Renew Your Vows #6: Gerry Conway, Ryan Stegman give Marvel blueprint for success

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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Amazing Spider-Man and the craft of writing: A YouTube hangout with Mike McNulty (Stillanerd)

It’s been years in the making, but the stars have finally aligned for your friendly neighborhood blogger and Mike McNulty (Stillanerd) to team up for a discussion on comic books.  If you’ve enjoyed Mike’s reviews over the years — both at Spider-Man Crawlspace and now with Whatever a Spider Can — then you’ll want to check out this YouTube chat. It’s one hour of the two of us talking about craft or writing, The Amazing Spider-Man, and a few other topics of interest to those who tuned in during the live stream.

Mike, as always, was the consummate professional. I hope to have him back again for another YouTube hangout sooner rather than later.

Renew Your Vows #4: MJ plays feminism card so Peter will endanger child

Gerry Conway’s fourth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows came out this week, which means that Peter Parker fans are treated once again to a light-hearted and fun read devoid of Slottian baggage. The writer’s “All In The Family” tale wraps up with the Parkers defeating Mole Man, but it doesn’t come without a few creative red flags for the future.

Ask yourself this question: Is it sexist for Peter Parker to want his young daughter as far away from megalomanic super-villains as possible? This version of Mary Jane thinks so, and for some bizarre reason the hero backs down without much of a fight.

Check out my latest YouTube review for a better explanation of why RYV appears to be taking a problematic stance towards the family’s superhero dynamic. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below — and be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Renew Your Vows #3: Annie May Parker shines in spotlight

Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman continue to roll with Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3. If you’re looking for a Spider-Man book worth picking up, then this is the one. It’s not perfect, but the energy and enthusiasm the creative team brings to the book more than makes up for any editorial hiccups.

Check out my latest YouTube video below and let me know what you think of the issue, particularly my one minor gripe on the company’s continued habit of inserting political correctness across the line.

Renew Your Vows #2 Review: Conway delivers, but red flags appear for Peter Parker fans

The second issue of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is out, and once again Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman offer fans a strong product. There are, however, some red flags for Peter Parker fans.

Check out my latest YouTube review and let me know in the comments section below what you think of “Spinneret,” the Parker family’s parenting style, and Normie “Richie Rich” Osborn. Feel free to ask any other Renew Your Vows questions that might be on your mind.

Renew Your Vows #1: Conway, Stegman give fans the Peter Parker they have deserved for years

It’s here — The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows. There is much to say on this issue (and I may do up a full re-write in the near future), but my latest YouTube review should suffice for now. Check it out and let me know what you think of Gerry Conway’s and Ryan Stegman’s work in the comments section below.

Finally — finally — the throngs of fans who hated One More Day get the Peter Parker they deserve. Huzzah!

Renew Your Vows 5: Dan Slott’s saccharin spider-family takes on bland Regent

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.

Dan Slott’s Renew Your Vows souffle falls flat; Regent, Sinister Stooges collapse tasty cake in 4th issue

Regent Renew Your Vows SpiderManA souffle that falls flat in the oven is usually going to keep its good taste, but on many levels it is still considered a disappointment. Dan Slott’s 4th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is just like a souffle that begins to collapse before the oven timer rings. The main reason for this is Regent, who continues to weigh down the story.

Issue 4 of Renew Your Vows reveals that Mary Jane and Annie were shuttled away from danger by Mockingbird and The Prowler, who are working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Their escape was made possible by Jonathan Ohnn (aka: The Spot), who is also working for the organization.

Spider-Man, however, does not fare as well. He and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sandman are captured by Regent, who uses telekinesis to immobilize them.

“And no, little man. It’s not fair at all. It never is when you battle a god,” Regent replies to the accusation that he isn’t fighting fair. It is not long afterwards that the souffle begins to deflate.

“I am a good man, Peter. Before you die, I want you to know that,” Regent tells his captive. He then says that he needs Peter’s spider-sense to battle Doctor Doom, who has become a near-omnipotent god on Battleworld. Although Peter calls this “insane,” in all likelihood there isn’t going to be a plot twist to make Mr. Slott’s idea any better.

Perhaps the second most embarrassing thing about Renew Your Vows is the way the Sinister Six has, arguably, become the Sinister Stooges. Not only does angry-Pete dispose of them with ease, but now his daughter is able to literally take out Shocker, Kraven, and Boomerang with eye-pokes and crotch-shots. In the middle of a story about an Orwellian police state, readers abruptly get Slottian hi-jinks; Kraven says “Gnyah!” when he’s kicked in the testicles. Mr. Slott should have gone all the way and had Annie say “Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!”

Renew Your Vows 4 AnnieIn short, Renew Your Vows is still the best thing that Dan Slott has written in awhile. Fans have more-or-less gotten what they wanted out of the tale (e.g., strong MJ, Peter acting like a man instead of a man-boy), and Slott’s worst instincts have mostly been corralled. The Renew Your Vows souffle may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but it is still worth $4.00 if you’re a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Side note: I would be remiss if I didn’t say kudos to Mr. Slott for his use of The Spot in this issue. I first came across the character as a kid while reading my brother’s collection of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man. Even though he wasn’t treated as a serious villain, his powers fascinated me. He always seemed like a character with untapped potential. It was nice to see Jonathan Ohnn appropriately used here.

The Spot Marvel

Renew Your Vows No. 3: Dan Slott’s tale of darker Spider-Man hamstrung by lame villain Regent

Doctor Octopus Renew Your VowsIssue No. 3 of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is out, and fans get another dose of Peter Parker doing anything to protect his family. Writer Dan Slott’s “No one dies” philosophy for Mr. Parker has been replaced with “No one dies — unless you threaten my wife and kid,” which gives readers plenty to talk about. Just like issue number two, the writer does a decent job exploring the Parker family’s attempt to survive in an Orwellian nightmare. It’s a shame that its lame main villain, Regent, continues to drag down the quality of the tale.
SpiderMan Renew Your Vows Doc OckThere is something incredibly satisfying about seeing a part of the enforcement arm (no pun intended) of a totalitarian police state getting ripped to shreds by a true hero. Unfortunately, the reaction by characters like Doctor Octopus to Spider-Man’s no-joking demeanor — only moments after telling the hero that he and his family would die a gruesome death — comes across as too comical.

If a man’s stock-in-trade is to hunt down and murder entire families, then he can’t be surprised when the head of the household — yes, even Spider-Man — counters deadly force with commensurate power.

Renew Your Vows Doctor OctopusWould it be logical for Doctor Octopus to be taken aback by Spider-Man’s sudden willingness to use deadly force? In a world where state-run televisions turn off and on like something out of George Orwell’s “1984,” no. In a world where superheroes (and their children) are summarily hunted down and executed, no. In a world where Spider-Man lived after the entire Avengers team, Professor X, and The Hulk fell to Regent with seemingly little effort, no. Regardless, in this instance Dan Slott can be forgiven if his handling of Doc Ock’s response to “dark” Peter was a bit clumsy.

For those who didn’t get the message earlier in the book, Mr. Slott hammers it home in the final pages when Spider-Man webs an activated pumpkin bomb to Hobgoblin’s hand. “BWHOO” translated into writer-speak for this issue of Renew Your Vows is “If you mess with Peter Parker’s family, then there is a good chance that you will die.”

Hobgoblin Renew Your Vows 3It is unfortunate that Regent is such a generic villain. Readers are left in a weird state of cognitive dissonance because on one hand the character is tied to a story that shows Peter and MJ at their best, but on the other he is a creative millstone around the neck of writer Dan Slott.

If Regent is another man’s creation that Mr. Slott has been forced to use, then I feel bad for him. If Regent is Dan Slott’s creation, then he shouldn’t complain when digital tomatoes are thrown his way for months to come.

SpiderMan Renew Your Vows Parker FamilyIn short, Renew Your Vows continues to be a story worth reading if you are a fan of Peter Parker. It has its flaws, but it’s better than 95 percent of what Dan Slott churned out for the entire relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2014.

Renew Your Vows #2: Dan Slott hits a rare home run, proves Tom Brevoort’s ‘medicine’ was poison

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.”