Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #5

Dan Slott concludes his trip through Doomworld with a married Peter Parker in "Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" #5. At its core, the issue is an exploration of how Parker could grow as a character under the auspice of raising and protecting a family while remaining true to his core values. There are big hero moments for the entire Parker clan and artists Adam Kubert and Scott Hanna tighten their work from the beginning of the series, delivering art with good storytelling flow and fun designs. What is surprising, though, is that the conclusion is far more subdued than one would be led to believe from the marketing hype surrounding the series. It's not bad, but it winds up making the question "Why not?" the full purpose of the series.

The real stars of this issue are Mary Jane and Annie May as they stage a daring rescue of Peter, who is trapped in the clutches of Regent and slowly fading away in a test tube. Slott shows readers that all of the Parkers are a force to contend with, not just the patriarch. The action in the issue is fast and furious as Regent -- whose goals in the larger scheme of "Secret Wars" are well-intentioned -- faces off against the remaining human heroes. It's a bit of a stumbling block that the villain, painted as a godlike character himself early on in the series, is beaten like a common street criminal in the end. It's convenient and necessary for the narrative to go the way it does, and Slott crafts entertaining dialogue for the protagonists along the way. The villain himself, though, is almost interchangeable and one wonders if there couldn't have been another more personal villain for Peter, as this series is about him renewing his vow to be a protector of the innocent. This writer was certain that there would be a major reveal in the end of the series. Nothing of the sort happens here, but Slott does give readers a happy ending with the Parker family all together once again. These issues have been an exercise in Spider-Man-as-family-adventure and, if that is what happens next with the character, then it seems to be a great fit.

Kubert delivers more great comic action, full of kinetic energy. Annie May bounces around the pages, ricocheting to and fro and keeping the reader on a chase to follow her as she finally gets to unleash her abilities. Annie's costume design is still a riot, and the artist chooses some interesting moments to highlight, giving scenes like the true face of Regent big, detailed rendering even though his identity is mostly irrelevant to readers and giving less impact to moments like Peter breaking free of his glass case of emotion. The full page splash of Peter and Regent falling from Regent's tower packs a huge wallop. It's still all entertaining and very Kubert.

"Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" winds up being a very fun ride that gives older readers some long-desired fan service while still showing that, no matter the circumstances, Peter will always be Peter. When a character is as simple and well-defined as Spider-Man, there are no limits to the stories one can tell -- and, if nothing else, "banana pancakes fix everything."

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