This one is difficult to review. I shouldn't even pretend that I'm "reviewing" it. To do this issue any justice, I think it would have to be done by someone who has read the whole series leading up to this part. Or most of it, at least. I think I've read a total of three, maybe 5?, Ultimate Spider-man issues since I've been reading comics (which is a whopping 5 years or so. Where did the time go?!). There's no way that's enough to grasp everything this particular chapter is trying to accomplish, much less tell you whether it succeeds or fails. All I can do is relate my experience with this issue, which even I can grasp is an important one. (It does, after all, say "Death of Spider-Man" on the cover.)
I always liked Ultimate Spider-Man when I read it. If I'm recalling correctly, its been relatively cheerful and light...and by light, I mean it was always angsty in a really breathy teenage way. Peter Parker in high school by day and scaling walls as Spider-man at night. From what I remember of those past issues, it always seemed like they were telling the stories in between big events, not that they ever really were big events. And now, here I am reading "Death of Spider-Man". That's pretty intense for an Ultimate Spider-Man title, right? And my first impulse--the one that led to all that explanation and equivocation above--is that I feel like I've sat down and caught the last two minutes of a movie. Like, soooo much is already in the actual midst of happening, and I feel like the girl who comes into the room to see her family engrossed in a show. Do I want to keep saying, "Who's that? Why's he so upset? When did Peter kill everyone the Goblin man loved?" I've got too many unanswered questions to know what's really going on. Do I want to be that girl? The girl who interrupts the current scene to ask about all the stuff I missed? Do I even care?
I didn't ask until later, actually. While I was in the middle of the thing, the thing was totally engaging. Ultimate Spider-Man number one hundred and sixty? It's a page turner, you can quote me on that.
Okay, I also loved how Peter/Spidey's humor is still in tact as he's on the brink of death. What's still intact is all of his love. Aaaaaawwwwww, yeah. I love the love. I love MJ sneaking out in the middle of the night against her mom's orders, all so that she can steal a truck and run over the Green Goblin. That was great! I love how much Peter loves his Aunt, how he just wants to save her, no matter what the cost. He loves her, she loves him, he also loves MJ, the blond girl loves dressing like it's still 1998, and.....oh, I guess Ultimate Spider-Man has always been all about the love, huh? There's so many worse things to be about. So many things that aren't as sweet, so many things that aren't as kind.
So, of course, if you don't mind me spoiling the ending that the cover describes, this is also very, very sad. But I haven't been keeping up, you know? Those last pages--where Peter dies in his Aunt's arms--it seemed so unreal to me. And it is unreal, right? I mean, its comic books! Which means that in the next issue, he might suddenly not be dead. I mean, anything happens in comic books. I read one last week where Aquaman killed Rome. They can't have comic books where Aquaman kills Rome and sweet boys like Peter Parker die in Queens. (Trust me, I've been to Queens. God doesn't let people die in Queens. Queens is like an old Sega Genesis games: it just doesn't count.)
I think I'd like to see what happens next in this comic book. I asked if there were more after this one, and I guess there's going to be one where all the women in this comic hold hands in the dark? That was the ad I saw, at least. That seems kind of slow for a comic book though, so maybe there's a bank robbery or something.
-Nina Stone, 2011