AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 takes us back to Midtown High. It’s the start of a new year for both Annie and Peter. I say this because, while Annie is actually starting her sophomore year, Peter’s decides to get a job as a teacher there. So, you know, obvious family drama will surely ensue.

In this issue, Nathan Stockman returns for artistic duty, with Ruth Redmond still on colors. Stockman’s return is very welcome. However, after seeing Nick Roche’s style on the series for the past few months, I’m wondering if the switch was necessary. Regardless, the art is up to par with what the series has provided thus far.

Jody Houser tells a down-to-earth, character-driven story in this comic. For the most part, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 is pretty tame. It delves into the minds of both Peter and Annie, as they deal with the crummy aspects of their lives. Ultimately, this issue tells a human story. That is, right up until the very end.

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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16: Classic Parker Family Drama

The “Eight Years Later” arc included small reminders that Annie would soon be returning to high school. Now, Peter’s decided to tag along for the ride, as the school year finally starts up. He’s always been a guy with money problems, so to alleviate that issue, he’s taken a position as a substitute photography teacher. As you might expect, Annie is not at all pleased with this.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 page 8. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Currently, it seems Annie’s dealing with some self-identity issues, so adding her father into the mix of her school life probably won’t help anything. My mother once worked in my high school while I was in attendance there, so I understand where Annie’s coming from. It’s not always the most agreeable thing for your social life. Obviously, it comes across as a sore spot for Annie.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 page 6. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The father-daughter argument is handled in a very clean and humorous way. It’s a well-timed and comedic argument; as they argue, we hear the sounds of a mugging in the background. Only MJ is paying attention and hears, so she deals with it alone.

MJ also acts very much as a mediator in this situation. She quickly reigns both her husband and daughter in after their argument. She explains to Annie why it’s important that Peter got the job, and explains to Peter that he needs to give their daughter some space and not embarrass her. As Parker drama goes, this is some of the funniest.

A Mostly Uneventful Day at School

The smartly written family drama doesn’t exactly make AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 a perfect read, however. While the Parker family continues to grow, both as individual characters and as a whole, you may find the story drags a tad in this issue. Nothing too exciting happens that keeps you interested, until the very end.

Though it is a very human story (one that feels all too real when you consider how annoying high school kids are), this issue waits a little too long to deliver the punchline that comes at the conclusion. The ending makes for a good lead-in to the next issue, but it feels like something else should have happened in the middle of this issue to keep us interested.

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Maybe we could have seen Annie doing obnoxiously well in gym class, and she has to try and cover it up. I would have enjoyed more of Annie dealing with her identity issues. That’s a great character choice on the part of Houser, and I hope she explores it more in the future.

Also, I’m calling total BS on a particular scene. There’s a moment where no one looks up as Spider-Man begins crawling across the ceiling of the school. Someone would definitely see him. High school hallways are not that tall that someone would miss that. Come on.

Happy to Have Stockman Back

Given how much I enjoy the Ninja Turtles, I never thought I’d say I’m happy to have Stockman back. But, thankfully, Nathan Stockman is very different from that nub, Baxter Stockman.

Jokes aside, Nathan Stockman makes a triumphant return in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16. His work is very up to par with everything he’s delivered thus far in the series. It’s nice to see he hasn’t lost his edge. Granted, there are some wonky moments in this issue, but certainly nothing to get worked up over.

Stockman knows how to have characters emote. The argument between Annie and Peter is great to read and to look at. I don’t know if it was intentional, but Annie does look a bit childish in this segment. Which is fine; it actually helps the moment. Annie may be a teenager, but that doesn’t make her immune to having outbursts that may or may not seem childish.

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The following page of Peter’s highly unenthusiastic class is perfect. Again, not sure if it was intentional, but the girl who talks about her phone camera has a very annoying face. Seriously, I don’t know how Peter puts up with that.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 page 13. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

As great as Stockman’s style is, I quickly got used to seeing Nick Roche’s style in this series. It was very smooth and felt a bit more consistent than Stockman’s. I wonder if they really needed to make this change in artists. Regardless, I hope Roche makes a return at some point to the series. In the meantime, we can all enjoy Stockman’s artwork because it certainly fits this story well.

More High School Hijinks Ahead

Though AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 has some rough patches, it’s held firmly together thanks to Houser’s smart, character-driven storytelling, and Stockman’s and Redmond’s wonderful pages.

The Parker family drama has always been a key factor in this series. Houser is great at highlighting that, but I only hope the story doesn’t lose steam in the hopes of maintaining it. I’m especially interested now to see how Annie continues to grow as a person. She’s clearly dealing with some deep problems, and that needs to get some well-deserved attention moving forward. It’ll make this a much more compelling story.

It should be interesting to see how Houser continues to juggle the characters’ personal and heroic lives. The end of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 leaves a lot on Annie’s plate. It should have a serious impact on her life, both in and out of costume. As for her parents, I’m sure they’ll be ready to tag along for whatever comes next.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 by Jody Houser, Nathan Stockman, and Ruth Redmond
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #16 takes another big step forward in the lives of the Parker family. Though it's a little slow, it is, overall, a very enjoyable read.
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Hijinks and Drama Galore

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