[Comic Book Review] Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 (of 6)

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PopCultHQ received a review copy of Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 (of 6) from Marvel Comics. Available March 20th, the creative team for this issue features writing from Chip Zdarsky, pencils from Mark Bagley, inks from John Dell, colors from Frank D’Armata, and lettering from VC’s Travis Lanham.

Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…

Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 (of 6)

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: John Dell

Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Main Cover Artist: Chip Zdarsky

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?
A special high-end limited series that’s a part of the celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary, SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY combines the talents of Chip Zdarsky (SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, MARVEL 2-IN-ONE) and Mark Bagley (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN) to tell the entire history of Spider-Man from beginning to end, set against the key events of the decades through which he lived! In this first oversized issue, when Flash Thompson is drafted to serve during the Vietnam War, Spidey must weigh the question of where his responsibility truly lies!

PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 (of 6)

It’s 1966. Peter Parker is free from the tormenting shackles of high school, but not from the grind of adult life. The balancing act of working for his dual-identity is starting to show its strain as Peter’s responsibilities as Spider-Man starts affecting how he lives outside of the mask. If that’s not enough, the war in Vietnam casts a shadow over everything.

Writing:

Chip Zdarsky is in a career-high mode with his body of work right now. Here he mixes the deep-seeded Marvel Universe knowledge of projects like Marvel Two-In-One with his already proven track record on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man. He does justice to the best of Lee and Ditko’s creations on hand, while adding modern depth and altruism to them at the same time. Layering this issue with the Vietnam War themes, and approaching the issues related to it from multiple perspectives, gives this work a real sense of value and meaning. Zdarsky plays so well in the era that it exceeds in transporting us from now right back into another time period, making the events feel as if they’re happening right as we speak. Almost like the recent X-Men: Grand Designs, there are so many details, Easter-eggs, and pleasant surprises packed into this issue it might take multiple reads to really appreciate how much has gone into its writing.

Art:

I love Mark Bagley. While his style hasn’t changed much since his quintessential 90s Spider-Man work, his skill set has progressed and evolved to masterful levels. His visual storytelling prowess, his page layouts, his body language, everything in his tool belt is a finely sharpened tool. All of that is a given. The problem for me is it doesn’t make the most of the 60s setting and in a way that betrays the story a little. It feels more 90s (not in a terrible way) and that takes a little away from the writing. I love seeing most recognizable versions of Spidey and Captain America’s costume, but another artist would have played up the retro feel or at least leaned on it a little harder. Having said that, the action scenes are great and every turn carries the exact amount of weight. All told, it’s a solid book artwise from one of the most reliable artists in the history of comics.

Colors: 

If you’re going to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Marvel, you want someone with Frank D’Armata’s résumé on the job. Spanning eras and including a multitude of guest appearances is bread and butter for a man whose credits include Captain America and Iron Man, a tour of duty on Uncanny X-Men, and Mighty Avengers. D’Armata’s work nicely compliments that of Bagley (and John Dell’s inks) without being too bombastic. Again, this is a very 90s visual style and there maybe could have been more splashes of color to convey the hippie movement and free spirit of the 60s. D’Armata does a great job of getting across the idealist wonder of the New York cityscape and absolutely slays as the Green Goblin runs amuck deeper into the story.

Letters:

This issue is heavy on dialogue, so it’s important to note that Travis Lanham does a superb job of not having the words get in the way of the art. There’s so much dialogue and narration on each panel, yet it’s all very easy to read and distinguish who’s speaking and what’s going on. The effects work acts in solid support to the action much in the same way. Lanham’s work in this issue is a great exercise in balance and giving the reader a dearth of content without ever once becoming overwhelming.

PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:

Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 is more than just a great nostalgia trip. This series looks to be an intelligent journey into the heart of its themes by way of some pure representations of fan-favorite characters. A loving display of what comics are capable of and where they’ve been that manages to feel like it’s being read with a fresh set of eyes. There is action, thought-provoking writing, and everything you love about a conflicted Spider-Man. Bring on the 70s.

PopCultHQ’s Rating:

3.5 out of 5 Stars

PopCultHQ Rating - 3.5 Stars
PopCultHQ Rating – 3.5 Stars

Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1 (of 6)
will be available at your local comic
shop and online retailers Wednesday, March 20th!

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Buy Direct from Marvel Comics!

Be sure to follow the creative team!

Writer – Chip Zdarsky

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Artist – Mark Bagley

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Inker – John Dell

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Colorist – Frank D’Armata

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Letterer – Travis Lanham

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Publisher – Marvel Comics

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