The summer of 2011 is just filled with comic book crossover events. In DC we have Flashpoint, an event that promises to not only change the DCU greatly, but seems to be a game changer in the comic book industry itself. The result of this large event will lead us to the notable DC “Relaunch.” Not to mention their minor crossover event of War of the Green Lanterns, that promises to end the career (and possibly life) of one human Green Lantern. Whether or not this will carry over has yet to be seen.
Marvel, however, has its own major crossovers taking place. The biggest one by far is Fear Itself, which spans almost the entire Marvel line up! In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if you didn’t know about their other large crossover event, what with hammers falling from the sky and changing all the heavy hitters of Marvel into…well, even bigger heavy hitters like The Death of Spider-Man, a story arc taking place in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. I know what you’re thinking, “Foreboding titles like that…usually don’t come true.” According to Marvel, The Death of Spider-Man is a “story that forever changes the Ultimate Comics universe.”
Let me warn you real quick, this article will contain spoilers from this point on.
Since its conception back in 2000, the Ultimate Universe has provided a fresh new look on some of Marvel’s most prominent superheroes. They turned Nick Fury into Samuel L. Jackson, and seemed to “modernize” the Marvel universe. For me, Ultimate Spiderman was a breath of fresh air from the bulky and often over complicated story arcs in Marvel’s Earth 616. Brian Michael Bendis, the long time writer of the series, brought about a younger Spiderman whose uncle had a cool ponytail. No joke, Uncle Ben had a ponytail, and it was awesome. From the getgo, Peter has remained young. He has yet to even graduate from Highschool! This is truly one of the best parts of the Ultimate Universe, which shows you just how hard it is to be a teen superhero. Peter is constantly juggling his social life and his after school job as the citie’s guardian, all the while trying to not let his Aunt realize he’s been severely injured. Not to mention girl problems. Lots and lots of girl problems. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazing Spider-Man, but for some reason Spider-Man is just so much more interesting as a teen who can barely handle the responsibility placed on him. This theme has been present throughout the series run, and looks to be the very catalyst for the current arc. Bendis has already stated that, “This is the biggest, boldest thing we’ve attempted in the ten years since we kicked this line off…This is the one thing that could be bigger than the CREATION of the Ultimate line.” Which, if you’ve followed the Ultimate series, means they’ll have to top the Ultimatum story arc that not only resulted in the death of most of the X-Men, but some of Marvel’s more well known heroes.
So what is Bendis saying when he claims this will be the biggest thing to happen to the Ultimate Universe? One thing we can be sure of now is that regardless of how it ends, Peter Parker will not be Spider-Man for the foreseeable future. That’s right, our favorite web-slinger will be hanging up his costume for what seems like forever, at least in the Ultimate Universe. Whether or not Spider-Man will actually die has yet to be seen, but after reading last week’s issue of Ultimate Spider-Man I can say that it doesn’t look good. I still find it more likely that he will opt to retire to spare his loved ones the trouble of being associated with Spider-Man. According to Marvel, issue 161 of Ultimate Spider-Man will introduce a new web-slinger, and a new costume at that. It would seem this is in fact a game changer for the series, and the Ultimate Universe itself. Things change often in comics, it’s just something you learn when you get into comics hardcore. Personally, I can’t see myself enjoying anyone else being Spider-Man. He has the perfect blend of sarcasm and kindness that makes him a great hero, however, I’ve often been wrong when change is involved. One thing is for sure though – the Ultimate Universe will be losing quite a bit after this major story arc. Not only will Peter and the classic costume be vanishing from the series, but it would seem as if the series long time writer will also be departing. Brian Michael Bendis has had a fantastic run on Ultimate Spider-Man, writing every issue to date. However, with Peter gone his name has yet to pop up in regards to the future of Ultimate Spider-Man.
This current arc is absolutely fascinating, and emotional. It brings a real sense of humanity to one of Marvel’s greatest heroes, and I wouldn’t change how the story has gone in the slightest. Yet, that also means giving up Peter Parker as Spider-Man. It’s a lot like my love for Blue Beetle – his death was done so well that a part of me is glad they haven’t brought him back, and yet as a fan I really miss him. Regardless of whether or not the new Spider-Man is accepted, one thing can be said for sure. It’s been a crazy 160 issue run, and I’ll be sad to see Peter go. Issue 160 of Ultimate Spider-man will be available at your local comic book store on June 22.