SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 / Writer: Chip Zdarsky/ Penciller: Mark Bagley / Inker: John Dell / Colorist: Frank D’Amarta / Letterer: Travis Lanham / Publisher: Marvel / Release Date: March 20th, 2019
“Change is a constant.” This is an inescapable fact of life, but when it comes to fiction that rule is often broken, especially when it comes to comics. Characters have had their origins altered or retold countless times in an effort to keep readers engaged. With the first issue of Spider-Man: Life Story, Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley break the cycle by asking the simple question, “What would happen if Peter Parker aged in real time?”
Set in 1966 (four years after the debut of Amazing Fantasy #15), Life Story #1 opens with the usual tropes: Peter is juggling college, a photographer job at the Daily Bugle, and superhero duties, not to mention caring for his ailing Aunt May. The looming specter of the Vietman War forces him to reconsider his mantra of great power and great responsibility, especially when other heroes like Captain America and Iron Man join the fight.
Zdarsky and Bagley are no strangers to Spider-Man, as they have separately written and drawn the web-slinger in previous projects. With this miniseries, they add a new dimension to Peter as his worries are grounded in a historical context. Most of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam were teenagers, and many of them never returned home; you can feel the worry radiating off of Peter as he thinks about how he won’t be able to take care of Aunt May or tell Gwen Stacy how he feels.
Zdarsky layers his script with just the right amount of heroic fisticuffs and human drama; neither outweighs the other. Bagley continues to show why he is one of the best Spider-Man artists around – his take on Peter, Gwen, Norman Osborn and other characters look exactly as I always envisioned them, and a fight between Spidey and the Green Goblin crackles with a cinematic flair.
Spider-Man: Life Story is shaping up to be one of the more interesting takes on the Spidey mythos; I can’t wait to see what future issues and upcoming decades have in store for our friendly neighborhood wall crawler.
Final Verdict: 5 out of 5 web shooters. Highly recommended!