Disclaimer: The following article is meant to be read as a series of theories based off Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows and not to be mistaken for actual spoilers. It was also written prior to the publication of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #5.
Of all the various Secret Wars tie-in miniseries published during the course of the event, none has been more anticipated, dreaded, talked about, debated or scrutinized than Dan Slott and Adam Kubert’s Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, a story which depicts Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson not only still married, but also having a daughter. Given the controversy of Spider-Man’s marriage being erased from existence with the much derided story, “One More Day,” the very premise of the series was already proactive. It would get even more so.
Before the first of Renew Your Vows even debuted, Slott gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly where he teased the following:
“No matter who or what or how Spider-Man comics will be made in the future—elements from this story will go on into the next incarnation… Elements. Of this. Yes.”
And of course, the immediate reaction to this was, “Does this mean Marvel is reversing ‘One More Day’ and bringing the marriage back? Is Spider-Man now going to have a kid? Is he going to retire and let Miles Morales take over the role as the one and only Spider-Man? Which elements will be in this ‘next incarnation,’ Dan Slott?” It also provided an even greater incentive to pick up the series. Because when you hear the author of said miniseries telling you aspects from what would otherwise be considered a “What If?” will wind up being official canon, you just now have to read the series and try to figure out what those might be.
Well, with Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows concluding this week, the time seems right to look back through the series, and to try to pick out what possible “elements” might be carrying over into the “All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe” and the new volume of The Amazing Spider-Man. Moreover, we’ll also try to calculate the probability as to likelihood these elements might become part of mainstream continuity. Let’s also bear in mind that no matter which of elements from Renew Your Vows will remain, they won’t be 100% exactly how we saw them in the series given it’s from an “alternate universe.”
So, without further ado, let’s begin with…
A Married Peter and Mary Jane
Unfortunately for fans of the marriage, this is something we can easily file under the heading of “Not going to happen.” In all the promotion for the new volume of Amazing Spider-Man, one thing which is abundantly clear is that Peter Parker will still be single; Slott even made mention of going back to “classic love triangles” and even the Alex Ross cover of the first issue suggests this. Also, let’s not forget that before Secret Wars, Mary Jane was in a new relationship with firefighter, Pedro “Ollie” Oliveria, who actually made a cameo appearance in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1. Doubtful Slott would toss this development aside, especially since it hints that, contrary to MJ’s insistence that she’s “moved on from Peter,” she’s really in denial and on the rebound (“Pedro” is the Spanish variant for “Peter,” after all).
Besides, Marvel has never supported the idea of Peter being married, and the only reason it happened at all back in1987 was because Stan Lee was having Peter and Mary Jane marry in the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip, and Marvel’s former Editor-In-Chief, Jim Shooter, wanted to coincide this with the comic. Once it happened, Marvel went through great lengths over the years to get rid of it, including the infamous “Clone Saga,” until finally resorting to a “cosmic reset” with J. Michael Stracynski’s “One More Day.” There’s no way, under the current management, that would Marvel suddenly decide to bring the marriage back after going through so much trouble to get rid of it. Which is unfortunate since Renew Your Vows proved just how much storytelling potential still existed for a married Spider-Man.
There is one simple reason the despotic ruler of could be showing up the regular Amazing Spider-Man series—he’s a new supervillain who has never appeared in any Marvel comic book until Renew Your Vows. He’s also a new supervillain who’s been the main antagonist for the series. Granted neither of these things are a guarantee, but it would seem strange for someone Slott has given so much attention towards and a character he created not to appear in any future Spider-Man stories.
This doesn’t mean, however, that the Regent will still be “The Regent” after Renew Your Vows. That particular moniker is more associated the concept behind Battleworld being made up of various “kingdoms” ruled by its own baron. The Regent was also first introduced, if you call, in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 as Augustus Roman, the founder and CEO of Empire Unlimited, and that this company specialized in “researching superhuman abilities and bio-technologies.” Considering how, when Amazing Spider-Man restarts, Peter will still be in charge of Parker Industries and how it’s become an international success, it’s possible Slott could be hinting of a possible rival business in the form of Augustus Roman. Or perhaps, in a real twist, Roman’s company could be a branch of Parker Industries, or Roman himself could be in charge of one of the offices headquartered in another city. Maybe, similar to what we’ve seen in Renew Your Vows, Roman will conduct illegal experiments without Peter’s knowledge in trying to give himself superpowers—or perhaps make his own Spider-Man.
An All-New Sinister Six
During Slott’s tenure, we’ve now had four versions of the Sinister Six. First was the group Doctor Octopus gathered together during “Ends of the Earth.” Then there was Boomerang’s team, otherwise known as The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Next came another group formed (and brainwashed) by Doc Ock again when he was The Superior Spider-Man called “The Superior Six.” And finally, there was the Regent’s “Elite Squad” which he used to hunt down Spider-Man in Renew Your Vows. Stands to reason a new team calling themselves The Sinister Six could emerge in the new volume of Amazing Spider-Man, but with two key distinctions. First, I believe it will consist of members from the earlier versions I’ve already mentioned; the second is that I think the new the team will be lead by Kraven the Hunter.
Why Kraven? Because Doc Ock, who is the founder and leader of the team, is still considered dead. Also, Renew Your Vows shows Kraven clearly the one in charge of this crew of villains, and that while his intellect is not on par with Doc Ock’s, he is cunning, determined and ruthless.
So let’s say both The Vulture and The Chameleon seek out Kraven in wanting his help to get revenge on what Spider-Man did to them (not knowing, of course, it was really Doc Ock in Spider-Man’s body). They also manage to find Rhino, who, if you recall, supposedly drowned along with Silver Sable during “Ends of the Earth” and recruit him as “the muscle.” Being that Electro is “cured” of his powers (as seen in Amazing Spider-Man Vol.3 #6), they then have to recruit their second choice, The Shocker, as their “range support.” Finally, the last member is Mysterio, who is now more dangerous than ever. Why? Because thanks to Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Men miniseries, Mysterio knows Spider-Man is really Peter Parker, and that definitely would not be good news for the Web-Head.
Dr. Shannon Stillwell
The Regent’s top scientist is also a new character first introduced in Renew Your Vows, but one who appears to connected to an obscure, yet pre-existing character. That person is Dr. Farley Stillwell, the scientist responsible for turning Mac Gargan into The Scorpion way back in the original Amazing Spider-Man #20. His brother, Harlan Stillwell was the one responsible for the creation of another Spider-Man villain, The Human Fly. Given Slott’s tendency of inserting even the most minor of continuity references into his stories, it seems more than coincidental he’d have a new character whose last name is the same as someone so closely tied to the origin of one of Spider-Man’s villains. And given how younger she looks, it’s possible Shannon Stillwell could be the daughter of either Farley or Harlan Stillwell. Either way, if she is in any way related to them, she has a ready-made motive for revenge built-into her character from the outset.
If she’s Farley’s daughter, she could want revenge against the Scorpion and the man who bankrolled the experiment, J. Jonah Jameson, and that Spider-Man has to stop her. Or, if she’s Harlan’s daughter (or even if she’s his niece) she could seek her revenge on the deaths in her family by using the same formula used to turn Richard Deacon into the Human Fly on herself, becoming an “All-New, All-Different” Human Fly and a new female supervillain for Spider-Man.
Sandman: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Seeing Flint Marko working for the good guys in Renew Your Vows may have seemed like a shock for some readers. Yet Spider-Man fans know the Sandman has a history being both a supervillain and a superhero.
Ever since Sandman temporarily merged with another Spider-Man villain, Hydro-Man (don’t ask), he’s regretted his past as a criminal and tried ways to make amends, which includes being a member of the Wild Pack lead by the heroic mercenary, Silver Sable, and as a reserve member of The Avengers. However, during Sandman “died” after being infected by a bite from Venom (again, don’t ask!), then “came back to life” with multiple-personalities which took on physical manifestations (still don’t ask!), then reverted back being a supervillain again. Oh, and since Sandman in Spider-Man 3 (2007) had a daughter in the film, Sandman was also given one in the comics.
However, developments within Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, the last issues of The Fantastic Four, and AXIS: Revolutions seem to suggest that Sandman is, once again, on his way to become a good guy again. Or, at the very least, an anti-hero. Perhaps the next time we see Sandman, he’ll be working for S.H.I.E.L.D. as depicted in Renew Your Vows. However, given that he blames Spider-Man for being forced to being part of the “Superior Six” (again, not realizing it was his old ally, Doc Ock, who was really responsible) he may still consider the Wall-Crawler as being “dead” to him, meaning a possible–and awkward–scenario where the two of them are forced to work together.
The Return of the Prowler
Those of you reading Renew Your Vows may have noticed that, among Hawkeye’s S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits is someone who has very close ties with Spider-Man but who hasn’t gotten a lot of attention over the years—Hobie Brown, better known as The Prowler.
For those of you who don’t know who The Prowler is, he’s a tech-based superhero created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr., who first made his début in Amazing Spider-Man #78. He started with the idea of using his own technical skills to become a thief, then turn around and return the loot for a reward. However, Spider-Man was able to make Hobie see the error of his ways (particularly since he wasn’t very good at being a criminal), and thus turned to crime-fighting, instead. He’s even disguised himself as Spider-Man on a few occasions when Peter’s secret identity risked being compromised. He’s also been a member of Silver Sable’s Wild Pack, and created The Hornet costume used by Peter when Norman Osborn put a bounty on Spider-Man during the “Identity Crisis” storyline.
Needless to say, the possible return of the Prowler would Peter would once again have an invaluable ally for both himself and Spider-Man. He’s the kind of person who would fit right in with Parker Industries, especially to provide Spidey with more gadgets, tech and support. Who knows? Maybe the new Amazing Spider-Man #1 will show he’s the one who helped Peter design and built the new Spider-Mobile.
Annie May Parker
I can already hear you protesting through your computer screen, “Wait a minute! You said there would be zero chance that marriage would come back, or that Peter and Mary Jane would be getting married again. So how you say they may have a daughter when Amazing Spider-Man relaunches, let alone one that is eight-years old?” Because, my fellow Spider-Man fans, unlike the other predictions I’ve mentioned in this article, I think there’s a possibility Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter could be one of the survivors of Battleworld after Secret Wars is over.
In the first place, Annie is far too developed and central a character in Renew Your Vows that it’s almost doubtful Slott wouldn’t have further use for her in some other story. Especially since Annie, at such a young age, has already developed her own spider-powers and an innate sense of “with great power comes great responsibility.” Second, it wouldn’t be the first time Marvel Comics would have a character from an alternate timeline or reality stuck in the present day. The X-Men comics, for example, have done this many times, introducing such time displaced characters as Rachel Summers, Cable, Dark Beast, the original five X-Men and Old Man Logan. So have the Fantastic Four, The Avengers and The Incredible Hulk. Even Spider-Man has already done this with to “Spider-Verse.” So why not bring in the daughter of Spider-Man from a parallel universe?
The only real drawback against Marvel doing this would be the notion this would “age” Spider-Man just like the married supposedly did. However, even though Annie is biologically Peter and MJ’s child, she technically isn’t their child since, thanks to “One More Day,” Peter and MJ never married or had any kids in the current Marvel Universe. This loophole would theoretically allow Annie to appear, with the incentive on her part to try to get back to her parents while stuck in a world in which she was “never born.” And in the meantime, it would also make Peter and MJ’s life and relationships very, very complicated. Sounds like the recipe for some great stories, no?
In any event, we shall see what the outcome to Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows in the very near future, maybe even by the time you read this very article. Perhaps I’ll get a few wrong, but who knows? Maybe one of these speculations I’ve just offered might happen sooner than we think. And maybe, you have some better theories about which “elements” may transfer over into Amazing Spider-Man yourself.
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