Spider-Man: Life Story #1
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Penciller: Mark Bagley
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Nico Sprezzatura
If I were to guess the elevator pitch of Spider-Man: Life Story, it’d likely be along the lines of “What if Spider-Man aged in real time?” Each installment of the six-issue title, which begins in 1967, will progress with Peter Parker getting older through the decades as though the floating timeline of comics didn’t exist. Because Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s oldest (and most prominent) characters, he’s uniquely suited to such a premise, which makes Life Story a fascinating novelty of a thing. And thankfully, the talent involved here keeps the comic from being exactly that: just a novelty.
The thing about Life Story is that the events depicted within almost don’t matter, because it’s mostly covering ground we’ve seen before in Spider-Man lore; it’s really the plot device at play here that makes the title interesting. Issue one doesn’t really do anything “new” with the material (it’s early Spider-Man set in the sixties, after all) but it’ll be very interesting to see how the real-time mechanic functions in upcoming issues. For example, issue two (The Seventies) will likely cover “The Death of Gwen Stacy,” which technically occurred in that decade, but still very early in Peter’s life. How would the tragic death of his partner affect a twenty/thirty-something Peter, as opposed to one who’s still in his late teens or early twenties? The last issue will presumably be set in our current decade, meaning we’ll see a sixty-something Peter Parker interact with the world around him, and that’s an entirely new angle to explore.
(I’d also really like to see the Life Story banner applied to other characters in the Marvel Universe. We get some of that here with the likes of Captain America and Iron Man, but I’d also be very interested in following the Fantastic Four with this real-time aging aspect. For example: Franklin Richards, the eldest child of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman, should be approaching his fifties by now, but was only recently SORAS’d into a teenager!)
As a big fan of Zdarsky’s in general, but particularly his recent run on Spectacular Spider-Man, I can’t think of anyone better for the job at hand. While he’s commonly associated with his more humorous works (e.g. Howard the Duck, Sex Criminals), Zdarsky also excels in the kind of wistful, thoughtful tone that Life Story occupies. His script isn’t “funny,” but it’s obviously not trying to be; it’s also going to be very nostalgic for some.
Iconic Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley joins Zdarsky as penciller here, and I’d argue he’s just as crucial to the book’s success. His classic style handily lends itself to the premise of the book, which gives it a “classic” feel that contrasts Zadarsky’s more modern sensibilities. Inker John Dell’s inks and Frank D’Armata’s colors also help Bagley’s work feel simultaneously old and new, which is the balance Life Story seemingly wants to hit.
The Verdict: Buy it.
For fans of the famed web-slinger, Spider-Man: Life Story #1 spins familiar events into exciting new territory with an intriguing plot device: time.