Spider-Man: Life Story #2 // Review
Spider-Man’s appeal has always been as the everyman hero; the one with real problems, like rent and dating and family life. Despite the exhortations of his sometimes antagonists, though, Peter Parker has never been a complete drag...until now.
Maintaining the structure and concept of the first issue, Spider-Man: Life Story #2 takes place in a version of the Marvel Universe where time passes normally, the heroes age, and the characters affect (and are affected by) real-world events in a way that they never could be in the traditional serialized stories of the mainstream comics. This issue is set primarily in 1977, and finds a 30-year-old Peter married to Gwen Stacy, working for Reed Richards, and somehow feeling responsible for Flash Thompson’s death on the front lines of the Vietnam War.
Writer Chip Zdarsky has little room for levity in this grim tale. Where the first issue captured the 1960s in clear terms, this issue could almost be set anytime (a few awkward disco references aside). Instead of an exploration of the 1970s, Zdarsky gives us a relentlessly dour tale of Spider-Man failing everyone around him.
Mark Bagley continues his streak as a definitive Spider-Man penciler. It’s clear that Bagley knows these characters well, and it’s fitting to have one of the architects of the original Clone Saga drawing this version as well. Inker Drew Hennessey makes Bagley’s pencils and layouts pop. Frank D’Armata’s colors maintain their sepia tones from the first issue. The lettering by VC’s Travis Lanham helps tell the story cleanly and clearly.
Overall, the art in this issue is well-done. It’s a shame, then, that it’s in service of a story so persistent in its misery. Here’s hoping that future issues of this series include the type of brightness and humor that audiences have come to love about the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.