Spider-Man: Life Story is an attempt on the part of Chip Zdarsky to present a true beginning-to-end story of the web-slinger as the character ages in real time from the 1960s onward.
I thought this was a great idea. Comic book characters are essentially immortal (unless you’re killing them off to sell books) and timeless, so an attempt to place just one iconic superhero into a limited timeline while also trying to hit all the big moments in that character’s over fifty year history is a big task to say the least. Also, because Chip isn’t handcuffed by being part of a main series, he can play around with how each of those aforementioned big moments unfurl but only does so just enough that long-time fans of the series can still be caught off guard.
The book collects all six issues of the original Life Story series with each issue focusing on a single decade. The book starts off strong with the majority of the content being stories that even a passing Spider-Man fan would be familiar with. At one point, I even said out-loud to myself while reading, “This is great!” But as the timeline moves into the 2000s and beyond, I started to feel my interest wane. I’m not overly familiar with the modern era of Spider-Man and much of the current stuff felt too busy and unfocused with Spider-Man running a company and flying to outer space as an older man.
Much of the art by Mark Bagley is excellent and well worth the price of admission. The collection keeps the original covers for each single issue and the one used for the 70s was so good I’d love to blow it up and hang it on my wall. Bagley isn’t new to Spidey, so going with an established artist familiar with the character was a great choice.
From someone who is a huge fan of the Spider-Man character, but not so much well-versed in the web-slinger’s comic world, I recommend checking this out. Those who have followed more recent Spider-Man history may get more out of it than I did in the last third of the book.