Let’s hope Annie May doesn’t have the ol’ Parker luck like her famous, web-slinging father.
The newest issue of Renew Your Vows—the what-if comic where Spider-man stayed married to Mary Jane instead having their relationship done away with via faustian bargain—show Mr. and Mrs. Peter Parker being overprotective helicopter parents. BUt, given that they live in a bleak alternate reality where a big supervillain named Regent captures and fatally drains the powers of any metahuman, you can forgive their overprotectiveness.
Renew Your Vows has been one of the standout Secret Wars tie-in books, and not just because it reverses a widely-reviled editorial decision. The series’ strength has been in showing just how far Peter and Mary Jane would go to protect their child, sometimes at the expense of helping other people.
In issue #2, Peter stood by while another superhero got snatched up by the bad guys.
It’s the same mistake that led to his Uncle Ben being killed. But the stakes are different. The heightened context also has Spidey fighting more ruthlessly and viciously than ever before. Fight scenes from last month’s issue #3 show him maiming both Doctor Octopus and the Hobgoblin:
And Mary Jane lies to Annie May, telling her that her father always beat the bad guys.
It’s the kind of thing that often feels like a necessary evil when you’re a parent, when preserving a kid’s innocence is the most important thing in the world.
But the world crashes in on those kids anyway, like it does when supervillains working for Regent track down Mary Jane, Annie May and the superhero resistance that snatched them out of trouble. After a lifetime of hiding her powers, Annie May wants to use them like her dad did. Even though it’s a life-or-death throwdown, she comes across as utterly adorable.
There have been versions of spider-offspring in other comics before. In the late 1990s/early 2000s series Spider-Girl, May “Mayday” Parker started wearing a webbed costume years after a horrible showdown with the Green Goblin led to her dad losing a leg and hanging up his web-shooters. But that was a daughter who was older, set in a series that placed her in stories that weren’t quite as grim. In Renew Your Vows, death awaits the entire Parker clan if they fail.
Right now, it doesn’t seem like Annie May will exist in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe to come. Peter Parker’s going to be a rich, playboy CEO in the next volume of Amazing Spider-Man and parenthood does not appear to be one of the plot points he’ll be dealing with. But that erasure doesn’t remove any of the strengths seen in Renew Your Vows. It still shows that Spider-Man can still be a great character torn between power and responsibility, even if he has a wife and kid to think about.
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