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

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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

“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2

19 Responses to “Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #160 – Review”

  1. #1 Jon M. Wilson says:

    I think my anticipation level for the aftermath is higher than my enjoyment level of this particular issue. Don’t get me wrong; it was a good issue. But Norman had been shot in the head at the end of Death of a Goblin, and his return has no attempt at an explanation. I liked the Action Comics 1 cover homage. I thought Spider-Man fought valiantly, and his last words pulled at the heart strings. Good stuff, and good review.

  2. #2 Wes says:

    meh action on the whole story arc?? how could that not satisfy?

  3. #3 Dexter Fletcher says:

    Great review. I wasnt entirely blown away (pun intended) by this story, but it tugged at the right spots and I agree the idea Osborn survived makes for a compelling story somewhere down the road…that no matter what, no matter how many Spider-Men there could be in the future, Norman could very well outlast them all.

    I also have to commend MJ for showing that violent side of her again, we’ve seen it in 616 when she’s handled correctly, and here Bendis proves why she’s the right girl for Peter…I hope she sticks around and mentors the new Spidey, or at least champions him

  4. #4 Brian Bradley says:

    @2 Wes… Yeah, it could probably have been a little higher but the action didn’t really ramp up until the end, which is not a problem by any means. I get my overall rating by averaging out the ratings for the rest of the issues so I think that the poor action i gave for issue 157 probably brought it down and I probably should have given that a higher rating as well. I was pleased with everything but this was more of a character driven story instead of action driven.

    @3 Dexter, one of the things I wanted to talk to Nate about in that recording is what we think is going to happen to Peters supporting cast with the relaunch. If MJ and Aunt May will still be relevant if Peter isn’t behind the mask. I can’t see why Human Torch and Iceman will still be kicking around which means I may need to reevaluate my review section names :-/

    @1, thanks Jon.

  5. #5 Nathaniel Collins says:

    @Brian – Human Torch and Iceman will be appearing in the upcoming Ultimate Comics: X-Men series in September with Kitty. If this little recording becomes an ongoing basis then we may bring that up in Ultimate Fallout.

  6. #6 Sarcasmic says:

    I hope MJ and Aunt May don’t show up without Peter….
    I especially don’t feel the need to see MJ move on with someone else after Peter’s death.

    As for the ratings, I would of switched them around; 4.5 for the issue, 5 for the arc. It was a beautiful arc, but I had a few things that annoyed me in the last issue; no epilogue, the final pages being spent on Osborn and not Peter, etc.

    Be listening to the recording later, cool idea guys. If it works well, you should continue into the future with it, maybe a monthly ultimate podcast. You both kick ass with your individual reviews, so I’d be game.

  7. #7 Brian Bradley says:

    @Sarcasmic, thanks for the support. I talked briefly with Nate about it being an ongoing thing. I would think it’d be cool if each recording was about a particular story arc and could feature the reviewer who covered it. Like I was thinking maybe at some point going over the Fear Itself Spider-Man tie in would be a good idea t some point, or the New Avengers arc when Norman pays a visit. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe after you listen you’ll have changed your mind though ;)

    @Nathaniel, interesting… Johnny just keeps tagging along with other characters in their books… why is there no FF in Ultimate anymore?

  8. #8 mike darko says:

    well in F4: Requiem, After the funeral of Franklin Storm, Reed Richards is rejected by Sue, and the Fantastic Four disband. The Thing enlists in S.H.I.E.L.D., the Human Torch opts to live a quiet life in France and then moves to the Parker’s house, the Invisible Woman continues to do research at the Baxter Building, and Mister Fantastic moves back in with his biological family as he ponders what to do next which led to him became the new Ultimate Doctor Doom. and after the Destruction of the Baxter building in led to him to stay in the Parker’s house I guess.

  9. #9 Brian Bradley says:

    Thanks, mike. Thats an interesting little storyline.

    and at my #7 comment about the Fear Itself mini, i meant i would try to include butters who is reviewing that mini if we wanted to cover that

  10. #10 the living tribunal says:

    Jon M Wilson said, “But Norman had been shot in the head at the end of Death of a Goblin, and his return has no attempt at an explanation.”

    How about, it’s the Goblin formula! We don’t have to explain it! That should satisfy fan’s selective indignation!

  11. #11 Sarcasmic says:

    Thoughts: Introduce yourself Brian… Damn, deep voice.
    What do you mean you people? :p
    The key from the Mysterio arc could revive Peter
    Not hard to mix you two up, distinct voices.
    Nathaniel/Brian: Who are your favorite Spidey artists?

    10 mins, have to run. Finish up later

  12. #12 Brian Bradley says:

    Thanks for the initial feedback. Thought I did introduce myself in there but with the way i was hacking and slashing parts out maybe I removed my intro without realizing it… it was brief. And thanks, now i’ll be self conscious about how deep my voice is :-/

    That’s a good point about the Key coming back into action. That’d be a nice way to not let that storyline just drop by the wayside. Wonder what sort of bad thing would happen as a result of wishing Peter Parker back to life.

    I never really paid attention to artists very much, or writers, until i started actually reviewing comics. Before that every now and then I would look to see who worked on a book but it rarely ever stuck. I like McFarlene’s spidey, especially the way he drew the spaghetti-style weblines all over the place. And I liked Larsen as well when he followed McFarlene on the title. More recently I liked the artist who worked on the Scorpion/Spider-Slayer story arc… Caselli I think or something like that, I liked how fabric-y he made the costume look on Spidey. And obviously the Romitas are nice as well.

  13. #13 Sarcasmic says:

    OK, full thoughts….
    I thought it had a lot of awkward moments, but I enjoyed you guys discussing the future and I really want to see where it goes from here; podcast name, scheduling, sign outs, etc.

    The second half was definitely more enjoyable and although I drifted at times, you guys dragged me back in quickly…
    Would of liked a little more… research? You guys do seem like a spin off of the Crawlspace though.

  14. #14 Brian Bradley says:

    Much appreciated and will definitely keep your comments in mind should we do another recording. My biggest fear was having it seem as just a knockoff of the main podcast because thats in no way the intention, and also why I cut down as much of the non-Death of Spider-Man related stuff as I could. I can understand the awkwardness, it was a bit weird since it was the first time doing this, not really knowing Nate and not sure of how it’d be received, but it was fun nevertheless. Hopefully we could do it to just spotlight certain story arcs that may not always be generally discussed, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for listening!

  15. #15 masterwslinger says:

    Wow, I really do have to get the comic to read. I didn’t like what happened to otto’s head! 0o If Spidey’s so dead for real, then Ock can’t do anything to ‘save’ him to atone for his sins (being dead that is). Yeah, wouldn’t he loose 90 percent of his clothes from a fire ball? Or atleast show burns, that last panel doesn’t give away much. :( Very sad and odd death too. Then again a melted ‘head’ is odd. What if Miguel O Hara is the next Spider-man? Maybe goes back in time to save him like the premise of another up coming game? Thanks for writing the review.

  16. #16 BD says:

    I just read the book last night. I didn’t see the slight smile that you’re talking about in the last panel.

  17. #17 Brian Bradley says:

    in the last three panels it looks as if Norman’s mouth, based on the shadow of the edge of the lips, turns up into a smile. Maybe that’s overanalyzing the scene though because the camera does zoom in on his face and maybe just makes it look that way based on the angle. I do think he doesn’t look nearly as dead in the last panel as he does in two panels before.

  18. #18 Emmanuel Jimenez says:

    There’s only one thing that I question. The car was there and stuff. What happened to his Spider-Sense?

  19. #19 Sarcasmic says:

    @18: Peter was complaining about his Spider-Sense going off non stop during one of the last two issues. I would assume he would of tried to ignore it or was just too weak to give it heed.