Comic Book Guy: Don't Buy Into the 'Death of Spider-Man'

Blog by Thom Atkinson | 29 Jun 2011

Last week, Marvel raised their profile by having their 'big' story of the moment grace the pages of USA Today and the Guardian. The story was one of heroism and the death of an icon, more precisely the 'Death of Spider-Man'. So if this monumental issue, figuratively and literally wrapped in black, was so hot, why didn't it make last week's Skinny Picks? Well firstly, as predicted, the issue wasn't that good and secondly, this isn't really Spider-Man.

Most casual comic fans may have seen the headlines and thought a comic book staple was being killed off, but they were wrong. Unlike the 'Death of Captain America' story arc from 2007, this swan song in Spidey's run is part of the Ultimate imprint of Marvel comics. An alternate reality to the better known Marvel Universe.

Created in 2000 by Mark Millar in an effort to re-introduce new readers to the Marvel universe, the Ultimate universe was stripped clean of continuity. A clean slate to tell alternative stories and take characters in new directions. Although initially a critical and commercial success, eventually the series started to flag. Once a none-continuity universe started to develop its own convoluted continuity (still following?), there was little to distinguish it from Marvels other series.

Having Ultimate Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man (who had his own continuity reset with Brand New Day) was now utterly pointless. Attempts were made to radicalise the Ultimate universe, and the epic saga Ultimatum killed off a large majority of Marvel's heroes in a number of unnecessarily gruesome ways. So what's left of the Ultimate universe? A mess.

A new Spider-Man is already being lined up to take the Ultimate version's place, but to what end? For now, don't buy into the hype and don't buy the Ultimate series.