The final chapter in Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley’s epic “What If” Spider-Man series comes to an end today. It’s a series that has followed Peter Parker through his life as if he aged in real-time. In the final sixth issue, we’ve reached 2019 and Peter Parker is 72 years old. The world is a lot different, but there’s a chance to save everyone…
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The year is 2019, and the 72-year-old web-slinger is about to embark on his final adventure! Will the end of Spider-Man’s life story mean the end of his life?
Why does this matter?
It’s an incredible feat to see Zdarsky pull off such an interwoven and creative take on Spider-Man throughout the years. Using all of the greatest stories, Zdarsky has shown us another reality where Spider-Man’s life hasn’t gone exactly as we might have thought, but it’s fresh and new all the same while paying homage to the greatest Spidey stories ever.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue is titled “All of My Enemies” and for good reason thanks to a key scene later in the issue. It opens with a flashback to Peter’s origin story that will have you pondering how it connects. By the end, you’ll probably feel a tear at the corner of your eye as Zdarsky reminds us why Peter has always done the right thing from that terrible day he lost his Uncle Ben. There are also key scenes with MJ, Miles Morales, and more that’ll have you reminiscing about this character we all love. It’s quite something that Zdarsky and Bagley have pulled off here as they’ve basically reminded us why Spider-Man is such a powerful character and why a hero is as strong as the heart and inspiration we see right there on their sleeve.
As far as the usual homages and pulling key stories together, this issue does that and then some. I won’t spoil a single one since many of the plot threads that come together would be spoilers, but know that stories from Dan Slott, Brian Michael Bendis, and others are thrown together in this glorious melting pot.
Fans of Bagley are in for a treat with an impressive double-page spread action scene, yet another cool new costume for Spider-Man to wear, and solid action. The book takes place in space and Bagley doesn’t let us forget it via the windows and space stations on display. A key element of the spacesuits Spider-Man and Miles wear is how we can see their eyes. It allows each to do plenty of emotional storytelling.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I’ve said this over and over in my reviews but the time jumps between issues can be annoying. It’s unclear if this universe will be dabbled in again, but there are big chunks of the story missing that leave you pondering how we got here. A side effect of this is how it’s impossible to know where it goes from here considering major events seem to happen between issues.
The only other element that caught me off guard is a last-ditch save near the end. It’s incredible, honestly, and it makes you want to tear up, but given what we know about the character it’s not earned in this universe. It makes sense from what we know of the 616 Spider-Man story, but here it seems that doesn’t make sense given what we know.
Is it good?
An emotional, heartwrenching, and beautiful final issue that reminds us why Spider-Man will never be forgotten. Spider-Man: Life Story was clearly made with enormous affection and you’ll feel it to the very last page.
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