Spider-Man: Life Story #1: The 60’s Review
When Spider-Man made his debut in 1962, Peter Parker was a scrawny 15-year old high school student who had to deal with the weight of the responsibilities that his new powers gave him as well as normal teenager issues like bullies, schoolyard crushes and homework. Over the years Peter has evolved from that early depiction to attend college, graduate, start (and ruin) a tech company and marry the hottest girl in town but he has since settled into a permanent state of thirty-something life. If he had continued to grow older from that first appearance he would now be pushing 73 years of age and may have become quite a different person than the Peter Parker we know and love.
Spider-Man: Life Story is a six-issue limited series which takes a decade-by-decade look at his web-slinging career if he had indeed aged with the times, it is an Elseworlds crossed over with an extended What If? story. Writer Chip Zdarsky takes this opportunity to not only look at what may have happened differently if he aged but also to take on topics that Marvel couldn’t (or wouldn’t) at the time. This first issue is focused on the 60’s and takes the escalating conflict in Vietnam head-on by showing what would have been the thoughts of having the newly revealed super-heroes fight in the conflict.
Not to worry, this isn’t a Watchmen or Injustice style take of the idea of super-heroes at war but rather a look at the conflicts they would have faced at the time. Iron Man heads into the conflict immediately (getting some good media attention in the process), Captain America considers joining another battle after what seemed to him to be a short time from his efforts in WW2 while Spider-Man is torn about helping his Aunt May and his neighborhood and his citizen duty to fight. Chip does not present these as heavy handed narratives but rather a thoughtful exercise in what it means to be a hero and the effects it has on those trying to make a difference.
To be honest I felt at least three gut punches while reading this issue, just moments that made me exhale and think about what I had just read. Each issue of the series will deal with a different decade so they had to get a lot of stuff crammed into this one issue but it does not feel rushed until the end. The final two pages seem a little forced (remember this will not directly continue in the next issue) with a cliffhanger that just pops up. Another page or two to expand the scene would have really made the conclusion feel complete.
- Peter’s talk with Flash about the bullying was spot on.
- The feeling when Flash told him he was enlisting because of Spider-Man, ouch.
- Am I the only one disappointed that none of the characters from The ‘Nam comic showed up?
- I would have thought that Steve Rogers would know better than to wear his brightly colored costume top in a jungle conflict. Who was covering their point when he walked up?
- Peter dropping the dime on Osbourne after he rescued him…
- I think I would have preferred if Captain America went rogue and fought to bring both sides together against both their governments to attempt to stop the conflict.
- The way Glen discovers Peter is Spider-Man is pretty much how it would happen to me if I was in that situation. Subtly perfect.