Why Miles Mo­rales is so much more than just “the black Spi­der-Man”.

Carl Anka looks at the rea­sons why Miles Mo­rales is so much more than just “the black Spi­der-Man”

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

For the best part of a decade Ul­ti­mate Spi­der

Man was the bedrock for Marvel 1610. For some, Ul­ti­mate Peter Parker was the Ul­ti­mate Uni­verse. So af­ter Peter’s tragic demise at the hands of the Sin­is­ter Six in Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man #160, the ques­tion on many a comic book reader’s lips was “Who could be im­por­tant enough to take on the man­tle?”

Fol­low­ing the ad­ven­tures of Ul­ti­mate Peter Parker would be no small task. Would Marvel take some­one from Peter’s cur­rent cast and move them to take on the role? Would the Ul­ti­mate team in­tro­duce a new 1610-remixed ver­sion of a tra­di­tional Marvel main­stay to be the new Spi­der­Man? Or would the role of Spi­der-Man re­main va­cant, a con­stant homage to Peter, the boy won­der who car­ried the Ul­ti­mate Uni­verse through the good times and bad?

The op­tions were myr­iad, but in the end Marvel chose none of them. Rather than go with the ex­pected Spi­derFam­ily op­tion, Brian Michael Bendis in­stead worked with new Marvel comic book artist Sara Pichelli to in­tro­duce Miles Mo­rales, a half-black, half-latino Brook­lyn teenager who got bit­ten by a ge­net­i­cally en­hanced spi­der.

Sim­i­lar ori­gin story, very dif­fer­ent re­sult. Miles Mo­rales has been a Marvel char­ac­ter for only just over six years, but in that time he has caused a tremen­dous amount of good, both within the world of Marvel and in the wider cul­tural mi­lieu.

I don’t want to be the black Spi­der­Man. I want to be Spi­der-Man

Do­ing our bit to try to make our na­tion, and the world, colour blind is the right thing

To re­place (a ver­sion of) one of the most in­stantly recog­nis­able pop cul­ture fig­ures with an un­known teenager of colour was big. Cap­i­tal-B Big. Galac­tus Big. As Stan Lee wrote upon Miles’ de­but, de­spite ini­tially im­ply­ing re­gret at the loss of his cre­ation Peter Parker, “Do­ing our bit to try to make our na­tion, and the world, colour blind is def­i­nitely the right thing.”

A new hero for a new age of comic books and a new world in which read­ers en­joy them – Miles is a lot more than just a black Spi­der-Man. The witty ban­ter and tales of great power and great re­spon­si­bil­ity are there but, for Miles, his Spi­der-Man ad­ven­tures are marked by his dif­fer­ent family dy­nam­ics. It’s not the dreaded “Parker Luck” and tales of science run amok here: Miles is a Spi­der-Man, but fac­ing his own ad­ven­tures, his own sto­ries and his own ad­ver­saries, all backed up by one of the most in­trigu­ing and en­ter­tain­ing sup­port­ing casts in re­cent Marvel his­tory. His father hates su­per­heroes, while his un­cle The Prowler tried to black­mail him. His mother learns the truth about Miles’ pow­ers only in the most tragic of cir­cum­stances. When Miles does get him­self a girl­friend in Kate Bishop, her par­ents turn out to be Hy­dra agents. While Miles un­for­tu­nately didn’t make the jump to the MCU for Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing,

Tom Hol­land’s new pal looks aw­fully like Miles’ BFF Ganke.

Miles is a hero with dif­fer­ent pow­ers from Peter Parker and a dif­fer­ent makeup. It is the sight of a dif­fer­ent kind of Spi­der-Man deal­ing with typ­i­cally Spi­der-Man prob­lems that makes Miles’ sto­ries so thrilling. Where Peter would outsmart, Miles sub­verts. Where Peter would build, Miles sneaks and strikes with his venom blast. In Miles Mo­rales, Bendis has cre­ated a truly new hero, so when ev­ery­one looks left, this new Spi­der-Man can turn right.

It hasn’t al­ways been great and it hasn’t al­ways been per­fect for Miles’ cre­ative run. In fact some­times Mr Mo­rales has been a vic­tim of his own suc­cess, ap­pear­ing in so many Marvel crossovers that his solo ad­ven­tures have been reg­u­larly de­railed. That one of Marvel’s most prominent black he­roes is writ­ten by a white man does raise the oc­ca­sional eye­brow, but at no point so far has Bendis writ­ten Miles as any­thing other than a gen­uine, au­then­tic hero. More du­bi­ous cor­ners of the comic book world may claim that Miles is di­ver­sity for di­ver­sity’s sake, but in six short years he has been ar­guably Marvel’s big­gest quan­tifi­able suc­cess along­side Ka­mala Khan’s Ms. Marvel – a hero tak­ing the man­tle and prin­ci­ples of the past and tak­ing them for­ward into a bold new world for ev­ery­one.

Thank you, Miles. We salute you.

In Spi­der-Men, Bendis proved yet again that he can turn any con­cept into an en­gag­ing story. It wouldn’t be Spi­der­Man with­out a per­sonal stake in the ac­tion.

It’s not just the cos­tume but the per­son in­side – that’s the Marvel way.

The new Spidey has been one of Marvel’s most suc­cess­ful re­boots.

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