(Panini �14.99)

THEY said it would never happen, but Marvel Comics certainly weren’t trying to deceive their audience when they revealed the name of this game-changing story arc, as Spidey bites the big one, and at the end of this book is categorically, indisputably dead, with no chance of a last-minute reprieve or miraculous resurrection.

But, and this is a pretty important “but” in the greater scheme of things, this isn’t the same Spider-Man who has featured in assorted Marvel titles since 1961, it’s the younger, more contemporary version of the character who debuted as part of the Ultimate Comics imprint about 10 years ago.

The Ultimate line was designed to offer relatively continuity-free stories with a much more realistic approach, and Brian Michael Bendis’ stories about this new version of Peter Parker have been one of its stand-out successes. So why kill him off now?

Bendis said he wanted to create a big story which would resonate with fans, and actually portray a comic book death which meant something, the impact of which would be felt for years to come.

This is the conclusion, then, to a run of more than 160 comics, the tale of a 15-year-old high school student who gained spider-like powers, and how that impacted on him and the people around him. It is also a tale of courage in the face of overwhelming odds, as Parker battles an alliance of his deadliest foes led by the insane Norman Osborn, all focused on one objective – the complete destruction of the web-slinger…

Illustrated by original Ultimate Spidey artist Mark Bagley, Bendis succeeds here in presenting a character-driven blockbuster epic which provides a perfect coda to the career of his interpretation of Spider-Man.

The end of an era indeed.