Peter Parker goes to the afterlife, but will he stay dead?
BY KARA SPAK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 6, 2013 9:24PM
Mark Beatty of Dark Tower Comics, 4835 N. Western Ave., shows the Spiderman issue 700 that features the death of Peter Parker (Spiderman). | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: February 8, 2013 6:06AM
Peter Parker is gone, but he’s not forgotten.
And he’s not really gone.
Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego, was — SPOILER ALERT! — killed off in in late December by Marvel Comics. You don’t need Spidey sense to know — SPOILER ALERT! — he’ll be back soon, at least before the next Spider-Man movie.
In the 700th and final edition of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Parker sheds his mortal coil in a convoluted plot involving merchant of evil Dr. Octopus. Doc Ock invades Parker’s body and mind, then becomes sympathetic to Parker’s life experiences, which serve as a catalyst for the Octopus/Spiderman/Parker hybrid to do good. This new character is known as “Superior Spider-Man.”
The Parker death issue has been a brisk seller for Marvel, which is why the company won’t get rid of Spidey for good.
“Spider-Man sells so many books, you can’t kill him off,” said Mark Beatty, owner of Dark Tower Comics in Lincoln Square, where the deadly comic book has sold at three times the pace of other recent Spider-Man issues. “They’ve done it with Batman, with Captain America. The most publicized one was Superman’s death. He came back.”
Superheroes can be dead for days or decades, Beatty said.
“Death doesn’t work in the Marvel universe,” he said. “They broke death. All it is, is a story line.”
The death story line injects a little variety into decades-old titles, said Eric Kirsammer, owner of Chicago Comics and Quimby’s Bookstore.
“These superheroes are always victorious,” Kirsammer said. “Part of the appeal to a writer is you’re not going to win this one. The other part is raw commercialism.”
As a 10-year-old comic fan in the early 1960s, Earl Geier, the assistant manager of the South Loop location of Graham Crackers Comics, wept while reading a story line that speculated what the death and funeral of Superman would be like. The plot including a deathbed visit from Krypto, Superman’s loyal dog, where he hails the hero as a “great master.”
“You never saw a hero die,” Geier said. “As a kid that was like Old Yeller. That was the traumatic one.”
But Geier is shedding no tears for Peter Parker.
“I’m so cynical now,” he said. “No major character is ever going to stay dead because no company is ever going to get rid of the intellectual property.”
Peter Parker is the latest comic book character to die, but he isn’t the first. Here are five other memorable deaths — one most memorable because he is still dead.
The Man of Steel suffered a highly publicized death in 1992, only to return in a drawn-out way that looked suspiciously like D.C. Comics simply wanted to cash in. Superman was back in action by 1993.
“The idea of him dying was a pretty good story, but the resurrection was ridiculous,” said Kirsammer. “They’re all kind of ridiculous.”
2. Captain America
In 2007, America’s hero was fatally shot by a brainwashed government agent in the highest selling comic of that month. The good captain was back in the land of the living by 2009.
Decades earlier, his sidekick Bucky also bit it, though it turns out Bucky was simply frozen in ice by Soviets for 60 years.
“The way he did it, oddly enough, in comic book terms it made sense,” Beatty said of Bucky’s death/rebirth. “It wasn’t a ridiculous return from death. It made as much sense as it can make.”
3. Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel’s death stands out mostly because he died in a way all too human — inoperable cancer. “That was different,” said Graham Cracker’s Geier. “But he’s made it back, too. Amazing.”
Dry those tears because Batman’s death was really just a ruse for time travel, said Kirsammer. “He went through time so they could have him in stories like the Old West,” he said. “There were pictures of Superman holding dead Batman. OK, forget the logic.”
5. Uncle Ben
Peter Parker’s beloved Uncle Benjamin Parker died during a burglary. Most remarkably, he has never been resurrected.
“The reason Spider-Man is Spider-Man is he failed to save Uncle Ben in his mind,” Beatty said. “He tries to right that wrong every day. That’s the sacred one, the real turning point for Spider-Man to become a hero.”