Graphic Novel Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Who is Miles Morales?

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Who is Miles Morales?

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Who is Miles Morales? - Credit: Archant

The debut adventures of the all-new, all-different Ultimate Spidey!

(Panini Books)

Spider-Man is dead.

After Peter Parker, the web-slinging, wall-crawling teenager, gives his life to save his Aunt May and girlfriend Mary Jane Watson from the wrath of the insane Green Goblin, a shocked nation is left mourning the loss of a true hero.

But this isn’t the conventional Marvel Universe, it’s the world featured in the Ultimate Comics imprint, the more grounded reality where mutants are considered terrorists and the US government runs its own superhero taskforce.

Parker’s death (reprinted here) brought to an end more than a decade of adventures featuring the Ultimate version of Spider-Man, a younger, less-confident counterpart to our Spidey, who was still at high school and juggled his costumed activities in between homework, a part-time job and his commitments to his friends.

Killing off this incredibly popular character was a massive decision by writer Brian Michael Bendis, who had written the entire series since its inception in 2000, and to then decide to come up with a markedly different replacement in the Spider-Man role was a risk only Bendis could have pulled off.

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But as this series from 2012 demonstrated, in the right hands you can achieve the impossible, and the debut of new web-slinger Miles Morales proved that you could put a different person in the Spider-Man costume and still tell fantastic stories.

A 15-year-old of Mexican and Afro-American parents, with a geek for a best friend and a criminal uncle, Miles is completely different from Peter in many ways, yet after he is also bitten by a genetically-altered spider and gains the arachnid’s abilities, proves he has the same courage and resolve.

Unlike his predecessor, this replacement wall-crawler also possesses a “venom sting” and chameleonic powers, and in these initial instalments did not have any web-slinging gifts, although this was subsequently rectified.

Today Miles has crossed over into the mainstream Marvel U following the events of the latest Secret Wars, and has enjoyed a career as an Avenger and Champion, stepping out of the shadow of Peter Parkers from both universes.

A slow and measured start to the adventures of a new hero, albeit one following in the footsteps of a household name, this book marked a fresh beginning for Ultimate Spider-Man and the Ultimate Comics Universe as a whole, as well as a further move away from its roots in mainstream Marvel.