Spider-Man: Life Story #6 Review

Spider-Man: Life Story #6 Review

Spider-Man: Life Story has been a genuinely fun comic book to read. Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley have teamed to tell an incredible Spider-Man story so far that shows us what happens if Peter Parker and the Marvel Universe aged since the character’s debut in the 1960s. Every decade has brought Peter and his supporting cast new challenges that are both familiar and altered from the way Spider-Man fans remember. The changes that have been made thus far have all made sense in the version of the Marvel Universe Zdarsky and Bagley have created. Now how will they end their run on Spider-Man: Life Story? Let’s find out with Spider-Man: Life Story #6.

Writer: Chip Zdarsky

Artist: Mark Bagley

Inker: Andrew Hennessy

Colorist: Frank D’Armata

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: In 2019, before taking off on a mission Peter Parker thinks about the recurring dream involving the robber who killed Uncle Ben he did not stop. Before he can finish his thoughts Mary Jane gets Peter back on track to the mission he is going on.

Miles Morales (who looks to be in his late-teens or early twenties and partnering with Peter on a space mission) tells Mary Jane he and Peter need to go. Benjy Parker (who survived the encounter with Morlun but is using a walking cane for assistance) tells his dad about the components he and Miles have to install. 

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Claire (wearing a version of Spider-Woman’s costume reminiscent to Ultimate Jessica Drew) wants to go with her dad and Miles. Peter tells Claire she needs to stay back to protect her mom and brother. 

As Peter and Miles get in the spaceship Peter thinks about how Claire has become twice the hero he was and is now a decisive leader in the world after the superhero Civil War ended with both sides losing.

Peter and Miles then take off in a spaceship that Doctor Doom designed. They both compliment Doctor Doom on his design. Miles shows that he is focused on the mission they are on to take down the remaining tech that Doom left behind before they all auto-destruct.

As he is listening to Miles, Peter reflects on Miles’ origin as Spider-Man goes back to the period when the public thought he was dead. He goes on to think about how all his villains are dead by this point.

When they get to Doctor Doom’s space station Peter reflects on how Captain America, Iron Man, Reed Richards, Jessica Drew and other heroes from his generation are all dead or missing thanks to Doom’s actions. It is revealed that as Spider-Man, Peter is now the leader of the resistance against Doctor Doom, though he admits he is ready to hand things over to Miles, Claire, Kamala Khan and the rest of the next generation of heroes.

Peter and Miles eventually install the component that Benjy gave them. As Peter makes a self-deprecating joke Miles oddly tells him to focus by calling him “Parker” rather than “Peter.”

The power suddenly goes out. While Miles stays behind with the machine to wait for the back-up power on the space station to activate Peter goes to check on what happened.

While exploring the space station he sees that the spaceship he and Miles flew in has been destroyed. Peter wonders what is going on since his Spider-Sense isn’t going off. That is when he hears a familiar voice calling out to him from the shadows.

Kraven-Venom suddenly attacks Peter and immediately destroys Peter’s space helmet. Miles shows up to help fight Kraven-Venom but is also overwhelmed by the villain. Before Kraven-Venom kills Miles, Peter powers up a device he made that completely destroys Kraven-Venom. It is shown that by that point Venom was just controlling Kraven’s skeleton.

Peter reminds Miles that all his villains are dead. He then drops the bombshell that he knows Otto Octavius has taken over Miles’ body. Otto-Miles smirks and starts fighting Peter.

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Though Peter tries to use his Spider-Sense to fight Otto-Miles he is unable to keep up due to his foe’s younger body. Otto-Miles demands to know how Peter knew about him. Peter reveals at first he noticed little things about Miles being different but what made him realize the truth was because Otto’s technical work is distinct. He goes on to say while it is good Otto’s work is outdated, which gave him away. 

Otto reveals that the reason he took over Miles body was because his was dying and Peter’s body is too old to be a good use for him. Otto-Miles then says that while he could kill Peter with Miles’ body he is going to do so with his mind instead. Otto-Miles then headbutts Peter causing their minds to link.

Inside Peter’s head Otto appears in his old Doctor Octopus body. Doctor Octopus says he is going to destroy Peter’s mind. He then creates the Sinister Six (Venom, Green Goblin, Electro, Rhino, Vulture and Doctor Octopus) to destroy Peter’s mind. Peter shows he was already ready for this fight by similarly creating six different versions of himself that reflect the different decades he has lived through.

Peter shows his mental strength over Otto as his Spider-Men are able to defeat all of the Sinister Six members Otto created. Otto then shows his power by making himself younger and grow to a Godzilla-size like height. Otto then taunts Peter and asks him if he has any other tricks.

At that moment, Aunt May suddenly appears, which causes Otto to shrink down back to normal height. Aunt May says tells Otto that while she loved him he was always angry due to not being able to accept the world around him or his own limitations. Otto says that it was not fair that Aunt May died or that his body will soon pass away. Aunt May says that what is not fair is Otto taking Miles life away just so he can correct his mistakes. Aunt May asks Otto to let go of his hatred for Peter because there was never a competition for her love since there is no limit to love.  

Otto admits he is scared but Aunt May calms his mind by saying everything will be okay. His mind at ease Otto mind leaves Peter’s.

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Peter talks with Aunt May talk about how at the end of the day it was the memory of Aunt May that beat Otto. Peter asks Aunt May if she knows what he wants. Aunt May tells Peter that he has had a wonderful life with Mary Jane and raising a beautiful family. She goes on to say that Peter still wishes he would’ve saved Uncle Ben. Aunt May then says that Peter already realized years ago that could never change. Aunt May then tells Peter to go save everyone.

Back in the space station Peter wakes up to find that station is about to blow up. He saves himself and Otto-Miles from being blown out into space when a window breaks. Peter then rushes the unconscious Otto-Miles to an escape pod while getting constant updates from the space station’s computer.

Peter finally gets Otto-Miles into an escape pod. Otto-Miles wakes up and asks Peter to let him help Peter save everyone. Peter tells Otto-Miles he can’t let him sacrifice a life that is not Otto’s. Peter then releases the escape pod to go back to Earth.

Peter than works quickly to keep the space station from falling apart with his webs. Peter musters all his strength to hold it together long enough to keep the explosion contained. As the space station is about to explode the Venom symbiote covers Peter.

Peter is then transported to inside his mind again. There a younger version of Peter and Mary Jane talk about how everything will be okay. Mary Jane assures Peter that he taught Claire and Benjy well and that she is not going anywhere yet. Mary Jane then jokes how she is just a clone that Peter’s mind created. Peter tells Mary Jane that she is his heart and jackpot.

Peter then comes back to reality with a smile on his face as the space station explodes. Everything then fades to black.

Days later Miles (now back in control of his body again) visits the dying Otto. Miles says he is visiting because he wants Otto to know that a true hero has died. Otto weakly says he never meant for any of this to happen. Miles admits that he wanted to kill Otto but knows that Peter wouldn’t have done that and neither will he. Miles then walks away, leaving Otto to pass away alone.

Sometime later, Miles meets up with Mary Jane. Mary Jane asks Miles how things are going for him. Miles admits that its been hard interacting with everyone since he knows that Otto talked to them using his voice and body. He goes on to say that he doesn’t know if he can ever wear his costume anymore as he now thinks it is tainted.

Mary Jane tells Miles that all he needs is a fresh start. She then hands Miles a present and tells him that he can alter the present however he likes to make it his own.

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Miles opens the present and is stunned to find Peter’s original Spider-Man costume. Miles then feels a sense of relief and gratefulness that Mary Jane has given him something incredibly important.

It is then shown that Peter is still thinking about his recurring dream and that he finally has it goes down differently as he actually stops the robber when he makes his initial crime before he kills Uncle Ben. End of issue.

The Good: Well, hot damn! Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley gave Spider-Man: Life Story an incredible concluding chapter. Spider-Man: Life Story #6 is a culmination of everything that has been developed over the course of this mini-series. By the time the final page hits you feel all the emotions of a journey that has spanned multiple decades across the Marvel Universe continuity. 

Zdarsky does a great job setting up how Spider-Man: Life Story #6 is the final chapter in Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man. Seeing Peter reflect on the one thing that still haunts him in Uncle Ben’s death showed that he knows he is at the end of his time as Spider-Man. That self-reflection extends to how Peter views both his daughter Claire Parker and protege Miles Morales as the future.

Finding out, through Peter’s inner monologue, that Peter is the last remaining hero of his generation furthered the idea of him passing the torch to Claire and Miles. The fact that Peter is staying on as Spider-Man to finish the job of stopping the remnants of Doctor Doom’s devices added to where he is in his life. For Peter he wanted to ensure that the last threats from his generation aren’t carried over to Claire and Miles. He wants to give them as fresh a start as possible.

That is where everything that has happened throughout Spider-Man: Life Story helps frame this final issue. There have been so many events that Peter has been involved in as Spider-Man that he finally is at the point where he can wrap things up. The fact that Iron Man, Captain America and the other heroes of his generation are gone furthers the idea this is final act as Spider-Man.

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What was great about all of this is that as Spider-Man, Peter has been able to create a legacy that will go on even if he passed away. Zdarsky did a wonderful job making Spider-Man a legacy character. Even if Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe aren’t known for legacy characters like the DC Universe, it makes sense for this version of the character. Peter has lived such a life that Spider-Man has become an enduring part of the Marvel Universe that has inspired an entire generation of heroes like Claire and Miles to follow his lead.

In doing so, we see as part of Peter’s self-reflection that he views Claire as a hero that is greater than him. Viewing Claire in that way as she has become Spider-Woman shows that Peter has accomplished a lot of great things. As Spider-Woman, Claire has been able to learn from her father and be an even better hero because of his experiences. Claire becoming one of the leaders for her generation of heroes could very well be framed as Peter and Mary Jane’s greatest accomplishment.

It was great that Benjy didn’t end up dying from the confrontation with Morlun. That would’ve been an unnecessary tragedy. Instead, since Benjy lived he is able to carry on Peter’s legacy in a different way. We see hints of that as Benjy is the one that explains the device that Peter and Miles installed in Doctor Doom’s space station. Even if we don’t know exactly what Benjy is doing this is enough of a hint to the reader to understand that Benjy has been able to create a life that isn’t weighed down by his injuries.

Continuing the trend that Peter has been able to grow as a businessman, scientist and superhero was the payoff that he knew Otto Octavius took over Miles Morales’ body. This revelation is something that makes sense with how Zdarsky has developed Peter through this series. The saying “with age comes wisdom” is something we have seen as a running theme with Peter’s development over the decades. Peter has shown that he is someone who has evolved as the decades past.

This is best shown with how Peter calls out Otto-Miles for never evolving his technical prowess. Even though Otto is an incredibly smart person he has always been a person of habit. That ended up being his greatest weakness. For Peter to identify this was a great call as it showed one of the differences between them as Peter accepts the past, present and future while Otto only lives for himself.

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Through all of this Zdarsky does a fantastic job adapting the Superior Spider-Man arc and making the storyline his own. It makes sense that Otto would take over Miles’ body since he would view Peter’s body as old like himself. So to accomplish what he wants Otto would obviously go after Miles younger body that also has even more unique powers than Peter.

At the same time, this was Otto’s biggest mistake since there are habits he just couldn’t hide from Peter, like calling him “Parker.” Peter identifying this made the way Peter was able to defeat Otto and make his nemesis admit what he did was wrong was fantastic. It shows that all of Peter’s experience have helped him get to this point where he can overcome such immense odds.

Bringing Aunt May’s memories to help defeat Otto was a surprisingly refreshing move. This was an effective way to use Spider-Man’s continuity to make Otto realize that there was never a competition between him and Peter. Everything that Otto believe was a manifestation of his own insecurities and superiority complex. In the process, Zdarsky showed how Aunt May’s love was such a powerful thing that even Otto could be humanized by it.

The interaction between Peter and Aunt May was also a great way to close things out. Aunt May has been such an important part of the Spider-Man franchise. Her memory coming into play as she helps Peter come to terms that he lived a full life with MJ and their kids was so cool to see. Seeing her call out Peter for not letting go of Uncle Ben’s death was a good move so that in Peter’s final moments of life he could finally accept all his experience helped create the great life he lived.

That further elevated the follow-up scene between Peter and MJ inside Peter’s mind. Seeing them in their younger forms, we get a conversation that shows how Peter and MJ have had such a rich lives with each other that included their family. Peter telling MJ that he is his heart and jackpot was a strong payoff to how their relationship has evolved over the course of this series. For all the trials and tribulations that they’ve been through, at the end of the day MJ was Peter’s lightning rod. She was the one who helped ground him and keep himself from letting everything that happened in his life as Spider-Man. 

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Zdarsky did a great job writing MJ as the heart of Spider-Man: Life Story #6. MJ putting Peter’s mind at ease that she will continue to be there for their kids was such a great moment. Even if this was all in Peter’s mind, Zdarsky wrote it in such a way that this was how this conversation would’ve gone if the real MJ was there. That was cemented with how MJ knew that Peter would’ve wanted Miles to carry on as Spider-Man. Her handing down Peter’s original Spider-Man costume to Miles was such an incredible moment to conclude things on.

Miles development over this issue was also well handled. Miles confrontation with Otto after he got his body back was exactly how you would hope things would go. Miles reasonably wanted nothing more than to kill Otto for what he put him through. But being the hero he is, Miles would never do that. This further showed how deep the bond was between Peter and Miles that Miles would come to the decision that killing Otto was not the right thing to do.

That made Miles’ reaction when MJ hands down Peter’s original Spider-Man costume resonate even more. With Miles being in such a state that he was about to give up his superhero life this clearly meant the world to him. It was the passing of the torch moment that makes Miles carrying on the mantle of Spider-Man mean so much more. 

Through all of this Mark Bagley does a wonderful job bringing Zdarsky’s story to life in Spider-Man: Life Story #6 with his artwork. Bagley continued to do a great job adapting his art style to fit with how much time has passed. Bagley’s design for Peter and MJ in particular showed how much experience they both had. It gave greater weight to how Peter was able to figure out Otto-Miles and how he ended up sacrificing his life to save the world. The final moments with Peter and MJ’s final conversation and MJ passing down the original Spider-Man costume to Miles hit all the emotional notes you would hope it would.

The Bad: For as much as I love Spider-Man: Life Story #6 I’ll admit that it is not a perfect issue. The one place that this issue stumbles is the involvement of the Kraven-Venom that Spider-Man fights in this issue. This would’ve been more effective if Kraven-Venom showed up in a prior issue. Because of the structure of Spider-Man: Life Story it was clear that there wasn’t enough time to properly develop every sub-plot in this series. But even with that negative it did not get in the way of the incredible things Zdarsky and Bagley accomplished with Spider-Man: Life Story.

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Overall: Spider-Man: Life Story #6 was an emotionally-charged conclusion for a series that will go down as one of the best Spider-Man stories in the characters history. Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley did a phenomenal job wrapping up the Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man in a way that appropriately paid off to all the character’s experience over the decades since his debut. The interactions with Mary Jane Watson, Miles Morales, Aunt May and Otto Octavius further elevated the impact this issue had. If you are a Spider-Man fan I highly recommend picking up Spider-Man: Life Story when it is collected in trade paperback form.


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2 Comments

  1. Chip Zdarsky has been on fire with his work at Marvel. This is easily one of the best mini-series I’ve read in years and I owe it to this site for encouraging me to pick it up. Thank you.

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