You can read this story from the beginning here. (It became 57 pages instead of 39 due to a format change.)
I have very little time tonight to say what I wanted to say about this story, but it’s very surprising, and yet oddly fitting, that Peter Parker was killed off exactly at the same time Zachary Zyzzyva was. I wish I could say that we planned that particular parallel between the two.
But really, I’ve felt for a while now that Spider-Man is a Shakespearean tragedy deferred. “With great power” etc., but he always seems to take on more and more responsibility without expanding his powers at the same rate. (To be fair, he has joined the Avengers and Horizon Labs, two organizations that have expanded his overall effectiveness considerably, but all it takes is one death in his general proximity to send him back into the shame spiral.)
Retirement is no escape: it would only sharpen his awareness of everything he couldwould no longer be doing to oppose evil, preserve life and help the weak. Eventually, and one might say inevitably, such guilt would lead him to lay down his own life rather than add another death to the tally on his ledger. Zach is not someone who feels a lot of responsibility for individual deaths, but his larger sense of duty to his nation and the world ultimately lead him to compromise his own safety.
Zachary’s fate might also be seen as a refutation of themes in Fans, where characters’ specialized knowledge often leads them to triumph against the “webmasters” of society: the wealthy, the shadow government operatives and other high-level manipulators. What the Fans had that Zachary doesn’t is true community. Zach tries to relate to others but his power is ultimately isolating, much like Peter’s guilt.
And, well, that’s probably all I should say. Talk amongst yourselves!