WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Adam Kubert
INKER: John Dell
COLORIST: Justin Ponsor
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ARTISTS: Adam Kubert and Justin Ponsor
VARIANT COVER ARTIST: Sara Pichelli
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
PLOT: Peter is having a nightmare regarding the events of last issue. As he sees Venom fade away into nothingness he wakes up in fright, and immediately runs to check upon his daughter. He finds his daughter stuck to the ceiling apparently exhibiting Spider-powers of her very own. Peter and Mary Jane get her down finding out that she had broken her inhibitor bracelet. They lecture her on the importance of hiding her powers. The next morning as they walk Annie to school we discover that both Parker’s are currently unemployed. Living off of Mary Jane’s residuals from old Soap Operas they don’t have enough money to buy the parts needed to repair the inhibitor bracelet. Mary Jane decides that she will visit her agent, and Peter says he can take more pictures for the Daily Bugle. Annie and Peter reminisce on the Parker luck in a surprisingly positive light, to which Mary Jane snidely replies that the phrase has been misused. As soon as she says it however a trio of police cruisers run by the couple. Peter takes out his camera, grabs a taxi and races off to see where the police are headed. Mary Jane drops Annie off to school while Peter goes to work. Once they arrive at school Mary Jane tells Annie how important it is to blend in today, and that she shouldn’t make any sudden moves that might result in her getting discovered. Meanwhile Peter arrives at the scene of the commotion to find D-Man (the most famous Avenger) pushing down a statue of Reagent, and battling with Boomerang, Rhino, and The Shocker. While the two are battling we see Mockingbird and The Prowler watching from afar in their civilian garb. They discuss the possibility of saving D-Man with an unknown segment of SHIELD. They are given orders to leave him to his fate, and D-Man promptly gets taken out by the Shocker. The three villains bring the unconcious D-Man to the feet of Reagent who shows contempt for being interrupted to deal with someone so inconsequential. He orders D-Man to get tested on by Doctor Stillwell, and allows The Shocker to join his elite guard. As they are finishing up the Female Beetle shows up to give Reagent some information about power levels being detected at a nearby school. Reagent sends out Boomerang, Rhino, and The Beetle to capture the children. We then cut to Peter who is using the photos he took as leverage against J. Jonah Jameson who is using his media prowess to make Reagent look like a good ruler. Jonah pays Spider-Man off in order to prevent him from publishing the photos of the event. Just then Jonah gets enlightened about the super powers present at the school and the task force being sent to contain them. Peter overhearing this jumps right into action swinging towards Annie’s school in hopes to save her before time runs out. He contacts Mary Jane who has heard the news and is also running to the scene in order to help. Once Peter arrives he finds out that the super powered kids were actually The Power Pack. Spidey hops into action in order to save the kids, whilst Mary Jane evacuates Annie. Spider-Man easily dispatches the foes, allowing the power pack to escape. They tell of their failure to Reagent who decides he must dispatch his elite guard THE SINISTER SIX. Back in Parktown we see Peter arriving at home stating that he needs to go into hiding for the good of the family. Mary Jane says she has just the thing for low key Spider-Man and hands him his old Black Suit ending the issue.
STORY: Admittedly I may have been a little hard on the first issue of the series. I didn’t feel that the message the story was giving us was something that needed to be repeated. Now while I still stand by my criticism of this seeming to be an anti-spider-marriage story I still need to acknowledge that it’s a “What If” story and is done exceptionally well. The mere fact that this issue starts off with a nightmare about his actions show that this wasn’t the right choice for Spider-Man. It also does cement the fact that this version of Eddie Brock was not known to hurt innocents. Now the fact that the story is acknowledging this makes me believe the story better. The action to kill Venom was a rash decision made quickly without thinking it all the way through.
I loved this issue, all of the characters were well written, and the ones that appeared felt natural to the story being told. I actually found myself becoming increasingly fond of D-Man in this storyline, and while it was true to his character that no one would respect his actions I still thought it was a gutsy heroic move. Being a normalish man in a world where the Avengers have fallen, and still attempt to rise against the tyranny is the actions of a hero. It was also nice to see some Superior Foes characters get some more comic time as much of their cast appear to be Reagent’s lackeys. Then we have a secret SHIELD sect with The Prowler, and Mockingbird as the head field agents. This adds to the feeling that this is a world where only the C-list Marvel characters remain. It makes it that much more significant when Spider-Man returns, because he is officially the biggest hero in the storyline and his actions will no doubt be a defining image for the oncoming revolution. Mary Jane is an active important character, and their daughter feels like an actual child. It’s truly a wonder how Dan Slott can be so hit or miss, compare these great characters to the rest of his Spider-reboot you’d almost swear they were done by an entirely different writer.
Now the issue is not completely without fault. I’m still not a huge fan of the main villain, and this issue does little to make Reagent anything more than an “I’m all powerful” stereotype. I also have issue with Jonah becoming completely pro-Reagent refusing to go against the totalitarian government. The Jonah I know would be doing secret broadcasts belittling the empire, and shouting it’s fallacies from the rooftops. It’s also rather odd that Mary Jane would keep the Black Spider-Man costume. This connects to both your husbands, and daughters nightmares you’d think she’d be rid of it. I understand it symbolically but it seems incongruous to the actual story being told. Finally this isn’t really an insult but more of an observation. Before Shocker joined Reagents guard what was it called? Did he boot someone off the team in order to maintain the “Six” or were they his “Furious Five” beforehand.
ART: Adam Kubert should probably just draw Spider-Man now. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a perfect fit for Spider-Man. Look at his version of The Sinister Six. The new designs are outstanding, and I cannot wait to see them in action. Doctor Octopus is the stand out for sure. On top of normal characters he also manages to change his artistic style completely for the dream sequences giving it a different feel from the rest of the comic allowing it to become truly foreboding and engrossing. Again this issue we get some great uses of perspective like when we get to see a brief glimpse of Beetle’s purple world.
Overall after I cooled down from my rage, and put the story into proper context I’ve lightened on it a lot. I eagerly await the next issue of Renew Your Vows.