SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 by Chip Zdarsky, Mark Bagley, Drew Hennessy, and Frank D'Armata
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 marks another successful entry of the Marvel miniseries. The writing and art are both amazing -- obvious pun intended. However, I do worry that references to Spider-Man history won’t remain interesting in future issues.
95 %
Impressive Re-Telling
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The SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY miniseries explores an alternate history of the Marvel Universe that ages in real-time. For example, in SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1, Peter Parker wrestles with whether or not it is his responsibility to join the Vietnam War. Thanks to some sage advice from Captain America, Peter decides not to enlist. As a result, SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 takes place ten years later, and follows an older Peter that remains dubious about the extent of his moral responsibilities.

In addition to being drama-filled and thought-provoking, SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 also benefits from beautiful illustrations by Bagley, Drew Hennessy, and Frank D’Armata. (Not to mention terrific lettering by Travis Lanham!) All in all, this issue, like its predecessor, is a work of art.

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

A Lot Happens in SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 takes place in a world where Norman Osborn is institutionalized, and Gwen Stacy knows Peter is Spider-Man. These circumstances lead to Peter and Gwen happily married and working separately on scientific research. Peter maintains a job with Reed Richards and Doctor Octopus, while Gwen works under Professor Miles Warren.

But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. New York remains heavily affected by the Vietnam War. Reed and Peter’s relationship mirrors the division in the rest of the city, and their arguments bring an air of tension to the workplace. Similarly, Peter and Mary Jane still mourn the loss of their close friend, Flash Thompson.

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Flash died three years ago serving his country, and Peter blames himself for Flash’s death. (Peter believes that if he enlisted, he could have saved him.) Though Gwen forgives Peter, Mary Jane doesn’t share her kindness. In reference to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #257, Mary Jane reveals that she knows Peter is Spider-Man, and that him not enlisting disappointed her.

Finally, SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 comes to a tragic conclusion with Peter quitting his job with Reed Richards. Afterward, Peter swings over to Professor Warren’s lab in hopes of finding employment, only to find a Green Goblin copycat attacking Gwen and Warren. There, Professor Warren reveals that he created clones of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, referencing AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149.

Behind the Mask…

Writer Chip Zdarsky continues to impress in SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2. Here, Zdarsky’s character work shines as the drama among Peter’s friends and colleagues takes center stage. It truly seems that his writing improves with every issue.

Additionally, Zdarsky impressively manages to compress a decade’s worth of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comics into one coherent issue. As mentioned before, there are several references to iconic storylines written by Gerry Conway involving Miles Warren, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane. I specifically appreciated a subtle reference to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122 at the end of the issue.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

However, I do worry that references to Spider-Man history won’t remain interesting in future issues. This doubt stems from the recent release of SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN. Similar to SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY, SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN is another great series that revisits the web-slinger’s past. (Albeit, each series does so in very different ways.)

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Spider-Man Life Story #2 Gets the Bagley Boost

I’m not sure how I feel about the new costume Spider-Man wears in this issue. It’s a bit too armored-up for my liking, and I don’t think it meshes well with the time period. That being said, Mark Bagley is up there with Ditko and the Romitas in terms of the greatest Spider-Man artists. This action-packed page from SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 serves as proof of his top-notch panel work and character posing:

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Spider-Man’s movement in the first panel draws your eye towards the first speech bubble in panel two. Then, the smoke from the goblin’s glider swirls around Spider-Man, past the second word balloon, and back up to Spidey’s arm. Lastly, the “TAK” of a goblin bomb guides the reader to Gwen and Warren’s reaction on the last panel, and to the final two word-balloons on the page.

Furthermore, the red in Spider-Man’s costume, which pops against the cool tones of the overall page, highlights all the movement. Ultimately, a page as epic as this one wouldn’t be possible without the help of the entire art team. Bagley, Hennessy, D’Armata, and Lanham all deserve props for their work on SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2.

In Conclusion…

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 marks another successful entry of the Marvel miniseries. The writing and art are both amazing — obvious pun intended. I look forward to seeing how Zdarsky’s tackles the 80s in SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #3, as that is possibly my favorite period of the webhead’s publication history.

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