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‘Death of Spider-Man’ from Bendis and Millar to Be ‘Story Unlike Any Other’

After a Marvel Previews cover teased the tagline “Death of Spider-Man” last week, there was a lot of speculation about what that could mean. Today, Marvel announced the project behind the title, a story set in the Ultimate universe, and written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar. While we all joked about this last week, it seems like they’re actually implying they’re going to kill Spider-Man. Why? Because much like in love, war, and the Israeli hand-to-hand combat system Krav Maga, “in the Ultimate universe, There Are No Rules.”

The story begins in Ultimate Spider-Man #153 and Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1 during February 2011, and continues through both titles. And stop me if you’ve heard this one before: It’s going to be a “groundbreaking new story that forever changes the Ultimate Comics universe!” If you think that’s some bombastic language, hold on to your jeggings, because you haven’t even heard the quotes from Bendis and Millar yet.

“This is the biggest, boldest thing we’ve attempted in the ten years since we kicked this line off,” said Millar. “This is the one thing that could be bigger than the CREATION of the Ultimate line and it’s great to be a part of it. Being part of something like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and soon you’ll all get to read the story we’ve written for you, This should be up there with the very small number of events that really mattered. This is going to be big.”

Some pretty strong wording here from Millar, never one to undersell a project. If this is truly the biggest, boldest thing they’ve attempted since the launch of the original Ultimate universe — not the relaunch last August — I guess that means it’s bigger than Ultimatum, the Jeph Loeb-scripted crossover that involved the deaths of Professor Xavier, Magneto, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, Cannonball, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Longshot, Forge, Dazzler, Captain Britain, Daredevil, Madrox, Hank Pym, Sunspot, Polaris, Juggernaut, and a particularly touching scene where the corpse of the Wasp was devoured by the Blob. And also the Blob. So that’s setting the bar pretty high, there.

Brian Bendis continues:

“As a group and as individuals we have made a conscious effort to create stories this year that no one has ever seen before… I am very, very proud to be a part of this storyline and very proud of Marvel for even attempting such a bold endeavor. Sit back and watch as we unveil a storyline unlike any other!!”

I’m not trying to be totally cynical here, but it’s hard not to be at least a little skeptical of a storyline that teases the death of a major superhero — one of the most repetitive tactics in the history of event comics — says that this implied death is going to change everything forever — one of the most repetitive taglines in the history of event comics — and then says that this is going to be something bold, unlike any other story, and nothing anyone has seen before.

In fairness, there are almost no details about the plot of the story, save the implication that Ultimate Spidey WILL DIE, so maybe there are twist, turns, and curve balls in store that I can’t possibly foresee. But if you’ve read comics for long enough, it’s hard not to see things coming in cycles, and while there is every possibility that this new arc could have an interesting take on the “death of a superhero” trope, the idea that it will handle that death in a way that is truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen before after decades and decades of superhero deaths and world-ending events is — and I say this as someone whose primary form of entertainment is stories about men and women who fly around wearing spandex and never die — a little hard to believe.

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