Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

Eight years ago, in a Marvel Universe far, far away, Spider-Man was married. Then Marvel editorial had him make a deal with the devil — a villain called Mephisto — and he wasn’t a husband anymore, like it had never happened. It was stupid. People hated it. This week, Marvel’s teasing fans with the a world where that bonehead move never happened.

Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is a tie-in miniseries spinning out of Secret Wars, the big crossover that promises to reconfigure the Marvel Universe once it’s all done. In the mainline event title, a near-omnipotent Dr. Doom has tried to prevent the eradication of everything by stitching together a patchwork world made from various alternate Marvel realities. Among those realities is one where Spider-Man’s marriage wasn’t voided by editorial edict. In Renew Your Vows #1 — written by longtime Spider-scribe Dan Slott and drawn by Adam Kubert — Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson have gone on to have a daughter. Peter tries to balance his nocturnal crime-fighting with parental duties.

Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

It’s a challenge, but MJ and Peter tacitly agree that he still needs to be Spider-Man for the greater good. But this is Peter Parker we’re talking about here, and any happy ending he gets is obligated to get rocky once the wall-crawler is all smiles.

Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

Other superheroes in Manhattan have disappeared, leaving some of their nemeses for Spider-Man to deal with. The disappearances get serious enough to warrant the attention of the Avengers.

Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes offer Spider-Man the chance to move in with the team and Spidey, like any good husband, talks it over with his wife.

Without spoiling the more dramatic events of this issue, suffice it to say that familiar Spider-themes of guilt and sacrifice pop up. The stakes are more personal. Most importantly, Renew Your Vows shows that a married Spider-Man can be a viable concept.

The worst part of the 2007 editorial decision to wipe away Spider-Man’s marriage in the One More Day storyline was that it seemed like Marvel’s creative leaders were admitting that they couldn’t tell stories about a superhero who getting older. This was a Peter Parker who moved beyond being broke and lovelorn. He had finally mustered enough confidence to figure out how to be both a superhero and a committed spouse, without too much neurotic second-guessing. That Peter was growing up along with his readership.

Tomorrow’s Spider-Man Comic Undoes One Of Marvel’s Stupidest Mistakes

Marvel decided that was bad for business. Here’s what Marvel’s then-editor-in-chief Joe Quesada said in an interview after the storyline wrapped, starting with an explanation about why they didn’t just have Peter and MJ get a divorce:

First and foremost, I think Peter getting divorced to me says that they gave up on their love, that their life in love together was so awful, so stressful, so unfulfilling that they had to raise a red flag and walk away from it. They quit on their marriage and even more tragic, the quit on each other. In other words, Peter would rather be alone and single than to spend another moment with MJ. Plain and simple, that’s just a Spider-Man story I don’t want to tell and it’s not something that I would like to have associated with Peter Parker and MJ. You guys may feel differently, but I just think it’s the wrong thing to do with the character and the wrong message to send.

Now, there are those that say, “but he made a deal with the Mephisto, how is that better?” I would at least see something in that statement if it was Peter who conjured up Mephisto. If Peter had no options and then proceeded to perform some ritual in order to invoke Mephisto, or in essence reached out to him as a last ditch effort, then yes, I would agree because now you’re validating and saying it’s ok to seek out the Mephisto guy to fix a problem. But, that’s not what happened. It was Mephisto in this case, as he is prone to do, who comes to Peter at his weakest moment and uses this to his advantage. Why? Because he’s a villain. This is a very important distinction, Peter is used by the bad guy, taken advantage of, and let me add it’s not the first time a villain has taken advantage of him.

I hadn’t been reading Spider-Man comics for a while when the One More Day storyline happened. Peter’s deal with demonic villain Mephisto ensured that I wouldn’t go back to Spidey-land for a good long while. If Marvel was walking back the personal growth of one of its most important characters, then why should I stick around? Marvel wanted Peter Parker to be unmarried. They wanted him less attached. I disliked that. Marvel was going to keep Spider-Man in a place where he could never work on a partnership that could help him deal with the burdens of his double life. It seemed sadistic. In contrast, Renew Your Vows feels like a relief. If Peter Parker’s ethos is all about power and responsibility, then he should be allowed some measure of reward for doing the right thing time and again.

There’s more to Renew Your Vows than just a tie-in to Marvel’s big summer crossover. This series holds the tantalising possibility of being part of the architecture of the re-integrated Marvel Universe. Big changes will be coming to the company’s superhero landscape once Secret Wars is over. One of them might be a Spider-Man who’s married again.

A recent preview had Miles Morales — Peter’s successor in the alternate reality Ultimate Universe — on a new Avengers team. That glimpse of the future comes after the universe get re-assembled but, right now, Marvel is being vague about Peter’s status after Secret Wars. It’s important to note that no one called Miles Morales “Spider-Man” during that short preview, so it’s just as likely that Peter Parker will still be the main web-slinger.

The best way to read Renew Your Vows #1 is as a sort of What If, one where Marvel didn’t use a necromantic magic wand to wipe away Spider-Man’s marriage. It’s a good story involving tough choices. Some of them verge on being out of character but, unlike One More Day, the proffered motivation is organic and believable. Whether this What If becomes What Is is something we’ll need to keep reading to see. Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 is out tomorrow at comics shops and digital storefronts.


  • The JMS run leading up to one more day was so good, and then poof. I was so mad.

  • And there was, truly, much rejoicing!

    Although I can’t help but worry- does that mean the story is going to basically wipe away the prime universe Spidey who went through One More Day and all the crap that came after (and who only just recently returned after the Superior Spider-Ock debacle) and slot this new alternate universe Peter into his place? Because that doesn’t really feel completely satisfying either- after all, devil-powered retcons or not, Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, is literally still the same character who leaped off the page back in the 60s and if this married version replaces him it’ll be, for the first time EVER, effectively a new character permanently replacing the original Peter Parker in the prime Marvel universe. Not saying I don’t think it’d be worth it (after all, the Spider-Dumbass who made the deal with Mephisto in the first place arguably doesn’t DESERVE to be the prime Spider-Man) but it’s still food for thought.

  • Dan slott is great, loved the Gauntlet arc, and im keen to pick this up too

  • Nope!

    I grew up reading Spider-Man comics. The cartoon was pretty kick-ass too… the theme alone! But Peter Parker has had a lot of girlfriends, and MJ was not in the picture for many of those comics. What I did see of MJ, I wasn’t that impressed by. Another redhead for Marvel Comics… how original. I eventually read every Spider-Man comic I’m pretty sure.

    And do you know what? MJ wasn’t the love of his life. This is part of what annoyed me about the Raimi films. Peter and Gwen chose each other, and after Gwen was offed by Gerry Conway, they didn’t start dating exclusively for the next couple of decades. There were many hundreds of issues without MJ, and although there were a lot of interesting comics, the best way to describe it is that MJ ended up as the last of the musical chairs for potential life partners.

    With all of the awesome Spider-Man stories, there are also a LOT of bad ones. It was also a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth… with a fair push by the editorial to reboot the franchise(e.g. negating the marriage, Ben Reilly as the new Spider-Man, John Byrne reboot, Ultimate, etc). It’s also why the Raimi and Webb films are so different. Life was NOT roses before One More Day.

    I guess what annoys me most is that people harp on about Peter/MJ like it’s the best version… and to me, it’s like Aliens 3. Aliens 3 might be an okay movie according to your individual perspective, but it’s not the best movie by far. If you are regressing from Aliens 4 to Aliens 3, it might be an improvement, but honestly? You need to keep going back because it’s pretty crap compared to 1&2.

    So yeah it wasn’t a bonehead movie to undo the marriage. It was a creative choice. I personally loved it. There were also some great story arcs to come out of that, like Superior Spider-Man. This Renew Your Vows thing looks stale like a Spider-Girl reprint. If they’re doing this in the 616, they need to address the food poisoning miscarriage thing too.

      • Haha you’re absolutely right, I’m a huge Gwen fan! 😛 I really recommend that people read (original) Amazing Spider-Man from about #31-90 or so. That was by Stan Lee and his original vision and is the one that I like the most.

    • Thanks for saving me the effort of basically saying the same thing. Reading Amazing 1983, he got married when I was in primary school. It was cool for a few years, but got old by the mid 90’s.

      Creatively – it was the best thing to happen to the book in decades – even if the OMD storyline wasn’t the greatest – as a done in a month means to an end – it freed up the character for the mostly excellent year or two of Brand new Day, with consistent writer/artist teams delivering weekly arcs – as opposed to years of different creative teams delivering separate arcs weekly across titles.

      This Renew Your Vows will be fun, and it’ll be good to see some Kubert Spidey again since Astonishing SM & Wolverine – but it’s mid Secret Wars universe in flux – I don’t think we’re coming back with a decade of pre cooked continuity as any kind of “saviour” for the currently excellent mainstream universe Spidey line (which will surely only get better when Miles arrived – Spider-Men mini from a few years back showed him and Peter have got great chemistry).

      Evan said ” he hadn’t read Spider-Man for a while” before One More Day (JMS hadn’t been gone that long.. cough) – but was OUTRAGED. While most readers I spoke too at the time – rejoiced at not having to go through another MJ abduction/separation/baby theft etc. It’d been the status quo (married) for over twenty years – and Spider -Man kind of at it’s core is about Peter doing it tough – after twenty years there was only so many ways you could spin that thread when he’s married to a supermodel. Short of replacing him with a clone who’d been doing it tough for a while. Oh.

      Basically – without One More Day – we may have missed out on a decade of Peter MJ – and judging the decade that came before it overall – I know which one I prefer.

  • Jeez, was that 8 years ago? That makes me sad. Just get them back together and stop acting like Spider-Man was single most of his life. Parker first turned up in ’62. MJ in ’65.They got married in ’87. and the whole Mephisto clusterfuck was 2007. That’s 20/53 years. Ignoring all Parker’s other relationships. Give the guy a break!

  • I stopped reading Spiderman comics a while back, around the time Norman Osbourne came back, and Peter lost his powers temporarily.

    Anyway, MJ was pregnant, but when she gave birth, some woman employed by Norman stole the baby and she was told it was a stillbirth. The last bit I remember was her trying to contact Norman, but wasn’t answering cause he was dead (again, but also not really dead).

    Did anything ever happen with that storyline?

    • Oh wow, how did I end up in a two month old article? Oh well, guess I won’t get an answer…

  • In my opinion Dan Slott is the worst Spider-Man writer ever. Can’t get into his campy style of writing and he has turned Spider-Man into a goofball.

    Slott is better suited to writing cartoony kids books, not iconic super heroes that requires a mastery of writing techniques.

  • To be fair RYV was only moderately better than the usual Dan Slott fare. It was a mediocre story set in an alternate dystopian future, not the regular 616 Marvel Universe.

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