Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man: Prelude

(Panini)

ORIGINALLY devised as a contemporary relaunch of Marvel Comics’ most celebrated characters back in 2000, free from much of the convoluted continuity of the mainstream line, the Ultimate imprint has gradually evolved to the point where events have diverged drastically away from the traditional Marvel Universe, allowing for a liberty in storytelling and creative decisions...

Over the last few years we have seen mutant terrorist Magneto’s tidal wave attack on American’s eastern seaboard, Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards reinventing himself as the new Doctor Doom, and an all-out vampire war in New York City.

But perhaps the biggest change to date is evidenced here in the build-up to the promised death of the web-slinger himself… Yes, Peter Parker is apparently going to bite the big one, an event which it is claimed will completely shake-up the status quo of the Ultimate Universe, and lead to the debut of an all-new Spider-Man later this year.

But that’s in the future, and for now the young wall-crawler is trying to deal with the pressures of his adolescent life which have come in the wake of his abduction and impersonation by the mutant shapeshifting Chameleon, who not only committed a wave of bank robberies while masquerading as Spidey, but trashed his love life by trying it on with his ex Mary-Jane and leaving current girlfriend Gwen devastated...


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Help comes in the form of government-sponsored superhero team The Ultimates, with Tony (Iron Man) Stark agreeing to help hone Peter’s skills as a superhero, and leading to a confrontation with the enigmatic Mysterio and feline fatale the Black Cat…

In his personal life, Gwen has selflessly backed down in the wake of the obvious feelings between Peter and MJ, while newspaper publisher J Jonah Jameson, who recently discovered Spider-Man’s secret identity, wants to reward the teen hero’s good deeds in any way he can…

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Yes, finally things are getting back on track for Peter, which is sure to have even more of an impact when his world comes crashing down around his ears in the forthcoming Death of Spider-Man arc, the consequences of which are set to resonate for years to come.

The strengths of this series lie in its fundamental grounding in everyday reality, juxtapositioning the madness of Parker’s superhero career with his attempts to live life as a normal American teenager. Over the past decade writer Brian Michael Bendis has skilfully crafted a cast of characters you cannot help but root and care for, which means the challenges the Ultimate Spider-Man will soon come to face are only going to hit home that much harder.

Enjoy the good times while you can Peter Parker, as they’re not going to last…

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