Is he strong, listen bud...
So, tomorrow morning USA Today will have the scoop on who will don the red-and-blue (or, red-and-black, it seems) to become the new Spider-Man after Peter Parker died saving his friends and family. When the "Death of Spider-Man" was announced for the Ultimate Comics imprint, I got into a short exchange with author/creator/godfather Brian Michael Bendis over whether or not this is a tired stunt, or something very compelling. The jury is still out, in my opinion, but so far it seems that BMB and Marvel have kept their word that this is a real event and changing of the guard, not the same tired drivel we've seen with the "deaths" of so many characters in recent years.
So, who will it be? I have no idea. This is dangerous territory, because there are 100 ways to do this wrong. Let's look at a few:
Clone Saga, Revisited
This would be the ultimate letdown. Whether the new Spidey is a clone of Peter (or maybe even the real Peter while the one who died was the clone), or if it's somehow the existing clone/Spider-Woman, Jessica, that would be lamesauce. The idea behind Peter's death is that he becomes the new Uncle Ben to another hero, so while this avenue would allow the new Spidey to have all of Spider-Man's powers, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth.
All of the Osborns are dead, right? Haven't we heard that before? Harry and Norman are both dead, but a clone of Harry seems like he could possibly show up. There's the redemption thing there, both for his own rampage as the Hobgoblin and especially for the many horrors that his father inflicted on the Ultimate world. Given Norman's obsession with Peter, cloning his son (or himself) and bestowing that clone with Spidey's powers certainly seems like an option. But here, you're bringing someone back from the dead to replace the now-dead Peter. Meh.
Other Supporting Character
Seriously, how does Flash Thompson keep popping up in everything? With his resurgence as the new Venom in the main Marvel continuity, I don't think you can rule this out. What if he, or another character from the series like Eddie Brock or Ben Reilly, even was empowered using the Venom symbiote? It would have that pseudo-mirroring of the main continuity that we so often see. I wouldn't even have a huge problem with it if the fact that old characters popping back up is a little tired. If Peter is to be the new Uncle Ben, then the new Spidey needs to be someone who was close to Peter, which really lends itself to Iceman or Human Torch, but clearly that's not how they'll go. Hell, in a different circumstance, Kitty would be the best choice to take up Peter's mantle.
I haven't followed things super closely lately, and haven't read any of the Fallout series. I think we see a new character, or maybe just someone that we've met in passing. I just think that putting this on an existing character might be too much... though I do keep coming back to Flash Thompson on this whenever I think it through.
My real prediction, more than a who, is a how. Whether it's Flash or a clone or just some random new person, I think the new Spidey will be a non-powered person. I think we'll see a character that is not a mutant or experiment-gone-wrong, but someone who uses technology to achieve his powers, or even uses Mutant Growth Hormone to somehow gain them on a temporary basis. Peter has always been a street-level, relatively normal guy in the world of superheroes. While his powers of strength and "spider-sense" have always been part of the character, how essential are they, really? You can't do without wall-crawling or web-slinging, but since the webs are mechanical, why not the sticky hands and feet as well?
Personally, I'm excited to read about a new Spider-Man, and I'm even more curious to see if Bendis and crew can pull it off. Rest assured, this is a HUGE risk, and if they ever bring Peter back in the future of the Ultimate line, this whole thing will be a big scam. Bendis has earned the benefit of the doubt. He'd taken the reins now, and he's the man, responsible for the good or bad of what's to come. As much as anyone, he knows that with this great power comes... well, you know.