Alas, poor Mary-Jane. Her marriage to Spider-Man was never popular with #Marvel's writers and editors, and in the end Joe Quesada had it retconned out of existence. 2008's "One More Day" event had Peter and MJ make a deal with Mephisto in order to save Aunt May's life, sacrificing their marriage in the process. Quesada believed marrying Peter off had completely changed the character, and that this was the only way to get the Spider-Man franchise back on its feet.
Since then, writer Dan Slott has proved just what he can do with the new status quo, and he's penned some of the most tremendous Spider-Man stories ever; "Spider-Island", "Spider-Verse" and "To The Ends of the Earth" all stand among the best Spider-Man stories to date. But one thing had always been off the table: the Spider-Man marriage. Last year, the events of "Secret Wars" gave Slott a chance to scratch that itch, and — in a fan-favorite issue — he introduced us to a reality where Spider-Man and Mary-Jane were still together, and where they had a child, Annie.
Now, in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1, the Spider-family is back!
The Renew Your Vows Status Quo
This timeline is a troubled one, where the brutal and dangerous Regent successfully captured all of the world's superheroes. His technology enabled him to drain their powers dry, until gradually they died. Only Spider-Man remained free, choosing to focus on his family, until finally even the Parkers were threatened — and Regent learned the cost of taking on Spider-Man!
We pick up some time after Regent's defeat, and we're given a world that's pleasantly familiar. Peter is freelancing for the Daily Bugle, struggling to balance his superhero responsibilities with his family life. But he's helped somewhat by a major change in his status quo — both Annie and Mary-Jane have become active superheroes in their own right!
Mary-Jane's superheroism is explained quickly and cleverly; Peter's reverse-engineered Regent's technology, allowing him to share his powers with MJ. Now, the Spider-three stand in defence of our world. But, crucially, they still stand pretty much alone. That means the entire rogues' gallery of the Marvel Universe is open for classic writer Gerry Conway to play with, and he kicks off this new series with the Mole-Man!
Welcome to a World of Fun
Although the threats are very real (inclduing a dinosaur rampaging through Manhattan) the real fun is in the banter between the Parkers. There's an early scene where Peter and MJ think May's asleep and are preparing to have some, ah, 'quality time' together, only for it to go wrong. There's another where the two are so busy debating whether Peter should have called MJ in for backup that they almost ignore the T-Rex charging at them! The issue is a perfect balance of danger and entertaining humor.
Over in the main Marvel timeline, Spider-Man is currently running Parker Industries and becoming more of an 'Iron Man' type figure (his portrayal in last week's Avengers reboot was disturbingly Stark-esque). This, though, is like coming back to an old friend. It's also all the evidence we need to know that Joe Quesada was wrong. Spider-Man's story works fine with him married or single; you just have to get the right creative team behind him.
Gerry Conway, a classic Spider-Man writer best know for penning "The Night Gwen Stacy Died", proves once again just how tremendous a writer he really is. He's helped by the brilliantly vibrant art of Ryan Stegman, with Sonia Oback as colorist. Meanwhile, the issue also features two wonderfully entertaining backup stories, by Anthony Holden (hilarious) and Kate Leth and Marguerite Sauvage (entertaining). The whole package is an absolute hit.
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If you're a fan of classic Spider-Man stories, this is the book for you, and it's definitely earned a place as #ComicOfTheWeek. It's an opportunity to see a much-loved classic writer return to the franchise he cut his teeth on, and a chance to dive deep into a world Marvel said we'd never see. It turns out the Spider-marriage wasn't such a dead end after all...
Do you think Joe Quesada was right to retcon the marriage out of existence?
Poll Image: Marvel Comics