No Country for Old Heroes.
To recap the events from the last issue, Peter Parker had traded places with his clone Ben Reily to allow him to take over the mantle of Spider-Man and the identity of Peter Parker. Unbeknownst to Ben, Peter had fooled him into thinking he was the original Peter Parker for the sole purpose of allowing the actual Peter to retire to a life with MJ and his children.
We find Peter thrust begrudgingly back into the spotlight in this penultimate issue of Zdarsky and Bagley’s Spider-Man: Life Story. That spotlight puts us in the throes of two major storylines during this era of Spidey history. We are treated to a mash-up of Civil War and the Spider-totem / Morlun story from J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Amazing Spider-Man.
These two major storylines are dealt with expeditiously. It is interesting to see them in the context of the aging Marvel universe (Old Man Tony Stark, Captain America, etc.), though I wonder if they only really resonate with readers familiar with those prior events. I could easily see someone who isn’t familiar with either one of those storylines feeling a bit lost. I feel that it would have been a bit more effective to focus on just one of these two stories. Given the groundwork laid in previous issues, the Civil War story would be the best one to dedicate more pages to in an issue. Even though it pains me to say to drop the Morlun storyline given its importance to modern Spidey history, it gets a bit muddled in this issue.
Bagley makes some interesting choices in drawing a much older Parker. In many ways, it’s hard to even recognize him as Peter. The older versions of Stark and Captain America tend to look like themselves and are more easily identifiable. This may mainly due to Peter sporting a beard, though later in the issue when he loses the beard, he looks more Uncle Ben-like, which is a nice touch. The entirety of this series has been solid and a great reading experience. I look forward to seeing how it wraps up in the final issue.