Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows January 9, 2016Posted by General Zod in Books, Family, Heroes.
I just finished reading the Trade Paperback release of “Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows”. It has been a very long time since I’ve had a TPB hold my attention so much that I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting. I enjoyed this story in such a deeply personal way that upon finishing it, I was inspired to sit down and type out this post in hopes that it may inspire others to read it as well.
Please, read on! And fear not, for there are no significant spoilers to this TPB contained within this post. I’m not going to talk about the story, but only briefly touch upon the family dynamic.
First, I need to talk a little history.
I have been a devoted fan of the Wall-Crawler for over 40 years. I was given my first Spider-Man comic book when I was only 4 years old. It was Marvel Team v1 #28 (“The City Stealers!”). My Dad probably bought it for me, but I can’t be 100% sure of that as I was so young. As I grew up, I acquired as many Spider-Man comics as I could get my hands on, and I read and re-read them over and over and over again. Some of these books (including my first) were consumed so often that they were eventually reduced to a few tattered pages and perhaps a random staple. (Luckily, I discovered bags and boards soon enough to preserve most of my collection.) Many of my life’s lessons on integrity and responsibility were learned from the pages of one Spidey book or another. (Thanks, Stan!) Long story short, if I could be permitted to paraphrase Jim Butcher,… I became a disciple of the Tao of Peter Parker.
Now, obviously, I grew up in the Bronze Age of Comic Books, but I arrived on the scene too late to know Gwen Stacy as anything more than just a flash-back memory of Peter’s previous girlfriend… and it would be 15+ years before I would acquire any back issues prior to my initial introduction. Needless to say, I have always been pulling for Peter and Mary Jane to end up together. Which is why, in the autumn of 1987, I was absolutely thrilled by their wedding in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. (This was the FIRST time I was every inspired purchase more than one copy of a comic issue. No, it wasn’t because I had dreams of its future monetary value, but because I just HAD to own both covers of this issue.) For the following 20 years after that, I remained a dedicated fan and did my best to keep up with all of the various titles. Then… tragedy struck.
The “One More Day” storyline was in development for nearly 2 years before it was released November 2007 – January 2008. There were several writers and editors involved in this devastating story, and I distribute some of the blame to each of them for not fighting against the conclusion of OMD… but in the end, I can only truly place the blame upon one man… the Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada.
It was no secret that Quesada disliked the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. I’m not sure why he had such an aversion to this union, but from what I’ve gathered from reading various interviews and piecing a few details with random 3rd-party water cooler gossip, apparently Quesada was determined to “un-marry” them.
For some idiotic reason, it was decided that within the OMD storyline, Peter and MJ would make a literal "deal with the Devil" to save the life of a dying Aunt May in exchange for the obliteration of their marriage from history. To further turn the dagger in the wound, we were then given a brief glimpse at their future daughter, whom would now never be born. Peter and MJ had had some rough times between 1987 and 2007, but I had been a faithful True Believer in the potential of their union. Then, within a few brief pages, I was robbed of the future that I’d patiently waited 20 years for.
I’ll freely admit that I, a 37 year old man at the time of this story’s publication, broke down into tears over this turn of events. I was so emotionally crushed that I stopped reading newly published comic books for several years afterwards. I was enraged by the feeling of betrayal that this absurd storyline had imbued within me. It was a long time before I could bring myself to even set foot into my local comic book store again.
Many folks before me have already compared the ridiculous unwarranted conclusion of OMD to Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower to reveal that the 9th season of Dallas was “just a bad dream”. While I have to agree, I prefer to compare it to the opening scene from “Highlander II: The Quickening”. Sitting in the theater in eager anticipation of this sequel, I could tell that I was not the only one annoyed and perplexed by it. Only 3 minutes into the film, Connor McLeod sits reflecting upon his past, and thinks… “I remember! The beginning… 500 years ago, on the planet Zeist”… and EVERYONE in the theater released an very audible “WHAT?!?!?!” in disbelief.
Now, yes… I am very aware of the existence of the May “Mayday” Parker stories. I have read most of them, and they were a lot of fun. However, May was a different child from the one stolen from Peter and MJ in OMD. Also, since the May Parker stories were a leap into the future, outside of the Marvel-616 continuity, I hadn’t been able to see May grow up before she became Spider-Girl, therefore, I really had no investment in her as a character.
Anyway, this now brings me back to the “Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows” storyline. This story takes place after the destruction of the Marvel Multiverse when the remains of several different realities were merged into a single “Battleworld”. Obviously, the Peter Parker and Mary Jane within this story are NOT from the 616 Universe, but that didn’t matter. Writer Dan Slott brought back the Peter and Mary Jane Parker that I had always hoped for.
Instead of Peter being depicted as a single guy struggling with never-ending financial and relationship issues, this book painted Peter and Mary Jane as loving parents who were constantly struggling with the choice between the thematic idea of “With great power comes great responsibility” and the sincere belief that the greater responsibility is in being there to love and protect one’s child. This book wasn’t just a fun read for me. As a devoted Spider-Man fan and the father of 3 daughters, this story resonated with me. Finally, 28 years after their wedding, Peter and MJ have a growing family together. It was a healing, cathartic experience for me… and I plan to read it again tomorrow!