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

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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.

Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: World’s Dumbest Super Hero

The ‘Ends of the Earth’ storyline in Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man has severely damaged the character’s credibility, due almost entirely to writer Dan Slott. I took flak from fans for mentioning that Spider-Man’s dangerously naive “no one dies” mentality is a war zone liability, and that only a fool would jeopardize a time-sensitive mission by worrying about the well-being of North Korean soldiers — when over six billion lives were on the line. Only a few weeks ago I said: “A hero is still a hero, but some of them are meant for city streets, and some of them are meant to determine the fate of the world.” And now, Dan Slott’s Spider-Man proved it through his own dialogue and actions:

“I’m not used to ‘End of the World’ stuff. Gimme a bank robbery or one of my regular bad guys. Now that I can handle,” (Dan Slott’s Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man #687).

Sadly, truer words were never spoken. Only pages later, Spider-Man is put in a situation where he must choose between saving Silver Sable’s life as she is held beneath rising water by the immovable Rhino, or stopping a satellite launch that will doom billions. Our hero feebly pulls at his enemy’s forearm like a little boy who yearns for a toy until Sable uses one of her last breaths to berate his idiocy: “If you don’t go — EVERYONE DIES! GO!”

Look at Spider-Man with that blank stare on his face. You can almost see the wheels turning as he realizes what a fool his “no one dies” mantra is. Even in the face of death, Silver Sable has a clear enough head to know the correct course of action to take.

As I said before, Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is so myopic that he only sees the lives right there in front of him. He’s like a baby, tricked by peek-a-boo because his mind isn’t fully developed; if there are lives to be saved right in front of him, there’s a good chance he can be distracted.

With the climax of ‘Ends of the Earth’ at hand, Slott delivers — in the wrong way. The blinded fan will only remember Spider-Man finding an inner reserve of strength to break free from his bonds to save billions — again, thanks to the Silver Sable’s clear thinking at death’s door. What they won’t remember is that Doctor Octopus admitted he is pure evil right before Peter decided to save his life — instead of using the opportunity to return to Silver Sable. Doctor Octopus says: “I shall live on in infamy — a mass murderer worse than Pol Pot, Hitler, and Genghis Khan combined.

Only moments later, as Peter attempts to save the genocidal maniac from the crumbling fortress, he says: “I made a promise. As long as I’m around no one — … Come on. I’m getting you out of here.”

Note the pause. Peter obviously thinks of his teammate possibly drowning a few rooms over. I say ‘possibly’ because Spider-Man doesn’t know what happened after he left the room, and neither does the reader. Perhaps Silver Sable had one last trick up her sleeve. Perhaps another hero found a way to come to her aid. In that moment, wouldn’t the true hero have ditched the man who hoped to transcend Hitler, in an effort to check on his ally? In that situation, would it not have been better to at least recover her dead body over saving the man who was willing to subject billions to a burning death just seconds earlier? Let’s not even get into the many people who have been resuscitated after having been submerged in water for lengths of time conventional wisdom says is impossible…

It’s fitting that ‘Ends of the Earth’ would feature a character who (seemingly) died from drowning, because Dan Slott’s Spider-Man walks around like there isn’t enough oxygen going to his brain. Here’s to hoping that one day Spider-Man will come to his (spider) senses.

Spider-Man: War Zone liability thinks small in big situations

A week ago I covered Spider-Man, and how liberal writers have turned him into a walking war zone liability. In a situation where 6 billion lives hung in the balance, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man did the “neighborly” thing and thought to use precious seconds wondering whether a bunch of North Korean soldiers (those same guys overseeing the world’s most notorious gulags) were ushered to safety before explosives took out the weapons … they were guarding. He then saw fit to warn his soldierly teammates “no one dies,” precisely the kind of all-or-nothing delusional thinking that sets the stage for death to occur.

Issue #686 of Amazing Spider-Man takes place right after our heroes believe half the world has been destroyed. With carnage surrounding them, Black Widow tells Spider-Man they must leave immediately, as time is not on their side if they want to save the roughly 3 billion people remaining on earth. Spider-Man’s response? He’s not budging because he has people to save right there. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is so myopic that he only sees the lives right there in front of him. He’s like a baby, tricked by peek-a-boo because his mind isn’t fully developed; if there are lives to be saved right in front of him, there’s a good chance he can be distracted. The Black Widow knows it and, sadly, his deadliest foes take advantage of it.

With 3 billion lives at stake and with every second counting, Dan Slott’s Spider-Man wanted to play search and rescue. It’s an honorable job, but the problem with that is this:  At that moment in time Spidey was the guy who was supposed to be saving the world — not Black Widow.
Even Spider-Man’s deadliest foes know that while his heart is pure, his mind is clouded with the quixotic belief that “no one dies” on his watch. Like a heroic Spider-Man-Pigeon, he’s easily distracted by lives in immediate danger, never acknowledging that by “saving” the few to his front, he may very well condemn 3 billion to his rear. A hero is still a hero, but some of them are meant for city streets, and some of them are meant to determine the fate of the world. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man may save the world, but an honest writer would have penned the more logical conclusion: utter defeat caused by unforced errors.

In the end, Dan Slott gives Spider-Man a reprieve, and the hero is given a chance to save the day by taking advantage of the vanity, greed and hubris of his enemies. The “end of the world” was an illusion meant to distract the heroes and buy time for the machinations of evil men to materialize. It would have worked, but the enemies who literally have the world in their hands want more, overreach and lose it all. Spider-Man takes advantage of his second chance, but it feels like a Deus ex Machina of sorts, freeing the character of the consequences of his short-sighted actions. In the real world we often don’t get second chances.

Even Black Widow can’t resist rubbing Peter Parker’s nose in the evidence of his ignorance — in his own book, no less:

Spider-Man’s complete lack of foresight nearly cost his team the chance to save the world. Black Widow makes sure to let him know it. Lectured by a supposedly-lesser hero in his own title. Sad.

At $4.00 a pop, The Amazing Spider-Man hurts the wallet over the course of a year. These days, it also hurts just to read the title, period. Here’s to hoping Peter learns something from the experience. If not, look for books featuring Black Widow. She deserves it.