Dan Slott knows Spider-Man, and he knows Peter Parker in the new Secret Wars title, The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows. You can feel it surging through these pages from the very first panel depicting a mantle full of family photos of Mary Jane and Peter with their daughter Annie. As Peter says, “In a perfect world, this was how it was always meant to be.”

This is how it was supposed to be.

This is where Slott’s story of a domestic Peter begins. He is home with Mary Jane and his daughter discussing the toll his job takes on his family in a compelling but slightly stereotypical way–although I believe that it is staged this way on purpose. Parker is back at work for the Daily Bugle where he is informed that superheroes are either showing up dead or going missing. Parker goes to the Avengers headquarters to investigate the situation, and Tony Starks offers to house him and his family until this whole mess is solved. However, when Peter calls home to ask about this he learns that there has been a prison break at Ryker and that Mary Jane has left the phone to answer the door–you know better than this MJ! Spider-man flees to try and save his family.

Special Superhero Phone

Safe to say the violence escalates, a new villain is introduced, and I have to say that I did not see the ending coming really at all. It has an ‘Um….. you’re gonna do that? Wow! Okay. Let’s see where this goes,” kind of feel to it. Honestly, the entire issue is a great big and pleasant surprise to me. In the wake of the “One More Day” Arc where Mary Jane and Peter’s marriage was technically wiped from the mythology all together this story had the potential to be just terrible because as the tagline for the series description has said, this is the story we have been asking for. And while fan service is great it doesn’t have a large track record of actually delivering good and meaningful stories.

However, this story is not about fan service, but it really is about what Spider-Man has always been about: responsibility. Slott has taken what could have been nothing and turned MJ and Peter’s marriage into just another responsibility that pulls Spider-Man in opposite directions quite literally within this story. Furthermore, the way that Peter tries to balance between protecting the city and protecting his family here is explored in a compelling and interesting way. A toll is taken on Peter, his family, and the world that they live in. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because I think that it is better to discover it all for yourself, but I will say that any Spider-Man fan should come away from this issue sufficiently intrigued and even though this is not a continuation of the current Amazing Spider-Man story it is still more than worth a view. And if, for example, the only interest you have in Spider-Man comes from the films or a few comics back in the day I still think it is totally easy to access while also providing some very interesting characterization and art. The Spidey we know and love is making new choices and I am interested to see where they go.

Score: A

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