By now the word should have reached everyone that there's a new Ultimate Spider-Man coming. After Peter Parker's heroic portrayal and death in The Death of Spider-Man, the time has come for his replacement. We know that deaths in comic book don't mean a lot these days but they have more relevance in the Ultimate Universe compared to other comics. In a universe where Wolverine, Professor X, Cyclops and Magneto can die, why not Spider-Man?
When it was first announced that a new person would be taking on the identity of Spider-Man, speculation soon arose. With the recent Clone Saga in issues 97-105, many felt the easy solution would be for a clone to step in and take over. Despite the mishandling of the original Clone Saga, many (including myself) still have a fondness for Peter Parker's clone, Ben Reilly. But Ultimate Ben Reilly was a completely different character.
Other possibilities included Peter's female clone, Jessica Drew as well as Kitty Pryde (who developed her own new crimefighting identity and powers). Fans that have been reading Ultimate Spider-Man didn't want him to die. Because it did happen, it wouldn't be surprising if the general consensus was for someone close to Peter to take over the mantle of Spider-Man.
Only that isn't what is happening here.== TEASER ==
We have been introduced to the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, in the pages of Ultimate Comics Fallout #4. As soon as it was announced, everyone was asking, "Miles who?" We have a completely new character. Someone not related to Spider-Man. Someone that has nothing to do with him...and that's okay.
Spider-Man is an iconic character and with all the different series he's had over the years, it feels as if there have been so many different stories told about the character. Now we have the opportunity to see completely new adventures with someone that isn't Peter Parker. That may be hard for Spider-Man fans but because Brian Michael Bendis has brilliantly spearheaded the direction of Ultimate Spider-Man for over 160 issues (including annuals), I have no problem accepting a new person as Spidey.
People are used to Peter Parker as Spider-Man. But we did have Miguel O'Hara as Spider-Man 2099. There's also been other characters that have successfully stepped into the superhero boots (or booties) of others such as Bucky Barnes as Captain America, Dick Grayson as Batman, Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, Tim Drake as Robin and so on. We've even seen, in the Ultimate Universe, future Wolverine as Cable. That's part of what the Ultimate Universe is about, things are similar but can get extremely different.
Of course the bigger issue with the new Spider-Man may lie in his ethnicity. We no longer have a white Spider-Man. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso stated they "knew it had to be a character that represents the diversity—in background and experience—of the twenty-first century..." Diversity in comics has recently become a hot topic. The reality is comic readers come from different ethnic backgrounds. Why shouldn't comic book superheroes follow the same suit?
Often the argument has been that those in the minority have a hard time relating to characters outside of their ethnicity. That wasn't the case for myself but I can understand how this could be the case for many. New York City has always been the ultimate melting pot of races and it is about time that today's comics reflect that. As long as it isn't a forced issue.
For this new kid to truly be worthy of the Spider-Man mantle, it has to come down to him believing "with great power comes great responsibility." As long as Bendis stays true to what what Spider-Man is about, the person under the mask should not be an issue. It will be great that others will be able to relate to him but the last thing we need is a character full of racial stereotypes, something that Bendis would not do. When I first started reading Iron Man in the 80s, Rhodey had replaced Tony Stark. It didn't make a bit of difference. We still had great Iron Man stories.
Bendis took the concept of Spider-Man and gave it a modern twist in Ultimate Spider-Man. This is just the next step. What is Miles' connection to Peter Parker? How did he get his powers and why does it seem he's unaware of his powers' full extent? That's part of the fun and mystery readers will get to discover in the new series. Death may be a semi-permanent thing in the Ultimate Universe but there have been a couple characters that have managed to cheat death. Marvel may be firm that Peter Parker truly is dead but we all know there's still the possibility he could return. For all we know Nick Fury has taken Peter's remains and a way to bring him back is being looked into. There are so many ways Peter could return someday.
As much as I enjoyed Bendis' take on Peter, I'm okay with this next chapter of Spider-Man. Let's find out what Miles is all about and capable of. If he's a success, that means we get the joy of reading another great new character. If he flops, maybe we'll see the return of Peter sooner than anyone planned. Spider-Man is no longer a white kid, so what. Let's see how this new Spidey handles the dangers and adventures coming his way. It shouldn't make an ounce of difference what race this new Spider-Man is. As long as he doesn't start shooting villains with a gun or develops the ability to breathe underwater, I believe that Bendis will write his as Spider-Man and Miles will step up and accept the mantle.