In the world of comic books, death is very, very cheap. It seems that a requirement for any superhero to have close friends die, or even to die themselves and return to the living. Superman died. Batman died. Now it seems that Spider-Man has joined the ranks of those lofty quiasi-immortal characters. Or at least, one variation of Spider-Man.

Confused? Okay. Time for a little history.

The term “retcon” simply means adapting a character to modern times. Significant events have to be updated and re-invented to “modernize” the character. This includes anything from adding or subtracting characters to gaining new powers. In the 2005 Spider-Man story “The Other,” Spider-Man gains night-vision, the ability to carry objects on his back the same way he can cling to walls, an instinctive working knowledge of spiders, among others.

Marvel Comics has released an “Ultimate” variation of classic characters in an attempt to bring in new readers without burdening them with decades of past tales. Ultimate Spider-Man is portrayed as a teenager. Enemies are updated, friends are changed, fates are altered.

Now, apparently, Ultimate Peter Parker is going to die.

I know what you’re thinking. “He’s the main character! He can’t die!” Well, yes and no. Like I said before, death is very cheap in the comic book world. It’s almost a requirement of the comic book superhero to die and mysteriously come back to life. The original Spider-Man went through this particular plot twist in the aforementioned “Other” story arc, and even earlier in the Clone Saga, when a Parker clone named Ben Reilly was introduced as the “real” Parker. He assumed the Spider-Man identity and even partook in the DC Vs Marvel crossover series in 1996. When Ben Reilly died (and in the same moment revealed to be the clone) Peter Parker was essentially saved without really being in danger.

Unfortunately, it seems that Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis has other plans. He believes that Peter Parker’s death will inspire someone else to take on the Spider-Man mantle, just as Peter is inspired by the death of his Uncle Ben. However, given the above-mentioned history of clones, the possibility of identity-switching is not out of the question. We’ll just have to see what happens next.

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