You can't buy everything. It's something we all know, but sometimes there are series that while you have to pass on reading them in singles, you can't wait to read them eventually.
Spider-Man: Life Story was one of those series for me. I hadn't bought the trade yet when I heard about this deluxe hardcover a year ago, just after it had released, and I always love that format so I made sure to get it so I could finally read this book.
I'm glad to say it did not disappoint. It's been long enough since I first read it that over the past few days I've been reading it again so I can write this review, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time.
From the very beginning to the very end, you can tell how much love Zdarsky and Bagley have for these characters, not just Peter himself but everyone around him that comes into this story. His supporting characters, his villains, and other characters and superheroes. Every issue a glimpse into the wider Marvel universe through the lens of arguably their most iconic character, or at least very, very, very high up there.
I know the way the story is told isn't for everyone, in terms of the time jumps issue to issue, and just how much is utilised across 6 issues (plus the annual, collected here) and that's completely fair. I can see how this would be overwhelming or jarring, as there's a lot going on that's basically only touched on at a brisk pace, but for me personally that's part of the charm of this story.
It's the ultimate highlights of the character, so far, in his over 60 years of history. It has the fun twist of a timeline that's actually allowed to move forward, plus it's enriched by how that story mechanic affects the universe at large, and how that impacts Peter. It's a fascinating way to focus the story, simultaneously feeling grand spanning 6 decades and encompassing the whole universe with Peter at its centre, but it's still intimate, emotional and personal at its heart.
It's comic-booky in all the best ways, taking pride and embracing in everything that makes us love (and sometimes be frustrated about, at least once in here maybe, depending on your perspective) Spider-Man, for better or worse. The relationships, the villains, the storylines and so much more, it's just such a fun, entertaining and thrilling ride that again has a lot of intrigue and heart with its premise.
It's a spectacular balance to achieve, especially when juggling all the different storylines included and homaged here. The book wouldn't be the same though without the artwork. With Mark Bagley on pencils, John Dell and Andrew Hennessy on inks, Frank D'Armata and Matt Milla on colors, the art here has a real timeless quality to it that's just perfect.
Bagley is of course nothing less than a legend when it comes to Spidey (and just in general) and it's books like this that continue to prove it. Dynamic, energetic, expressive, vibrant, just so full of life and excitement, and yes like I said, simply timeless. Then Travis Lanham on lettering ties it all together wonderfully, I particularly appreciated how the different years were indicated whenever we moved on issue to issue (and sometimes within the issue, especially with the annual at least).
A beautiful and overall wonderfully comic-booky love letter to one of the best characters to ever be created.
You can also find his podcast on Twitter @JoeTalksComics, which you can listen to through Anchor, where you can find links to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or you can click those hyperlinks directly.