Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
Even though he climb walls, swings from buildings and has the proportional strength of a genetically modified spider, Miles Morales has had the burden of proving to the world that he’s Spider-Man. Since being brought to life in 2011 by legendary scribe Brian Michael Bendis and legend-in-the-making artist Sara Pichelli, people both in the fictional and real world have struggled with someone else taking up Peter Parker’s mantle. With an awareness of the public’s reaction to Peter Parker dying (in the Ultimate Universe) and the expectations placed on his replacement, the two artists built Miles’s story around the idea of inheriting the legacy, rising to become not just a hero, but a symbol.
Like Peter Parker, Miles Morales is a reluctant hero. Both were victims of super science, though the original Parker was more from carelessness. In the Ultimate Universe, both the Parker and Morales spider-bite are directly related to Norman Osborn, who was trying to use genetically engineered spiders to recreate the effects of the Captain America super soldier serum. Parker’s motivations to be Spider-Man stem from the death of his Uncle Ben, his beloved father-figure, who could have been saved had Parker only used his powers responsibly. Miles decides to become Spider-Man after the death of Ultimate Peter Parker, who gave his life stopping the monstrous, Ultimate Green Goblin. Destined for greatness, the only other person to get a radioactive spider-bite, Miles accepts the call to be Spider-Man, but not without hesitation. The responsibility of power is the legacy of Spider-Man, and dealing with the pressure to do what’s right at the sake of yourself is a persistent challenge faced by both characters. Peter Parker has sacrificed a lot to be Spider-Man, and Miles has suffered, too. As Spider-Man, he fought to the death with his Uncle Aaron, the Ultimate-thief, Prowler, and his mother died after his father was crippled during a confrontation with the Venom symbiote. The new Spider-Man underwent a gauntlet of classic Spidey scenarios, and he emerged from the separate but equal world of the Ultimates, then survived the Secret Wars, and now plays a significant role as an Avenger. So, I feel good saying Miles Morales is Spider-Man.
This point doesn’t need to be revisited so often, except that the skin color of Spider-Man matters a lot to some people. Reading the letters to the editor in the first Ultimate Spider-Man issues is a disappointing exploration of the intolerance of some fans. But as the issues go on, more people write in recognizing the good work that Bendis and Pichelli were doing, and showing support for the ideals that came with Miles Morales. Still, I think the creative team has been very sensitive to transitioning Miles into Spider-Man, and they’ve detoured many stories so that recognizable characters can give their blessing to Miles.
Continue reading The Best of All New All Different Marvel #3: Spider-Man