Spider-Man: Life Story #1-6
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mark Bagley
Cover Art; Chip Zdarsky
I am a huge Spider-Man fan. He is my favorite fictional character from anywhere…not just comic books but movies, TV, literature…everything. So there is a pretty good chance that if you put out a Spider-Man book that I’ll get it.
When you add that it is being written by Chip Zdarsky, who I have become a huge fan of recently- especially his transcendent Peter Parker#310, and is drawn from one of my favorite Spidey artist ever, Mark Bagley, then you know that I am in. Just take my money.
However,looking through the new release comics coming up that week at Marvel.com, I saw that Spider-Man: Life Story #2 was due to be released… and I had not gotten number one yet! So I made sure that I had #2 on my pull list and my comic shop found me a copy of number one. I also missed out on number three.
It was strange that this was happening. So I made a decision. I was quite behind on my reading and there was a pretty large pile of book I needed to get through. I decided that I would hold off on Life Story until after I got all six issues of the limited series. I would sit down and read them all together. It became something to look forward to.
It was tough too because the cover art on each one, which I know now was done by Chip Zdarsky too, really was attractive and beautiful. It made putting this series aside all the more challenging, but I continued to do it.
This week, Spider-Man: Life Story#6 was released. This morning, I sat down with all six issues and read through it.
Actually, it was probably a good thing that I did it the way I did because I did not know that this story was a alternate/non-continuity version of the Spider-Man mythos. If I had known that, it may have affected my desire to buy the series. I am typically not a fan of the alternate reality stories that tell the heroes tale in a different manner. I like What If? but other than that, I have never gravitated to these types of series. Even things like X-Men: Age of Apocalypse never did it for me.
And this was basically What If Time Moved for Spider-Man Like It Does in the Real World? Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider in issue one in 1962 and the final issue takes place in 2019. Peter Parker ages, people die and the world changes. I did not know that at the start.
Issue one was very fascinating as it dealt with the Vietnam War and Peter’s sense of responsibility directed towards it. They dealt with Flash Thompson’s enlistment and how Peter wondered if he should be using his powers in the wake of the war. I thought it was well done (although some of the sixties dialogue, aka ‘bread’ etc, was distracting), but I did not realize until the very end, with the cameo of Captain America, that this series was going in a different direction. And it wasn’t for sure until the beginning of issue #2 when Peter was talking to the grave of Flash that the series was going to take the world of Spider-Man, and the Marvel Universe, into a whole new world.
Life Story takes Peter through most of his most major storylines: from the Green Goblin to the Clone Saga to Secret Wars to Kraven’s Last Stand to Civil War. Each one had parts that were recognizable but were adjusted for the current timeline.
I will say that there were some moments in the middle of the series that Peter Parker felt as if it was not really Peter Parker. I understand that the events around him may have changed him some, but, even doing these kind of series, you need to keep the core part of the character recognizable and Life Story threatened to take Peter too far off the line. However, it was able to navigate the problems well and made it through showing the key components to the character of Peter Parker.
Issue six was a classic Spider-Man story of responsibility and sacrifice, showing that the heart of this character is the same no matter what has happened to him over his lifetime. It was a beautiful conclusion to a series that, at times, I thought felt inconsistent. Perhaps it was more that I was afraid that the different developments was going to turn Peter Parker into someone who I did not know. There were some moments when it felt as if Peter might step over the edge, whether it be with his family or with his enemies, but Peter always pulled himself back before he turned into someone unrecognizable. I was thankful for that.
The series is remarkably written and drawn, but that should not come as a surprise with the masters that were behind Life Story. Chip Zdarsky is quickly becoming a personal favorite and his covers were breathtaking. Mark Bagley’s Peter is iconic and he does not disappoint here either.
Spider-Man is the best hero in the Marvel Universe and it is awesome when a series comes along that helps highlight that. Tony Stark specifically tells Spidey (and Cap) that “you two are the best of us” and I agree completely.