PREVIOUSLY: Spider-Man: Life Story #1
This issue takes place in 1977. As it opens, Peter Parker (now 30 years old) is married to Gwen Stacy and is working as a scientist for Reed Richards’ (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) company, the Future Foundation. One of their coworkers is Doctor Octopus, whom we’re told is completely reformed after surviving a heart attack some years earlier. Gwen works as a biologist for their former college Professor Miles Warren, and the Vietnam War is still raging on, with heroes like Iron Man and Giant Man fighting alongside American troops, while Captain America is considered a rogue traitor, fighting to protect innocent Viet Cong. We also learn that Flash was killed in the war in 1974, which Peter feels guilty about, thinking that if he had joined Flash in Vietnam he could have saved him.
Harry has been running Osborn Industries and is engaged to Mary Jane. Norman has been in jail since the last issue, but it looks like his memories of being the Green Goblin, and of Spider-Man’s secret identity have returned, and he contacts his son to let him in on those a few other pretty big secrets. I really don’t want to say too much more because there are some huge revelations in this issue which dramatically alter the lives of everyone by the time it’s over.
I’ll just add that we get some more interesting questions raised about the role of superheroes in our society, as Peter debates with Gwen and others about whether or not he and others like him are doing the right thing with their abilities. There’s a great scene where Peter asks Reed about why Reed hasn’t made clothing made out of “unstable molecules” available to the public, and his reasoning makes sense, although Peter doesn’t completely agree. This little argument also leads to the revelation that at some point Sue Storm left Reed to go be with Namor.
Another great story by Chip Zdarsky, with the amazing artwork of Mark Bagley, this is shaping up to be one of the best Spider-Man series that I’ve read in decades.