SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" #1, on sale now
In the 20-plus years that Peter Parker was a married man, his life as Spider-Man was a solitary one that had to exist outside of his marriage, as the closest thing his wife Mary Jane had to superpowers was her celebrity as a supermodel. Many of those stories centered around the strife Peter's career as a superhero caused in the couple's marriage, and many others simply didn't involve their marriage at all, effectively ignoring the notion that Peter was even married in the first place. Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman's "Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" #1 takes the opposite approach, not only centering around Mr. and Mrs. Parker, but also Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man, giving MJ a superhero role, and their daughter Annie May one, as well. The start of this new ongoing series continues from where Dan Slott and Adam Kubert's five-issue "Secret Wars" tie-in left off, and not only acknowledges the idea of Peter as a husband and father, but embraces it.
In the latter days of the couples' marriage, Marvel Comics had arguably backed their flagship character into a corner; then Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada's belief that Peter Parker was no longer accessible to younger audiences led to the controversial "One Moment in Time" arc that fabricated the nullification of Peter and MJ's wedded status. The freedom provided by the out-of-continuity "Renew Your Vows" series allows Marvel a solution to a problem that the rigid history of the mainline Marvel Universe never permitted: give Peter and MJ a kid, and give that kid and her mom costumes of their own. The result is an introductory issue that uses the couple's marriage as a viable embellishment that enhances the Spider-Man mythos, rather than an obstacle that constantly must be danced around and stepped over like something the dog left on the carpet.
Everyone knows that household commodities must be shared in a marriage, and while it's Mary Jane's debut as the Amazing Spider-Wife, her powers, just like the family car or morning time in the bathroom, likewise must be shared. The technology of the previous series' supervillain Regent allowed for transfer of superpowers from one individual to another, and Peter has been able to harness this tech to allow MJ to tap into his spider-powers. This presents an interesting quandary for Spider-Man; if his powers are presumably weakened when shared with MJ, this would leave him more vulnerable, while paradoxically allowing MJ to come to his rescue, as she does against the Mole Man's minions in this issue. Their combined efforts, though, can't prevent the self-superpowered Annie, who also debuts her new costume, from being apprehended by the Moloids at the end of the issue.
The family element taps into a whole new dynamic for Spider-Man that has long been left unapproached, as does the nature of shared powers, which plays right into the notion of Peter and MJ being united in marriage, in every way imaginable. Meanwhile, Annie's developing and unpredictable abilities stand to prove themselves as a detriment, as they seem to in this issue, but also a potential gamechanger during a deadly battle, not unlike those of Superboy and the similar family dynamic currently seen in DC Comics' "Rebirth" incarnation of Superman. Similarly, the nature of shared powers opens a whole new set of possibilities; Peter's powers will likely be subject to weakening with MJ at his side, and what happens to the powers of one when the other is taken out of commission is a development that begs exploration.
Just as Peter and MJ's marriage is made to work, so is another less critical but longer running aspect of Peter's life: just how he manages to remotely snap pictures of himself while he's in action as Spidey. Fans no longer need roll their eyes at the notion of a camera glued to a building snapping front page-worthy photos; veteran writer Conway – who himself used that gimmick as much as any other writer back in the day – has come up with a modernized solution: a pre-programmed drone-mounted camera with autofocus capability codenamed Buzzbee. The mobility allows for uses other than making a living as a photographer; such a drone could supplement Peter's spider-tracers whenever he's tracking a foe, for instance.
Unseen in the previous miniseries, a mysterious but likely familiar character makes an appearance, scrounging up the remnants of Regent's technology and claiming them for himself. Appearing to be the principal of a large tech-based company, and gazing at a framed picture that appears to show a younger Peter alongside Norman Osborn, a likely guess for the identity of this character is Norman's son Harry; the corn row-like hair visible from the shadows give a pretty fair indication, as well, and the development teases the idea of a technologically-enhanced Green Goblin in the married Spidey's future.
Anthony Holden's "The Earnest Adventures of Spider-Dad" is a cute five-page backup that chronicles a daddy-daughter kind of day that only the Spider-Family could experience, and caps off an issue that's not afraid to tackle a Spider-Man who wears a wedding ring under his webbed glove. "Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" #1 tells the kind of story about a married Spider-Man that we wanted all along.