Spider-Man has gone through a lot of changes during his over-50 year run. Peter Parker has graduated high school, college, gotten married, lost his powers, got them back again, then lost them again. There was even a time where we thought he would have a child. But then it was decided that an adult family-man Spider-Man went against what Spider-Man was all about so they reverted Peter Parker back to being a 20-something and got rid of the character of Mary Jane Watson all together. This story The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is a big What If story about what would have happened if Peter wasn’t reverted back to being a 20-something, was still married to Mary Jane and they had a child together.
This run of comics highlights everything that makes Spider-Man such an endearing and long-lasting character. Peter Parker isn’t just a guy that has an insane sense of responsibility that dresses up as a spider and beats up bag guys, he is also a person with real-life issues. Renew Your Vows is also about living life as a lower middle class family in a big city. While half of the book involves the spider family beating up bad guys, the other half focuses on them dealing with real life struggles such as Mary Jane’s small business and Peter trying to make ends meet with his photography job all while they are both trying to raise their daughter Annie (who also happens to have super powers).
Using tech scavenged from when Peter fought a previous big bad guy, he was able to make a suit that shares his super powers with Mary Jane so that she can help crime fight with her husband and daughter, it has a very Incredibles-esque dynamic of a family fighting bad guys together. There are some very interesting conflicts that Peter has to wrestle with that most parents will also find themselves reflecting on. It is ok to let your children fail and get hurt because it is how they learn. This message is one that Peter has an extra hard time with because he wants to protect his family but he also has to let them fend for themselves and be independent. The conflicts and themes are effectively woven between the bad guy fight scenes and the scenes when the characters aren’t wearing their super suits.
I recommend The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows to anyone that has wished for a married Peter Parker to return to comics, or anyone that thinks the idea of The Incredibles-meets-Spider-Man sounds like a really fun read. It is well-written and a lot of fun for comic book readers of all ages.
I’m forever looking for graphic novels beyond the usual scope of muscle-bound, male-centered superheroes out to save the world. With the influx recently of all things Deadpool related and then subsequently all things Batman vs. Superman related, I needed a comic palette cleanser. My dilemma quickly fixed itself when I found copies of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power on the shelves(I’m in the midst of reading volume 2, as volume 1 quickly caught my attention).
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power introduces readers to Squirrel Girl, a very upbeat superhero who just happens to have partial squirrel blood running through her veins. If the thought of having to introduce yourself to yet another new superhero sounds a bit daunting, never fear! Squirrel Girl was actually introduced to the world in 1992 with her current creators paying homage to her previous comic book life by including Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 2 #8 as the very last issue in this trade paperback. Readers are given a look inot how the original creators envisioned Squirrel Girl and are also privy to the previous art styles and drawings of characters like Iron Man and Doctor Doom, since Squirrel Girl is out seeking a partner. Current creators, North and Henderson, are sure to reference back to her origins throughout their new reiteration of Squirrel Girl, talking about her first encounters with Iron Man as she is currently involved in new hijinks.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power follows Doreen Green, Squirrel Girl’s alter-ego, an alter-ego she adapts so that she can become a regular college student. If you’re looking for more background information about Squirrel Girl, she kindly provides that for you within the first few pages of this book by singing her theme song (Wondering what tune it’s sung to? It’s the Spider-Man theme song!) Squirrel Girl has the proportional strength and speed of a squirrel and, of course, the giant squirrel tail that she has to tuck into her pants in order to appear normal. Doreen is trying to balance school, boys, dorm life with her roommate Nancy and Nancy’s cat Mew, battles with super villains, and the fact that she can both talk to squirrels and they can understand her. This first volume is a fun introduction to an incredibly upbeat and dynamic female superhero who is struggling to find her place between two very different worlds.
I have always found Thor to be very intriguing. An immortal God growing up in his father Odin’s shadow, listening to tales of war and the defeating of enemies and subsequently struggling to lift Mjolnir, his magic hammer, when he was younger because he wasn’t worthy yet. In the Marvel movies, viewers get some flashbacks of Thor’s life, but not as much as I was looking for. Instead of digging into Norse mythology, I decided to look at the graphic novels available at the library to see what background they could provide me. That was where I found Jason Aaron’s run of Thor.
Thor: God Of Thunder, Volume 1: The God Butcher is the first volume in Aaron’s run that gives readers an insight into Marvel NOW!’s interpretation of Thor. I found this graphic novel to be confusing, yet ultimately rewarding because it filled in many of the wholes that I had about Thor’s upbringing and his motivations for behaving the way that he does.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty: The reason I found this graphic novel to be confusing is because of the story line. In this first volume, Thor is on the hunt for the God Butcher after discovering floating body parts of a God in a river after a fight. The horror in the eyes of the deceased God catapults Thor on a hunt that defines his actions for the entirety of his life. This graphic novel is a prime example of why you MUST pay attention to the artwork in order to follow the storyline. This volume is essentially three Thor stories being told at once: past Thor, present Thor, and future Thor, all on a quest to hunt down and kill the God Butcher who has made it HIS mission to kill all of the Gods across all of the worlds. Differentiating between past Thor and present Thor is a little difficult, but there are wardrobe and art style clues that will help key you in to what Thor you are actually looking at. This first volume of Thor is perfect to set up the rest of the series’ run because it introduces a villain that even Thor has trouble defeating, the idea that gods are vanishing and no one is aware or really even cares, and that this is a problem that has taken thousands of years to solve, yet still hasn’t been fixed. (Bonus: There is a Lord Librarian who has WINGS and who Thor goes to for help!) The back stories of both Thor and the God Butcher are exquisitely thought through and Ribic’s artistic descriptions of Thor’s struggles really show the darkness of this seemingly eternal fight. Check this out and let me know what you think!