Jody Houser and Nathan Stockman continue Annie Parker’s adventures through Midtown High in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18. When one of Annie’s new friends sets her sights on Normie Osborn, Annie’s got no choice but to intervene. I suppose having superpowered friends isn’t as easy or fun as it looks.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 takes Annie’s character a step further. We’ve seen her tagging along with her parents on patrols a lot, but not too much of her flying solo. In this issue, she really shines as an independent character. We see her applying the things her parents are teaching her in such a powerful way.

Unfortunately, not all of the characters in this piece shine as brightly as Annie. Though her friends are fun characters, they fall under cliché archetypes, as does their story. However, this doesn’t heavily detract from the overall “Fast Times at Midtown High” arc. As a whole, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 tells a great story for Annie Parker.


An Old Friend Revisited in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18

The story of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 plays on the old friendship between Annie Parker and Normie Osborn. The first page of this issue features a nice little recap of their friendship through the years. As time went on, though, the two sort of grew apart. As later pages of this issue show us, Normie stopped being a bratty, conniving child and grew up to be a respectable kid.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be good enough for Annie’s new friend, Lacey. Her father died working for Oscorp, and she’s hellbent on making them pay. Of course, Annie and her other new friend, Reece, aren’t of the same mindset. Seeing this, Lacey goes to the extreme and almost kills Reece. She takes off, and Annie and Reece give chase.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 page 6. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I guess it didn’t take long for Peter and MJ to figure out what Annie was up to, because they find her pretty quickly. This leads to an argument/understanding between the parents and their daughter. Annie is aware she should’ve been honest with her parents, but now she has to take responsibility for what she started. We see more of Annie acting out as her own character, as well as her parents treating her with more respect. It’s a lot of great development for these three in the span of a few pages.

Annie and Reece eventually catch up with Lacey and manage to stop her. This sequence is sort of cliché, as it plays on the “you have to save yourself” kind of storytelling scheme. However, cliché as it may be, it’s still a touching moment for the three friends, and it brings AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 to a very nice close.

Too Cliché for Its Own Good

As quaint as the story of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 is, the clichéd aspects are a little glaring. At this point in the series, we’ve come to expect fun, innovative stories with each issue. At first, the “Fast Times at Midtown High” arc had some great potential. There was humorous family drama, and the introduction of two interesting characters.

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With AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18, the arc comes to a stagnant finish. We see Annie develop more as she’s learning more about the responsibilities of being a hero, but it comes at the expense of a cliché story archetype. Lacey and Reece are still great characters, but unfortunately, the conclusion of their arc isn’t as interesting as the introduction.

This comes from the way Lacey’s story pans out. Ultimately, it’s a “do this thing, and you’ll lose yourself” kind of story. Reece and Annie have to come in and basically save Lacey from herself. Now, this kind of story arc isn’t at all bad. More often than not, it’s a great way for characters to come to astounding self-revelations. And, for what we get, Houser does a solid job. But she could have taken it a step further.

Maybe Lacey’s motive could have been enhanced. Saying that she lost her father to Oscorp feels like a cop out. It’s too easy of a reason for her to be angry. There needs to be something else to her motive so I can actually get behind her and sort of root for her, even though she’s obviously doing the wrong thing. So, while the story of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 is heartfelt and genuine, it’s still a little cliché for my liking. But, hey, to each their own.

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A Good-Looking Closer

Perhaps the strongest part of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 is the artwork. This is some of Nathan Stockman’s best work on the series, especially when coupled with Ruth Redmond’s colors.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 page 11. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

These pages are great not because of a particular image over another, but because of the consistency from page to page. There’s a nice flow to these pages as they progress from start to finish. The opening is bright and a little hopeful, but quickly shifts to the darker tones of nighttime. The end returns to that brighter look from the beginning, which is a great way to end the issue.

Though not many of the pages stand out much, one of the last few pages does use an interesting choice of what you might consider to be lighting. I can’t really say what’s happening on the page, for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but it’s definitely an interesting page to look at. It also has huge implications for future events in the RENEW YOUR VOWS series.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 page 15. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Like the page work itself, the character art is very consistent throughout. Usually, little quirks like to find their way into Stockman’s art. Here, there aren’t too many to point out. I really enjoy how these characters look, especially the kids in their costumes. I love how ridiculous Annie’s makeshift costume looks, compared to her Spiderling costume.

Time for a Vacation

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 brings the “Fast Times at Midtown High” arc to a close. It’s not the best ending; there are things that could have been improved upon or further elaborated. But, for what we got, it’s a satisfying ending to an enjoyable story arc.

The artwork is probably the most attractive part of this issue. Even though Houser’s storytelling falters ever-so slightly, I have no doubt she’ll continue to deliver some great Spider-Family stories in the future. She’s got a great knack for just having fun with her characters, and there’s no way that’ll fade from her writing.

Next up, the Parker Family is going on vacation. Hopefully, a certain sinister villain doesn’t butt in and ruin the trip. We’ll just have to wait and see.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 by Jody Houser, Nathan Stockman, and Ruth Redmond
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #18 plays with a bothersome cliche, but ultimately, it succeeds in concluding what has been an enjoyable arc.
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A Satisfying Conclusion
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