Marvel have revealed the successor to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man mantle in their Ultimate comics range, an all new character by the name of Miles Morales. Readers can see the new web slinger don the suit for the first time in Ultimate Fallout #4 before the Ultimate Spider-Man title is re-launched in September with a brand new #1 issue.
So, lets delve into the back story behind how there is a need for a new Spider-Man at all. Its important to remember that this is only a part of Marvel’s ‘Ultimates’ comic continuity, rather than its mainstream universe. Peter Parker is remaining as your friendly neighbourhood Spider-man in all of Marvel’s mainstream comic range, just as he has since his inception in 1962. (Barring that whole time in the 1990s where he may or may not have been a clone, of course.)
No, new Spidey Morales is a part of the Ultimate universe, launched in the year 2000 to appeal to potential comic readers who may have been put off by over eighty years of continuity within the mainstream of Marvel comics. It retooled Marvel’s more popular heroes with contemporary back-stories and an aim of telling new stories not possible within the mainstream continuity. The whole universe is currently undergoing a relaunch after the universe wide, multi-comic event ‘Ultimatum’, which included the death of Peter Parker in its climax. As the Ultimates range launched with the Ultimate Spider-Man line (along with Ultimate X-Men), it seems fitting that its current incarnation should end with his death, and its rejuvenation begin with the rejuvenation of the Spider-Man character as a whole.
But what of Miles Morales, the new hero behind the webbed suit? Well, he is reported to have a connection to Parker in how he gains his powers (currently unrevealed) but also a slightly different set of powers to the original web-slinger (also currently unrevealed). Much is being played up about the new Spider-Man’s half-Hispanic, half-Black ethnicity, but he seems like a more believable hero to come out of modern day New York slums than his whiter than white predecessor. He also seems to pull closer to Marvel’s original mission statement for the Ultimate universe, to re-imagine characters in a modern way and tell new stories that were impossible before. Marvel’s editor-in-chief Axel Alonso seems to believe the same, saying that “What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who’s reflective of our culture and diversity.”
While popular, many critics were doubtful of the direction that Marvel took with the Ultimate Spider-Man range, internet personality ‘MovieBob’ Chipman calling it out for “segueing almost-immediately from telling “new” stories to basically being a “remixed” version of Spidey-continuity’s Greatest Hits”. By creating a more ethnically representative hero take up the name of one of Marvel’s most popular hero, and having him reportedly be coached in this role by more established characters such as Parker’s aunt May and former girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Marvel may have finally found a way to please old comic readers while reaching out to a new fanbase.
Its a little sad that the race of a superhero is considered so newsworthy even now, but you can form your own opinions of Marvel’s new Ultimate Spider-Men when he appears in Ultimate Fallout #4 this August and then in the re-launched Ultimate Spider-Man #1 in September