Is this thing on? We’ve reached the conclusion of the Death of Spider-Man story and it was such a big event that I enlisted Nathaniel Collins, the reviewer for the Avengers vs. New Ultimates tie-in, to help me discuss some of the talking points in this much-hyped story. The two of us talked about this latest issue which features Peter Parker’s last stand, our review of the comic and the story arc as whole. We also discuss what led Peter to this point and where we think the Ultimate Spidey universe is headed without him. During the original two-hour recording Nate did his best to keep me on topic as I attempted to learn about his strange, foreign Canadian culture and Wolverine fanhood. In the end, we were able to scrape together a solid 50-minute review of The Death of Spider-Man. So check it out if you get a few minutes and let us know what you think, and be gentle, I’m still a little sensitive after losing Peter 🙁
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #160
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Mark Bagley & Justin Ponsor
Plot: Mary Jane is panicking because she can’t reach Peter Parker on his cell phone. Outside her window, she sees the electrical explosions coming from the battle taking place in the middle of the neighborhood. MJ tries to leave but her mom tells her to stay put. She’ll be able to see her boyfriend the next day at school.
On the scene of the fight, Peter grabs Aunt May and Gwen Stacy and leaps away from an enraged Green Goblin. Peter tells Gwen to take May as far away as possible. The hero jumps back at the Goblin and meets his opponent midair. Peter delivers a powerful punch, sending his adversary crashing to the ground. Injured and overwhelmed, Peter uses the momentary advantage to seek out one of his partners, the Human Torch.
Johnny wakes up to Peter pleading for his help, and he sees Green Goblin leaping over Peter’s shoulder. Johnny flames on and collides with the villain above the rooftops. The Human Torch attacks the Goblin with his full force but the Green Goblin absorbs all of the energy. A fully restored and even more powerful Green Goblin emerges from the confrontation and a beaten Johnny Storm falls at Peter’s feet.
The Green Goblin unleashes a super-charged fireball into a row of parked vehicles and Peter lunges away at the last minute. Peter sneaks up behind the Goblin and attacks him with a postal service mailbox. Peter asks what the Goblin hopes to accomplish by killing him and then tosses him into the stream of water from an exposed fire hydrant. The water cools the Green Goblin only slightly and he approaches for the kill.
Mary Jane arrives driving a truck and then slams the vehicle full-speed into the Goblin. Peter pulls Mary Jane from the crash and the young couple share a kiss. Peter flings his girlfriend into a net of webbing away from the chaos. The Green Goblin crawls out from underneath the wreckage. Peter picks up the remains of the truck and smashes it down twice upon his foe.
Peter lets go of the battered truck and hunches over in pain. The hero is sent hurtling backwards into the grass when the truck explodes. Johnny Storm rushes to his side and tells Pete he beat Norman. Mary Jane approaches frantically asking if anyone has called 911, Aunt May and Gwen return to the scene and are shocked to see Peter dying on the ground. May approaches her nephew and Peter tries to console May. He tells her that he couldn’t save Uncle Ben but he was able to save her. Peters hand falls from his aunt’s jacket as he dies in front of his friends and family.
In the flaming debris, a bruised and unconscious Norman Osborn cracks a slight smile.
Hot to the Torch: This is the climax of the Death of Spider-Man story arc, and it doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed this issue quite a bit and thought it was a satisfying conclusion to the story. It was nice to see that Peter’s main concern is still his family and friends even while facing certain death. I also liked how it came down to Spidey and Green Goblin, one-on-one. And while I have some issues with the way the hero was killed off, I thought it was a very touching end to his story.
It was nice to see Peter talking the whole time, right up until his end. Peter’s questioning of Norman’s motives and cracking on his hair style while beating him with the mailbox was humorous. It was also a bit depressing when Norman said all he cared about was Peter’s death. I liked how Peter said “ow” to himself a couple times during the battle, but never admitted to the pain aloud until the end, after he takes down the Green Goblin.
The action was ramped up once again in this issue. Spidey pulled out all the stops and uses anything he can get his hands on to hurt the Goblin. Even when he didn’t use a weapon, his fists seemed to do a pretty bang up job early in the fight. The truck was obviously the most effective object used by Spidey and I thought it made him look really powerful in the end, even though it may have cost him his life.
The truck wouldn’t have been available if it hadn’t been for his worried girlfriend, MJ. It was really nice to have those two come together before Peter fell in battle. It was a little odd to think that Mary Jane knows how to hotwire a truck, but it served its purpose in the story, as well as set up one last kiss between the couple.
I liked seeing Peter’s vulnerable side when he rushed to Johnny for assistance. I liked how quickly Johnny came to attention when he realized his friend was in desperate need of help. I thought the panel showing the Green Goblin leaping over Peter’s shoulder from Johnny’s point of view was nicely done by Bagley.
The art by Bagley and the rest of the creative team was explosive once again. Pun intended because there were a lot of explosions in this battle. The action scenes, colors and lighting on the characters were nice. Cory Petit’s lettering had a chance to stand out with every explosion and collision as well.
The Ice Cold: My main question about the way this story ended is concerning the Green Goblin’s confrontation with the Human Torch. I wasn’t aware of Green Goblin’s ability to absorb energy so I was a little surprised when he took all the Human Torch threw at him. I thought the super-charged, white-hot Green Goblin that emerged from that tussle was pretty cool looking. I was a little sad too that Spidey didn’t think about Iceman, but I can understand why he chose Johnny first.
The Ultimate: Obviously the main point of this story is the death of the title character. Marvel didn’t go back on their promise, as Peter Parker dies at the end of this issue. I thought it was a really sad scene and a touching final moment between Peter and his aunt. It was nice that he went out with the thought that he saved his friends and family in the end, and it was nice that they were with him when he died.
However, I wasn’t a big fan of the way he died. I know he was beat up and bleeding, but the final explosion which sent him to his death didn’t seem that powerful. It was definitely something that should kill you, but we’ve seen people walk away from worse in comics. So I will be waiting for the day that Marvel reveals he’s been underground, healing and training, while someone else runs around in the mask.
The slight smile from Norman Osborn on the final pages was a clever touch. It’s sad to think that maybe Peter didn’t ultimately win this battle, but with some creative writing a rematch between the two archenemies could still happen in the future.
Rating: Great, action and art. Good, character development, story and writing. 5/5 Ultimate Spidey Friends
Overall Story Arc Rating: Great, art. Good character development and story. Meh, action and writing. 4.5/5 Ultimate Spidey Friends