slott’s “spite” comment was recently deleted at CBR and a guy like zariussi is banned over at Comic Vine. I read zariussi’s reply and it’s pretty tame.

      Like you said, the writers at these other websites just don’t want their access to the creators to dry up. They don’t want to bite the hand that feeds. It would be nice if they would just admit it once in awhile.

  9. Well, as you probably already know from I own review, Doug, I did think the comic did have a few problems. First of all, I think The Regent comes across as very generic and uninspired villain, which was also a problem with issue #1. Also, there were a few times where Slott’s dialogue, once again, got a little too heavy-handed and expository, particularly with Annie’s reaction to seeing the Black Costume were she says: “Ah! That’s the thing! The Shadow-Thing! Every nightmare I ever had! That’s the thing under my bed!” Granted, depicting children is always a challenge for a writer, but no grade-school kid, especially one who is supposed to be reacting in terror, ever talks like this. That was the one time Annie, who had otherwise been characterized extremely well by Slott up to that point, didn’t seem like a little girl and it was more Slott having to explain to the reader why Annie was reacting the way she was when it was already obvious why.

    Nevertheless, I agree with you, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Yows #2 was very good for the very reasons you cite. Oh, and good observation about The Regent controlled-New York and the parallels to Fascism. That one scene in particular where D-Man says how the people have become sheep and ignoring what’s in front of their eyes because they have “food on the table” and “flying cars” definitely calls to mind how supporters of Mussolini would defend him by saying “At least he ran the trains on time” or would make excuses for Hitler by claiming he “revitalized Germany” even though all manner of evil and atrocity was happening and being sanctioned by the state.

    Given the positive reception Renew Your Vows has been getting in part because it’s showing Spider-Man as a family man, and how, as others have pointed out, the first issue hit over 200K in sales estimates, second only behind the third issue of Secret Wars, it’s going to be very interesting comparing the reception to this and when Amazing Spider-Man relaunches with a single Peter Parker portrayed as a younger Tony Stark-wannabe without the goatee, heart problems and alcohol. After all, the initial reaction towards the promo for “All-New All-Different” Amazing Spider-Man #1 have been mixed to say the least, and suggests Marvel has badly miscalculated once again when it comes to Spider-Man. Because the irony is, we’re now getting a story written by someone who has repeatedly gone on record saying he wasn’t a fan of the marriage which has wound up making even those who argued that “the ends justified the means” with One More Day and making Spidey “young” and single again are now essentially calling a Spider-Man who is both a husband and a father “refreshing” and “full of potential.” Just in case you aren’t aware of it, there’s a really good article on Den of Geek suggesting how Renew Your Vows is exactly what Spider-Man needed all along: http://www.denofgeek.us/books-comics/spider-man/247319/spider-man-renew-your-vows-how-it-renews-peter-parker

    1. “Already, the seeds are sown for the story’s inevitable undoing come September. When Doctor Doom is stopped in the main Secret Wars plotline, and continuity is righted or streamlined, obviously the Avengers will not be dead, and the underlying message will be that Peter Parker is a better superhero when he doesn’t have a family to worry about.

      But that will be the wrong takeaway. Exploring a Spider-Man willing to murder in order to protect his family proves there is an entire avenue of story possibilities Marvel has forsaken for a character they have attempted to return to his single, post-graduate days from the 1970s. One who they have also struggled greatly to make interesting again. Ultimately, the appeal and challenge of Peter Parker is that he’s most interesting when he is moving forward and doing something different.”

      Nicely put! Thanks for sharing, Mike.

      I’m definitely not going to argue with you regarding how generic Regent is or the slight awkwardness of some of Annie’s dialogue.

      Was Slott the one who came up with Regent or was he an enemy that sort of came out of a Marvel brainstorming session? I dinged Regent in my first review, so I guess I figured I’d lay off for this one. Besides, there was so much right with this issue that I figured if I started to pick apart how Annie talked, then it would be something better suited for my version of “Nerdy Nitpicks.” 😉 Maybe I could call it “Doug’s D’ohs!” or something.

      Anyway, if this series continues to get better, then there really will be a deflationary feeling when Peter Parker-Stark-Wayne launches. There is so much potential in a married Peter Parker. If he aimlessly runs around the world getting involved in love triangles it will just be sad. How can one not see that Peter Parker, the amazing husband and father — at this point in the character’s history — is “superior” to One Night Stand Peter Parker?

      Keep those reviews coming at Crawlspace, Mike. You do fabulous work. Even your insights on the fly during the podcasts are witty and crisp. Anyone who reads this should check the podcasts out. I’ll often listen to them as I’m eating breakfast or doing little chores around the house.

  10. Why has Marvel denied readers these kinds of stories — for years? Why has Marvel pretended like readers could not relate to a married Peter Parker when this issue proves them incredibly wrong?

    Why does nobody remember spider-girl? 😦 May Day needs more love.

    Readers DID have those kind of stories for years. Then they had to kill it off. :*(

    1. I’m sorry for not wording that better, Nate. I meant within the context of Peter’s natural progression within ASM. I meant no disrespect to May Day. 🙂

    2. I would also recommend the Spider-Man crawl space, don’t just read the articles listen to the podcasts as well.
      Soon there will be another web site where you can express opinions on comics and games freely as well. I have two friends that are in the process of setting one up and I have heard their first two podcasts (I got an early preview)…lets say the are not afraid to tell it like they see it.

      Keep up the great honest reviews Douglas, I really do appreciate the work.

    3. I will let them know, I think they would love to have you as a guest on a podcast as well. If anyone here want’s to be a guest let me know and I will send them the message.

  11. I have a bad feeling that the connection between RYV and the Spider-Stark we see in the ASM previews will be that RYV will end horrifically. Marvel said that “elements” of RYV will carry over into the renewed ASM. MJ dies or is crippled, horrifically, Annie becomes Venom, horrifically. Somehow or another, RYV ends in horribleness. And so Peter, retaining those memories (somehow), when Earth is re-formed, abandons any idea of ever having a family. He embraces career instead, and a reborn, super-energized Parker Industries is the result. The babes-on-both-arms thing is part of his PTSD reaction.

    1. I reckon, given the events of the main SW book, that 616 Peter will find his way to the Regency and finds both Peter and MJ will have made the supreme sacrifice to keep “Little Orphan Annie” safe from The Regent and do as you suggest. Nick Lowe has said that MJ is not “gone forever” though, and that Dan will get back to her eventually…well if the “wait and see” approach with Harry Osborn has been any indication with characters presently stuck on a bus, we could be going through more than one Spidey editor before we see her again.

  12. Yes, that would solve a problem with my first theory. RYV Peter isn’t the “real” 616 Peter. He is an AU Peter. So how could any lessons learned in the RYV regency be learned by 616 Peter, or carried back to the real 616 world? My guess could be all wrong, too. “Elements” might just refer to some plot points.

  13. News from comic con:

    -A cockier Peter Parker to go with his buisness
    -For people who want a “younger” Peter Parker, there is an all-ages prequel book coming called simply “Spidey”
    -MJ in a “fun and different place”, that does’nt look like it will be at Peter’s side (in the regular books anyway, she’s still his wife in the dailies)
    -Harry and Norman will be back
    -Joe Kelly writing a new Spidey/Deadpool series

    1. The Upcoming ASM is just Superior Spider-Man 2.0, which will led to the return of Dr. Octopus.

    2. I am tired of Slott’s hand me down writing. I wish that he was doing Iron Man for a change and apply his toys unto him. Also, to make Jessica Drew as a mom is just terrible as well. Marvel needs to mix up their Spider-Writers unto other titles. Who wants to read a cocky Peter Parker? It feels like a continuation of Spock in my opinion and not really Peter Parker, despite Slott’s arguments to the contrary.
      As with Superior Spider-Man, I will stay as far away from the new ASM because it smells like Spock, who was a complete asshole.

    3. Dan Slott can say “You haven’t read it yet!” all he wants, but when he finally stops yelling the bottom line is that we’ve seen his work for years and have a decent idea of what to expect. When Dan sticks to the tried-and-true formula for what makes Peter Parker a winning character, he does well. When he’s allowed to him to be free range Dan Slott, he gets into trouble. He needs certain creative constraints placed upon on him in order to highlight his best qualities as a writer.

    4. In other words, Dan is the Vince Russo of Spider-Man writers. Great with a filter, but when left unbound, creates a quagmire for every character.

    5. Haha. I’m not into wrestling, but this is a convincing observation: “Great with a filter, but when left unbound, creates a quagmire for every character.”

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