REVIEW: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #15

Writer: Jody Houser
Penciller: Nick Roche
Colorist: Ruth Redmond
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 1/31/18

Peter tried to show his wife and daughter a nice time on Family Fun Day, but their trip to Coney Island was soon interrupted by butts that needed kicking. And now the Lizard has appeared, but this time he’s asking the Parker family for help. Can they trust him?

Plot: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #15 starts up where the previous issue left off, with Peter checking on the Lizard who has been begging for help. Annie May and Mary Jane are much more cautious, but Peter has his previous history with Dr. Conners to draw on. Realizing he must have been running from something, they strike a deal with the Lizard to find the source of his fear. And that’s how they wind up in an underground prison full of caged beings, fighting a so-called Dr. Krikos with the Lizard at their side.

Story: Even though Annie May has aged almost ten years in a few issues, she still has plenty of lessons to learn. Heroes and villains are more complicated than they first appear, and the former punching the latter is not always the most effective solution. Houser does an excellent job of providing her point of view on the situation, making it realistic and understandable that she would have misgivings when she finally comes across a villain in need. Peter’s snarky wisdom is intact as well, and while the “with great power comes great responsibility” line is one we’ve heard plenty of times now, the extra caveat of taking risks to save even one life makes for a nice addendum.

As Annie May herself points out, her parents are no longer holding her back from battle for her own protection and instead showing her how to make the best use of her powers. In this way the time gap serves as a way to bridge the gap between her enthusiastic but inexperienced childhood, and the teen years in which she’s allowed to make more adventurous mistakes. The Lizard makes for a rather interesting temporary sidekick, and the splash page’s reveal hints at a fun upcoming arc with a real super villain rather than a “regular” one as Annie calls them. But the real joy in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #15 comes from the father-daughter interactions and Annie’s heroic internal monologue. If there’s any down side, it’s that Mary Jane especially takes a backseat this week – but she got to narrate before, so I can’t be too mad. Hopefully future issues will devote a little more time to the mother-daughter bond, and I wouldn’t say no to a date night for MJ and Peter.

Though it may be considered something of a filler issue, Renew Your Vows #15 goes a long way towards justifying the time skip which many was controversial for many readers a few months ago. It’s still refreshing and bittersweet to see Peter Parker as a family man, and to dive into a comic where he and Mary Jane are allowed to stay married and grow together, but Annie slowly developing into a unique hero worthy of her own spot in the spider-family pantheon is the greatest treat in this book. And a cameo from Howard the Duck doesn’t hurt either!

Art: Houser brings these beloved characters to life with her words, but the art team liven up the surroundings and add a great deal of detail to every panel. Ruth Remond splashes even the dark cave with some pinks and purples that brighten scenes which would be nothing but shadows in other books. And Nick Roche gives Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #15 a very specific look that combines with Redmond well, created a Saturday morning cartoon vibe that seems perfect for this spider-family. The biggest issue is that sometimes Mary Jane and Annie’s faces look remarkably similar, with only the hairstyle or costume differentiating them, but I’m sure that will change with time.

As seen in the above panel, the art team also finds interesting ways of staging certain scenes so that they have the most visual impact – which certainly helps with putting a new spin on the power and responsibility speech. Joe Caramagna’s lettering also adds an extra dimension of personality to Annie, and overall these last three issues have cemented the new creative team’s ability to tell the story of the Parkers.

Verdict: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #15 is a fitting conclusion to Jody Houser’s first arc on the book, and a great look into how much Annie May has grown over the last few years. While it does not boast particularly high stakes battle sequences, it is a worthwhile read and a loving character study that promises to yield more fruit in the future.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5