***Spoiler warning! Last chance to head out before the major Ultimate Fallout #4 reveal of the new Ultimate Spider-Man’s identity!***
The Ultimate Universe has a new Spider-Man, and it’s a character that readers have never seen before: Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Hispanic teen.
The news first broke just after midnight Tuesday on USA Today, and caps months of speculation following Marvel’s announcement in April that someone other than Peter Parker would be taking on the role of Spider-Man in the publisher’s Ultimate Universe.
“The theme is the same: With great power comes great responsibility,” series writer Brian Michael Bendis said in the USA Today article. “He’s going to learn that. Then he has to figure out what that means.”
The revelation is found in the pages of Ultimate Fallout #4, in comic book stores and Marvel’s digital apps this Wednesday. Morales will then go on to star in his own Ultimate Comics Spider-Man series starting in September with a new #1 issue.
In a separate USA Today piece, it’s noted that the character’s multicultural status is of personal significance to both Bendis and Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso. Bendis has two adopted daughters — one from Ethiopia, and one African-American — and Alonso is of half-Mexican descent.
“It’s certainly long overdue,” Bendis said in the article. “Even though there’s some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it’s still crazy lopsided.”
Bendis also credited Community actor Donald Glover’s Twitter campaign last summer to play the movie version of Spider-Man — and subsequent appearance in the show’s second season premiere in Spidey pajamas — as helping him realize he was on the right track.
“He looked fantastic!” Bendis told the newspaper. “I saw him in the costume and thought, ‘I would like to read that book.’ So I was glad I was writing that book.”
In May, Bendis told Newsarama that the classic themes that have made Spider-Man an international icon for nearly 50 years will still be present in the new series, even with someone new under the mask.
“There are obviously some truths to the world of Spider-Man that if you take them away, it’s just not Spider-Man anymore; they’re even more important than Peter Parker,” Bendis said. “Those elements of what Spider-Man means, and what he stands for, will continue into the new series.”
Peter Parker died in battle with the Green Goblin in June’s Ultimate Spider-Man #160, the end of the “Death of Spider-Man” story arc. In the “classic” Marvel Universe, Parker remains Spider-Man and is currently starring in the twice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man comic, among several other titles.
Since the existence of a new Ultimate Spider-Man was made official, rumors were prevalent that the character would be an ethnic minority or female. Fan chatter on the identity of the new Ultimate Spidey ranged from regular members of the Ultimate Spider-Man cast like Spider-Woman, to an Ultimate Universe version of an established Marvel character like Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara.
Marvel’s Ultimate comic books have a track record of portraying historically white characters as other ethnicities. In the Ultimate Universe, Nick Fury is African-American (which inspired the casting of Samuel L. Jackson as the character in the current Marvel Studios films), and Avengers member Wasp is Asian-American.
Ultimate Spider-Man debuted in October 2000, and a combined 160 issues — all written by Bendis — of the comic have been released, with the most recent volume ending with the title character’s death. Ultimate Fallout, dealing with the aftermath of “Death of Spider-Man,” is scheduled to run for six issues total, leading to the debut of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 next month, by Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli.