Earlier this year, Marvel Comics VP of Sales David Gabriel joked in public that the publisher would "kill a character every quarter" to up the interest in its monthly superhero titles. And while the comment was made in jest, the prediction has nearly held true through the recent publicized killings in "Fantastic Four" and "Fear Itself." A new death arrived this Wednesday in a Marvel title, and as is now par for the course, the company has taken to pushing the information out to the mainstream press in hopes that the word will catch fire and send shoppers to comic stores nationwide looking for the "collectible" farewell issue. CBR News has the scoop below, but those readers who want to continue on should be ready for massive SPOILERS after the following image.
Considering the title of the story, it may come as no surprise to many fans that the Ultimate Comics version of Peter Parker passes away in Wednesday's "Ultimate Spider-Man" #160 -- the final issue of the "Death of Spider-Man" event arc. Writer Brian Michael Bendis made the rounds of newspapers with a national focus to explain the reasoning behind the change and the impact it will have on the soon to be relaunched Ultimate line.
"This is the last hurrah. This is it," Bendis told the New York Post, echoing the oft repeated sentiment from Marvel's Ultimate brain trust that the focus of the line moving forward would be to tell stories that could never be told in the regular Marvel Universe. "There's a real point to this and the point doesn't work if we don't stick to our guns."
Bendis admitted to the paper that he "was blubbering like a fool" writing the death scene as the paper relayed that to the writer, the character was like member of the family "and I murdered him!"
"I won't lie to you, it's embarrassing to say this out loud. Tears were rolling down my face, I was very emotional in writing it," Bendis later told the Associated Press in a story that also reveals the killer at the heart of the issue. "This is a character that I have stayed with the entire time, that I have been almost solely responsible for. It represents such a great deal of my life."
In the same stories, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso noted that there will be a brand new Spider-Man behind the mask in "Ultimate Spider-Man" moving forward, a change that will be marked by the already announced change of costume hitting the Ultimate U. The new character will debut in the upcoming "Ultimate Comics Fallout" series which ships weekly through July.
As for how the transition will be from one comic to the next, Bendis told USA Today that "We had talked about what Spider-Man meant and what it could mean and what kind of new stories you could tell. 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!'"
As for how this story and its headline-grabbing sendoff will affect sales on the Ultimate line or interest in the series from non-comics readers, that remains to be seen. With so much mainstream press coverage, it seems entirely possible that the news of the killing of Spider-Man (or at least a version of the character) will ripple through morning talk shows and drive time radio programs, but whether or not the general public will take the bait the way they did for the death of the Human Torch earlier this year won't be certain until Wednesday rolls around.
Official Press Release
PETER PARKER HAS SPUN HIS LAST WEB. In the storyline that has garnered the attention of fans and media worldwide, Marvel revealed that Peter Parker meets his tragic end in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160, hitting stores tomorrow (Wednesday, June 22nd). Concluding the critically-acclaimed, sold-out "Death of Spider-Man" story arc, the death of Peter Parker signals a major change for the Ultimate Comics Universe and sets the stage for the upcoming debut of an all-new Spider-Man.
"10 years ago, Brian Bendis and Mark Millar changed the way people saw super heroes with the birth of the Ultimate Universe. With 'Death of Spider-Man' the two have done it again, creating a story just as big, and something that would really resonate with fans." said Mark Paniccia, Marvel Senior Editor. "But Peter's death doesn't signal the end of their larger plan-it's the start of one of the most ambitious stories you've ever read in comics."
Ultimate Spider-Man #1 debuted in 2000 and is widely considered one of the most important comics of the century. The progenitor of the Ultimate Comics Universe, in which Marvel's greatest characters and stories were reinterpreted for modern audiences, Ultimate Spider-Man set records for trade paperback sales and its version of Spider-Man remains one of the most popular of all-time.
"We've never seen a world without Spider-Man, a world without Peter Parker, so his death is a significant event for the Ultimate Comics Universe and we're going to see how quickly it changes everything. Readers are in for something very new...and surprising because everything that happens in Ultimate Spider-Man #160 and Ultimate Comics Fallout sets the stage for even bigger stories," explained Axel Alonso, Marvel Entertainment Editor In Chief.
The story continues in July's Ultimate Comics Fallout, picking up right after the death of Spider-Man and showing just what happens to the world without Peter Parker. New alliances! New enemies! Fans can't afford to miss the dynamic debut of the new Spider-Man in the pages of Ultimate Comics Fallout-and you won't believe who's under the mask!
The future of the Ultimate Comics Universe begins with the death of Peter Parker this Wednesday, June 22nd, in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160.
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #160
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art by MARK BAGLEY
ON SALE TOMORROW, JUNE 22nd!