Spider-Man’s long real-time journey comes to an end in the 2010’s. Now in his 70s, Peter Parker teams up with Miles Morales to head into space to stop Dr. Doom’s nefarious and deadly plans. The web-slinger is never far away from tragedy. It hangs over him like a dark cloud, even in outer space. He’s forced to face his past one more time.
I had an idea of how Spider-Man: Life Story would end. I mean, how else would you conclude a sixty year long story? Peter Parker wasn’t going to die peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his friends and family, despite earning that with all the good deeds he’s done over his life. That being said, I was not prepared for this so by the end of this issue I was practically sobbing. That’s right, folks. Writer Chip Zdarsky nearly made me cry.
One of the core principles of Spider-Man is how he gets back up again and again, regardless of how many times he gets knocked down. He’s like a never-ending version of that Chumbawumba song. Spider-Man: Life Story #6 explores where that strength comes from. What drives Peter to keep pushing himself after getting run over literally and figuratively? More importantly, what makes a hero?
The reason for Peter’s journey into space is a little convoluted, but it’s also completely unnecessary. We’re not reading Spider-Man: Life Story to hear about Dr. Doom’s plans. We’re reading it because of the character study of one of the most popular super heroes in the world. Doom is just a MacGuffin. He’s mentioned, but never actually seen in this issue.
Artist Mark Bagley designs yet another awesome Spider-Man costume for this issue. What I wouldn’t give for a line of Marvel Legends figures spinning out of this series. This one is more like a uniform than a costume, like something a soldier might wear.
The villains also get some nice redesigns, particularly a terrifying Kraven Venom who makes his return here. I like how the mane of the lion’s head vest flows over the familiar massive Venom jaw. Letterer Travis Lanham brings this monster to life with big, bold word balloons. His dialogue feels like a thunder clap in this confined space, shaking your entire body with every word.
The man behind the Spider-Man mask also stands out. There’s a look of determination in Peter Parker’s face with a sly side to it. Yes, he’s doing the right thing by fighting bad guys and saving the world from Dr. Doom, but he’s also very much in his element. With his mask off, you can see how much he likes the super hero life, even though it nearly kills him every chance it gets.
That wear and tear is shown by the wrinkles on his face, highlighted by inker Andrew Hennessy. You can feel his adventures and all the tragedy he’s faced slowing him down, yet he keeps going.
A big part of Spider-Man: Life Story #6 takes place in the mind as Peter wrestles with his past. The background has faded away replaced with a white sheen. Colorist Frank D’Armata gives the characters a strange glow, like the light at the end of the tunnel is illuminating the scene and Peter is fighting to stay away from it.
Spider-Man: Life Story is a beautiful and amazing comic. It’s definitely short-listed for one of my top books of the year. Based on how this turned out, I would not be surprised if we get other comics in the same vein. It’s a fascinating look at the entire history of Spider-Man, weaving together some of his biggest storylines along with real world history without missing a beat. You’d think cramming that much into six issues would be overwhelming, but that’s not the case. What shines through is the incredible character work, giving me yet another reason I list Spider-Man as my favorite super hero.