COMICS RETROSPECTIVE: "Spider-Man: Life Story:" What if Peter Parker aged these past 6 decades?
Spider-Man: Life Story - Issues 1-6 (2019), by Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley.
I've never been a huge Spider-Man fan. Sure, I've dabbled in some stories here and there. I loved the Venom Saga in The Amazing Spider-Man #298-301, Spiderman/Deadpool, and Spider-Man: Blue...none of them really conventional Spidey stories. I didn't grow up on Spider-Man, but everyone has their favorite era. Whether it be the early years with Ditko/Lee, the McFarlane years and the Venom spin-off series, Ben Reilly and his Spider-Man, or even now with Miles Morales. But when I see Chip Zdarsky's name on a title, I tend to at least open it. Zdarsky made Daredevil cool in the same way Miller did so many years ago, so I figured I'd give it a shot. And I was not disappointed.
The series takes place throughout 6 decades: the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, and even more recently. You have to have some familiarity with Spider-Man lore to grasp the whole picture of some of the stories, as from what I've seen, Zdarsky takes some liberties in combining stories/ideas. We're taken through Peter Parker's life in his early years as the Web-Slinger through his days with Gwen Stacy, then Mary Jane, and up to mentoring the newest Spider-Man, Miles Morales. As with most Spider-Man stories, there are themes of guilt (over not saving his uncle), love won and lost (with Gwen and MJ), and ethics "with great power comes great responsibility" as both a moral code and as a detriment to Peter's life, when it comes to balancing family and work.
Zdarsky tells the story so smoothly that the decades fly by. In recent years, we've seen a somewhat aged Peter, but Life Story really follows what it'd be like if Parker actually aged with the times. This makes it more visceral, more grounded in reality. There are also themes from the real world embedded within the book that don't seem so... comic-booky: The Vietnam War and its toll on humanity and superhumans, for example. Zdarsky also makes Tony Stark more of an ass than usual, and that's just funny. By the end, I felt satisfied with where the story had gone, and it was really rewarding to see Peter both grow up and grow old, imparting wisdom, and learning himself along the way.
I may not be a huge Spidey fan, but I know Mark Bagley is one of the most revered artists of the character. He did not disappoint on this title. Gut-punching action scenes, emotional faces, and great use of space. There's a reason he's well-loved, and this book showcases it.
I can't recommend this book enough. If you're a fan of Spider-Man, Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley, or good superhero stories, you need to pick this up.
You can find copies of Spider-Man: Life Story by Marvel Comics at Amazon, comixology.com, and of course, at your Local Comic Shop.