The sluggish sales of Marvel comics as of late is no secret. The “House of Ideas” is on fire, and anyone who has paid attention to the industry for the last couple of years knows it. Luckily, there is a way to extinguish the flames, and the answer comes from the creative springs of writer Gerry Conway and artist Ryan Stegman.

If Marvel truly wants to fix what ails it, then it will look to Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #6.  Sound storytelling, strong art, respect for classic characters and an absence of weird political preaching is the key to motivating readers who are disgusted with the Marvel brand.

For more on this topic, check out my latest YouTube review and hit the “subscribe” button if that video format is up your alley.

As always, I invite you to leave your two cents (or more!) in the comments section below.

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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.

20 comments

    1. “Do you think they’ll keep this up?”

      Good question. I think it all depends on where the sales base ends up. If it stays around 30K per month, then sure. I would of course like word of mouth to catch on, but who knows what will happen.

  1. Hey Doug, wanted to give this a good read before watching the review, so I ordered it (kind of pricey)

    First the good: The family dynamic and loving relationship between MJ and Peter are great. Annie is adorable. I never understand why certain creators think that this is boring…or, as some very simplistic readers put it: ‘simple’. This is very relatable to everyone, and I think a sign of how out of touch some writers and reviewers are. Peter is in good form here, weighing what’s best for his daughter against his feelings, MJ’s and the things he wants to teach her. All around the spider characters are well developed and fun to read.

    Magneto is great here, the pure pompous and sanctimonious, overbearing villain is my favorite Magneto. It’s not quite Byrne level destroyer…as he seems a little dense…but he’s a fun read.

    The annoying: SPOILERS

    I found MJ`s reaction to Prof X kind of paranoid and dramatic…it was just a proposal, and he was completely non threatening. She reacts as if she’s been backed into a corner, when it seems she could just give a comfortable no and tell Peter why. Being a parent…involved with similar things with our children, showing our emotional hand to the ‘bearer of bad news’ isn’t something we do…why MJ herself doesn’t take a breather before unloading on Peter about what she thinks…well, I guess that’s just how they are.

    I’m not big on the family spider hero thing at all. A lot of that is because I think superhero writers seem to think they cant make a character interesting without super powers. In many comics outside of the Marvel/DC stable, normal characters are often as interesting if not more so than the super powered protags/antags…especially in those terrible Japanese things I like to read. I had hoped that maybe you picked up on the theme of using children to fight adult battles in the mob psycho thing I posted before in relation to your previous post about the subject, but hey I can’t force you to be interested…for my part… I’m 3.99 short.

    The bad:

    They are just guests…but it’s sad to see Conway bring the most terrible and hateful aspects of the x-men’s recent portrayals screaming back in this book. Prof X has never been seen as a ‘god’ and this is the perspective of a casual non-reader…somewhat like calling Peter an overbearing elitist based on reading Slott’s take on him. MJ has no reason to see him this way, and I found it jarring. That Cyclops brings up that Prof X is actually a manipulative ass in this universe really pissed me off. Maybe it serves this arc in someway, but it feels like another cheapshot of tearing the character down as well as Cyclops, Jean and Logan. For people trying to return Spider-Man to form…why indulge the tear down of these classic characters? I suspect Jubilee isn’t a real traitor, but if there isn’t a good explanation at the end of this arc…that’s going to be sad.

    I had to elaborate on my take about the negatives (which are not really negative…just not to my taste) so overall I need to point out that I very much enjoyed the book. I’m hoping to see a little more next issue, and if my X-men are still screwed up at the end, I’ll at least enjoy a good Spider book!

    1. “I found MJ`s reaction to Prof X kind of paranoid and dramatic…it was just a proposal, and he was completely non threatening. She reacts as if she’s been backed into a corner, when it seems she could just give a comfortable no and tell Peter why. Being a parent…involved with similar things with our children, showing our emotional hand to the ‘bearer of bad news’ isn’t something we do…why MJ herself doesn’t take a breather before unloading on Peter about what she thinks…well, I guess that’s just how they are.”

      I totally agree.

      They are just guests…but it’s sad to see Conway bring the most terrible and hateful aspects of the x-men’s recent portrayals screaming back in this book. Prof X has never been seen as a ‘god’ and this is the perspective of a casual non-reader.

      Yeah, I kind of thought Cyclops’ comments to MJ were a bit strange, and I definitely would not be making them to a woman I just met if I were in his shoes.

      “It feels like another cheapshot of tearing the character down as well as Cyclops, Jean and Logan. For people trying to return Spider-Man to form…why indulge the tear down of these classic characters? I suspect Jubilee isn’t a real traitor, but if there isn’t a good explanation at the end of this arc…that’s going to be sad.”

      I don’t know enough about X-Men to say this with authority, but it seems as though so many writers who don’t know what to do with Cyclops do exactly what has been done with Peter — tear him down and make him look foolish. It’s almost like the writers take out their own internal frustrations on the character they are ill-equipped to write…

      “I had to elaborate on my take about the negatives (which are not really negative…just not to my taste) so overall I need to point out that I very much enjoyed the book.”

      It’s pretty rare to find people who can criticize an element of a comic that they have an attachment to while also accepting that they project overall is still entertaining. Some guy on YouTube was just like, “the artwork sucks,” and that the book was too “family orientated bull****.” That’s why YouTube is often times annoying. People can’t admit that something isn’t there cup of tea, but it’s still good. They act as their personal tastes are the official litmus test for quality.

    2. Thanks for replying Doug, honestly it was just a few panels, and nothing to get too excited about, I just thought it was a little sad…if anyone can use the return to the roots work, it’s the X-men…and they keep trying…and failing…badly (’92? Blue and Gold? they know where/when they screwed up…and still can’t get it right).

      I miss when Cyclops was actually a good guy (which he really hasn’t been in a long…long time) and Prof. X was manipulative for the greater good rather than selfishness or being a stooge. I think using my favorite character as a billboard for anti-christian messaging while Guggenheim just looked away probably represents the lowest of uncountable low points…then you read a refreshing book like this and see cyke…well, you know.

    3. “I miss when Cyclops was actually a good guy (which he really hasn’t been in a long…long time) and Prof. X was manipulative for the greater good rather than selfishness or being a stooge.”

      The most reading I did on X-Men was in the 1980s, so in that sense I was pretty spoiled in my youth. There is a part of me that still clings to the hope that a new stable of Marvel writers will eventually emerge that will do the flagship titles justice.

  2. I don’t think your going the book enough credit. I’m not married (anymore) and I love the book, Yeah, I know that isn’t what you meant.

    It has exactly what any ongoing comic needs,… good character work. Not shock value and stunts like the rest of Marvel seems to love (even beyond replacements and politics).

    As someone born in the 80s, I loved the marriage, and around college (maybe a bit after) is when they undid the marriage. I dropped the book not long after. Funny, given that I was exactly who they thought wouldn’t want to read the book.

    I would pick up an issue every now and then, but when it wasn’t an alternate reality or a writer from the old days returning, it was rough.

    I even stopped buying back issues of Spider-man for a few years. And that was the comic that got me started.

    I began to wonder if I was just as bad as Quesada. Did I love the marriage only because it was MY nostalgia?

    Well, when I started picking up back issues again, I did it with a vengeance, and never went beyond OMD. The fact is it isn’t only the natural progression of the character, he’s a better character when he’s married.

    It isn’t just people who read it back in the day either. A guy from my local comic shop didn’t start reading comics until he saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine (yeah, he sees the oddness as well) when he was in college. He started reading back issues first, and he wants the marriage back as well.

    Another guy who’s been reading since the 70s wants the marriage back. Another never ventured far from X-men until a few years ago has developed a taste for the marriage. It isn’t old vs. new. Its Fans vs. the Marvel Club House. They have done polls 70-80% of fans want the marriage restored.

    One fact you might not know about the marriage is the real world origin. It was suggested to then Editor in Chief Jim Shooter by none other than Stan Lee. Shooter then ran it by a crowd of fans at a comic show, who cheered the idea on.

    The fans have always been behind it. And as far as Joey Q and Mr. Slott’s view that it goes against the character.. call me old fashion, but I think Stan Lee is a better judge of that.

    Finally, you mentioned the letters. I don’t know if you ever noticed, but most Marvel comics only have letters in issue #3, then no more. This one keeps going. It not only shows the fans exist. it shows how dedicated, loyal, and passionate we are.

    I never thought I would say this, but thank God for Dan Slott. What? he did technically create the universe.Bet he didn’t see posts like yours coming when that happened. Or any of the other multitude that are similar.

    Keep your opinons well thought out and expressed. As long as you do, whether I agree or not, I’ll keep watching.

    1. “Its Fans vs. the Marvel Club House. They have done polls 70-80% of fans want the marriage restored.”

      That’s a very good way to put it. I’ve never run into anyone who feels as strongly against the marriage as, say Quesada. There are people who are indifferent to the marriage, but no one who is adamant that he should be having endless (and meaningless) flings with woman after woman.

      “I never thought I would say this, but thank God for Dan Slott. What? he did technically create the universe.Bet he didn’t see posts like yours coming when that happened. Or any of the other multitude that are similar.”

      Dan says that I hate everything he does, which is odd because I’m on record as saying that he did a good job with Renew Your Vows. Haha! I definitely don’t think he was expecting kind feedback from me. 🙂

      “Keep your opinions well thought out and expressed. As long as you do, whether I agree or not, I’ll keep watching.”

      Thanks for reading and listening, man. I appreciate it. My regular viewers, overall, seem to be really cool (and tolerant) dudes. The kind of people who comment on the blog page are also a lot more reserved than YouTube. I can’t stand the behavior of the people (i.e., trolls) on YouTube. They openly admit that they are trolls, which I think is incredibly sad. They’re basically saying that they’re miserable people who have decided to embrace everything that is rotten inside themselves.

  3. I love alternate universe comics, Mutant X is one of my favorite all time books. If I were to break my no Marvel vow this would probably be the book, as One More Day was my line in the sand with Marvel.

    I watched the Valiant Summit yesterday and was amazed to see a comic company that cares so much about their fans. One of the things they mentioned is that they never have an ongoing that is just ongoing. If no one has a story to tell to follow the current one, they would rather just end the book and start a new book with a different character whom they do have a story to tell. On top of that, no mention of how they were going to use their books to fight all the worlds ills. In fact the one writer who previously said he did want to include a political topic in his book (Bloodshot fighting the alt-right white supremacy) decided to scrape that because he realized that’s not where the book was naturally going. Hats of to Jeff Lemire for realizing that a fictional character fighting a real world ideology rarely makes for a good story.

    It would be nice if Marvel learned their lesson, but even the success of this book is probably enough for them to realize. They would probably justify it away as a freak or where the neck beards go to have their fun.

    1. I’ve been reading the valiant stuff…Great stuff. Very old school, lets make things happen and develop the characters within the story, type of books. Even the SJW laced Harbinger is a fun read…the leftist Kris often shown to be the most ignorant and intolerant character of all. My favorites have been Rai, XO and Harbinger while just now getting into Eternal Warrior. The Valiant titles have single handedly brought me back to American Comics…they get it…much like the old Valiant did before the covers and gimmicks got out of control

    2. “I watched the Valiant Summit yesterday and was amazed to see a comic company that cares so much about their fans. One of the things they mentioned is that they never have an ongoing that is just ongoing. If no one has a story to tell to follow the current one, they would rather just end the book and start a new book with a different character whom they do have a story to tell.”

      Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this bit of info. My brother has told me I should start looking to independent books instead of Marvel. I should probably listen to him one of these days, although I’ve already shifted to DC and I’m liking Rebirth’s stories a lot.

  4. I loved this issue, about the only thing I took strong issue with was Scott being given the shaft again even if he’s more or less unaffected by all the crap thrown at him in the 2000s in other aspects (don’t think he got possessed by Apocalypse here), I hope there’s some substance to his relationship with Jean in the next issue…how has he been able to co-exist with her and Logan in all this time? Shows how tolerant he is of Xavier’s dream even if he’s not that inspired by the dreamer anymore.

    As I said to you on Youtube, I thought MJ’s drama was’nt that out-of-sequence, Annie is still very young and a lot of her instinctive fears were kind of justified by the conversation with Scott anyway. I sided with Peter’s angle of the argument more of course, and liked that he brought up the lack of social breaks he got from his high school experiance

    And I love that Conway gives us a ruthless “less grey” and more black Magneto. Something lacking in the character since Morrison’s Xorneto debacle.

  5. “Good question. I think it all depends on where the sales base ends up.”

    I think I seen stats that it was dropping near the end of the opening story arc, but had picked up some for the Sandman issue. So, I guess it’s still okay for a new AU series?

    “Its Fans vs. the Marvel Club House. They have done polls 70-80% of fans want the marriage restored.”

    I do hang around the CBR forums. Usually when something like this gets trotted out, the counterargument is that if the marriage fans were the majority, then ASM would’ve suffered financially. It still sells well, proving that the majority of fans approve what ASM has become. The marriage fans are simply a vocal minority that don’t realize they’ve lost.

    My suspicion is that the majority of Spider-Man fans don’t read the comics at all, but are into the other parts of the franchise. Given that, as a whole, the idea of Spider-Man and Mary Jane being a couple is pretty central to the franchise (like Superman and Lois Lane levels), I’m not sure if the silent majority is really with Marvel and OMD like they think, but it’s really hard to measure this stuff scientifically.

    “As someone born in the 80s, I loved the marriage, and around college (maybe a bit after) is when they undid the marriage. I dropped the book not long after. Funny, given that I was exactly who they thought wouldn’t want to read the book.”

    While I never picked up ASM in the first place, I’m kind of a similar story; kid of the ’90s — in the demographic they were ostensibly trying to appeal to — who won’t have anything to do with ASM because the marriage isn’t there.

    As far as the RYV issue itself, I liked it (favorite in the series so far). Raised interesting questions, good character moments, lot of info on how the world works, excellent artwork, the stuff I like in Spider-Man stories. (Not a huge fan of the ’90s X-Men costumes, but at least they’re drawn well.)

    1. “It still sells well, proving that the majority of fans approve what ASM has become. The marriage fans are simply a vocal minority that don’t realize they’ve lost.”

      That is pure conjecture, which proves nothing. The marriage doesn’t make or break Peter Parker as a character. What the character represents as a whole is far bigger than the marriage. It’s possible to buy a book but hate one editorial aspect of it. Marvel knows this, which is why it is able to avoid doing the logical thing and bringing them back together.

  6. “That is pure conjecture, which proves nothing. The marriage doesn’t make or break Peter Parker as a character. What the character represents as a whole is far bigger than the marriage. It’s possible to buy a book but hate one editorial aspect of it. Marvel knows this, which is why it is able to avoid doing the logical thing and bringing them back together.”

    There are a lot of assumptions involved. I think both sides tend to assume they have the silent majority behind them. (I’m inclined to assume that most Spider-Man fans don’t read the comics these days, and with the rest of the franchise generally being pro-Spider-Man/Mary Jane, I’m not so sure that OMD is as supported on the whole as Marvel thinks.)

    It’s interesting that it’s still a thing after ten years (long after most dissident movements about stuff like this have died off in franchises), so I think the debate will go on for now. (On the CBR forums, I half-jokingly said that we’re still in the “Doctor Strange bargaining” stage of the discussion, which is a surprisingly accurate way of looking at it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3lA6abQprM)

    1. “It’s interesting that it’s still a thing after ten years (long after most dissident movements about stuff like this have died off in franchises), so I think the debate will go on for now. (On the CBR forums, I half-jokingly said that we’re still in the ‘Doctor Strange bargaining’ stage of the discussion, which is a surprisingly accurate way of looking at it.”

      The reason why is because to accept the premise (i.e., a hero like Peter Parker would seriously make deals with the devil) is a rejection of everything that he represents. To accept that premise is a betrayal of the utmost level for anyone who claims Peter is their favorite character.

      “I half-jokingly said that we’re still in the ‘Doctor Strange bargaining’ stage of the discussion, which is a surprisingly accurate way of looking at it.”

      I can only speak for myself, but I will never accept the idea that Peter Parker would look the devil (for all intents and purposes) in the eye and agree to a deal.

  7. “The reason why is because to accept the premise (i.e., a hero like Peter Parker would seriously make deals with the devil) is a rejection of everything that he represents. To accept that premise is a betrayal of the utmost level for anyone who claims Peter is their favorite character.”

    Maybe some people look at the stories themselves in isolation of whatever came before them?

    “I can only speak for myself, but I will never accept the idea that Peter Parker would look the devil (for all intents and purposes) in the eye and agree to a deal.”

    Obviously, right there with you. I was comparing the scene to how the anti-OMD fans (Doctor Strange) approach Marvel (Dormannu); they won’t let it go of the issue no matter how many times Marvel says: “No dice. Get over it.”

    (Found this interview with Dan Slott online: [http://www.cbr.com/interview-dan-slott-amazing-spider-man-superior-octopus/]. Don’t think the comments about Spider-Man and Mockingbird are going to go over that well within certain circles.)

  8. In theory the only reason why Peter isn’t the one to bring down Magneto like the cover suggest is also probably to remind fans that that the flaws of having Mary Jane using the Regent technology to siphon of his abilities is still in play. And for all we know it has nothing to do with the feminist’s misandrist agenda. Do not take this the wrong way but maybe you should also consider other possibilities as why certain things happen in stories. I know it is jarring to have to see Marvel become a shell of it’s former self and to see it push a ludicrous and hateful if not evil agenda. But please do not let that cloud your mind because I could not help but notice you Mr. Ernst have let that happened.

    1. “I know it is jarring to have to see Marvel become a shell of it’s former self and to see it push a ludicrous and hateful if not evil agenda. But please do not let that cloud your mind because I could not help but notice you Mr. Ernst have let that happened.”

      When I disagree with someone, I give them facts to back up my case. When it comes to a comic book story, I don’t say the person’s mind is “clouded” based on a theory about the issue’s cover.

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