A Spectacular Masterpiece: ‘Spider-Man Life Story’

Eric Warner   Staff Writer

On Aug. 28, the final issue of the six-issue miniseries, “Spider-Man: Life Story” by Chip Zdarsky and artist Mark Bagley was released. The comic is another fantastic take on the amazing web slinger from Marvel Comics but in this story, readers will see not just one time period of Peter Parker’s life but all 57 years of the character’s existence. Most comic book characters don’t actually age within their stories. For example, despite Superman being created in 1939, readers will still see the Man of Steel depicted as roughly a 30-year-old man in comics today; the same is true for many Marvel characters. This story looks at the Spider-Man character and asks how would his groundbreaking stories act out if he aged like many of his original readers did throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the beginning of the 21st.

Questions such as how Spider-Man and his super heroic world react to the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and 9/11 are all answered in each issue by focusing on particular decades of Spider-Man’s publishing history. The comic starts in the ‘60s, since that’s when Amazing Fantasy #15 first came out, and ends in the 2010s. These issues also reimagined particular storylines from those decades to determine how they would pan out if the Marvel Universe aged naturally. From Flash Thompson’s enlistment into the military to the infamous ‘90s Clone Saga, this story celebrates and refines these medium shattering tales.

The story, despite taking place in a comic book universe, is very much based in reality. People go through many important and traumatic events in their life and those experiences shap who they are. As we age, our desires, our dreams, and our aspirations change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Old friends begin to turn into people we no longer recognize or move on to other avenues. Ideals and beliefs are constantly challenged as we grow into beings our childhood selves could never imagine. This book illustrates the one thing that we all must do to get through these stressful times: hope. Hope that no matter what happens, no matter the obstacles we face, no matter the nightmares that haunt us, the world will be a good place. We must work to make the world that hope-filled place if not for ourselves but for everyone else. That is what makes Spider-Man such a captivating character for all these years. That despite the crazy world he lives in and despite his amazing powers, at his core Spider-Man is human just as everyone of us. Nobody is perfect and we all have our good times and bad but despite this crazy world we live in, we’re all trying to make it a better place. We are all heroes of our own stories.

This book may be a bit confusing to those who don’t read Spider-Man comics or comics in general but its theme is still conveyed exceptionally well for a story that is told over fifty years thanks to Zdarsky’s writing and Bagley’s art. Everyone should read this comic because it’s without a doubt, the best Spider-Man story of the 21st Century. At least for now…

“Spider-Man: Life Story” will be collected in trade paperback format on Nov. 5 later this year.

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