Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #11 might not have the emotional depth of last issue (more on that later), but it surely makes up for it in tense action. Writing the penultimate issue to the story line he created with Gerry Conway in ASM:RYV #1, writer Ryan Stegman teams up with artist Brian Level for a story that starts on shaky ground but manages to stick its landing by the back few pages.
Brian Level is a relatively new artist to Marvel, appearing in the digital anthology A Year of Marvels, and the event tie in Secret Empire: Brave New World. His art is clear and his fight scenes are visceral, but lacks the same emotive qualities of previous artists on the title such as last issue’s Nathan Stockman and Stegman himself when he was on art duty.
This would not be as big a detriment if it was one of the earlier issues – say, the X-Men two-parter – but the crux of this issue is a tense stand-off between Normie and a captive Spiderling. The dialogue is there, with Normie delivering lines like “What is a child without parents? Just a person” and Spiderling responding “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” Unfortunately the weight of that emotion is hefted upon Stegman telling the reader this, as Level chooses a close and wide framed panel with a high angle vantage point to pose Spiderling’s reaction. All three of these things mask her body language – something that’s important when emoting a character who wears a half-mask like Spiderling.
However, Level’s draws aggression well, and this issue contains quite a bit of it. Fans of stories where Spider-Man takes off the kid gloves, such as “Back in Black” and “Grim Hunt,” will be pleased to know that the tradition of a silent, no jokes Spider-Man being terrifying is alive and well in ASM:RYV #11. Colorist Jesus Aburtov even colors in Spider-Man’s eye lenses with a faint red, giving the character literal menace in his eyes. Spider-Man busting up yet another version of the Bar with No Name when he needs an emotional release is slightly old-hat, but the sequence of him pouncing and assaulting Rhino makes this sequence work by adding a tangible goal to the end of Spider-Man’s rampage. It also echos back to the first volume’s battle between Spider-Man and Venom (and Superior Spider-Man #1) – giving extra oomf to Spider-Man’s threat that he won’t be as forgiving next time.
This issue also gives us confirmation that MJ still has the symbiote and currently has it “under control.” It doesn’t take an encyclopedic knowledge of Venom to know how little that actually means, and this is reflected twice in the story, once through dialogue and another time through the art. Whether or not this is lip service or will play into the climax of the story is to be determined, but MJ is back to her original costume on the cover of ASM:RYV #13, despite the gruesome scene in Oscorp’s boardroom. Spinneret’s rampage seems a little redundant when compared to Spider-Man’s as both characters come from the same space emotionally but Spinneret’s sequence comes second and doesn’t really do anything to show any difference between the two characters, though it does move the plot forward.
In the end we’re given a big splash panel of a massive Green Goblin mech rising up from the Oscorp building. As someone who digs giant robots (don’t we all dig giant robots?), I couldn’t be more elated. However, I am a little wary on the quantity of plot threads left dangling. It’s a lot for one issue – we’re going to have the fallout of Ms. January’s betrayal, a big battle, the conclusion of the Normie plot line, the symbiote will most likely get addressed, and hopefully some sort of conclusion that paves the way for the 8 year time skip, all in one regular-sized issue. Stegman has yet to deliver a disappointing issue since he’s taken over writing duties, but this last issue looks like it’s going to be packed tightly.
Ultimately this issue is a little lopsided, but still enjoyable. Normie and Spiderling’s exchanges didn’t really click for me, so I hope that their conversation isn’t something that an event in the final issue hinges on. However, Spider-Man and Spinneret’s reactions and the rendering of those actions made up for the weaker B-plot.