Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Review: SPIDER-MAN: Life Story #1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Chip Zdarsky
PENCILS: Mark Bagley
INKS: John Dell
COLORS: Frank D'Armata
LETTERS: Travis Lanham
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Akira Yoshida a.k.a. C.B. Cebulski
COVER: Chip Zdarsky
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Marcos Martin; Greg Smallwood; Skottie Young
36pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (May 2019)

Rated  “T”

Spider-Man created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee

Spider-Man is the classic Marvel Comics superhero that readers first met in Amazing Fantasy #15 (cover dated: August 1962).  The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (cover date: March 1963) was the beginning of the first Spider-Man title, as we followed his adventures and his secret life as a teenager and high school student named Peter Parker.  Over the years, a legion of Spider-Man writers depicted Peter Parker graduating from high school, going to college, becoming a college graduate student, a working stiff, a freelancer, an employee, etc.

Spider-Man: Life Story is a new comic book miniseries tells the story of Peter Parker and Spider-Man in real time, depicting his life from beginning to end.  Spider-Man: Life Story is written by Chip Zdarsky; drawn by Mark Bagley (pencils) and John Dell (inker); colored by Frank D'Armata; and letterer Travis Lanham.  “Life Story” is set against the events of the decades through which Spider-Man has lived.  The conceit of this series is as follows (as described by Marvel Comics:

In 1962, in Amazing Fantasy #15, 15-year-old Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and became the Amazing Spider-Man! Fifty-seven years have passed in the real world since that event - so what would have happened if the same amount of time passed for Peter as well?

Spider-Man: Life Story #1 opens in 1966, four years after the events depicted in Amazing Fantasy #15.  Peter has one left year in college, but that is not all that is on his mind.  He has money woes, and as more young men his age are drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, Peter starts to wonder if Spider-Man should also serve in the conflict.  As his old rival, Flash Thompson, prepares to leave for Vietnam, Peter really starts to weigh the question of where his responsibility truly lies.  Meanwhile, a dangerous foe reappears, threatening Spider-Man's secrets.

Spider-Man: Life Story #1 is just the kind of first issue with which a prestige or “high-end” miniseries should open.  This is the kind of wonderful read that will make readers come back for the second issue.  Simply put, it is quite well written by Chip Zdarsky, who is proving to be a writer with classic storytelling chops.  What I mean by that is that Zdarsky focuses on spinning comic book yarns (1) that are true to the core of the characters, (2) that have successful superhero action scenes, and (3) that also have a modern sensibility.  In this way, Zdarsky's Spider-Man: Life Story #1 reminds me of Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (cover dated:  October 2000), a modern take on Spider-Man that had a classic Spider-Man sensibility.

Another reason that I am reminded of Ultimate Spider-Man is that the penciler of Spider-Man: Life Story #1 is Mark Bagley, who was the long-time artist on Ultimate Spider-Man, drawing just under 120 issues.  Bagley is a consummate superhero comic book artist, whose storytelling is straightforward.  His graphic style is not overly stylish, but, once again, his art looks like classic superhero comic book art from the 1960s and 1970s.

I thought I might like Spider-Man: Life Story #1, but I often only read the first issue of a miniseries even when I like it enough to be interested in future issues.  I plan to read more Spider-Man: Life Story, and I am eagerly awaiting that second issue.

8.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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