Marvel Pick Of The Week – September 9, 2015 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5, by Dan Slott, Adam Kubert, and Scott Hanna

When Joe Quesada took over as Chief Creative Officer, he announced a few unpopular opinions, including that Spider-Man’s stories were too limited by the fact that he’s married to Mary Jane. Not long after the change in leadership, that marriage was dissolved by a deal with the devil in a story that many (okay, most) of the fans loathed. But darn if it didn’t allow for some great stories. In particular, Dan Slott has been running the main title for years, and Peter Parker has been through the wringer, running a company, dating a great policewoman named Carlie Cooper, getting replaced by Doctor Octopus, and doing a lot on his own.

But for the creative playground of Secret Wars, Dan Slott has gotten to show that there are some great stories to tell with Parker as a family man, too, and the close of this miniseries proves it. The plot has been that in one universe, Spider-Man was supposed to help the Avengers defeat a megalomaniac named Regent, but he ditched at the last second to rescue his wife and daughter from Venom, and Regent killed the heroes and took over the world. Eight years later, Peter and Mary Jane have been trying to hide Annie May’s spider powers from the evil regime, but at the close of the fourth issue, Peter was captured, and the women in his life decided to stop hiding and start rescuing.

This issue was an excellent exploration of what makes these characters so iconic after fifty years, able to survive some crappy movies, a publisher bankruptcy, and a clone saga (if you don’t know, don’t ask). While Peter puts his life on the line to punch the massively overpowered villain, his wife uses her brains to help out on the sidelines while his daughter uses her courage to join the battle. The story includes a Spider-Man version of a Dad Joke at the perfect climactic moment, and it hits emotional beats with two key pages. In the first, Parker is dying and realizes the moments flashing before his eyes are meeting Mary Jane, their first kiss, the birth of their child, and breakfast with Aunt May. He’s shocked that it doesn’t include punching the Green Goblin or dodging Doctor Octopus, but then he realizes he’s seeing “only the stuff that matters. Loves and loss.” This is a classic comic character telling one of the most important truths readers can hear, that we matter, that the ones we love matter. Peter is traditionally the whiny, moody hero hiding behind quips, but this puts emotionality into a powerful defining context. Then, later in the issue, Regent has fought Peter and Annie almost to a standstill, and Mary Jane jumps into the scene between her two favorite people and shouts, “Face it, Regent, you just hit the jackpot!” And Peter smiles through his pain and says, “Man, that never gets old.” And it doesn’t. Mary Jane is a confident woman, and she adds to Peter’s stories. She has a consistency and a longevity almost his equal in the publishing world, and Dan Slott’s book is demonstrating how amazing these stories can be when they include her. Carlie Cooper, bless her heart, wouldn’t have the same impact in that panel.

At the end of the miniseries, I think the reader is left with unanswered questions about the utility of the Parker marriage. I hate to say it, but I think the single Peter Parker stories have been great, and I don’t want him to go back to the wedded status quo of the 80’s and 90’s. But this miniseries has been one of the best Spider-Man stories I’ve read since my childhood, and it shows that the family aspect isn’t a limit so much as a quality that redirects the kind of stories possible. I hope this pocket of Battleworld survives the Wars. There is more I want to see from this little family.

Honorable Mentions:

A-Force 4, because even when fighting Thors, Dazzler has to be singing and sassy. I love Dazzler so much.

Giant-Size Little Marvel: AVX 4, because this cute little Ultron is the murder robot to steal your heart.

Planet Hulk 5, for ending the miniseries in a way that proves this book was a waste of everyone’s time, as much for gladiator Captain America as it was for the readers. Ugh. Keep on walking, red dinosaur.

Check out previous Picks here!

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