"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
and with strange eons even death may die."
- Howard Phillips Lovecraft
This week in comics is auspicious to me not for what happened....but what didn't happen. Marvel, of course, ran their well fatigued playbook to point at what did happen. Ultimate Spider-Man "died" in Ultimate Spider-Man # 160, complete with asinine polybag and obligatory press releases handed to USA Today and other media outlets.
Maybe I'm wrong, and somewhere out there water coolers are abuzz with the "loss" of Ultimate Spider-Man. Perhaps in some parallel universe that doesn't touch the reality I experienced, lines of interested civvies were turned away because their local comic shop blew through their death books. I just didn't see it.
I'm not suggesting that an article didn't make it into USA Today, or that the death was a hoax. CBR gave the book a five star review, and maintain that Ultimate Spider-Man did in fact expire, or at least he got as dead as comic book characters pretend to get. Whatever. I think it's telling that a review would have to expend energy on that kind of clarification. We expect to get jobbed at this point. It's a point of interest to explain that the story was more than just a complete bullshit ruse.
But then again, there are spurious aspects of this Ultimate Spider-Death as well. Comics Alliance reports that Parker's death spits directly in the face of the Ultimate Doom mini, published just a few scant months ago, and penned by Bendis, no less! You'd think he'd be able to avoid tripping over his own continuity. Or not.
Rich Johnston laments the fact that Ultimate Comics Ultimate Ultimatey Ultimates was marketed as a bait-and-switch. The stories were tangentially related, but sold as something far more direct. This is Marvel, though, so what did we expect, really?
All of that stuff is vaguely interesting or irritating in some fashion...but it just doesn't feel urgent this time. This thing had all the earmarks of a visceral response - big (sort of) character, big creator, mainstream press, polybag, and a DEATH, no less.
And nobody gave a sorry shit, which is both frightening and liberating. It's frightening to know that everybody is so numb at this point that nothing could possibly get through. We've been force fed adrenaline for so long, the only thing that seems appealing at this point is a nice nap. What's going on with Duck Tales, you know? Because I'm tired of trying to navigate these hype-ridden landscapes with oozing dynamite strapped to my chest.
And apparently, I'm not alone. Fear Itself and Flashpoint can't crack 100,000 copies. The biggest cannons in the Big Two's arsenals just don't work any more. The greatest WMD of all, death, now has no sting. These are strange aeons, indeed. Death is dead! The worm is turning, the game is now forced to change, and that's the liberating part. I think we're all ready for a change.