Saturday, July 2, 2011

Exfanding Review: Ultimate Spider-Man 160

I wanna get this out of the way right up front--this post will be filled with spoilers. And, while I'll mainly be talking about Ultimate Spider-Man, issue 160, I'll likely reference other storylines in other books that have had major event-type things happen.



Just in case, here are the obligatory


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And, for the especially dense, the SPOILERS START NOW.


So, Ultimate Spider-Man 160. You've probably heard of it. Kind of been in the news, lately. It's the conclusion to the epic storyline, "The Death of Spider-Man," and let me tell you, as far as on-the-nose titles go...this one is, um, very.

On the nose, that is.

Shockingly (in the story entitled, "The Death of Spider-Man," mind you), Spidey bites it in the end. But as is the case with comic book deaths, it's not really about how the character gets it; it's about how the character has made his way to that point.

And the build up to issue 160 was terrific--some of the very best stories that have been told in the series. And that's saying something, because Ultimate Spidey has consistently been one of the best books in comics over the past decade.

Even so, when the moment finally does arrive in issue 160, Peter goes out in a quiet, dignified, and moving way, which is preceeded by a blaze of heroic glory. As far as super hero deaths go, this one is about as appropriate and poignant as you're going to find.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley--the title's original creative team--reunite for this arc wherein they put (Ultimate) Peter Parker and those closest to him through the wringer.

The lead up is excellent, and (I hesitate to call it this, but) the payoff packs a punch. It's an emotional wallop, and though it doesn't hit as hard as other big pop culture-y deaths (Joss Whedon, I'm looking at you), I'm pretty sure that's because this book was essentially spoiled just about a year ago.

And then it was re-spoiled in the mainstream press the day before the issue hit stands.

Which, OK, fine. You want people to know something big is going down, and in order to get them in stores, you need to let them know before the big thing happens.

But here's my question--why, if you've already spoiled the ending--why put the issue in a polybag? Oh, right. So you can sell two copies to fanboys instead of just one. That's seems...familiar, no?

So that's my problem with the book--nothing to do with story, though. Bendis and Bagley delivered just ad I expected them to. But I'm disappointed in the way Marvel went about promoting the book. And, really. How many deaths are we going to get in big Marvel titles this year?

The most important thing about these characters--and, obviously, real people, too--is not how they die. But how they live. It's the stories of their lives that should get us in the comics shops.

Not a polybagged death.

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