Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art Team: Mark Bagley, John Dell, Frank D’Armata
Release Date: March 20, 2019
Cover Price: $4.99
Hand up, I admit I was far from the biggest fan of Chip Zdarsky’s run on Spider-Man when he was penning the Spectacular series the last couple years. I just didn’t find ‘his voice’ to be a great fit for the character in general. With that being said the concept of Spider-Man: Life Story seemed intriguing enough for me to give it a shot, despite my reservations about the writer and character match up, so here we are visiting Spider-Man in the 60’s. Lets get right into the first issue and see what twists and turns are in store for everyone invested and how it all turns out.
The issue begins with some basic Spider-Man setup, placing our story in the year of 1966, with Spider-Man in college and quickly establishing the regular crew Peter runs with (Osborn’s, Gwen, Flash, Aunt May, etc). War is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, as Vietnam rages on with people taking a stance on both sides of the issue, and the topic even beginning to weigh on Spider-Man’s mind. Is part of Peter/Spideys responsibility to help the country in a time of battle? It’s the question that plagues the reader throughout the issue too … I still cant decide!!!!
Other than war of course there are some interesting twists at play here to the typical Spider-Man continuity, which do a good job of mixing things up for long time Spidey fans, in my opinion keeping the reader on their toes with more subtle clues than outright obvious changes. For example Flash goes off to the Vietnam War, Peter seems a little more ballsy than his usual more timid self, and there’s even a big twist at the end involving the Goblin and Gwen. However the question remains are these events going to be just footnotes of things that happened differently in each decade then cast away next issue? Or will we get to see how these events play out, now that they’ve changed, over the different time periods going forward? All that’s yet to be determined but I’m here and excited to find out hoping to see how maybe Peter’s life would have been different now that Gwen possibly sticks around.
By the end, things take a bit of a strange twist because Captain America becomes the more interesting character to deal with, despite the book being a Spider-Man title. After a quick team-up battle, a chat between the two brings some light to what Spider-Man chooses to do going forward, however it’s the choices Cap makes and the shocking cliffhanger at the conclusion to this issue that steal the show. Its a shame next issue immediately jumps into the 70’s, because I would love to just resume next issue where we leave off here, and not be left to find out what happens through recap or narration.
I liked Spider-Man: Life Story enough for what we were given, I dont want to pick on it too much, however the pacing at this point feels a bit stuck between what a normal comic would typically be like, and something similar to what Ed Piskor is doing with X-Men Grand Design (which I love and recommend by the way). By not committing to either ‘style’ per se it seems to be lacking all it could truly be. I also feel like the issue promised more of the 60’s than what we were truly given as the events being spotlighted here really only took place over one years time. I would have preferred possibly a wider range of events from the time period to happen throughout the issue and not have such a singular focus on the one most popular hot topic.
The art by Bagley, Dell, and D’Armata really looks great and the backgrounds, advertisements, and character designs do an excellent job at capturing the time period the story takes place in. It will be really interesting to see the creative team go through the different decades when everything is all said and done. If anything could see said to determent of the style at play, its that it would have been nice to mimic the art style from that decade the comic is from, but personally it’s always difficult to turn down Bagley Spider-Man art.
As a whole, Spider-Man: Life Story is a good initial effort for the mini series, however doesn’t truly explore the time period to the fullest extent it maybe should have, instead focusing on just one singular event. The twists and turns do a good job keeping any Spider-Man fan on their toes though and I really am excited to see how these differences play out over the next issues going forward. Some good work, that has room for improvement, but still has me looking forward to next issue.