Spider-Man: Life Story: A Love Letter to the fans of the Web-Slinger

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Spider-Man is someone I haven’t gone into full detail about in any of my blogs. However,  he is one of the most timeless characters out there, and it couldn’t be expressed more than in the novel: Spider-Man: Life Story. The novel integrates Spider-Mans timeline into a fully fledged biography of the character in a realistic scenario if Spider-Man aged with the comics. It is incredibly detailed, taking inspiration from dozens of comics to give us a near perfect representation of Peter Parker’s life. Spider-Man’s relationship with his rogues’ gallery changes due to this certain setting, leading many of the characters into heroism at some point in the timeline. Doc Ock works with Richard Reeds and Peter Parker at the beginning of this novel and later becomes the notorious super-villain that we all adore and love, Peter’s love story is a convoluted mess switching between that of Gwen and Mary Jane, and Peter struggles with everything in his personal life, so basically every other Spider-Man story. We get sent off on to different periods of time as well ranging from the Cold War to 9/11, and then to the present day. Many famous graphic novels are also interpreted into this book with Kraven’s Last Hunt, Civil War, and the Clone Saga playing a key role. The characters throughout the book evolve with the narrative receiving plenty of character developments like the ones discussed above. Something that I found quite intriguing was how the authors were able to bunch up all of these stories into one single book giving any beginner to the Spider-Man franchise a nice start to his comic franchise. I strongly believe that this book is supposed to be a celebration of the character and how he has inspired so many people throughout the century, yes it’s almost been that long. The authors of this book are critically acclaimed with plenty of awards and several works in the Spider-Man franchise; Here are their stories.

BEHIND THE AUTHORS

Steve Murry is the limelight of this book being the main force of power in writing and publishing. Steve Murry after growing up in Barrie, Ontario, illustrated for plenty of big publishing companies before creating his pseudonym, Chip Zdarsky, for his independent projects. He will later collaborate with Dark Horse comics in the series Royal Rumble and Fierce. He has won plenty of awards from 2014 and beyond with the 2014 Harvey Award – Best New Series (Sex Criminals), 2015 Harvey Award – Special Award For Humor (Sex Criminals) (rejected by winner), 2017 War Rocket Ajax Intercontinental Championship, 2019 Eisner Award – Best Single Issue/One-Shot (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #310), 2019 Shuster Award – Best Writer (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-in-One), and the 2020 Eisner Award – Best Digital Comic (Afterlift, with artist Jason Loo). With a bountiful amount of awards, you are presuming that his comics should be, to say the least, incredible; and you are absolutely right. Murray is most prominent for his work on the Sex Criminals franchise originating from 2013 and continuing to this day. His most notable works consist of Sex Criminals (2013-2020), Howard the Duck (2015-2016), Jughead (2015-2017), Star-Lord (2018), Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2018), and Spider-man: Life Story (2019). Post Life Story he has done Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky (2019-2020), Always an Invader (2020), and Empyre: Lords of Empyre (2020). Steve Murry has stated in one of his interviews that the persona of Chip Zdarsky that he indulges himself in is “an idiot who doesn’t know what I’m doing. I’ve had no success in my life. No matter what, I’m going to mess things up.” To Steve Murry, I believe his real identity is just a facade for what really lies beneath, his passion for comic books and the fanbase dedicated to them.

Mark Bagley (the illustrator for Spider-man: Life Story) was raised in a military family with a talent for illustrating. He studied art at Ringling College of Art and Design. For the majority of his life, he desired to be a comic book artist, trying many times to get into the industry but failing every step of the way. He began working for a construction site until he acquired a severe leg injury caused by a hand-saw. On account of this, he did technical drawings for Lockhead Martin. Soon after, being persuaded by his friend, he reluctantly participated in a comic book contest at Marvel. The 1st place prize for the contest was a job at the company. He, of course, won 1st place. He worked for plenty of other publishers for certain periods of time but later stuck with his original placement at Marvel for reasons unknown. He has mainly been involved with several of the Spider-Man runs including, but not limited to, The Amazing Spider-man (1991), Ultimate Spider-man: Irresponsible (2000),  Ultimate Spider-man (2008), Spider-man: The Vengeance of Venom (2011), Ultimate Six (2011), and The Death of Spider-man (2014); I have a feeling he likes playing favorites with what heroes he works on. He did other comic runs for  Ultimatum: Requiem (2009), Trinity (2008-2016), Fear Itself: The Fearless (2012), and Deadpool: Assassin (2018). Bagley is a very acclaimed illustrator with his simple, yet intriguing, character illustrations and panels.

SYNOPSIS

If you want the full experience of this book I suggest you buy the graphic novel and read it, If however, you don’t have the time for that this is an alternate option.

Spider-man Life Story is a summary of all the key events that happened throughout Spider-Man’s life from Kraven’s Last Hunt to the Clone Saga. The novel starts in Peter’s early years as the Web-Slinger in 1966, donning the classic suit and struggling with his decision to enlist into the Vietnam War with several heroes who are defending their country overseas. We are introduced to several of Peter’s friends including Harry Osborn; Gwen Stacy; Mary Jane; and Flash during his farewell party. Flash confesses to Peter the reason why he wants to defend his country: to be more like Spider-Man and save people. It constructs quite a predicament as Peter isn’t thinking about going overseas on account of his duties in the city being their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  He excuses himself to the bar where he contemplates Flash’s decision, “Is Flash really going because of me? I mean he’d go anyway if Spider-man didn’t exist, right?” Norman Osborn (head of Oscorp and Father of Harry) interrupts Peter’s rumination, telling him that he knows of Peter’s second identity. Peter, in complete shock and bewilderment, tries to backtrack Norman’s statement but Norman continues pressuring him stating that he has 10 pumpkin bombs spread through the party that will detonate if anyone tries to alert everyone or deactivate them. Norman commands Peter to meet him outside where Peter obliges without a choice. Norman dons his suit as the Green Goblin and tosses around Peter from rooftop to rooftop, blowing up a building in the process with both of them in it. Peter escapes the explosion but Norman is severely injured, spawning a coma causing him to forget all the evil deeds he has done, very coincidental if you ask me. Spider-Man later confronts Captain America about his problem hoping to find an answer, where Cap is equally at standpoint, finally deciding to go but not knowing what he is fighting for. After a short while, Peter tips the police of Norman’s secret life as the Green Goblin, putting Norman behind bars with him not knowing what he did. Peter rushes to the airport hoping to say farewell to Flash when he arrives too late. Gwen confronts him about it and soon identifies the spider logo underneath Peter’s dress shirt, revealing to her that he is Spider-Man

` 1978, a time of prosperity during the cataclysmic Vietnam War. Flash Thompson- a good friend of Peter Parker- was fatally injured in the war, and Captain America, a fugitive of the war, trying to make the country a better place from the monstrosities shown in Vietnam. The marriage of Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker happened between these two time periods along with Peter being employed by Reed Richards and Otto Octavious (The husband of May Parker and former supervillain, Doc Ock). Peter and Reed debate the ways they can help stop the war using their geniuses while Reed counterclaims with the statement that the war is still ongoing on account of Iron-Man and his “Iron Lackey”. Harry visits his incapacitated father in prison to discuss a very secretive plan, possibly foreshadowing the return of the green goblin being donned by Harry himself. Gwen still continues her work at Scipro-Genius with Professor Warren who is a good friend to both Peter and Gwen. Peter picks Gwen up to go home when he gets offered a job from Warren that he politely declines. Peter goes to an old friend’s party at studio 34 where he and Mary Jane Watson get into a heated debate about Peter’s egotistical behavior. MJ blatantly reveals to Parker that she has known that he’s Spider-Man ever since she was 14. Peter runs away in a disgruntled manner knowing that one of his closest friends never told him about this. Peter and Reed Richards get into another argument about what they are exactly doing with their ingenious tech that they aren’t producing to the mass population. Norman calls Harry if he is “ready” to go on with their plan, building up to the climactic battle of this chapter. Harry Osborn, in a black green goblin suit, confronts Dr. Warren about him and Harry’s father’s business dealings. Spider-Man in quick haste tries to calm down the situation as Gwen is in the crossfire. Harry blows up a section of the premises when it is revealed that Warren is cloning Norman, Gwen, and Parker. Harry, furious knowing that his father wanted Parker as his heir, tries to kill Peter showing that Harry also knows of Peter’s spider secret. At the end of the battle, Harry blows up the clones. Peter could only save the Peter clone in which Professor Warren reveals that the real Gwen was posing as a clone in the chambers, divulging that Gwen was a clone this entire time. The aftermath of this confrontation leads to Gwen and Peter’s clone marrying, changing their names to Ben and Helen Parker, leaving Peter and Mary Jane to form their relationship together.

Mary Jane, pregnant with Peter’s child is left alone with Aunt May- who is now senile- as Peter is stuck in a battle orchestrated by two god-like beings. Struggling with the thought that Mary Jane will bear his children without being there to witness it, he tries to find an escape route when he comes across the symbiote suit. He uses the symbiote suit to come back home to a paranoid and scared Mary Jane who was left alone with Peter’s children and his gravely old aunt. MJ explains to Peter what has happened while he was gone, with the Cold War ending in a nuke, obliterating Allentown, Pennsylvania. Peter founded Parker Industries with the help of his long lost mentor, Reed Richards. They investigate the nuclear zone that is a barren wasteland of once a beautiful area lush with civilization. Reed confronts Peter about his antics with the symbiote suit and how it might be affecting him as an imposter rampages the streets killing petty thieves. MJ tries to put Aunt May into a senior home for her own health as Peter quickly declines it. He leaves the household for some air when he is assaulted by the imposter, who is Kraven the Hunter. The ambush ends in Peter being savagely murdered and exhumed alive. The symbiote reaches Peter as he claws his way out of the grave; This is a quick nod to the same event in Kraven’s Last Hunt. He attacks Kraven showing the symbiote’s true colors as venom. MJ quickly incapacitates Peter to prevent him from killing Kraven. At the end of the issue, Aunt May is put in a seniors home as Peter struggles to figure out what he should do. Kraven, who is dying of cancer, gives out a somber monologue as he failed to kill Spider-Man, attempting to kill himself before the symbiote took control.

This next issue takes place in the ’90s, in which Ben Reily gets taken hostage by a new Doc Ock, after the death of Aunt May Otto went insane and back to his evil doings. Peter, a global entrepreneur, and CEO of Parker Industries is offered a business agreement with Tony Stark to sell his company to Stark. Peter refuses with Tony barging out in a frustrated manner. On his daily routine as Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus later knocks Peter unconscious to take to a laboratory for some unknown reason. Peter wakes up in Otto’s lair where he notices Ben Reily on the opposite side. Otto reveals that his plan is to use the cloning technology to implant himself into a superior clone. This is where we see that Peter was the clone the whole time! Ben Reily was tricked into believing that he was the clone when in reality he was the original Peter Parker. Furious, Ben assaults Otto and leads to the death of Harry Osborn who sacrificed his life to save Peter from Otto’s tentacles, closing the plot point for good with Otto falling off of the skyscraper. Ben and Peter meet up in the aftermath of the event to sort things out; Ben will take on Peter’s life as Spider-man and CEO of Parker Industries as Peter goes on to live with Mary Jane and his family far away from all the madness. When Ben leaves Peter using a source determines Norman Osborn’s location to tell him that his plan failed. Norman hears of his son’s death and quickly tries to apprehend Peter until he has a heart attack and fatefully dies in Peter’s arms, paralleling that of Harry’s death. Peter goes to his mansion of a home to see his children and his wife to finally live “peacefully”.

Ben Reily, a man of great responsibility and diligence, dies at the hands of Morlun in the year of 2006. Peter and his children have matured over the decade at the household out in the forest, but this was no time for resting. Peter takes full responsibility for the death of his brother; but he couldn’t let his death be in vain, he needs to stop Morlun. Tony Stark gets word of the death of Ben Reily, who has taken Peter’s identity for the last couple of years and is sent into bewilderment. Peter comes back to New York to explain the situation and take control of Parker Industries. Tony confronts Peter at the front of Parker Industries who is trying to persuade him to join Iron Man’s cause to defend the country on the side of law and justice. Peter declines the offer and gets sent into the middle of a fatal battle between Captain America and Iron Man, referencing heavily to the Civil War event in the comics. During this affray, Morlun, instead of going after Peter as he planned, ambushed the Parker household in a fight to the death with Peter’s children, both fully matured with Spider powers. These two battles take up the rest of the issue with Morlun dying after severely injuring Peter’s son, Benjy, and Peter trying to calm down the situation between the two monoliths of super-heroism. At the end of the ongoing conflict, Peter and Cap team up to make the world a better place before they can finally rest.

“I’ve been having the same dream lately. Of the day Uncle Ben died. The day I let the robber get away. It’s so real. But the feeling is different this time.” The conclusion of this biography of Peter Parker’s life takes place in the modern-day year of 2019 (it was the year this book was published). Peter, an old man, teams up with Miles, his successor, to implode one of Dr. Doom’s space ships to “save the world”. It’s your very typical superhero situation but this time it’s somewhat different. Onboard the spaceship, Peter gets surprised by Krave, now fully engulfed in the symbiote, becoming a monstrosity of the man he once was. After the battle, the biggest plot twist of this book is revealed, that Otto Octavious has taken control of Miles’ mind; replacing him with a more “superior Spider-Man”. Otto and Peter fight in a battle of the minds until Peter brings in a figment of Aunt May into his imagination. Otto, mourning the loss of his wife – Aunt May – for years is thrown into confusion and mixed emotions in what he was trying to accomplish. The space ship quickly falls apart as Peter takes Miles’ body out into the last escape pod. He tries to hold the spaceship together until its impending doom when he slowly closes his eyes and imagines himself and Mary Jane laying together discussing what would happen in the future when Peter is gone. His final words to her before his death was “You’re my heart Mary Jane Watson. You’re my Jackpot.” The ship explodes with Spider-Man’s legacy being passed down to that of Miles, concluding Peter’s life story. “MJ, look I know dreams are boring, but I keep having this one. It’s the day Uncle Ben died. The day I let his killer get away. It’s…so real, MJ. It’s like I’m there again. And yes, I know what you’re going to say. But this isn’t me beating myself up again like always. It’s different this time. It’s a good dream.” 

FINAL THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSION

Spider-Man: Life Story is an epic tale of Spider-Man’s adventures throughout his life from the Vietnam War to the Clone Saga. It is, to me, a celebration of all that Spider-man’s character is. The last issue gave me goosebumps, showing the reader how Peter has evolved through the story, achieving a sense of certainty in what he would’ve done if he was put in the same situation that he encountered several decades ago, letting the killer of Uncle Ben get away. I gained a sense of pride in Peter Parker; this character that we all have cherished for nearly a century is finally conveyed correctly. We have seen Spider-Man mistreated so blatantly over the years with several comic runs savagely destroying all that the character stood for. Whenever I thought of Spider-Man I thought of anyone, the purpose of Spider-Man is that it could be anyone under that mask. Peter never makes the right choice and sometimes is in the wrong, but that is intentional. We can never relate to a character that is always in the right, no one does the right thing all the time. Peter is a normal guy struggling with the heavy toll and responsibility that is put upon him, Peter is a representation of all of us. The art in this Comic is phenomenal with bold yet colorful panels contrasting that of the dark and realistic storytelling. Overall, Spider-Man: Life Story is a culmination of all of Spider-Man’s greatest classics constructed into one gripping biography of the web-slinger himself. Spider-Man: Life Story deserves a 8/10 for proving to be one of the greats in Spider-Man’s library and one of the best runs in modern Marvel publication.

WORKS CITED

These images were used from Spider-Man: Life Story (2019) Marvel, Mark Bagley & Chip Zdarksky

“Chip Zdarsky.” Marvel.com, 2016, http://www.marvel.com/comics/creators/12494/chip_zdarsky. Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.

“Chip Zdarsky.” Image Comics, 2020, imagecomics.com/creators/chip-zdarsky. Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.

“Spider-Man.” Goodreads.com, 2015, http://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/44286872-spider-man. Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.

1 comments on “Spider-Man: Life Story: A Love Letter to the fans of the Web-Slinger”

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