Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The New Ultimate Spider-Man

Hey everyone, I'm here with a topic that is lighting up most comic sites, the identity of the new Ultimate Spider-Man. In case you've been living under a rock the past few months, Marvel decided to kill off the Ultimate Version of Spider-Man. Not the adult, dated Mary Jane until it was retconned and now currently is apart of the Avengers and the FF version, but the teenage, high-school student version of Peter Parker. The news was everywhere, even on CNN for some reason, and what followed was one of the best issues of a comicbook I'd ever read. The issue where Peter died, protecting his family and friends while surrounded by them was one of the best things I've ever had the privilege of reading. So, obviously the next question is, what happens to Spidey now, is the mantle taken over by someone else? Harry Osborn? Gwen Stacey? Aunt May? Every idea was discussed online, some good, some not so good, but the news was finally leaked a few days ago and has the internet in an uproar, so if you'd like to avoid spoilers, stop reading now.

Alright, still here? Anyway, the news was that the new version of Ultimate Spider-Man would be a new character completely, named Miles Morales, but seemingly more important is the fact that he's half African-American and half Hispanic. That news alone has a bunch of people in an uproar. Now don't get me wrong, I understand people may be upset that Spidey's mantle isn't being taken by someone close to Peter, or someone like Ben Reilly, but some people are delivering harsh criticisms of a character they haven't read about or have no background information. Some people are solely judging this character based on his heritage of being Black and Hispanic, so frankly, their being racist. Don't believe me? Here are a few quotes of what people are saying about Miles Morales, a Black/Hispanic Spider-Man, and race in general.

"Well, that nails it. Spidey’s dead to me."

"More politically correct stupidity! If the Spider Man series I read in the Sunday papers EVER changes from good ole white Peter Parker, I’ll simply cease to read it. If the PC nuts want to have super heros who represent other ethnic groups along with various sexual perversions then let them create new ones from scratch and leave our time cherished traditional heros alone!"

"What will he say when he runs into a criminal? “Sup Foo? Dis is MY ‘hood!”"

"That’s just dangerous. With spider powers, just think how much stuff he could steal, if he was not so lazy."

Those comments, as a black man, a comic fan, and a human being disgusted me. In this day and age, to think that people can be so racially insensitive, and to get that angry and disrespectful over a comic book character that you know nothing about, and are not obligated to read about is just stupid and sad. And here's one more comment that caught my eye.

"Shame on Marvel Comics! This is not diversity; this is a disgrace! Spiderman was Peter Parker, and Peter Parker was white. Create a new character if you want to prove that Marvel Comics is “diverse”. Minorities are typically less than 18% of the population, but they seem to get nearly 100% of the history. Why should white children not have a comic book hero that they can identify with?"

The one above is my favorite, because it makes NO damn sense. Really? Minorities have all of the history of comics? That person must've missed the 90% Caucasian Justice League that's coming out at the end of this month. I was under the impression that characters like Wolverine, Captain America, Superman, Batman, Ironman, Daredevil and etc. were white, but now I see their actually minorities. And really? Is it worth getting THAT upset about the new Spidey being of Hispanic and African-American descent? First of all, he's not even the MAIN Spider-Man! He's a Spider-Man you can read about if you choose to, no one is making you. You still have Peter Parker in the main Marvel Universe, he's still going to be in the Spider-Man movie next year, so why the uproar about one character taking the Spider-Man name and trying to be the best Spider-Man he can be, to help New York and to pay respects to the original, courageous Spider-Man that died a heroes death?

Another thing I want to comment on is Brian Michael Bendis, since he's the driving force behind this character. Bendis is the man that crafted the excellent send of story for the Ultimate Universe's Peter Parker, and it was his idea to make the new Spider-Man and mixture of Hispanic and African-American. Bendis has said that this character is personal to him, as he has two adopted children, one African-American and one that was born in Ethiopia. So considering he's in a position to create characters and decides to create one that can have different views than the traditional Peter Parker as well as make him relatable to Hispanic and African-American fans is a great move. There are plenty of white characters I relate to as a black man, so who's to say a white man can't relate to a Black or Hispanic character? Bendis says one of the main things that really made him want to make the new Spider-Man half African-American was seeing Donald Glover dressed as Spider-Man on the season two premiere of Community.

Bendis was quoted as saying, “He looked fantastic! I saw him in the costume and thought, ‘I would like to read that book.’ So I was glad I was writing that book.” I loved reading that because I'm a huge fan of Donald Glover's acting, writing, comedy and music. And for those that don't know, Donald Glover's Spider-Man costume on "Community" was an inside joke. Donald Glover actually auditioned to play Spider-Man in the new Spider-Man movie, but lost the role to Andrew Garfield. It all started on Twitter where Donald mentioned how he'd like to play Spider-Man as a joke, which started a huge twitter campaign Donald4SpiderMan, which eventually got so big it earned Donald the chance to audition for the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, which he of course didn't get. Sadly, that also resulted in a bunch of racist comments about how Spider-Man shouldn't be Black, much like the news of Miles Morales being the new Ultimate Spider-Man.

So, in a world where people are ready to flip out when a minority character debuts or takes up the mantle of someone else, we can only hope that Miles Morales is a great character and can get a fanbase behind him. If not, then back to the drawing board, but hating a character we know nothing about does no good for anyone. This isn't an African Batman, this isn't a Black Iron-Man or One Black Green Lantern out of thousands, this is Miles Morales, the half Hispanic, half African-American, Ultimate Spider-Man, and with great power, comes great responsibility.


  1. My jaw almost hit the floor when I read some of those comments just now. That's crazy. How can nerds be so stubborn about their characters?

    And I bet you if it sells really well, they'll be all over how great he is and then in like 5 years if they were to decide to bring Ben Reilly in or Peter Parker back, then they'll freak out about how stupid it is.

    Here's the bottom line: There are still a lot of racist people out there, even if it isn't known too well, and also fans are stubborn as fuck about comics.

    I wish they would understand that the whole concept of Ultimate is to do just about whatever you want without having repercussions in the real Marvel Universe. I honestly think that DC should try to do something like that.

  2. Thanks for commenting Caz. I also was shocked about the comments but I really can't say I'm surprised, which is sad. And yeah, I agree, they'll be the same ones whining if he's bumped out of the spot.

    And I agree completely, The Ultimate Universe if more of a test phase to see what works and what doesn't, and half the people who commented probably don't even READ comic books, hell that one guy said the Peter Parker he reads about in the newspaper, that line alone showed me that guy probably hasn't thought about buying a Spidey comic in years, yet just had to go comment on the new racially different Spidey.

  3. Well we've spoken about this verbally so you know where I stand on this whole issue. I wish they all would grow up and just either read it or don't. No one is forcing them too.

  4. It sucks to be white and hate this move, because you're instantly labeled a racist. The fact is peter parker is spiderman, and anyone, ANYONE, else wearing the suit and using the name is a wanna be. I didn't like ben reilly, because parker is spiderman,and it seems this article confirms the idea that bendis killed an American icon to replace him with a minority for diversity's sake. I don't dislike this change because miles is black, I dislike it because they killed parker to create a minority character (which comics need more of) with instant readership. Parker earned his fans and made spiderman famous, if miles' story is compelling it should be able to do the same with HIS OWN SUPER IDENTITY. But go ahead and call me racist if it helps you feel better or allows you to ignore this cheap identity theft.

  5. Thanks for the comment Anonymous. I personally wouldn't say someone is labeled a racist if their white and dislikes this move, but I can definitely see how people would think that way. And I agree they could've went about it a different way but there's still Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man series, which is the main Spider-Man series. I don't see the problem with killing off Peter in another universe when he was given an excellent send off and you still have the other Peter to read about if you choose to.

    I agree they could've went about this another way, and introduced Miles prior, had a bit of a lead up instead of just unmasking as a black/hispanic guy for shock value. But this isn't the first or last time a character is going to be killed off and replaced or injured and replaced by someone of a different ethnicity. It's happened tons of times with Steel, John Stewart, James Rhodes, Cassandra Cain and more characters.

    All I'm saying is people should at least try to give Bendis a chance to write Miles and then decide if we like the character or now. If the character sucks and I don't like his stories I'd be the first to admit it, but until we actually read about him I think we should try to reserve judgement.

  6. Well said. BTW I read this blog every week. I don't comment because...well commenters suck. For the most part. Not you, Mr. 1000.

  7. Thanks AJ, glad to know ya still come over here. I still read your articles at TJR every week as well, but you already knew that. Speaking of which, that Pre-Crisis Sin Cara post was genius. Probably like six people at TJR understood it. Thanks for the comment dude.