Mary Jane Parker RYV Mom

The final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows has finally arrived, but borderline diabetics may need to withhold their cash. Dan Slott ends his defacto “What if … the Parker family lived in an Orwellian police state ruled by a super-powered despot?” with plenty of sugary sap — and cheese.

SpiderMan Parkers Renew Your Vows

Renew Your Vows continues a trend for Mr. Slott, which is that he has a tough time at the finish. If he were a baseball player for the New York Yankees, then he would not be a closing pitcher. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Let’s wrap it up. Wrap it up. Wrap it up-up-up-up-up! Love and happiness, strength and family, yadda, yadda, yadda — those plot holes never happened.”

SpiderMan Regent RYV ASM

It was only one issue ago that Regent was using telekinesis to immobilize Peter Parker and Sandman with a thought, perhaps the mere seed of a thought. He was, for all intents and purposes, a god. And yet, because the script calls for a “love conquers all”-type ending, readers are supposed to cheer its slap-dash construction.

Perhaps one of the weirdest moments comes when MJ turns to Peter at the end of the tale and says, “I have to know…if our daughter was in real danger, would you have killed him?”

Mary Jane Parker Renew Your Vows

Regent took out all of the Avengers. He took out almost every superhero in existence. And yet, a small child who just randomly decided to rush into battle against him was apparently never in any “real” danger. That begs the question: Then why should readers have bothered to care?

Renew Your Vows had some fine moments. Dan Slott hit a “home run” with the second issue and performed adequately in the third and fourth installments. Regardless, the story ended up as little more than a sweet treat for fans who wanted to see a few flashes of “Parker power.”

Buy the issue if you’ve already followed it this far, but make sure to have an insulin injection nearby.

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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.

44 comments

  1. Right. Peter’s answer should be, “Absolutely!”, and MJ should give him a huge smile in response and say, “Right answer, Tiger” as Annie rests her head on his chest.

    1. It didn’t really go down like that. It was more of an awkward silence where a thought balloon would have read, “Really? Did you have to go there?”

      I’m not really understanding how a man can go up against a god-like being and not expect that there is a high probability that one of them is going to have to perish… In Dan Slott’s stories, these things happen and no-one is ever “really” in danger, I guess.

  2. I’ve yet to pick up the third and fourth issues in this series. Just haven’t been motivated enough to visit the comic book store lately. Whilst I’m not a fan of alternate universes, I guess I had high expectations for Dan Slott to deliver the goods on this one. In reality though, it seems that RYV is an anti-climatic story arc that fizzled out. Bummer!

    1. Yup. The Regent starts off by slaughtering all the entire Avengers at one time, PLUS the Hulk! Looking back, one asks, how did he even get started, since he would need to begin by conquering some lame C-list heroes. Did he kill Howard first, thus gaining the power to smoke cigars and yell “Wauugh!”? And if he had control of Xavier’s telepathy powers, couldn’t he have mentally scanned the city and find Spider-Man that way?

    2. There are bound to be creative blindspots when putting together stories that involve superheroes, magic, etc. … but it seems as though at some point in time Marvel basically did away with quality control. There are certain creators who police themselves better than others, but when writers are sloppy then their buddy-editors seem to let them get away with it.

      I think one of the keys to being a good writer is to always try to be your own harshest critic. I don’t get the impression from most writers at Marvel that they subscribe to that mindset. In fact, I get the opposite impression. They think they’re all geniuses and if anyone questions their work they get offended. We’re supposed to just happy to read something new each month.

  3. Personally, I think we can be happy for a happy ending. It *didn’t* end up with Peter dead, or MJ dead, with Annie with an injured eye vowing revenge! That’s a change for modern Marvel.

  4. Yes. From Crawlspace:

    “In the middle of this issue, as is not infrequently the case in comics, is an ad. It’s a big multi-page foldout advertising new series for the upcoming new Marvel U. The problem? This foldout ad was inserted into an important two page spread, splitting through the middle of panels. If you read the pages under assumption that, like nearly every comic ever, an ad on the right page means the panels on your current page only travel through your current page, you’ll completely misread the scene. This just happens to be in the middle of Peter’ internal monologue when he’s in his cell, and how he breaks out of his cell, arguably the most important character moment in the book. I had to stop and read it three times to make certain I had read it correctly. If you fall for the ad’s trick, Peter literally says “I have no power” followed by immediately breaking out of the cell. … What bothers me so much about this isn’t so much the annoying effect it has on the reading experience, but what it says about Marvel editorial. I can’t imagine an editor reading that and thinking it was acceptable. The only way I can see this happening is a lack of caring. If they don’t care about the climax of Renew your Vows, why should we?”

    This was incredibly weird and I had many of the same feelings.

  5. “Let’s wrap it up. Wrap it up. Wrap it up-up-up-up-up! Love and happiness, strength and family, yadda, yadda, yadda — those plot holes never happened.”

    Yeah, that pretty much the feeling I got while reading it, too. Even so, I did enjoy it. Cause I’m a sucker for “saccharin.” In any case, here’s my own review for Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #5–
    http://whateveraspidercan.com/2015/09/10/stillanerd-reviews-amazing-spider-man-renew-your-vows-5/

    And because it’s related, a bunch of lengthy speculations on which elements from Renew Your Vows could carry over into Amazing Spider-Man–
    http://whateveraspidercan.com/2015/09/09/stillanerds-speculation-elements-left-from-renew-your-vows/

    1. Great review, Mike. You’re much more forgiving than I am with the cheese-factor. When Peter said the “Face it, Regent … you just hit the Jackpot!” line doesn’t get old I thought, “Actually, yes. Yes it does!” It would sort of be like asking Fonzi to put on his leather jacket and say, “Heeeeeeey!” in his 70s… At what point do we go from a nostalgic hat tip to needlessly making a character a prisoner of his/her own past?

      Anyway, you’re spot on with this one:

      Even though Lee’s dialogue had more wood in it than Noah’s Ark, he somehow had this magical ability of making you believe people in his stories would actually speak the way they do no matter how unrealistic it really was. Slott doesn’t. When you read lines such as Hawkeye’s “We’re doing more than that, murderer! We’re putting an end to your reign, Regent!” Or Annie (remember, she’s supposed to be eight-years old) saying phrases like “You gotta stop calling me ‘Annie’ when we’re on a mission,” the unnatural way it sounds not only takes you out of the story, it reads as Slott just trying way too hard.

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m surprised someone didn’t exclaim “Zounds!” before RYV concluded. 😉

  6. Since when did Andrew Roebuck become some sort of union representative for all Spider-Man fans?

    “Slott the entire Spider-Fandom has some hope in you once again please don’t waste it.”

    Interesting. This was a glorified “What if…” tale, no less. I kindly ask my union rep to wait until six issues into Peter Stark…I mean Tony Parker…I mean The Incredible Amazing Iron-Spider before making such statements.

  7. Man, this has been quite a “who cares?” period for Marvel, hasn’t it? It’s really been the season of beating a dead horse.

    I looked over a few of the several thousand alternate reality titles they’ve been doing and man can I not bring myself to care. I couldn’t even give a crap about bringing back Old Man Logan or Marvel Zombies which I’ve really enjoyed in the past. It just feels so, so forced, especially since everyone has to talk about Doom all the time. I could sort of understand if they had several really dynamite ideas for returning to some of these alternate realities and wanted an excuse to do them all, but most of them are just talking about the Secret Wars situation nonstop, so they were obviously only written for this dumb mega-crossover thing.

    I don’t know, RYV is obviously invoking something like DKR by doing the whole apocalyptic/all the heroes are gone sort of scenario. Obviously there was already a Spider-Man version of DKR, but you’d expect more out of a scenario this ridiculously elaborate.

    I mean really, did you need any of this absurd setup that destroys a whole world’s continuity to get going? Couldn’t the same effect have been achieved by Spider-Man peacefully retiring at Annie’s birth (what happened to May?), and the Sinister Six getting together, upgrading their powers, and hunting down several major heroes until they were too intimidated to take them on or something like that? Spider-Man taking down the whole Sinister Six by himself is always exciting (one of my favorite trades ever is the Return of the Sinister Six, with Doc Ock getting a huge power upgrade and reforming the Sinister Six). We don’t even need a dumb and boring new villain then! I’d be a lot more invested in Spider-Man’s city getting beaten down by “his” villains who he might have been able to defeat had he not retired at the wrong time, as well.

    I feel like the best What Ifs are often the subtle ones, where one fairly small detail changed and it modified everything. With this world being subtly different than the main one, you could easily come up with a good reason why the Sinister Six (maybe a little stronger to start with in this world) would want to dominate the city. Doc Ock could easily have created something to lock off the city, or some way to keep other heroes from intervening so that only Spider-Man can fight them.

    It’s also very stupid to have a resistance movement already going on. What tone are we even trying to hit here? Do we want apocalyptic despair or do we want hopefully upbeat or what? If you want the former, there should be no one who dares to challenge Regent; if you want the latter, why have all the heroes be dead? In that case maybe you should have Regent drain their powers and Spidey could find a way to restore them so he could lead an army against Regent. Something! As it is the tone meanders all over the place, from sad, to violent, to kid hijinx, to love conquers all who cares if it’s dumb and doesn’t make sense. Slott is like a bullrider sometimes, he just seems to get pulled all over the place and never keeps a handle on his stories or how they play out.

    Also you like for there to be some sort of thematic through-line, right? For example, Reign was all about Peter’s guilt causing him not to take responsibility for what happened, and overcoming that to come back and fight for the memory of his loved ones — even if he couldn’t save MJ, he could honor her. You want to see the situation and the solution tying into the main character’s arc. If it were me, I’d have had him retire when Annie was born. Then as each member of the Sinister Six started to get stronger (which happened immediately afterward) he didn’t go when the other heroes asked him to help. Eventually they got so strong after reforming the Sinister Six that nobody could stop them, or maybe Doc Ock did something to depower heroes that perhaps wouldn’t work on Peter, or something like that. Maybe the Sinister Six roped off the city and did everything to draw Spider-Man out, since they’re sure he lives there but don’t know his identity. So in a way it’s sort of Peter’s fault for not coming out of retirement long enough to deal with this situation, and now he’s the only one who can sort it out. Instead the situation really doesn’t have anything to do with him, and him being the one to solve it is totally plot convenience (Regent needs you specifically! I mean you’d think it’d work better to just use the Hulk’s powers or something, but yeah, sure, it has to be Spider-Man for some reason. That totally makes sense. If I wanted to fight God, it would work way better if I had a spider-sense [which everyone knows he has for some reason]).

    And the theme is “love conquers all,” I guess? But what, none of the other heroes loved anyone? Nobody else could break out of the stupid tube thing? Were any of them even conscious? And he wins by telling a freaking joke!? What does that have to do with anything?

    Sorry for the text wall, I had a lot of reactions to the finale of RYV. I felt like it didn’t suck, and was reasonably in character at least (as opposed to the most recent version of Peter) but it was just a mess made of some decent ideas. Do they not have editors over there?

    1. I feel like the best What Ifs are often the subtle ones, where one fairly small detail changed and it modified everything.

      I agree. There are certain moments in life where you know that if you just said or did one thing a bit differently, then your whole life would be different. Maybe you’d be married to someone else or a different career. Maybe you would live on the other side or the world. Who knows. I think it’s cool when you’re actually conscious of those massive forks in the road.

      The tone meanders all over the place, from sad, to violent, to kid hijinx, to love conquers all who cares if it’s dumb and doesn’t make sense. Slott is like a bullrider sometimes, he just seems to get pulled all over the place and never keeps a handle on his stories or how they play out.

      That really is one of my bigger critics of Dan. He often has mish-mash tone going on. If there were subtle shifts that would be one thing, but they’re not. One moment it’s this 1984-ish Orwellian police state, and then the next we have Kraven getting crotch-kicked and games of Annie “tag.” It’s weird.

      And the theme is “love conquers all,” I guess? But what, none of the other heroes loved anyone? Nobody else could break out of the stupid tube thing? Were any of them even conscious? And he wins by telling a freaking joke!? What does that have to do with anything?

      I actually laughed out loud when I read this because it’s so true. Those moments where Spidey does “the impossible” are still believable because the set up is so solid. Slott doesn’t do that and it’s like, “Wait. What? Huh? I’m supposed to just believe that because of love? Okay.” And then guys like us are probably called “haters” or whatever when really we’re just asking for tight writing. I’m sorry if that’s too much to ask for in 2015.

    2. Oh man, I just had a thought. I wonder if the joke at the end was supposed to be a reference to The Killing Joke, like this story is obviously modeled on The Dark Knight Returns a little bit. If that’s the case — yeesh.

      I still can’t get over MJ’s line at the end. She might as well have said, “If the villain wasn’t completely non-threatening and there was some sort of interesting climactic confrontation, would have you been willing to kill him?” I just can’t believe it, I mean — not only did Slott obviously miss the point, not only did he manage not to depict the most interesting component of this situation, but he knows he did it! And he called attention to it, in extremely on-the-nose dialogue, just to make sure we didn’t miss it! Slott literally asks the question whose answer was supposed to make this finale interesting and doesn’t answer it, in the text. Amazing.

    3. To say something good about Slott, I felt like the tone in his Spider-Ock stuff was more consistent, and so I found it easier to read. Spider-Ock was our viewpoint character so everything had a bit of a serious, slightly sinister tone to it. There wasn’t much awkward comedy with the situation, and he spent a lot of time building things and coming up with ideas that were new and different than what you normally see a hero do, which made some sense from his perspective. He was effective and competent, though he had his own blind spots. My criticisms of SSM don’t have to do with tone, so he got that part right.

      However, when dealing with Peter, Slott’s tone is nuts. I’m not sure if he’s the one who did the whole “Lizard brutally murders Curt Connors’s son” story, which is one of the darkest comics I’ve ever seen, but there’s been some super dark stuff in Spider-Man comics over the last several years. Then you’ve got the recent goofy “whoops, I can’t run a company right, hope this ladies can fix it for me, hyuk” stuff, Spider-Island went back and forth from violent death to goofiness, and Spider-Verse was all over the place too. He really seemed to write serious stuff for a villain character a lot more consistently. (Though I’m not sure you can call it consistent when he completely betrayed the premise of the series, which was clearly established to be Doc Ock’s redemption and learning to become the hero while not killing anyone.)

    4. This is why I enjoy your contributions, Eidolon. You’re a guy who “gets it.” You get writing. You can see what works and what doesn’t. You can see where something just isn’t clicking and identify the problem areas. I totally agree with pretty much everything you just said there.

      My problem was never so much with the writing of SSM — it was obviously inspired stuff. Dan clearly enjoyed himself. My beef was the way in which Peter Parker was dispatched and the callousness with which the whole ordeal was handled. Then, as you say, Dan “completely betrayed the premise of the series, which was clearly established to be Doc Ock’s redemption and learning to become the hero while not killing anyone.”

      This is why I cringe when I see people who are willing to give Dan Slott a back massage because he put a “Face it, Tiger!” line in MJ’s mouth. The sentimental spider-schmaltz is a crutch. It’s a bandaid. It covers up for all the technical flaws that guys like you can see from miles away.

  8. I would like to point out, though, that this entire series takes a dump all over everything Quesada, Brevoort, and Wacker (+ their CBR sycophants) kept maniacally chanting for eight years. MJ was dynamic, and didn’t just “sit by the window worrying.” Married Dad Peter was exciting, and highly motivated. It didn’t “age” him, it made him an even BETTER Spider-Man. He wasn’t the least bit irresponsible, any more than a fire-fighter, police officer, or soldier (given the scenario Slott set up, Peter was the smart one who DIDN’T charge in and just get slaughtered, which is how he lived to fight and win another day). He even used a dumb spider-joke to win! This series demonstrates on paper that nothing that Brevoort & Wacker have been saying about the marriage being a mistake, a burden, an obstacle to good stories. was ever true. That was always nonsense, which most of us knew all along. Now we have Slott, of all people, proving we were right.

    1. Well that’s the funny contradiction, isn’t it? There’s a feeling of “fine, here’s your stupid married Spider-Man story, just take it and stop bothering us about it.” But at the same time they insist that a married Spider-Man isn’t something people want and is limiting and uninteresting for the character.

      So essentially their assertion is that the people they made RYV for don’t exist. According to them, they made an inferior story for nobody, for no reason.

    2. So essentially their assertion is that the people they made RYV for don’t exist.

      They have tried to peddle that line of fiction for years. Guys like us would say that they’re totally discounting a huge number of fans who are sitting on the sidelines and they’d scoff. Well, now they don’t really have that argument. Someone shared one of my reviews on ComicVine and said he thought he’d see pigs fly before I gave Dan Slott a good review.

      That reader should think about the ramifications of what he said. Imagine what sales would be like if Marvel could energize all of Dan Slott’s hard-core fans, people who are typically indifferent to ASM, and then guys who have historically thought his work on the book was atrocious? Marvel divides fans and then tries to attract rabid segments to the latest stunt instead of uniting them under a single positive vision backed by quality material.

    3. Exactly. The writers and editors always had a different scapegoat for their own lousy performance. That’s why they really, really don’t like when guys like us comment on other forums — we’re like a giant mirror that shows them truth. Someone should say to Dan: “Now that you’ve proved Quesada and Breevoort to be intellectually dishonest, will you encourage them to apologize to all the fans they mocked and ridiculed over the years?”

  9. Seems to me that Slott can’t make it to the finish line without resorting to lame endings. At least it wasn’t a deus ex machina, but still.

    Plus I don’t understand why they can’t have Peter and MJ married in the normal continuity. I’ve never bought into the whole idiotic notion that “kids can’t relate to a married Peter.”

  10. Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense to try out “The Amazingly Invincible Iron Spider” as the limited series? Maybe see if people are interested in that take before committing to it in the main series? I mean, crazy idea here, but maybe if people hated that, you could use the massive revamp that’s about to happen to undo One More Day or have Peter and MJ be married with a kid, if that’s what people are interested in. They had a married Spider-Man for years, and they also had a version of Spider-Man who was married with a daughter for years as well, so it seems like that’s a much more proven concept than what they’re going with.

    But hey, I guess if DC’s going to do a universe wide reboot and then mess with the status quo for all its major heroes with mixed-to-mostly-negative results, Marvel has to roll those dice too, right?

    1. Prediction: There is going to be a lot of dumb “Spider-Mobile” antics, guys like me will call out those antics, and then Dan Slott will get angry that we’re not on board with the Spider-Mobile. 🙂

      Serious question: Who, besides Dan Slott, was demanding more Spider-Mobile? Are we going to get a Spider-Banana-Boat when jet-setting Peter Stark is in Hawaii?

    2. Ha. I personally never understand why the Spider-Mobile was created in the first place. The Batmobile makes sense, but Spidey has superpowers; he doesn’t need such a vehicle to fight crime with.

    3. The Spider-Mobile was created to coincide with a toy that was coming out. If you ever read the original stories, you can see that Gerry Conway thought it was ridiculous too. Spidey parks it in an alley and forgets about it for a year. Then the Tinkerer jimmied with it and turned it into a four-wheeled spider-slaying death machine. There’s a good article about it at Spider-Man Crawlspace website.

    1. But Marvel’s “logic” only makes sense if fans view the following argument in a vacuum: “If Mary Jane isn’t being used in ASM, then someone else should utilize the character. Mary Jane isn’t being used in ASM.”

      Let us pull the string a bit more to see what the previous argument was: “If Mary Jane’s history with Peter drags down ASM, then we won’t use her in ASM. Mary Jane’s history with Peter drags down ASM.”

      Uh-oh, Marvel. The original premise was false. And you know there is no way Bendis is going to write MJ into an Iron Man comic and not have there be some sort of romantic tension. They’ll probably do something stupid like a “one night stand” at some point just to rub it in our faces…

      These people are sick.

    2. But Marvel’s “logic” only makes sense if fans view the following argument in a vacuum: “If Mary Jane isn’t being used in ASM, then someone else should utilize the character. Mary Jane isn’t being used in ASM.”

      Let us pull the string a bit more to see what the previous argument was: “If Mary Jane’s history with Peter drags down ASM, then we won’t use her in ASM. Mary Jane’s history with Peter drags down ASM.”

      Uh-oh, Marvel. The original premise was false.

      Which then leads us to the real problem that Marvel have boxed themselves in. After having dissolved the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane, they eventually realized that having gone through all the trouble in getting rid of it, they sent the message to their readers that their on-again, off-again romance could never progress past a certain point, hence why one of Marvel’s most popular female characters wound up in a state of virtual limbo.

      But what Marvel hasn’t realized yet is that not only did “One More Day” neuter Peter and MJ’s relationship–it’s neutered EVERY romantic prospect and relationship Peter will ever have or be involved in from this point forward. No one is interested in the Carlie Coopers and Cindy Moons because they, too, are relationships which also will never progress past a certain point. The irony is that one of the reasons then Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada, gave for wanting to get rid of Spider-Man’s marriage is because Peter having a soap opera-style romantic life was the defining characteristic which set Spider-Man apart from other heroes, comparing this to Daredevil’s blindness. Yet reverting Spider-Man back to being a swinging bachelor has likely done more to undermine this than the marriage ever did.

      And of course, in even further irony, Renew Your Vows wound up proving just how much storytelling potential still exists for Peter and Mary Jane as a married couple, let alone being parents–something which even those critics who supported the decision to undo the marriage wound up admitting.

    3. But what Marvel hasn’t realized yet is that not only did “One More Day” neuter Peter and MJ’s relationship–it’s neutered EVERY romantic prospect and relationship Peter will ever have or be involved in from this point forward. No one is interested in the Carlie Coopers and Cindy Moons because they, too, are relationships which also will never progress past a certain point.

      Guys like you have made this and related points for years, and they were treated with snark and condescension by Quesada, Wacker, Slott, etc. That is what is so maddening. You will never receive an apology — even though you were right and everyone knows it.

      These writers/editors make a disgusting cake and instead of admitting they screwed up they just keep putting more and more cheap icing on top of the disaster. Marvel’s plan seems to be “Maybe we can find enough people who just like to shove giant globs of icing in their mouths.”

    4. After reading about their antics for the past eight years, I’ve decided that the people running Marvel magazines are far, far less bright than they all like to think themselves to be. They act like men who are sure their industry is going the way of the dodo bird, so they throw any old thing on the page as long as it’s bright, sexy, and shiny. That was one of the reasons Gerry Conway felt okay about killing Gwen — he said somewhere that everybody at the time figured comics would be a dead industry in a mere matter of a few years, so very soon him killing Gwen wouldn’t matter. Here it is forty years later, and we see how wrong Conway was. I don’t see much sincere enthusiasm for quality workmanship, They don’t pay attention to continuity because, really, they figure, who cares but the nerds? I don’t see any evidence of management thinking ahead by more than two steps. They make confident predictions that don’t come true (“Everyone will be over OMD within five years, at the latest!” — Joe Quesada). Management interrupts everyone’s work every summer with some (usually) mediocre line-wide event, and partly as a result of this nuisance big writers don’t want to commit to picking up a series. IMO, Marvel Comics is not a well run company.

  11. So I’m torn. Really torn. I actually liked RYV, and I think it was because of the nostalgia element. Not just the marriage to MJ which I realized I really MISSED. I MISS Parker bouncing off of MJ. Their dialogue, their interactions. MJ as a character is what makes Parker become passionate. Yes, he puts on the suit and swings from rooftop to rooftop. But for the longest time I was wondering, what was wrong with Volume 3 of ASM, where Slott seemed to be dialing it in. And the truth is, it wasn’t only that Slott focused a large part of the story on Silkk and Spider-Verse fell flat…it’s that Peter’s entire run in the volume suggested he was out of gas. You’d expect someone who just got his life back to be excited and it wasn’t there and the fans could tell. But even with the ridiculous Regent, unanswered questions, and problems that plagued the series— Peter was passionate in every issue. You realize with a Secret Wars series like this what MJ means to the “Spider-Man universe”. You realize really quickly why Silkk, Spider-Gwen, Carlie etc, don’t match her. MJ is our figurative representation of a street level view of Parker. She is the closest we get to seeing his humanity and his passions, while so many other elements focus almost exclusively on his Spider side. I really, really miss her in the books.

    So I’m torn. I wrote you earlier this year and told you I was swearing off Marvel, at least the comics side after SW. But RYV made my interest piqued into Volume 4. Slott’s bringing back the Spider-Mobile, and at least finally Parker has some semblance of the success we all wished for him— he’s CEO of a company (even if technically it’s not his company, it’s Ottos) and has gone from street level to world defender. Slott works best when he begins to throw new ideas into Parkers world (he just can’t stick the landing of them). But then I awoke to the news that MJ was joining Iron-Man’s cast and my first thought alongside millions of other fans is “Why does Marvel want us to pay for Stark to be possibly romantically involved with MJ”? Now I’m back to the realization that SW was fantasy, but your regularly scheduled Marvel Universe is back to making no sense.
    Peter David can do no wrong in my eyes, so I’ll be picking up SM2099 I think, as I’ve grown to really love the character. ASM? I’m not sure. I’m leaning “probably” as I will probably pick it up. But consider this: Marvel said essentially when the first round of posters came out for the new MU that they wanted Iron Man to be the flagship character. This is why he’s front and center in both posters with Parker off to the side. So in their desire to make him the flagship character / title, they are introducing MJ. They know the fandom is craving her, especially after RYV. So therefore here’s to hoping Spidey fans will follow the redhead to Stark Tower. I’m disappointed so often in Marvel these days but the catch 22 is trying to let go of characters you’ve followed since you were a child. So I am probably picking up ASM, and SM2099 and that’s my limit for comics from Marvel. I hope they do MJ right. I just disagree with Slott’s stance that “MJ is not fun to write since her and Parker can never be together anymore.” I think MJ is probably one of the easiest characters to write as she reflects the love that all of us have for Peter.

    1. I hope the writers and editors see your response and feel shame. I’m not sure if that’s even possible with this bunch…but I hope it happens. Why? Because there is no reason a life-long fan like you should be so torn up over what to do in terms of giving Marvel your business.

      “But then I awoke to the news that MJ was joining Iron-Man’s cast and my first thought alongside millions of other fans is ‘Why does Marvel want us to pay for Stark to be possibly romantically involved with MJ’? Now I’m back to the realization that SW was fantasy, but your regularly scheduled Marvel Universe is back to making no sense.”

      That is putting it kindly, Orange Mask. You are diplomatic towards Marvel in ways I frankly do not think they deserve, but I admire you for it nonetheless. 🙂

      I’m disappointed so often in Marvel these days but the catch 22 is trying to let go of characters you’ve followed since you were a child.

      You are not alone, but for whatever reason Marvel’s “brain trust” continues to live in denial. There are many guys/gals like us, who are spending less even though we have more money. If Marvel adopted a sane business model, I would a.) be spending a lot more on comics, and b.) happily reviewing those comics on my blog. Oh well.

      “I just disagree with Slott’s stance that ‘MJ is not fun to write since her and Parker can never be together anymore.’ I think MJ is probably one of the easiest characters to write as she reflects the love that all of us have for Peter.”

      This just shows you how myopic and professionally self-centered Dan Slott can be. Because he can’t immediately do something with MJ, he lets her collect dust until she’s shuttled over to Iron Man.

      Say I was the writer of ASM. Even if I was told “They’re not getting married” and “there will be no serious relationship” I guarantee you that I would be planting creative seeds all over the place for the writer to follow me. As you point out, MJ helps bring out the best in Peter. To not find a thoughtful way to use her — to not even attempt to think outside the box — is arguably a dereliction of duty on Dan Slott’s part.

  12. Hi, there. Been a lurker here who’s interested in joining the conversation.

    I have a theory about the disconnect between comic book writers and fans when it comes to unpopular major changes. I suspect it feels like Marvel doesn’t understanding why fans won’t let go of specific ideas and status quos and embrace the new and fans can’t understand why Marvel is so caviler about trampling over the things they hold dear because we’re on different pages; Marvel sees their work like myths that can be retold and re-imagined, the way real myths and folk tales can be retold faithfully or be changed entirely without problem. The fans view the comics and stories like historical documents. They’re “real” and suddenly saying that no, this is what really happened is like offensive revisionist history or character attacks on people we care about.

    Now, I don’t think that every author wants to tick off their readers. I’m inclined to give Brian Michael Bendis the benefit of the doubt that he’s not deliberately trying to aggravate anyone by transferring Mary Jane to Iron Man. But, my gut reaction is still: “I feel sick.” I’m squarely in the “Peter-and-MJ-being-married” camp and come by it honestly: My gateway stories to Spider-Man, hence the ones that are the “real thing” for me, were the Raimi movie trilogy and the Peter Parker-era Ultimate comics. They have the same thesis statement regarding Spider-Man’s love life: it’s about Peter and Mary Jane and the odds of them getting married sometime after the story ends are 99.99% (I mean, Ultimate Peter and MJ are written out of the series by essentially eloping!).

    Hence, not only are the duo being an item normal to me, I like seeing them together. Their scenes tend to be fun and/or touching, I literally can’t see any downside to the relationship, miss it when it’s gone, and generally dislike alternate romantic scenarios (it can be done, but it’s like listening to off-key music). So, despite the fact that the couple are my favorite comic book characters, I’m not going to be reading either the Tony Stark clone Spider-Man or Stark employee MJ comics. I don’t even like Iron Man that much in the first place!

    I really can’t figure out how the fanbase is supposed to benefit from or appreciate this change. Spider-Man fans, especially those like me who hold the Peter/MJ relationship as sacrosanct to the mythos, aren’t going to like it of it and will be even more ticked if it reduces MJ to a notch on Iron Man’s bedpost. (It’s an especially queasy thought for me as an Ultimate Spider-Man fan, since there Iron Man’s in his thirties or forties, compared to fifteen-sixteen-year-old MJ.) I can’t even see fans who’re indifferent to the marriage but like the MJ character appreciating that outcome.

    There’s also a good chance Iron Man fans are going to react negatively to Pepper Potts being replaced, especially those who were introduced to those characters through the movies. The only winner I can see in this mess is Marvel’s anti-married Spider-Man faction; it puts even more distance between Peter and MJ and if they can successfully rebrand the latter as a non-Spider-Man character the way they did with Kingpin, it’ll be harder to reverse.

    In all fairness, the idea of MJ as a Stark Industries employee in and of itself isn’t my problem with it. It’s that it’s being used or is a side-effect of Marvel trying to keep the lid on the married Spider-Man. If MJ and Peter were married and she’d basically be appearing in two comic book series, I’d have no problem, and might even want to check it out.

    In all honesty, Ultron was right: we just don’t want the comic book world to change. To play devil’s advocate — Quesada’s advocate? Slott’s advocate? — sometimes changes are needed and do improve things (married Spider-Man, Black Widow as a heroine, Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury, etc.), but I’m skeptical about this one. Every thing in the whole “all different, all new” Marvel reboot just feels like change for the sake of change, not constructive change. There’s no rhyme or reason I can see.

    No one was asking for a reboot in the first place. Marvel’s completely changing a lot of things and has slaughtering several sacred cows, so they’re risking alienating long-time fans if this backfires. From what I can tell, the reboot is going to be quite different from the Marvel movies. That isn’t going to encourage newbies who’ve seen a movie and are curious about the source material. I mean, what is the target audience here? I’m having trouble seeing how rebooted Marvel will appeal to their current customers or the people most likely to be new ones.

    It’s too many changes too fast with a company who’re asking us to trust them on blind faith. Sorry, but as a Spider-Man fan, I have no reason to trust them, given that they’ve been systematically stripping everything I liked about that character since 2007, with only one show of good faith (the Renew Your Vows series), and even that’s a temporary thing. They have literally nothing I want going forward (except for movies).

    I’ll be really curious what people will think of this era of Marvel in retrospect, when we’ve seen the full extent of post-Secret Wars publishing and can be at least somewhat objective. Maybe we’ll see that it was worth it. Given that the only part of the comic book world that really matters to me — Spidey’s corner of Manhattan — and the stuff that made made it matter are relics of the past, I seriously doubt there’s anything that’ll make me say: “Yeah, it was a good call.”

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, WL. I really appreciate it and hope to see more of your comments in the future. 🙂

      Now, I don’t think that every author wants to tick off their readers. I’m inclined to give Brian Michael Bendis the benefit of the doubt that he’s not deliberately trying to aggravate anyone by transferring Mary Jane to Iron Man. But, my gut reaction is still: “I feel sick.”

      I agree with you. I think Bendis just sees “challenges.” He isn’t doing something to annoy readers per se — he’s trying to see if he can crack a tough creative nut. “How can I, the-awesome Bendis, make fans actually like MJ in Iron Man.” I actually do respect that to a certain extent. Besides, a good writer can pull it off. But just because a person can do something, it doesn’t always mean that he should. That’s what the current crop of Marvel writers/editors don’t get because so many of them are narcissistic goofs.

      I really can’t figure out how the fanbase is supposed to benefit from or appreciate this change. Spider-Man fans, especially those like me who hold the Peter/MJ relationship as sacrosanct to the mythos, aren’t going to like it of it and will be even more ticked if it reduces MJ to a notch on Iron Man’s bedpost.

      You’re not alone on this one. But consider this: When Marvel starts up a romance between Tony and MJ, and fans are annoyed, then you will hear something along the lines of “Well, Peter has ‘Parker Industries’ and you always say they should be together! Why is it that far of a stretch to assume MJ would date Tony?”

      As I’ve said before, these people are sick. They make these weird circular arguments. I anticipate something along these lines in the near future: “You can’t say our editorial decision to have Parker act like Tony Stark is far fetched because Parker is acting like Tony Stark. Therefore, MJ would probably fall for Tony Stark.”

      In all honesty, Ultron was right: we just don’t want the comic book world to change. To play devil’s advocate — Quesada’s advocate? Slott’s advocate? — sometimes changes are needed and do improve things … but I’m skeptical about this one. Every thing in the whole “all different, all new” Marvel reboot just feels like change for the sake of change, not constructive change.

      Every year the writers and editors talk about their retreat where they brainstorm and come up with ideas. Great, right? Not necessarily. If a bunch of guys are just throwing ideas off the wall and seeing what sticks (no Spidey pun intended) — if the ideas aren’t filtered through a very specific vision for the company — then you get “change for the sake of change.”

      You ask, “Why is Marvel doing this?!” and the response, with a straight face, is “Because Bendis or Slott or [insert name here] thought it was a good idea.” Who is the captain of the ship? There really doesn’t seem to be one at Marvel these days. At least not in its comics division.

      It’s too many changes too fast with a company who’re asking us to trust them on blind faith. Sorry, but as a Spider-Man fan, I have no reason to trust them, given that they’ve been systematically stripping everything I liked about that character since 2007, with only one show of good faith (the Renew Your Vows series), and even that’s a temporary thing. They have literally nothing I want going forward (except for movies).

      That is a sentiment that comes up again and again with Spider-Man fans, and that is sad. As I told The Orange Mask, Marvel’s editors should hang their heads in shame that it’s reached this point. How do you build a company when you don’t have the trust of your customers? These days they know the movies are the real money-makers, so they stiff the comic book fans. It’s extremely short-sighted…but oh well. History will not be kind to them, which leads to your last comment:

      I’ll be really curious what people will think of this era of Marvel in retrospect, when we’ve seen the full extent of post-Secret Wars publishing and can be at least somewhat objective. Maybe we’ll see that it was worth it.

      For the past decade, Marvel has put out comics that are the equivalent of Tic-Tacs. You can consume them quickly and some flavors taste good, but you also forget about them within minutes. You kind of need to go to independent publishers if you want anything that will stick with you long after closing the book.

    2. “You’re not alone on this one. But consider this: When Marvel starts up a romance between Tony and MJ, and fans are annoyed, then you will hear something along the lines of “Well, Peter has ‘Parker Industries’ and you always say they should be together! Why is it that far of a stretch to assume MJ would date Tony?”

      As I’ve said before, these people are sick. They make these weird circular arguments. I anticipate something along these lines in the near future: “You can’t say our editorial decision to have Parker act like Tony Stark is far fetched because Parker is acting like Tony Stark. Therefore, MJ would probably fall for Tony Stark.””

      Thinking it over, the idea of MJ and Tony together really doesn’t make that much sense to me, even setting aside my personal biases on the issue.

      A universal trait of Tony’s is that he’s a womanizer. In Ultimate Spider-Man (USM), it’s established that MJ’s father is chronically unfaithful to her mom, something that’s had a profound impact on her. In USM # 32 (the Public Scrutiny trade paperback), when explaining her father’s habits, she concludes: “And [my mom] just pretends everything is just fine!! And — and I promised myself I wasn’t going to do that! I promised myself I wasn’t going to play some stupid game where I tricked myself into thinking that everything is okay when it’s not. I can’t do it Peter! I’m not stupid!” (Bear in mind that this was written by Brian Michael Bendis, the guy who’ll be writing a MJ/Tony relationship if one materializes).

      As another side effect of this, Ultimate MJ is shown to need fidelity in her relationships. In the aforementioned USM scene, another factor in the strain between her and Peter is her belief that Peter’s new friend, Gwen Stacy, is in love with him and will eventually steal him. The couple don’t even begin to reconcile until USM #37 (the Venom trade paperback), where Peter outright tells her that he loves her and her alone. Spider-Man 3 also has a similar story, where Peter breaks MJ’s heart by kissing Gwen during the rally as a PR stunt, with a long road ahead to healing.

      Conversely (I can’t cite a specific reference for where I read this), in one 616 comic Tony tried to set up Peter with a prostitute, despite knowing that Peter was married. Peter remained faithful to MJ, but it shows MJ and Tony having incompatible values here.

      So, Tony’s a womanizer, something that has hurt MJ in the past and makes it hard to have the kind of relationships she’s shown to look for.

      Tony also suffers from alcoholism. MJ’s father is often portrayed as being an alcoholic, which is a factor in the Watson’s toxic family life. In the afore mentioned scene in USM, MJ mentions that her father often comes home drunk. I really have a hard time seeing why MJ would want to put herself in another situation with someone who has the same problem.

      Tony also has problems with being self-absorbed, and taking people for granted (Iron Man 2 establishes that he’s been professionally diagnosed as a narcissist in the medical sense!). He doesn’t really seem to change his behavior that much over the movies. While I’ll buy that he sincerely cares for some people, he just seems to stay the same in regards to how he treats people. I mean, the giant plush rabbit gift in Iron Man 3 really leaves be questioning just how well he knows Pepper, despite the fact that he’s employed her for several years and they’ve been living together an unspecified amount of time.

      In the aforementioned USM #32, Peter and MJ’s relationship hits a rough patch because it’s become one-sided; it’s all about the Spider-Man gig and Peter has absolutely no idea about the strain MJ’s under, much less actively taking an interest in what’s going on in her own life. Spider-Man 3 also worked with this problem, where Peter’s pride in his work got out of control and puts a wall between him and MJ at a time when she need emotional support. In both cases, they don’t heal the rift until Peter says or shows that he’s overcome his problems and that MJ and her baggage have equal value and importance in the relationship. Basically, self-absorption and pride equals relationship troubles with MJ. And Peter was acting out of character when he was doing it. This is Tony being himself. How would MJ get anywhere with him before calling it quits?

      So, a constant in the MJ character is that she was abused as child by a father that was an alcoholic, a womanizer, verbally abusing, or some combination thereof; all problems that Tony struggles with (except for the abusiveness, which can be replaced with selfishness). It’s stuff that MJ has stated or shown to be things she doesn’t want in a romantic partner or cause friction with one until resolved.

      On the flip side, why does MJ consistently fall for Peter and successfully build a relationship or marriage across several different continuities. As I understand it, a major trait that attracted 616 MJ to Peter was his responsible use of the powers he gained, e.g. after makes his mistakes, he choses to help other people despite the problems it causes him. Tony has a terrible track record for responsibility with his skills. In the first Iron Man movie, he’s completely in the dark about the side deals and secret projects that Obidiah Stane’s running, despite the fact that as the owner, he’s responsible for whatever Stark Industries does. He also snap decides that the company is going to stop weapons manufacturing, a nobel goal, but he doesn’t have an alternate business plan needed to make sure the company doesn’t go under and instead of working on one, spends his time on his private Iron Man project.

      In the second one he goes completely off the road when he realizes he’s dying, putting several people in danger (the drunk party scene). In the third movie he tests experimental implants without the proper safeguards. In the second Avengers movie, he messes with an Infinity Stone during his secret Ultron project, knowing full well it’s not a good idea. And he does the exact stunt in creating the Vision. Yeah, the latter proved to be trustworthy, but despite his assurances, Tony could not know that he wouldn’t be creating a second Ultron.

      Finally, I understand that in the 616 Superior Iron Man comics, Tony gets the people of his home city hooked on Extremis for the express purpose to make them pay throughout the nose for their next doses. Iron Man 3 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showed that Extremis is extremely dangerous and turns people into powerful bombs if they can’t regulate it, and was something even the MCU Tony was appalled at. Does that really sound like a person you’d trust, much less want to date?

      Peter also generally lives or tries to live up to a code of selflessness. In the first movie, he lets MJ down at the cemetery thinking it’s what’s best for her, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t want to. As pointed out before, Tony doesn’t exhibit much selflessness in his personal life or really try and cultivate it (he can, like the suicide run in The Avengers, but it’s not really his first impulse).

      Peter and MJ are also historically get along and have things in common. In 616, they’re shown to hang out in the same social circles, became friends, and related to each other by having dual identities (Peter was a superhero, MJ used a party girl mask to hide her personal problems). The Ultimate versions were life-long friends (USM #1, Learning Curve trade paperback, #97, Clone Saga trade paperback). Also, USM #53 (Cats and Kings trade paperback) showed that MJ’s view of her home life was an ugly one; she thinks her father is actively trying to keep her and her mother down to a miserable, low-quality life. The comic pretty much says that Peter’s friendship and love meant more to her than he (or the readers) may have realized.

      In the movies, they actively seek each other out when feeling low (Peter does it in the first movie after the papers announce him to be the Green Goblin’s accomplice, MJ does in the third after being burned in the theater reviews) and, not counting times they’re working out problems, clearly enjoy being together.

      I can’t really think of anything MJ and Tony have in common or would bond over. They didn’t go to school together, have different careers, different friends, and different backgrounds. That’s not necessarily a prerequisite for a romantic relationship, but given the odds against it here, there needs to be some kind of hook to build on.

      Even if Bendis manages to solve all these problems, I seriously doubt that the comics will be patient enough to spend the time laying the groundwork for romantic relationship. One reason I seriously doubt that the Peter/MJ relationship isn’t going to be equaled any time soon is because it was set up over several years (even stuff like USM that wants to start out with them together from the get-go usually indicates that that the two have extended history together).

      This post might be kinda disjointed, but he point is that when I break down Tony Stark’s personality and traits, everything I come up with is something that MJ Watson hates or has been shown to avoid. I’m really hoping that Bendis has another type of story in mind.

    3. There is no denying that you have the Peter/Mj dynamics down pat, WebLurker. I’m not going to argue with anything you said, but I will say this: Never underestimate Marvel’s ability to go against all common sense and reason. 🙂

      I can see the writers bringing MJ and Tony together precisely because she has “daddy issues.” She may try to change Tony — the new older man in her life — in ways she could not with her own father. It would obviously end horribly…but I don’t see that stopping Marvel’s current crop of creators.

  13. “For the past decade, Marvel has put out comics that are the equivalent of Tic-Tacs. You can consume them quickly and some flavors taste good, but you also forget about them within minutes. You kind of need to go to independent publishers if you want anything that will stick with you long after closing the book.”

    Great analogy Doug, it absolutely rings true with my sentiments exactly. Comparatively, it’s a bit like downing some junk food as opposed to wanting to savor a well prepared banquet. If all a reader is getting is junk, then they’re going to look else where for a quality product.

    I guess writers that shout “Oh, but it’s only comics!” continue to lower the standard. They fit in well with the whole fast food style of manufacturing.

    1. I don’t want “It’s just a comic” sensibilities encroaching on Spider-Man, but for whatever reason that is what Peter Parker fans are stuck with. When will the pendulum swing in the other direction? It can’t be soon enough.

      One day we will be given a Spider-Man “feast” like we were in the halls of Valhalla, Magnetic Eye. When that day comes I will blog on it and you will comment and we will both be merry! 🙂

  14. I’ve made an interesting discovery regarding the “Renew Your Vows” trade paperback. Apparently they’re adding a bonus Secret Wars comic in the back, something called “Secret Love.” Never read it, but descriptions indicate that it’s a romance short story anthology, with the tales set throughout the Battleworld.

    I’m disappointed, since I’d been hoping that the paperback would either have a gallery of the comics’ alternate covers (most of the variants for the first couple issues were actually better than the regular artwork) or a reprint an older Spider-Man comic that thematically matched RYV, like the wedding issue or the “To Have and to Hold” story.

    Also, “Secret Love” has nothing to do with Spider-Man, nor does it seem to match thematically with RYV. While RYV does deal with love between members of a nuclear family, I think the main theme is reconciling seemingly contradictory responsibilities. In the first issue Peter thinks that he has to choose between his responsibility to be Spider-Man and the responsibility he has to protect his family, choosing the latter without hesitation (and if you don’t think that’s in character, try reading Ultimate Spider-Man issues 22 – 27 and 97 – 105).

    Throwing “Secret Love” into the mix won’t ultimately ruin the RYV story (I’m planning to get a copy of the paperback regardless), but I’m really curious why they decided to put these two putting these different stories together. It may be the most harmless “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?” decision that I’ve seen Marvel make, but wouldn’t paring the issue with the paperbacks of the other two Secret Wars anthology series make more sense?

    In regards to the Renew Your Vows story itself, I liked the story and the art. I’ll agree that the tale had a few weak spots and that Regent needed to be better developed (he was an interesting concept, though). I really wasn’t bothered by stuff like the jackpot line or Peter being able to breaking out of his cell when his loved ones were in danger (that’s a traditional Spider-Man thing, as fans of the first movie and comics can attest too).

    But then, the only reason I was reading it for the Parker family. What I wanted was a stand-alone graphic novel about these characters that had the stuff that made them matter to me, with some cool new stuff thrown in (e.g. them as parents), and it delivered in spades, from the discussions about the best kinds of pancakes to Peter recalling the highlights of his like in that tank. After a mere five issues, I don’t think I’m ever going to imagine the adult versions of Peter and MJ other than parents raising Annie, which is fine by me.

    The strongest couple scenes were easily the stuff with MJ and Annie, like the before school conversation or the discussion about her dad’s superhero career. (Think about that: I’m a single twenty-something here saying that my favorite parts in this comic was the Parkers’ domestic life, meaning I’m exactly in the audience that Marvel says cannot appreciate a Spider-Man with his own family!)

    Speaking of family, I was also very surprised that the comic dealt respectfully with the married Spider-Man and that Marvel willingly published a story that stated that Spider-Man can have both a family and his superhero gig, when their thesis statement since 2007 has been: “The marriage ruined the characters.”

    My main complaint was the redesign of Doc Ock. I liked the idea that Ock had replaced his original limbs with bionic ones, but the new ones looked off and made me think of Mr. Freeze with an awful robot body. If the four new arms had been the same length his older ones, I would’ve liked it more. That said, Ock’s role in the story fine and, although Ock is my favorite Spider-Man villain — largely on account of Spider-Man 2 — as someone who loathed the Superior Spider-Man (what I could make myself read of it), it was really satisfying to see Spidey tear Ock a new one under Slott’s direction.

    I’m a little mystified why, if Slott was capable of writing a mature version of the Spider-Man character, why he hasn’t been doing that in the main Amazing Spider-Man series? And just what was that “monkey’s paw” he promised? I didn’t see anything resembling a catch to the whole set-up.

    Overall, the series was satisfying and enjoyable and the only bright spot in a long time as far as new Spider-Man material goes; between “One More Day,” Miles Morales, and the announcement of the Tony Stark clone Spider-Man, the only comics I’m interested in are back issues and I think Spider-Man 3 was the last truly great Spider-Man movie made (I’m one of those nutjobs who thinks it’s a good movie with a few flaws, rather than a bad movie with a few good things).

    I’m really hoping for a Renew Your Vows ongoing series. Not anything like Annie Parker getting orphaned by being shunted off to 616 comics like Miles Morales, but an actual series, like Spider-Girl, that either tells happened to RYV Parkers after Regent’s downfall, or simply shows the family in a divergent timeline where Regent never came to power. As far as I can tell, RYV was very well received, sold well, and there is a built-in fan base that’s been wanting something like this for the past decade. So, not only would it seem to be a good investment for Marvel, it might also be the best possible deal that pro-married Spider-Man fans will get in the foreseeable future.

    If they choose to pass, the only thing this fan has too look forward to are the new Spider-Man movies (I really want Mysterio as the villain, and, after reading RYV, am ready to add the Spot to that list). Either way, it’s been a great summer for Spider-Man.

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