Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #16

by Charles Martin on February 14, 2018

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #16
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Nathan Stockman
Colourist: Ruth Redmond
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

JJ Jameson reads Peter Parker the grim writing on the wall regarding the viability of superhero paparazzo as a career choice. Pete needs money. Solution? Take a gig teaching photography at Midtown High! The opportunity to watch his daughter die of embarrassment three times a day due to meeting Teacher Dad in the halls is just a little fringe benefit.

(Marvel Mega Nerd Digression: Peter teaching high school? Been done. Teaching photography instead of science … okay, but why? Surely the former doesn't pay better than the latter, does it?)

This arbitrary ploy to smoosh Peter and Annie's stories together only really starts to work at the very end of the issue when the prospect of superheroics in school leads to a bit of a familial turf war.

Prior to that, the narrative dances between Peter's worries (midlife career panic and failure to connect with the Youth o' Today) and Annie's similar feelings of alienation. She hasn't clicked with any given clique; perhaps the fact that her classmates don't spend their weekends beating up monsters imposes a bit of distance. There's some strong potential for parallels here, but it's not explored all that much yet. The good news is that the rest of the arc may well unfold in that direction, tying father and daughter back together and warming some hearts along the way.

So far, though, the round-robin storytelling does all of the characters a disservice by keeping everyone's tale pretty shallow. MJ is the worst served of all; her only role in this issue is to play Archetypal Sitcom Mom #12B by breaking up a mid-patrol spat between her husband and daughter. The scene produces a few modest chuckles, but it's strictly family dynamics by rote.

Artist Nathan Stockman is no stranger to web-swinging antics and he's even filled in on this title before. His work has a definite cartoony bent, particularly when the Parkers show off their button noses in profile. Mr. Stockman delivers expressive characters, not just in faces but in body language, too. There are some superb panels of Annie where her posture and gestures speak as loudly as her dialogue.

It's a bit of a shame that Mr. Stockman doesn't get a more engaging script to inspire those expressive figures of his. Jody Houser's dialogue and the inner thoughts she provides for Peter and Annie are perfectly fine; this issue's real shortcoming is in plot depth. Up until the final pages, the story skates frustratingly through the sitcom-esque shallow end of the plot pool.

While Renew Your Vows #16 is decently entertaining, it doesn't deploy the sort of amazingly sympathetic "fall in love" hooks this title used to deliver regularly. It shows retrospectively how much effort the original creative team invested in this series. Renew Your Vows can coast for a bit longer on the considerable goodwill racked up in its first year, but this story arc needs to drill deeper if it's going to hold readers' attention.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I am gonna make Marvel Mega Nerd Digression a Thing if somebody doesn't stop me soon.