Yes, this may be a spoiler for some since comics don’t come out till tomorrow. Quite frankly this is not a spoiler since USA Today broke the story.
For those unaware, Marvel (specifically Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen) killed off Spider-Man. Not the traditional one, but the one featured in the Ultimate comics since 2000. The Ultimate line featured revised, more modernized versions of the classic Marvel characters, featuring an updated Spidey. This version was independent, and allowed the creators to explore and reimagine the character and his world.
Spider-Man’s run lasted 160 issues, and tomorrow it comes to an abrupt end. Peter Parker dies saving everyone who is important to him–Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy and his Aunt May–from being killed at the hands of arch-rival Green Goblin. Ultimately, he sacrifices himself on their behalf.
The Spider-Man mythos is built on tragedy and responsibility. It all goes back to what his Uncle Ben told him:
With great power comes great responsibility.
Peter ultimately becomes Spider-Man to seek revenge upon the robber-turned-murderer of Uncle Ben. Peter ultimately had the chance to prevent this, but he didn’t. This failing became his cross to bare, with him finding comfort because he was using his “great power” to make sure that no one would have to lose a loved one the way he did.
As Spider-Man was forged in death, its only fitting that the character ends that way. Spider-Man exists only because he failed to prevent the death of a loved one. Its only appropriate that his life was bookended by ceasing to exist because he prevented the death of his loved ones.
Bendis gave a great quote in the previously mentioned USA Today article.
Bendis had kicked around the idea of killing him for years. As the Ultimate Universe progressed, he saw ways to do things that hadn’t been seen before or explore brand-new relationships.
“We had talked about what Spider-Man meant and what it could mean and what kind of new stories you could tell,” Bendis says. “If he died saving Aunt May like he couldn’t save Uncle Ben, then you really had something.
“It occurred to me that if Peter passed away in a meaningful way, he could be the Uncle Ben character to a new Spider-Man, which then continues it to be a real Spider-Man story. Then it became more than just, ‘Oh my God, you killed him!'”
Ultimately, Spider-Man redeemed himself, which is a fitting end for him. He may have failed Uncle Ben, but he didn’t fail Aunt May.
This differs from when DC killed off Superman in 1992, as they always intended on bringing back the last son of Krypton. Marvel swears up and down that this is the end of the line for the character.
The tricky part is where they decide to go from here. Marvel has already announced that in the fall there will be a new Ultimate Spider-Man, and Bendis hinted that the new one will be influenced by Peter’s death.
Hopefully they won’t bring in some clones, as the one featured in the regular series only lead to more headaches. Until then, rest in peace Ultimate Spider-Man.