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Comic Book / Spider-Man: Life Story

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Spidey through the Ages.

Spider-Man: Life Story is a six issue miniseries by Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley in 2019. It is an Alternate Universe / Elseworld series that explores how Spider-Man and his world would have looked like had there been no Comic-Book Time and he aged in real-time from his first appearance at the age of 15 in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) all the way to The New '10s.

In 1966, Peter has been Spider-Man for four years and has endured most of his adventures from the Lee-Ditko Spider-Man era. Now he is in college in the period when The Vietnam War is dragging on, slowly polarizing and dividing public opinion, and the superhero community. Peter's friend Flash Thompson has volunteered, while Peter has so far avoided getting called to the draft on account of being enrolled in college.

The first issue is set in The '60s and each issue after that moves a decade forward as it traces the cast of Spider-Man as they age in different periods. In April 2021, an Annual was announced, which focuses on J. Jonah Jameson throughout the decades.


Followed by Fantastic Four: Life Story in 2021 that gives a similar treatment to the Fantastic Four.


  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Issue #1 adapts different moments across the Lee-Romita era in a single story. Its main subplot is Flash going to Vietnam (which happened in ASM #47), while also dealing with Peter's first meeting with Norman Osborn (which happened in ASM #39-40).
    • Issue #2 mashes together elements across Lee-Romita's and Gerry Conway's run in The '70s, notably bringing together signature stories like the Drug Trilogy (ASM #96-98), The Night Gwen Stacy Died and The First Clone Saga (and parts of the second). It also adapts elements of Gerry Conway's Parallel Lives.
    • Issue #3 adapts Secret Wars (1984) as well as elements of Kraven's Last Hunt, The Black Costume Saga while also adding in the fact that Peter apparently started Parker Industries in The '80s despite it being a story from Dan Slott's run in The New '10s, while he and MJ separate here rather than in the tail end of The '90s in Howard Mackie's run.
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    • Issue #4 adapts The Clone Saga, namely "Power and Responsibility", "Revelations", "The Final Adventure", as well as J. M. DeMatteis' landmark "Best of Enemies" arc featuring Harry Osborn.
    • Issue #5 adapts JMS' Spider-Man (specifically "Coming Home", the story that introduced Morlun), the 9/11 Issue (ASM #36, vol. 2), Civil War, as well as bits from Spider-Girl and Spider-Verse.
    • Issue #6 adapts Miles Morales' early days from the third Ultimate Spider-Man run, as well as the Superior Spider-Man storyline, and sees Peter's daughter becoming a hero as in Renew Your Vows. The premise of Doctor Doom conquering the world after the failure of the previous generation of heroes to stop it also seems to be loosely based on Secret Wars (2015).
    • Peter's interactions with Norman Osborn are based on Spider-Man Trilogy where in their first meeting, Norman praises Peter's intellect while belittling Harry at the same time, while his more predatory social behavior stems from the Thanksgiving scene, and Revenge of the Green Goblin and A Death in the Family. Likewise, Harry Osborn wears a black outfit like in Spider-Man 3 and calls himself the "Black Goblin" which was his production name in that film.
    • Gwen Stacy owes a lot of her character to Emma Stone's portrayal in The Amazing Spider-Man Series rather than her character in the Lee-Romita era. Likewise she also gets killed by Harry Osborn, albeit by accident in this case, like in the second movie.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Peter's daughter, Claire Parker is a dead ringer for Mayday Spider-Girl Parker in looks (a tomboy brunette) and personality (being sassy and snarking at her dad). She also has a brother named Benjy and considers Ben Reilly her uncle.
    • Harry Osborn's supervillain alias is the Black Goblin rather than the Green Goblin.
  • Adaptational Curves:
    • Peter becomes muscular as he ages. By the time he is 59 years old, he has the standard Heroic Build that would put men in their 20s/30s to shame.
    • Due to aging and being Spider-Man for eight years, Miles is built like a hardcore gymnast. This is the primary reason why Doc Ock chooses to hijack his body instead of the elderly Peter's.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Mary Jane in issue #2, having never met Peter when he was younger at Aunt May's insistence, is seen as the hedonistic party-goer she was in Lee-Romita's run. It turns out however that this is an act and that she knew Peter was Spider-Man for a while and she gets angry at him for his constant bailing out on his friends and general passive nature, since all he does in his civilian life is pass judgment on his friends or make them feel guilty for their lives. She tones down considerably after the death of Gwen Stacy, allowing Peter to lash at her while she in turns hugs him out of his grief and regret, much like the end of Conway's famous story.
    • In issue #3, Peter Parker becomes a neglectful father to his twin babies, Ben and Claire, as opposed to the loving, caring and devoted parent seen in Spider-Girl and Renew Your Vows. He is entirely aware of this but his Chronic Hero Syndrome prevents him from taking active measures to improve his family life. Likewise, in 616, when Peter found out that the Symbiote was alive and was alerted about it by Reed Richards, Peter agreed to eject the suit quickly. Here Reed is appalled that Peter is knowingly using a suit with an alien consciousness just so he can continue to function as an aging superhero and a need to "stay relevant".
    • In issue #4, it is shown that Tony Stark never went through meaningful Character Development and never stopped being a weapons dealer due to becoming more involved in the Vietnam War. To Tony, his weapons helped the United States win the war against Russia and blows up on Peter for suggesting he stop making them. He hits Peter under the belt by hanging Mary Jane constantly moving herself and the kids away from New York, and Peter implies that Tony sold weapons to not-so-great regimes.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In 616 and other AU, Aunt May and Mary Jane always had a very close relationship, with both of them seeing each other as surrogate daughter and mother. In this series MJ comes to have issues dealing with May's dementia, especially when she nearly endangers and loses her babies on a stroll in a park.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Life Story #4, set in 1995, introduces Jessica Jones into the story. Technically, while Jessica was retroactively made an old classmate of Peter Parker's, she actually wasn't introduced into Marvel comics until the Turn of the Millennium.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Morlun dies in #5 when Claire takes advantage of him absorbing Benjy to knock him into a stake from a fallen tree.
  • Adult Fear: A good chunk of Life Story #3 deals with this. Aunt May in her dementia state taking Peter's babies for a stroll only to get distracted and stare at a window while abandoning the kids, only for them to be recovered by NYPD, is full of this.
  • Age Lift: Since Comic-Book Time is averted and each decade shows a prominent comic storyline, the characters are much older in said storylines.
  • Alternate Continuity: Zdarsky said that his insistence was to insert the different Spider-Man stories into the actual decades they were published in, as such while a version of Lee-Ditko Spider-Man (which did have real time aging and progression) definitely happened, changes and alterations happen from his depiction of the Lee-Romita era and eras after that.
  • Alternate History: On account of the intervention of the superheroes, on both sides, the Vietnam War drags on and continues until 1977. However Nixon apparently still resigned. Actual nuclear bombs drop in The '80s furthermore as the Cold War gets hot during the Secret Wars. By The '90s, America had won the "Russian War" with the help of its superheroes and Tony Stark's weapons.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Kraven's fate at the end of issue #3: did Kraven shoot himself, the symbiote shoot him instead or did the symbiote save him? Even when the two reappear in the final issue, the question is still there, as it's revealed Kraven has been long dead and Venom was basically wearing his skeleton.
  • Artistic License – History: The background of issue #1 (set in 1966) shows a poster for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The movie would only get wide American release in 1967 and year long preview and promotion wasn't really a thing back in those days.
  • Astral Finale: The final showdown happens in a space station.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Issue #2 begins with a familiar grave-marking scheme and the dialogue and conversation implies that it's Uncle Ben, Peter and Gwen are paying tribute to, it's actually Flash Thompson who is revealed to have been KIA in Vietnam in 1974.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Norman Osborn and Doctor Octopus are the series' most prominent antagonists but have shared the position with someone else throughout the story.
    • Issue #2 has Norman and Dr. Miles Warren.
    • Issue #3 has Kraven the Hunter and the Venom Symbiote.
    • Issue #4 has Norman and Doc Ock.
    • Issue #5 has Tony Stark and Morlun.
    • Issue #6 has Doc Ock (possessing Miles) and Venom (infesting Kraven), with Doctor Doom as the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Big Good: Captain America is shaping up to be this. In Issue #2, Reed Richards considers him to be the Only Sane Man doing the right thing in the Vietnam War, "Going rogue, saving lives on both sides".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The entire series comes to an end with the elderly Peter Parker sacrificing his life when he gives Miles the last escape pod of a space station as it self-destructs after sending out signals that disrupt Dr. Doom's war machines all over the Earth.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Claire Parker shows herself as one in Issue #5, even if she's 22 and not actually a teenager anymore.
  • Broad Strokes: As noted in Alternate Continuity, events of the Lee-Ditko Era did happen as evidenced in dialogue regarding Jameson being under investigation for Scorpion and the Spider Slayers, Peter already having encountered Green Goblin, and comments about Aunt May's failing health.
  • Central Theme: The theme of the story as a whole revolves around balancing responsibility, not only in terms of superheroics, but also to Peter's loved ones and country, with each decade looking at different aspects of the theme and how favoring one side over the other can wreak havoc.
  • Cloning Blues: Issue #2 uses the Clone Saga in a heartbreaking way. As it turns out, Norman Osborn had contacted Miles Warren to create two clones - one of Norman to pin the Green Goblin's crimes on and one of Peter to have a true heir that wasn't Harry. Peter initially blows off the third clone, which is of Gwen, only to learn that it's actually the real Gwen Stacy.
  • Composite Character:
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Captain America voices this to Spider-Man when he meets him. He's a soldier and veteran of World War II and he's been asked to fight in the Vietnam War, whose causes he has doubts about, and yet at the same time real American troops are risking their lives for it. Cap tells Spidey that he plans to head to Vietnam and see with his own eyes and ears what's up. He has revealed to have become an independent agent defending civilians against war criminals from both sides, making him a "traitor" in the eyes of American troops.
    Captain America: "I don't know if this war is right—but I do know that people are dying, and our country's name and ideology are tied to it."
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Tony Stark, a man who never left his weapon-making background that his contemporaries did, claims his weapons granted the world peace, but as Peter points out, his weapons are in the hands of less savory countries.
  • Creator Cameo: The creative team's names appear on tombstones in the graveyard Kraven buries Spider-Man in.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Annual issue focuses on J. Jonah Jameson and his decades-long quest to bring Spider-Man down.
  • Death by Adaptation: Flash Thompson, alive and well in the main universe at that time, is KIA in the Vietnam War.
  • Decomposite Character: All over the place here, as part of the Adaptation Distillation.
    • Norman Osborn still appears, but the Goblin who kills Gwen Stacy is Harry, not him.
    • Ben Reilly still appears, but it's Harry Osborn who pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save Peter at the end of The Clone Saga. Additionally, Morlun is the one who kills Ben, not Norman Osborn.
    • As mentioned above, despite Peter still being a major character, it's Miles Morales who serves as the Body Jack victim in the Superior Spider-Man adaptation. Additionally, it's an elderly Mary Jane who gifts Miles with Peter's old gear as the symbolic Passing the Torch moment at the end of the story, as Aunt May, who did the same with Peter's web-shooters in Ultimate Spider-Man, died between issues #3 and #4.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Gwen Stacy dies here too. But the circumstances are even more tragic. Harry Osborn accidentally killed her while thinking she was merely a clone, and Peter is unable to stop him from dropping the bombs to the clone pods, though he is initially not terribly bothered by it. It was only when Warren told him that the Gwen in the pod was the original that he realized what he did.
    • Instead of perishing from drug abuse, Harry Osborn dies trying to save Peter when Otto tries to stab Ben with one of his arms from behind.
    • Rather than dying from being impaled by his own glider, Norman Osborn dies when all the anger and hatred he feels toward Peter induces a heart attack.
    • Peter dies in a Heroic Sacrifice before passing the Spider-Man mantle to Miles rather than from being mortally wounded fighting the Sinister Six.
  • Dramatic Irony: Par for the course with Flash Thompson; he proclaims that the reason he's signing up for Vietnam is because it's what Spider-Man would do. Right to Peter's face, who is contemplating the decision.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Norman goes to his death saying "H-hate... youuu..." to Peter.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Norman treats Harry as nothing more than a disposable pawn for almost the entire series, but when Peter informs him of Harry's death, Norman has a complete and total breakdown, sputtering, "N-no... he can't be... m-my Harry... my son... I never meant to-to... he... he drove me to it... he's always in my head..." before lunging at Peter while screaming, "You killed my boy!"
  • Event Title: The comic series is called Life Story for a reason.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The last panel showing Peter has him smiling right before the satellite base's explosion.
  • Fiery Redhead: Mary Jane is as temperamental as ever.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: Peter's Dying Dream is of him stopping Uncle Ben's killer.
  • For Want of a Nail: While initially marketed as merely a storyline about Peter Parker aging in real-time, a number of broad changes start to take effect at the end of the first issue due to the real Vietnam War at the time influencing characters' actions.
  • The Ghost: Per issue #6, Doctor Doom has conquered the world by 2019, but he never appears in person during the issue.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In the final issue, Doctor Doom has taken over the entire world after the events of the Civil War. The events of the issue consists of Peter leading the resistance to take down his reign and technology from the entire planet. Doc Ock acts as The Antagonist in this issue and Doom doesn't make any sort of appearance apart from the image of his head on a jet.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Mary Jane is introduced as such. Hell, she's not just drinking and partying, she's also hooked on drugs.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, has reformed and joined the Future Foundation after surviving a heart attack that made him realize that there was more to life than accumulating wealth and power. Peter had a difficult time trying to accept his former nemesis's change of heart. He returns to villainy in issue #4 with May dead.
  • The Hero Dies: The story ends with Peter performing a Heroic Sacrifice by giving the last escape pod to Miles while he manually destroys Doctor Doom's satellites.
  • Hero with an F in Good: Otto as this comic's version of the Superior Spider-Man fails to impress as he almost dooms the world just to try and get the last hit against Peter.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Vision is trapped in one having been caught in the nuclear explosion that wiped an entire town from existence.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Peter and the Venom symbiote sacrifice their lives to overthrow Doom once and for all.
  • Hollywood History: Goes through every decade up to the time it was written:
    • The '60s: The story kicks-off in 1966, four years into Peter's superhero career and during the height of The Vietnam War.
    • The '70s: Issue #2 takes place in 1977, well into Peter's adulthood.
    • The '80s: Issue #3 takes place in 1984, with Peter approaching middle age and during the height of the Cold War.
    • The '90s: Issue #4 takes place in 1995, well into Peter's middle-aged life.
    • Turn of the Millennium: Issue #5 takes place in 2006, with flashbackss set after the WTC bombings in 2001. It follows an aged Peter during a time when superhumans are being put under the Registration Act.
    • The New '10s: Issue #6 takes place wholly in 2019, years after Peter decides to help mentor the new generation of heroes.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The 9/11 attacks still occur. The attacks allowed Tony Stark to become U.S. Secretary of Defense and drafting the Superhuman Registration Act to have American superhumans participate in the War on Terror.
  • Killed Offscreen: Long-time supporting characters like Flash Thompson, Aunt May and Jameson die between issues and off-panel, usually implied to be of old age. Flash was KIA in Vietnam between issues #1 and #2, May's death at the very least is foreshadowed and she's shown suffering dementia and clearly not long for the world in #3. Jameson apparently lived until 2001, dying shortly before 9/11. By 2019, many of the Marvel universe's heroes (including Captain America, Iron Man, and Reed Richards) and all of Spidey's enemies (excluding Otto and the Venom symbiote) are dead following Doctor Doom's global conquest.
  • Knight Templar: As far as Tony Stark's concerned, everything his company did, including making weapons was justified since it won them "the Russian War." Any nugget of criticism directed at his ethics by Peter comes off as the work of an Ungrateful Bastard. Tony is also a cold-hearted corporate predator wanting to swallow up other companies (including Parker Industries) and while willing to put up the charm is also not going to back away from looking like and becoming a bad guy.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Peter insults Reed for his wife leaving him, earning him a slap to the face. By the end of the issue, he also "had a wife, and couldn't keep her" with her being kidnapped by Warren sometime before, and one he was with was a clone. He and Peter reconcile in issue #3 and Peter ends up sharing Reed's fate when his obsession with superhero work drives Mary Jane away.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Miles appears in the final issue.
  • Last of His Kind: By the end of the series, Doctor Octopus is the only member of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery who isn't dead.
  • Legacy Character: In-between issues #5 and #6, Miles Morales took up the mantle of Spider-Man after it was assumed that Peter Parker had been killed off by Doom like the other heroes. Like in canon, Peter gave Miles his blessing to continue to use the mantle. Driven even further after Peter's actual death at the end of issue #6; Mary Jane ends up giving Miles Peter's original costume to continue acting as Spider-Man.
  • Mighty Lumberjack: Peter's first scene in Issue #5 sees him chopping woods.
  • Moment Killer: When Peter and Gwen have a moment, Miles Warren interrupts and berates Peter for being late. For fans who know who Miles Warren ultimately becomes, this moment becomes creepier...
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: The final issue has Peter having flashbacks of the night of Uncle Ben's murder, his battle with his Rogues Gallery and his time with Mary Jane, before he dies in a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Green Goblin attempts to force Spider-Man to drink the Goblin serum and become his heir, much like what Norman attempts to do in Revenge of the Green Goblin.
    • Captain America and Iron Man turn out to be on opposite sides of the Vietnam War, with Iron Man being a hawk and Cap becoming a dove, much like Civil War, and as there, Peter is conflicted about his place until a speech by Captain America energizes him and clarifies his doubts.
    • In issue #2, Otto Octavius finally does marry Aunt May and becomes "Uncle Otto", without the plot-mandated gatecrash by Hammerhead in Gerry Conway's run putting the kibosh on that.
    • Also in the same issue, Flash Thompson is revealed to have died in Vietnam, which is poignant because Flash is currently dead in the 616 Continuity, at nearly the same age on a sliding-timescale.
    • Issue #2 has Norman Osborn as the hidden and secret backer of Miles Warren's cloning project, much like the resolution of the Second Saga, it also has the clone adopt the name Ben in homage to Ben Reilly, an identity that didn't exist till The '90s.
    • Reed Richards slapping Peter is one to a famous panel in the 90s where he slapped Sue Storm when she was in Malice form, a reference to the Superdickery that often plagued him.
    • The finale of issue #2, also alludes to the Fox Spider-Man cartoon where it's revealed in the final season that the MJ Peter married was the clone and he then went on a quest to find the real MJ which never happened on-screen. Here it's the Gwen Peter married who was the clone, while the real one was in a pod.
    • Another one from issue #2, the coda shows Peter and MJ dealing with Gwen's death but this time MJ comes and hugs him, which was how the famous epilogue in The Night Gwen Stacy Died was initially illustrated before Conway asked John Romita Sr. to redraw Gil Kane's original scene, since he felt that at the time Peter and MJ didn't know each other well for such a show of emotion.
    • Peter's Spider-Man suit in issue #3 looks very similar to his Anti-Electro suit.
    • Peter finding Venom in issue #3 is essentially Mark Bagley recreating the page from Secret Wars (1984) where it happened.
    • Much like in Spider-Man 3, Harry dies by Taking the Bullet for Peter in issue #4.
    • Life Story #5 alludes to the iconic image of Spider-Man lifting the machinery from the Master Planner saga, with the heartbreaking twist that the machinery and rubble he's lifting is the ruins of the World Trade Center during 9/11 where Peter was near ground zero on visit to New York to attend Jameson's funeral.
    • Peter's son Benjy almost dies protecting his family against a supervillain who attacks his home, much like Ultimate Peter Parker does.
    • At the end of issue #6, Miles is faced with having to live up to Peter's legacy after he sacrifices himself and Doc Ock had been controlling his body for a while. Mary Jane assures him that all he needs is a "fresh start."
    • Claire's costume is based on the one originally worn by the Ultimate Marvel version of Jessica Drew.
    • It's mentioned that Miles first showed up on the scene as the new Spider-Man after Peter was mistakenly thought to be dead, a nod to Miles' origin as the replacement Spider-Man after the Ultimate Marvel Universe's Peter was killed.
    • While controlling Miles's body, Doctor Octopus rants that he's "superior" to all other heroes.
  • Neck Snap: Morlun kills Ben Reilly this way at the start of issue #5, while muttering that Ben isn't the real Spider.
  • Never My Fault: In issue #4, Norman Osborn dies of a heart attack, ranting and raving to the very end that Peter took everything from him, never accepting responsibility for his actions and the deaths he's caused.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In issue #2, Peter and Reed discuss the Vietnam War, with Reed slamming Iron Man and praising Captain America for his moral stance. Peter points out that Cap's moral stance is arguably prolonging the war and not ending the violence, while Reed argues that Iron Man is to blame for prolonging the war.
    • Harry Osborn makes a grand statement to show I Am Not My Father by bombing an entire cloning facility, while Peter shrugs and allows him his moment only for "Gwen" to tell him that he needs to save the other clones since they are people too. Peter finds the Gwen and Norman clones dead, and instead saves the Peter clone, only to be told that his "Gwen" is the clone, and the one in the pod who was killed was the actual Gwen Stacy.
    • Iron Man and Captain America getting involved with and escalating the Vietnam War and by extension the Cold War resulted in the United States and Russia exchanging nukes when the superhumans disappeared during the Secret Wars.
    • Claire Parker encouraging her father to go to New York and return as Spider-Man while talking him out of his plan to move the family away asap, ultimately left them undefended from Morlun's, leading to her brother's near-death.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In issue #4, it seems that Ben really was the real Peter and that Peter was the clone. However, Peter does further testing and learns that Norman had tried to con Peter out of his happiness one more time. Instead, it gave Peter the opening to reclaim the life he couldn't have and let Ben have the life he had lost.
  • Not So Different: As Peter realizes at the age of 48, he's become rather similar to Norman Osborn. He's a middle-aged man who puts himself into his company and costumed work at the expense of his family. When he sees Norman dying out of his hatred and inability to realize that "despite everything you had a son who loved you", Peter goes back to his children.
  • Offing the Offspring: When Norman indicates that the entire bar where he and Peter are at is wired with pumpkin bombs that will explode if he doesn't comply, Peter points out that Harry, Norman's own son, is in that bar, and Osborn is indifferent to the idea that he's endangering his son and later tells Peter that he considers Harry a disappointment, and regards Peter as his true heir.
  • Old Superhero: The entire premise of the story is to show Spidey (and his contemporaries) aging in real time since they debuted.
  • One Steve Limit: The comic series has three Bens (Parker, Reilly and Benji) and two Mileses (Warren and Morales).
  • Parental Neglect: Peter is not a good father at all here, as much as he wants to be. Him missing out on the birth of his twins is bad and tragic enough (him being transported to Battleworld against his will), but after that he continues to operate as Spider-Man by using the Venom suit which terrifies Mary Jane, and Peter doesn't help by giving her a kill switch for that symbiote putting her in a terrifying position of hurting her husband. Reed himself points out to Peter that his superhero work is largely unnecessary when he can do more, and has already achieved a great deal of success, as a scientist.
  • Passing the Torch:
    • In issue #4, thanks to Norman Osborn's actions, Peter convinces Ben to become Peter Parker for good, giving him his life as CEO and Spider-Man to Ben. This allows Peter to return to Mary Jane and his children and be a real father.
    • The final issue sees Miles officially take on the mantle of Spider-Man after Peter’s death.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • Since the comics are written in a decade where the Vietnam War is generally seen as a mistake, Zdarsky's reinterpretation of scenes that cover the conflict in the Lee-Romita decade are different. Peter is shown having doubts about signing up and joining the war effort and serving the draft, and gets into a tussle with Flash's decision to enlist (though he admits to Gwen that this is him venting at his high school bully and using a political issue as an excuse). In the actual comics, Lee showed the Vietnam War as non-controversial, with Peter and others willingly supporting and encouraging Flash joining in. This is because the Vietnam War during the '60s was quite popular and the protest movement in 1966 was very much a fringe movement, only growing in the years after that.
    • Having Captain America openly fight and defend Vietnamese against American soldiers at the end, or have him voice doubts about the rightness of the Vietnam War, would have been unthinkable to do in the actual '60s and even when Marvel re-tooled Cap as someone "loyal only to the dream", it took Watergate and even then a disguised version of it, to have Cap take a political stance like that. But when one considers that Steve probably saw numerous war crimes during his time in Vietnam, his change in political stance makes sense.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: In issue #4 it is shown that Peter is now dating Jessica Jones after his divorce with Mary Jane.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Even in this universe, they use this trope. Initially it seems like Reed's think-tank have marketed and implemented many of Reed's breakthroughs and achievements such as mobile communications, advanced prosthetic, and safe dimensional travel but Reed keeps the real high level bleeding edge stuff off the market. In issue #2, Peter finally gets fed up with hiding all of the marvels that could really make a difference from the world and wants to use them for the good of all. Reed Richards warns him that even one of their creations could end up destroying the economy, and create a situation where superheroes end up ruling the world.
    Peter Parker: Why do you always act like you're from some other planet? Like you can't — can't interfere with "humans"? There are our people, Reed. We're human!
    Reed Richards: But Pete... I'm not. And neither is Giant-Man or Iron Man or any other "super hero" with "man" in their name. Like they're trying to convince the world they're still just like them. Things have changed. The wellspring of powers, the growth of mutants. We need to be careful or we'll end up ruling the world, creating a massive level of inequality.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Multiple:
    • Gwen Stacy and Peter are married at the start of issue #2. Though that relationship seems to have been annulled at the end when it turns out that the Gwen Peter married might have been a clone. She ends up leaving with the surviving clone Peter, Ben Parker, revealed to have married him and taken the name Helen, the name of her mother.
    • Issue #2 also implies that Otto Octavious, having undergone a legitimate Heel–Face Turn during the Time Skip between the issues, married Aunt May.
    • Issue #3 has Peter and Mary Jane being married for a long time, and her heavily pregnant with his twin children while he is stranded in Battleworld fighting the Secret Wars. While they end up separating by the end, with MJ leaving with the kids, by the end of Issue #4 they get back together, and stay together until Peter's death.
  • Second Love: Mary Jane becomes Peter's second wife, and they have two children but Peter's neglect ends up ruining their marriage. After that Peter has a relationship with Jessica Jones when he hits 48 but then ends up going back to try and fix things up with MJ again.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The image of Giant Man looming large in a forest in Vietnam is almost certainly one to Watchmen, a comic which made heroes intervening in Vietnam a major story. Further Watchmen references include a protestor holding a placard saying "The End is Nigh" in issue #3.
    • Claire Parker, Peter's twin daughter, is named after the famous Canadian animation film-maker of the same name.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Unlike ASM #39, where Goblin chased Peter by glider and immediately caught him and took him to a lair on learning his identity and neutering his spider-sense, here Norman Osborn has been implied to have spied on Peter for some time learning all he could about his home life and the names of people near and dearest to him. Peter is also amazed when Norman walks to Peter in a bar and reveals that he knows Peter's double life and then indicates the number of pumpkin bombs around the room, to prove that he's the Green Goblin.
  • Smart Ball:
    • Since Peter is allowed to grow up, he's able to act out and behave in the responsible way that he is supposed to, rather than be stuck in the constant cycle of Aesop Amnesia and static character in various periods. As such in issue #1, he turns Norman Osborn to the authorities, since it would be irresponsible as hell to let a known criminal lapse back into civilian life especially after he has knowledge of the people nearest and dearest to Peter.
    • In issue #4, rather than just angst over the revelation he was the clone while Ben was original, Peter decided to do his own independent study and found out that he is the original. He then, through simple deduction, reasoned that Norman had been the one to inform Otto about Ben and Warren’s clone project.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Otto ultimately ends up surviving the Compressed Adaptation of the Superior Spider-Man, but in this case he ends up returning to his broken, bed-ridden body.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • A number of fans have noted the project's similarity to Ed Piskor's X-Men: Grand Design which merged all the different X-Men eras into a straight narrative by inserting it against the actual historical period and skirting the static aging of ongoing comics.
    • As a series that shuts off Comic-Book Time and tells its story through decades, it's also one to John Byrne's Superman & Batman: Generations.
  • Spotting the Thread: Peter figures out Miles is possessed by Otto Octavius by noting how "Miles" is acting too serious and referring Venom!Kraven by his real name.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: The picture frame Peter keeps of Mary Jane and his children on his desk in LF#4 shows that his twin children — Claire and Ben — take after both himself and MJ. Claire has Peter's brown hair and general features, while Ben has his mother's red hair and blue eyes. In issue #5, Claire takes after Peter, looking more or less like a female Peter in his college days albeit with Mary Jane's dimples and good looks.*
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A major element of the mini-series, as it deals with decades-long fallout of actions while being not needing to maintain status quos.
    • In the comics, Jonah’s involvement with the creation of the Scorpion and Spider-Slayers is ignored and his comeuppance of his involvement with the creation of Scorpion comes up years later in a Hobgoblin story; here Jonah is under investigation by the police. Even if he tried to keep his involvement under wraps during the initial stages of the deal, the police would find out that he was part of the villains’ creations and make him a suspect.
    • Despite his amnesia, Norman is still a threat to Peter’s personal life. Because of that, Peter calls the police as an anonymous tipper so that Norman can go to jail.
    • Due to the Vietnam War being underway, the topic of whether or not the superhero population should go overseas to fight is brought up rather than ignored like many comics did at the time. By the events of issue #2 we see that Captain America has Taken A Third Option and is trying to save both sides while Tony Stark is fielding a camo'ed up version of his Mk-III Armor to hunt Steve.
    • When people with extraordinary abilities get involved in war, it tends to make things worse due to escalation. The Vietnam War is still going strong in 1977 due to Cap, Iron Man, and Giant Man’s involvement. Reed also points out the very real and frightening possibility that Hank Pym could get captured and the Viet Công could reverse engineer the Pym Particles for their soldiers.
    • In the comics, May’s advanced age makes her prone to fainting but is otherwise not commented on in the comics due to the sliding timescale making her not “too” old. Come issue #3 which is set in the 1980’s, May who is still alive is in her 90’s and has a severe case of dementia, a disease that a lot of old people have.
    • In Spider-Girl and Renew Your Vows, Mary Jane and Peter have a healthy relationship despite Peter’s commitment to being Spider-Man and raised Mayday and Annie Parker well thanks to Peter giving up the mask due to his injuries in the early part of their childhood. Without a life-changing disability and a direct commitment to retire to raise his child, Peter’s continued commitment to being Spider-Man leaves Mary Jane alone to raise two babies. This coupled with an aging Aunt May who suffers from a severe case of dementia proves it hard for her to manage, not helped by Peter being openly neglectful. The stress causes MJ and Peter to separate, which they did briefly in 616 when she suffered from PTSD after a stalker kidnapped her, a far cry from comics who ignore the strains of marriage coupled with superheroics.
    • By 1984, a 37-year-old Peter has begun feeling his age and slowing down. He cites this as the primary reason he decided to keep using the Symbiote after discovering it was a living creature.
    • How does the final confrontation between Norman Osborn, who’s well into his seventies or eighties in the 1990s, and Peter Parker end? With a climatic showdown and battle to the death? Nope! It ends when Norman suffers a heart attack from all the strain he puts onto his body with his anger and excitement. Norman isn’t in his prime and can’t be as physical as he was years ago. The most he can do is try and kill Peter with a remote-controlled Goblin Glider which Peter easily dispatches. In the end, Norman Osborn dies from a completely mundane heart attack rather than a dramatic fight with Peter.
    • In a world full of superheroes, what happens when the 9/11 terrorist attacks still succeed? Superhumans are immediately drafted by the government for The War on Terror.
    • When heroes fight against other heroes, the villains tend to take advantage of the opportunity. Issue #6 reveals Doctor Doom did so, managing to take over the world and eliminate many of the divided heroes.
    • If given a choice to steal a superhero's body, a genius supervillain would obviously choose that of a younger and freshly-on-his-prime over that of his aged and worn-up Arch-Enemy.
  • Taking the Bullet: In issue #4, Harry Osborn fatally does this for Peter when Doctor Octopus attempt to skewer him and Ben from behind.
  • Talk to the Hand: In issue #2, Reed slaps Peter after the latter, rattled up by Mary Jane's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, accuses him of holding back their scientific achievements in favor of the status quo and throws Sue having apparently left him for Namor in his face.
  • Time Skip: Each issue jumps ahead a decade or so; the first issue is set in 1966 (four years into Peter’s career as Spider-Man), the final is set in 2019 (with Peter as an old man).
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Jameson is noticeably more irate than usual when he criticizes Peter’s photos. He berates Peter for not taking photos of Spider-Man committing crimes, underpays Peter for his work, insults Peter’s choice in music, and yells at him to get out of his office. Peter is noticeably shocked at Jameson’s attitude, but Betty explains to him that Jameson is under pressure due to being questioned by the police for his involvement with the Scorpion and Spider-Slayers.
    • Peter in his time working at the Future Foundation tends to get into angry political debates with Reed, who is his boss and mentor, and then in the climax pulls a low blow insulting Reed for Sue leaving him, which earns him a justified slap to the face. In issue #3, he becomes a terrible husband and father, someone who uses Spider-Man work mostly as an excuse to get away from MJ and the kids, who he neglects. He also defends Aunt May, and turns down Mary Jane's suggestion to put her in a Senior's home, despite the fact that her senility briefly led to his babies being missing and lost until NYPD found them and returned May home.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ben Reilly dies fighting Morlun, but we're never told what happened to the clone of Gwen Stacy.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: Norman as per his more common and recent adaptations wants Peter to be his true heir and not that disappointment, Harry Osborn. He's willing to extort, blackmail, and torture Peter to get him to "join" him. It gets so bad that, in issue #2, he contacts Miles Warren and requests him to create a clone of Peter.
  • Yandere: Perhaps the peak of Otto's pettiness, part of the reason he hated Peter so badly was because he resented having to "share" May's time, attention, and affections.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Discussed as Peter is genuinely worried about the balance of his responsibility as a hero and in his personal life, and also his responsibility as a citizen of the USA, Captain America however tells Peter that he must always do what he knows is right regardless of the personal sacrifices he has to make (which anticipates the sacrifice that Cap makes at the end):
    Captain America: "Son, responsibility doesn't mean you're at the whims of the world... Responsibility is about a lot of things, but first and foremost, its about selflessness and sacrifice, and seeing you throw yourself in danger's way, it's clear you understand both of those things. Let your heart guide you."


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