Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Death of Spider-Man (Ultimate) Part 1

Ultimate Spider-Man. I used to love this series. It was the first comic I seriously followed, and one of the only ones of which I've read every issue. Brian Michael Bendis still writes to this day, but the original artist, Mark Bagley, was replaced with Stuart Immonen in issue #111. I considered this a slight drop in art quality, but that's only because Bagley is my all-time favorite Spider-Man artist, so no big deal. Then, around issue #133, the Ultimate comics crossover Ultimatum happened, leading to a rebranding of the series as Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and restarting the numbers. The art was taken over by David Lafuente, giving us comics like the last one I reviewed, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #13. Although Bendis remained the writer, I noticed there had been problems. He seemed to forget how to write female characters, instead making their entire personalities revolve around how much they want to date Peter. If Gwen Stacy were in this comic, you would see. Anyway, let's begin.

Ultimate Spider-Man #156

Now, you'll see on the cover there, the banner "Death of Spider-Man" looking all ominous at the top. This is the newest Ultimate crossover which will end in, I assume, Spider-Man dying. I can't see much of a point to this, seeing that Spider-Man is the only popular Ultimate title, and killing it off would just be bad business. Of course, I guess they need to start these crossovers to get people to buy the comics before they quit in disgust. The other title incorporated into this event is Avengers Vs. New Ultimates, which may only be good in that Mark Millar, the writer of the Ultimates 1 and 2 as well as Kick-Ass, is writing it. You can usually trust Millar.

So, our comic begins with the title, Death of Spider-Man, again. Guess they really want to hammer that in. I imagine next issue will just forgo the cover art and replace it with the words, "Spider-Man Is Going To Die!"

So anyway, we see our good friend, Carol Danvers, the current director of SHIELD. She is talking to Norman Osborn, who is both alive and naked.

He should, by all means, be dead, considering he was shot in the head by Danvers after he killed his own son, Harry. Are we gonna get an explanation for this? No?

Uh, okay. We then cut to Peter and Mary Jane, who are dating again. There really wasn't any reason for them to be not dating, except maybe that Bendis decided to change things without a good reason for doing so. They more or less bring up that fact when Peter says he can't think of a reason why they broke up. Way to write yourself out of that jam, Bendis. Anyway, Peter tells her about how J. Jonah Jameson, after figuring out Peter's secret identity, and then surviving being shot in the head, decided not to out Spider-Man, and instead give Peter a job wherein he could go fight crime whenever. How convenient.

Their conversation is interrupted, however, when Peter's phone starts ringing. He doesn't pick it up, though there's a very creepy reason he should.

The uh, guy outside is Steve Rogers, Captain America. Previously, the Ultimates agreed to train Spider-Man, so he stops being such a liability. I'm pretty sure that was the plan before, when Nick Fury was in charge, but with Danvers as the head honcho I guess it needed to be reconsidered. Cap tells Peter to meet him at a cemetary in 15 minutes.

We cut to SHIELD Headquarters where Norman Osborn is being held. A psychiatrist is talking to him. Osborn apparently doesn't take therapy well, because he decides to explode everything,

He turns, again, into his Green Goblin form, which in Ultimate is a giant green fire demon. He breaks out the rest of the Ultimate Six, most of whom we haven't seen in over 100 issues.

They smash out of the detention center, and Electro helicopters them out.

Spider-Man arrives at the cemetery, and Captain America is waiting for him. Cap lectures him about death, and how Spider-Man doesn't seem to care enough about not-dying. This speech seems really unnecessary. I mean, Ultimate Spider-Man isn't the most responsible of heroes, but he's not stupid. He takes serious situations seriously, he just makes jokes so he doesn't get too scared to do anything. Anyway, Cap's chastising is interrupted by a call by Danvers, about the security breach at the Triskelion, and that Fury's team has gone renegade and is attacking the city. Captain America leaves, telling Spider-Man he can't come.

Back with the Norman Osborn Fun Times Gang, they've crashed the helicopter, and went into some building through the window.

They see the news covering the fight between the New Ultimates and the Avengers on a bridge, and Norman takes it the wrong way.

Well, actually, if you take "God" to mean the creator of that universe, Brian Michael Bendis, it makes perfect sense. This is just happening because Bendis wants it to. Maybe when Osborn died he broke the 4th Wall and saw through the panels or something. We see Spider-Man on the scene, and he can only watch the giant explosions coming from the bridge. He gets a disturbing call from Mary Jane.

And that's the end. Now, it all seems very climactic, but why is it happening? Osborn was brought back to life with nary an explanation or even tiny excuse. It's just, "Hey, you're alive again."
"Yep, guess I am."

I love the fact that Bagley is back to drawing this, but the writing just doesn't match up. Spider-Man's not going to die now, just like he didn't die during Ultimatum when they teased us with the fact that he went missing. It's so obviously a ploy to get more readers with a storyline that honestly, wasn't foreshadowed at all and has very little impetus to begin with.

Then there's how Bendis stuck MJ and Peter back together, as if he wanted to hastily bring the status quo back to the good old days when Bagley was drawing. I didn't think it was possible, but I think after all these years of writing Ultimate Spider-Man, he's just running out of ideas. I'll have to read the rest of this storyline to make sure, but if my fears are correct, this will just be trite and predictable.


  1. Ok, maybe I'm missing something, but since when did Doc Ock's arms look like that? They resemble organic webbing in all the screens here. Is it an ultimates thing?

  2. Here is what I think will happen. Look away now if you don't like spoilets, but you know how Spidey got shot? Yeah. So, I think he is gravly injured but his healing factor deals with that as he fights the... Ultimate Five. Once he finishes that he becomes really injured. Spider-Man dies as he doesn't come back and somone else takes the reins with a new costume. After a while, ine readers start whining they want Peter, Peter's healing factor will have done the job. But now there are two Spideys. I guess I'm mostly sceptical , because Spidey is the most popular character and to kill him just doesn't seem smart. Plus, we never made such a big deal of all the others, even if it is Spider-Man, it seems too overdone and seems they just want you scared so when you see the ending you'll feel releived.