This weekend, Marvel Entertainment announced the second of its All-New, All-Different Marvel titles, to launch this fall, and unlike the first — a relaunch of Invincible Iron Man — it’s one that hints at a possible change to the status quo, with previous alternate reality hero Miles Morales taking the lead in a new series called, simply, Spider-Man.
Morales has been Spider-Man for some years as part of Marvel’s Ultimate Comics imprint. He debuted in 2011, the creation of Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (who will write and draw the new series, respectively), and was presented as being a character inspired to heroism after the seeming death of Peter Parker — who, following the grand comic tradition, was later revealed to have recovered from certain death.
Morales was intentionally the Peter Parker ideal from the 1960s updated for contemporary times; Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said as much when he was originally announced, describing him as “a Spider-Man for the 21st century who’s reflective of our culture and diversity.” Instead of the nerdy, white Peter Parker, Miles — who sports an alliterative name, keeping that particular part of the tradition upheld — reflects a more contemporary New York by being an underprivileged, mixed-race kid (Miles is officially half-African American, half-Latino), but remains true to the core Spider-Man concept of using his superhero identity to provide an escape from — and balance to — the trials of his everyday life, finding a way to deal with his great power and great responsibility.
As the new Ultimate Spider-Man, Morales has been a rare sales high point in Marvel’s failing Ultimate line, surviving two line-wide revisions and headlining two solo series (Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man), in addition to making appearances in a number of other titles, including All-New Ultimates, All-New X-Men and Spider-Men, a mini-series that introduced the Peter Parker of Marvel’s main continuity to Miles’ world. While enthusiasm for the line fell to such a level that Marvel decided to pull the plug with this summer’s Secret Wars storyline, there was little doubt that Miles would somehow manage to survive.
The surprise, instead, comes in the positioning of the new series, to launch this fall. Peter Parker will still exist in this new reality, as a mentor to Miles — and, perhaps more; there’s another Spider-Man in the All-New, All-Different Marvel teaser image released earlier this month, after all — which makes Miles’ new position seem all the more unclear: will Marvel have multiple Spider-Men, and if so, how will they differentiate them?
“Our message has to be that it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else,” Bendis told the New York Daily News about the series. With Marvel also launching Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman titles in the last few months, has the role of web-slinger become a franchise business with different models for different markets? And, if so, what does that mean for the long-term prospects of Miles if Marvel ever decides to consolidate each market into the original model?
Spider-Man will launch later this year.