Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Death of Spiderman

Comics are not films.

Films are not comics.

A film is, by definition, finite.  120 minutes.  In a film we live and die an entire lifespan, to be reborn into our own lives when the lights come up.

Comics are, by definition, infinite.  They are mythology, and we turn to them for the same reasons our ancestors turned to their mythology:  hope.

Something the Ultimate Spider-Man comics have done so well is creating story arcs that are very cinematic - taking Peter Parker to the lowest depths he can go over a six to eight issue arc, the reader convinced each time that Peter might not make it.  He might bite the big one.

And yet, Bendis always found a way to reset, to take things back to 1 (or perhaps 2), and create another great build in the next story.

But not this time.  This time Peter Parker is dead.  And as the Ultimate brand is committed to actually keep the dead dead (sorry, Daredevil!  Sorry, X-Men!), he will probably stay that way.

Sure, the book will continue - with a new costume and a new man (or woman) behind the mask.  But it wasn't Spider-Man that propelled 11 years of scintillating storytelling.  It was Peter Parker.

I am too grateful with Brian Michael Bendis for these eleven years to be mad at him, and yet I find myself unable to reconcile this irresponsible handling of mythos.

Yes, with great power comes great responsibility.  It's funny how often the writers of Spider-Man books have forgotten this over the course of the character's various incarnations (I'm looking at you Clone Saga and Brand New Day!).  Now, sadly, one of the greatest scribes to handle the character has gone the same way.

It would be different if the book or imprint were ending, to give it a finality.  Yes, the hero's journey usually ends in death.  That's what being a hero - putting oneself in harm's way - usually leads to eventually, given enough time.  But the book continues.

The Death of Spider-Man thus becomes "Ultimate Ben Reilly."

Vote with your dollar, true believers.  Stop buying the book, until The Death of Spider-Man receives the same editorial oopsy-fix The Clone Saga did.