Unless you've managed to avoid any media related to comic books, you already know about the story running through the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. Months before the arc even started, issues were marked as a prelude to the arc. On Tuesday, Marvel issued a press release on the final part of the story in issue #160 and USA Today even ran a spoiler showing a key scene on the second to last page.
We have read many death issues over the years. Lately we've been getting more and more. It would be easy to dismiss the Death of Spider-Man arc as just another death issue but it actually was more than just about the death of a character. Brian Michael Bendis did a superb job in conveying the fact that Peter Parker was a teenage hero.
As Marvel's most iconic character (even if this was the Ultimate Universe version and not the regular 616 version), let's take a look at how this death story arc compares to DC's most iconic character's death, Superman. Be warned, there will indeed be some spoilers below.== TEASER ==
There are actually many parallels between the death of Spider-Man and the death of Superman. Superman was a hero of the city of Metropolis. A savage and powerful beast (Doomsday) was unleashing terror and violence across the city. Superman's allies were no match for Doomsday. Superman fought Doomsday to a standstill and it was his final blow that killed the beast. That final fatal blow used up all the energy and life Superman had and he died in Lois Lane's arms.
Spider-Man's death has many similarities. The difference is, Spider-Man's is actually better handled. Where Superman was saving the city, Spider-Man's fight was focused more on his actual neighborhood. That gave it a more personal feel. Norman Osborn in the Ultimate Universe is a deadly beast similar to Doomsday, only with more intelligence and control. Spider-Man had some allies present (Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake) but they weren't able to help him. As for what caused Spider-Man's final moment...I won't spoil everything. But you may have seen that panel from USA Today (up above) and have an idea.
One area this story fell flat was the inclusion of the Ultimates. In recent issues, it was decided that Spider-Man had to be properly trained as a hero. He had a (poor) training session with Iron Man and one with Captain America. It was later in saving Captain America from a bullet the Punisher shot that caused Spider-Man to be injured. It wasn't a normal bullet and Spider-Man had to fight the Sinister Six right after being shot. There was some confusion after the shot and Spider-Man and the Ultimates were separated. The problem is, the Ultimates knew Osborn had escaped and knew that Spider-Man was injured. They might have been dealing with Nick Fury and the Avengers but it didn't make sense that not even a single member could be spared to find, locate and protect Spider-Man from Norman Osborn and the Sinister Six.
What's next for Spider-Man? Can he come back from the dead?
In comic books, we know that pretty much everyone can come back from the dead. When the Human Torch died in the pages of Fantastic Four #587, everyone feels it's only a matter of time until he returns. Things are different in the Ultimate Universe. We have seen many deaths during the Ultimatum storyline so there is that possibility that Spider-Man will remain dead.
How can Marvel kill off the lead character in their biggest Ultimate Comics title? We know a new Spider-Man will surface. After Superman died, we had the Reign of the Supermen and saw four new characters. I don't think we will be getting four Spider-Mans (or should I say Spider-Men?). We've seen the Ultimate Universe of the Clone Saga and Marvel will most likely stay away from clones.
Superman was able to return from the dead because of his Kryptonian physiology. Spider-Man doesn't have that luxury. This just may be the actual death of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe. I may not have loved the final moments but I did enjoy the entire arc. It would be difficult to bring Spider-Man back from the dead and if they did come up with an acceptable solution, there are other repercussions such as Peter's entire neighborhood knowing his identity.
Ultimate Spider-Man dealt with a teenage boy that was doing everything he could to be a hero. This arc showed how far he was willing to go. Despite being seriously wounded, he never gave up. Superman was accepted as a hero before he died and didn't really need to prove to anyone that he was one. Spider-Man went above and beyond what his duties were. It was a noble death.
I loved the character but I can't see how bringing him back would not tarnish this story. If other major characters like Wolverine and Professor X can die in the Ultimate Universe, why can't Spider-Man. Let him rest in peace. We will have a new Spider-Man soon and there will be even more opportunities to tell new stories than there have been in the 160 issues we've had of Ultimate Spider-Man.
Superman might be a bigger, stronger and more iconic character but this Spider-Man had a better and more noble death.