Saturday, October 17, 2015

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #5 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I believe that this "Secret Wars" tie-in series is the first one to come to a conclusion.  It's fitting that it is, because it's also possibly the best of the lot, an already high bar given the quality of this event's tie-in series so far.

When the denouement comes, it really is the perfect culmination of the previous issues.  The Avengers face Regent, but he uses Peter's Spider-Sense to avoid the power-inhibiting arrow that Clint sends his way.  Meanwhile, Spot's other portal delivers MJ and Annie to the monitoring room, and Annie makes quick work of Regent's chief scientist, even though she's wearing a suit that similarly channels the captured heroes' power.  During the mêlée, the scientist commented that she's channeling a far stronger power than Annie's, and MJ concludes that Peter is in one of the ruby containers.  Hoping that he hasn't been in there long enough to die, she begins putting on the scientist's suit while sending in Annie to break containers.  One by one, Regent is denied powers as he fights the Avengers, and he arrives in the container room to stop Annie and MJ.  MJ puts up a fight, and an immobilized but observant Peter -- driven by anger, fear, and love -- breaks free of his container to save them.  He hurtles outside the building with Regent, and Annie and MJ continue going town on the containers.  But, Annie realizes that Regent is still too powerful and, taking the remains of the inhibitor arrow from Hawkeye, leaps onto Regent and digs the arrow into his neck.  Denied the constant flow of power, he grabs Annie and threatens to kill her.  Holding off the heroes with her as a hostage, Regent explains that he was just trying to gain enough power to overthrow the "mad god" Doom.  Peter makes him laugh with a truly terrible joke (about Annie's allowance coming from "spider cents") and then takes advantage of the moment to knock him unconscious.  The Avengers and the Parkers flee from the police with Regent's body, and we later see the Parkers happily settled into their family routine.

Overall, it's a solid ending to the story.  Sure, the joke part was sort of cheesy, but it was Slott showing us that Peter was still Peter, even after all the darkness that surrounded him.  The only off moment, for me, occurred at the end, when MJ somewhat randomly asked Peter whether he would've been willing to kill Regent if he had really threatened Annie's life.  Given that Peter already killed Venom to save Annie, I don't get why MJ was testing him again?  I mean, jeez, MJ, how many people does Pete have to kill for you to consider him a good father?

That said, it's hard not to be happy with this story, even though Slott doesn't tie up all the loose ends.  It's remains unclear what happens to this domain after Regent's fall, given Dazzler's comment about the police possibly remaining loyal to him.  Presumably, someone steps into the power vacuum, but we don't know if it's a good guy or a bad guy.  Plus, Slott includes a late wrinkle when MJ reveals that she didn't know who Doom was; he doesn't explain how this domain could be ignorant of Doom.  (Even if Regent thought Doom a "mad god," he would've never been allowed to stay on the throne without at least pretending to worship Doom.)  But, Slott makes it clear that he left these loose ends on purpose, given that the issue ends with a line about the Parkers' lives always being "to be continued" and not "happily ever after."  They have responsibilities, even if our view into their story is complete.  It's a strong ending to a great series and, as expected, I find myself hoping that, when we move into the rebooted Marvel Universe, the Parker family is exactly as we see it here.

***** (four of five stars)

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