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Off My Mind: The Death of Spider-Man vs. the Death of Superman

There have been many deaths in comics and Ultimate Spider-Man is the latest to perish. Was his death worthy and how does it compare to certain another hero dressed in red and blue?

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.

Who will be the new Spider-Man?

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.

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Posted by dorsk188
I haven't read Ultimate Spider-Man in a while, but I don't see why a clone is out of the question.  There were tons of those little buggers running around.  As for other possibilities, haven't followed the universe close enough to speculate.  I'd expect them to create a new character (or adapt one from the 616 continuity),  Maybe Ricochet or Phil Urich? 
 
One good thing about the Ultimate universe was the "dead means dead" rule, liberally applied.  It's a shame Marvel couldn't keep their "innovation" restricted to that universe, rather than screwing up the mainstream with events and BONG and nonsense.
Posted by ArtisticNeedham

I had a chance to buy this issue today, but I didn't because I hadn't bought the other issues leading up to it.  I used to buy Ultimate Spider-Man all the time.  Is it worth getting for that reason?  That I used to get this comic and its the last issue with Ultimate Peter Parker?  Or should I get the other issues as well?

Edited by Duo_forbidden

I was one of the few that thought Peter was going to live and just stop being Spider-Man. After reading the issue, I still can't believe it. I think his death was pretty heroic just like Superman's. His last words really pierced through my heart. 
With Peter's death, I think the New Ultimates and Avengers will really take the time to reevaluate themselves (That's where Ultimate Fallout comes in). They handled the bigger problems of the world while Peter handled the little things most of the time. And I agree, The New Ultimates had some time to at least check on Peter since they captured Nick Fury in Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates #4. They basically left him on the bridge, not to mention, forgot all about Osborn and his Sinister Six. They play a part in Peter's death.
There's only been VERY RARE comebacks in the Ultimate Universe: Beast came back to life (but died in Ultimatum), Quicksilver came back to life (but probably faked his death in the first place), Gwen Stacy technically came back, Thor came back to life, but I think Peter will most likely stay dead.

Edited by Deadcool

I REALLY want that issue... 
I don't have anything to say, I read the other issues, they were perfect, it was what I expected, that is Spider-man's nature, even if he dies, he would try to save as much people as he can that is his responsibility, that is What I have loved since I was kid, he is a hero... 
 
I would love to express my feelings about this, is difficult, Bendis, currently he is one of the most hated writers, but I like the way he writes, the most heroic things I have read in comics comes from him, he is indeed one of my favourite writers and no one could change that, no one, he has made me feel this feeling of heroism and sacrifice better than almost anyone.

Posted by Planewalker

A new spider man seems like a good idea with a new cast and new characters...

Posted by Eyz

They intentionally referenced Supes' death in Ultimate Spidey's :D
Me likey!
 
Oh, and I love that new Spider-man costume!
Could it be..like...Ultimate Miguel O'Hara?

Posted by Batmarcus

I need to know how he died I will buy the issue tommorrow!! 

Posted by Txman210

Great article

Posted by Norusdog

kill peter just to bring a new spider man? that's stupid.

Posted by niamahai

oh Mark Bagley. Your art only works with Spidey. (i find his JL run to have very shoddy artwork)

Posted by Chane

I loved the Death of Superman, the final part can still give me goosebumps. Iconic.

Posted by Timandm

I honestly don't understand how the death of ANY major super hero in the Marvel or DC universe can be taken seriously...
 
The list of super heroes that have died and come back is now longer than the list of super heroes who have died and STAYED dead...
 
And if you don't count Uncle Ben as a Super Hero, then I'm not sure there's ANYONE even on the list of those who have died and STAYED dead... So, what's the point???
 
The Human Torch died not long ago... So what?  He'll be back soon.
 
Night Crawler died a little before The Human Torch....  He should be back soon....
 
SERIOUSLY, I challenge everyone reading this, try to think of a significant character in either the Marvel or DC Universe that has died and NOT come back to life....  Can you think of even ONE????  Since death is such a temporary thing in the comic books, why should they ever be considered as significant events?

Posted by Grim

 Im not quite sure how the non-mainstream death of Spiderman means anything to anyone. Its not like 60 years of Spidey are coming to a close. 
 
i guess i liked his death, but the art could have portrayed it better. The story had him pushing himself to his limits for the entire story, but the art has him looking like he's pretty much ok. Not really complaining, just something i noticed that i think may have altered my opinion of the story a tad. 
  i was only reading Spidey for the this death anyway. I wouldnt have bought it except Marvel had it in that infernal bag...

Posted by webling
Posted by treysome

Someone will now take the name and costume.  Who knows maybe you'll even like this new guy/girl like when Bucky took the Captain America title.

Posted by GundamHeavyarms

I guess we were a lot less jaded about comic book deaths when  Superman died.  You'd think that the ultimates would at least try to help Peter out since they were so intent on training him.  His future was so bright.
 
@Duo_forbidden
Yeah I thought that too.  Peter put up with a lot of stuff, he deserved a happy ending.  I suppose he got one, sacrificing himself to protect the people he cares about.  Its still bittersweet, but now the question is, who could this new guy be?

Posted by SammyGabryl

When I was under the impression the new costume was blue and red rather than black and red, the name that came to mind was Miguel O'Hara. Anybody remember him?

Edited by Grimoire

Unlike most I don't read much of anything to do with the Ultimate Universe and Spider-Man was no exception. What they did with the Hulk threw me off of anything with this continuity. Lately though I have been told that Ultimate Spider-Man was the exception so I might go back and read some of it even though I have read in articles that Black Cat is an older woman and that she was disgusted to find out Spider-Man was a teenage boy which sounds odd to me reading the original Spider-man. lol

Posted by Bionder

Great Article. I hope they will find a solution soon for the new/old spider-man.

Edited by ninjadude853

Actually, The Ultimates did not know Spidey's enemies escaped. Carol Danvers knew, but she didn't tell them right away, and then she got knocked into a coma in New Ultimates vs Ultimate Avengers number 3. That still doesn't excuse the fact that THEY JUST LEFT HIM AFTER  TAKING A BULLET FOR CAP. Maybe they thought an ambulance took care of him or something. Though they still could have at least ASKED WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM. Ungrateful bastards. Then again there was that whole Super Human rebellion in North Korea they had to worry about.
 
That said though, I honestly believe that they're not going to get out of Spidey's death unscathed. I'd bet money that they're going to go on a guilt trip when they find out what their inattentiveness caused. Especially Captain America.

Posted by fodigg

It's the Ultimates universe. Who cares?

Posted by Mighty Thorion

When Superman got killed it was the first time it had happened to an iconic character and no one knew how it was going to pan out . Would he be back? When? How? Since then, "deaths" have become commonplace among the heroes of DC and Marvel to the point where they are totally boring and meaningless. We know that within a very short space of time Spider-man will be back - so what is the point of killing him? YAWN!

Posted by primepower53

I have to disagree. I feel Death of Superman was better.

Posted by G-Man

@primepower53: Disagreeing is totally fine. I appreciate that you did without saying something like "You're wrong, you don't know what you're talking about" way that sometimes pops up. If we all agreed, things could get boring.

I will admit I haven't read Death of Superman in some time. Even back when it first happened, I wasn't completely blown away. To me, the differences are with Spidey, he's working harder to be a hero while for Superman, he just needs to stand there and automatically is a hero. Doomsday seemed cool but we didn't get to know anything about him until later. Being the one that killed Superman didn't really mean much. If it had been Lex Luthor or some other villain we knew, it would have changed things completely. I thought Spidey saving fighting in his neighborhood gave it a much more personal touch versus fighting to save a city full of faceless crowds.

Both were good deaths (can't believe I'm saying that) but I feel the journey in Ultimate Spider-Man was more personal.

Staff
Posted by The Stegman

well although both deaths are iconic, i don't know i you can say spidey's is more "noble' than Superman's. i mean at the end of the day, they both died to protected the place they loved, superman may have been protecting a greater area, but he loved Metropolis just as much as Peter loved his neighborhood. both fought tooth and nail and made the ultimate (pun intended) sacrifice to make sure their loved ones were safe, so to say one is more noble than the other isn't really possible 

Posted by Omega Ray Jay

I've never been taken with the Ultimates line, especially Thor. I did play the Ultimate Spider-man game on the PS2 and enjoyed it, this however this seems to have gone down much differently to how I assumed it would so I'm willing to pick up the trade.

Posted by Billy Batson
@primepower53 said:
I have to disagree. I feel Death of Superman was better.

I agree with you. 

BB

Online
Posted by pspin

I think that the death of Spider-man is better, mostly because I loved this version of Peter Parker and I hate to see him go. 
 
I hope that they bring him back becasue he was the heart and soul of the Ultimate Universe and he shouldn't stay dead, however if they bring him back they need to do it well and not some stupid cop out. 
 
If they do bring him back there could be a great story with Peter and the new Spider-man and since coming back from the dead does not really happen in the Ultimat Universe that would make a great story in itself

Posted by Hamlet

It's not real Spider-Man anyway.
Posted by Comiclove5

Great Article.

Posted by Hamlet
@Timandm
I remember reading Civil War and noticing a returned Nighthawk. I thought "Why bring back a character that was pretty dull and pointless and deserved to die in the first place??"
;-)
Posted by Grandmaster_Fro

Spider-Man should stay dead or perhaps Venom should arise as a new Spider-Man. We've seen villains have a change of heart when a hero dies

Posted by OneHappyIgloo

Spiderman died?

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

I feel we should compare both these stories to a far more iconic and noble death. 
The death of Ch'p. 
He was hit by a yellow truck. 
R.I.P.

Posted by ProjektGill

That Norman Osborn smirk at the end really pissed me off. Hopefully it was a dying smirk.

Posted by The Impersonator

Rest in peace, Ultimate Spidey.

Posted by zombietag

the difference to me is that this is the ultimate universe. it never resonate as much as 616. when superman died that was THE superman. this is just an alternate spider-man. yeah, its the most popular one, but to me it will never carry the same weight. i wasnt as emotionally attached you know? but still a good read.

Posted by GBrutality

first off i want to make a gamble that possibly (emphasis on possibly) it may be peter in the new spider-man guise. i've been annoyed how peter could die but gwen, a sort of unnecessary character in the grand scheme of things and a nutjob like osborn could be kept alive through various means of science. fury, someone who used to always have a role in peter's life should feel responsible because he was proven entirely wrong by the way of him constantly shitting on spider-man and bragging how he could own him and do all this shit to feed his ego over the years and in the last moments he proved he was a much truer hero than any of his foot soldiers in capes, which brings me to my second point. 

what got real tiring for me with most of the ultimate line is that they made characters so "gritty" and "realistic" they just became a chore to read. captain america and iron are my examples here because they were supposed to be these heroes that were giving spider-man classes in heroics because he wasn't as heroic as they were according to them. ultimates iron man has become a bland, uncool character in the sense that his intellect has proven to be a joke compared to his brothers, and he doesn't seem to do anything that much heroic unless his team is by his side and it's all ultimates related. just seems like he could be doing more and he's kind of turned into a wash-up of a character that can't do shit by himself. all talk, no action. i don't care what time he comes from, captain america is a dick in the ultimate u. he didn't teach peter anything, he just bitched and put him down and left, to take care of a matter, but still. captain america doesn't do a damn thing out of just being a hero. and there peter was, jumping into that situation out of the goodness and duty he felt to do the right thing to protect this jerk who was just berating him, and he got clipped. they say "good work!" and leave, and then he goes to his neighborhood cause he hears his enemies are there and he has to protect people. now, these are people that were not the nicest to him at the start of the series, he was picked on majorly, except for mary jane. so, with a bullet wound from a round fired by the punisher meant to take out captain america, all things that add up to insta-kill, he went to fight them and protect innocent civilians, along with the little amount of family and friends he had. something not once have i ever seen this universe's cap or iron man even come close to. invasion from different planets, different countries, i don't care. this just showed that the ultimate line lost the only redeemable, optimistic, fun, strong character they had going for them. 
 
that whole rant being said, if he's gone then fine. it's stupid but yeah, i hate resurrections that cheapen stories years later as well. but i'm giving this re-haul (second one in as many years mind you) 3 issues each, because these characters, the ones left, don't even remotely come close to being enjoyable reads anymore. and again, i think it's possible fury out of guilt revives peter, but since now everyone knows he was spider-man he can't see his family or friends, but he can be spider-man, and fury will piggy bank him and everything. it'll cause a whole slew of emotions from his loved ones seeing someone saying they're him swinging around cause much grief from aunt may, mary jane and gwen they can't stop feeling, and others like the human torch, iceman and shadowcat may try and face him and demand this person respect their fallen friend. it makes for a lot of good story telling, but again, would rather him now rest in peace.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

I want this arc...alot.

Posted by danhimself

I really don't think that he'll be resurrected any time soon....death is pretty permanent thing in the Ultimate Universe....Thor is really the only character who's been resurrected and while it's been a while since I read Ultimatum I'm pretty sure that he never really died but switched places with Valkyrie so that she could live right? Gwen Stacey is still dead...the one walking around now is a clone...Beast never died but was taken by S.H.I.E.L.D. to work on the Legacy Virus....everyone else has died and stayed dead....also Bendis said that Peter will kind of be the new Spider-man's Uncle Ben and act as his inspiration

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Well for a fact, more people used to read comics and Superman was the more of a American icon, also none cares about Ultimate Spider-man, he's not the real Spider-man.
Posted by Nova`Prime`
@Timandm: Uncle Ben, Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), The Question (Vic Sage)
Posted by UnosInfinitos

Crazy idea!
What if the new ultimate spider-man is ultimate Jessica drew with a sex change?

Posted by lorex

Meh I have never found the ultimate universe very compelling and its not as if major characters have not been killed before. This is a non-issue for me because the ultimate universe dosent really count that's why the writers can do all kinds of crazy stuff that occurs there. Talk to me when they kill Spider-man in the 616 universe.

Posted by G-Man

@UnosInfinitos: I say padded suit like Mattie Franklin wore before she became Spider-Woman in the 90s. I like the Ultimate Jessica Drew character.

Staff
Posted by labarith

I think it would be a big MISTAKE to leave female Peter Parker out of it.... Spiderwoman.  Hell, I think it's a big mistake now; the last we saw she was going after Roxxon.  Who gives a fudgenugget about Roxxon.  I want to know if she has the hots for Ultimate Kitty Pride... remember, apparently despite the fact that the ultimate U is supposed to be more "realistic", they still have the idea that clones gain access to your memories.  By magic.  (or really stupid science), 
 
"Jessica Drew" should go back to being Peter Parker... a transvestite Peter Parker.  And she should tell MJ that she's in lesbians with her.

Posted by marvelunivers_deleteme

ben rielly

Posted by bjmorga

I have mixed feelings about the Death of Ultimate Spider-Man. Ultimate Spider-Man represented a return to the Big Two for me. I left comics in 1995. It's funny how the parallels between my leaving mainstream comics then and match up to the conditions of Comic Book Ecosystem now. I was tired of all the hype companies were producing. Crossovers were killing the idea of just telling compelling stories. Death was being used a gimmick. 
 
I got an occasional graphic novel or collection here and there, mainly Stray Bullets and Strangers in Paradise. For whatever reason, I picked up Ultimate Spider-Man. I was glad that I did because here was a comic that captured some of the magic of comic book discovery.  I followed it straight on through. It opened up avenues and pathways for me to get back into mainstream comics.  The Ultimate books were a neat experiment that turned into something quite relevant. It made me go back and check out the MU stories featuring a lot of these characters. In a strange way, the Ultimate books made me appreciate the Marvel Universe more. It wasn't out of spite, but out of interest. 
 
There was a time when the Ultimate banner was synonymous for quality. Ultimate Spider-Man hasn't been the same since Ultimatum. That could be said for the whole line. Some of the magic and wonder was taken away by that ill-conceived story. The line has been limping along. Spider-Man did recapture some of its former glory, but it just wasn't the same. This current Death of Spider-Man story has faint traces back to the specious quality storytelling of Ultimatum: hype, death for death's sake, and a forced take on a shared universe. 
 
I still plan on checking out the new Ultimate Spider-Man, but I can't help but feel that this is the right time to abandon ship. The Ultimate Universe just won't be the same without Peter Parker and it will be a worse place for his lose. Despite all of the inane creative decisions that may have with other creators, Brian Michael Bendis has made Peter Parker the consistent heart and soul of the Ultimate Universe. While the Ultimates showed grandiose, cynical arrogance (which was highly entertaining) and the X-Men played out in it's usual dramatic style, Spider-Man gave a likable face to the storytelling. Here was a logical reinvention of the original Spider-Man, every bit as likable as the character we have all grown to love in the Marvel Universe. We all wanted to be Peter Parker at some point, and Bendis did his level best to make his Peter Parker just a little bit more of that pop icon we all love. 
 
The Ultimate Universe will be a hollow place without him. That's too bad. His death will represent more than just an absence of heart in the Ultimate Universe. I imagine in the long run, fewer people will be left to read the exploits of whoever takes over.

Posted by nick7913

To everyone ragging about how Ultimate Spider-Man isn't the real Spider-Man: Neither is the one in the main universe (I really don't want to say 616...) They're both interpretations of a character created by Lee and Ditko by modern writers. There is no "real" Spider-Man. That's all in your head. Some people enjoyed the way Bendis portrayed him in this series and some people didn't. The one thing no one can deny is that with 160 consecutive issues under his belt, Bendis's vision has been one of the most consistent. If you didn't enjoy it, I'm really sorry. Move along, there's nothing for you to see here. But for those of us who have loved and stuck with the character through more than a decade, let us mourn the passing of an icon. I believe that if anyone resurrects him, it probably won't be Bendis. And if it isn't BMB writing him, it's not Ultimate Spidey...

Edited by ThomasElliot

You can kill all the characters you want in an Elseworlds/What if story... hell, the Punisher killed off the Marvel Universe TWICE and a bunch of them became brain-chomping super-zombies.  An Old Logan got swallowed up and then tore through a Hulk's tummy. 
 
So? 
 
Entertaining, yes, absolutely.  I love that stuff.  Overall impact?  Very little because you know its not the "main" universe.  I don't really get the hype behind this one.  Human Torch, Captain A... I get it.  Its the main guys in the series that have been ongoing for 40+ years.  An alternate reality character... well, if you can't do anything you want to them, then what's the point of establishing an alternate reality? 
 
Also, I find Marvel's belittlement of DC's multiple universes to be highly hypocritical when they are the very people who given us things like Days of Future's Past, Onslaught Universe, Zombie universe, 2099, M2 or whatever it was called, Old Man Logan, Ultimate, etc.  the only difference is they never crossed them over really, which isn't a bad thing.

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