In the continuing effort to make the Ultimate line relevant again, Marvel's done something they couldn't do in the 616 universe – they killed off Peter Parker and allowed a new guy to take up the webs. Until now, they wouldn't tell us who the new guy was.
Now, thanks to a USA Today story, we do. It's a kid by the name of Miles Morales.
What's his story? He's a teenager, half-black, half-Hispanic, he has a connection to Parker in the way he received his powers, and Aunt May and Gwen Stacy will meet him at least long enough to give him some advice.
Brian Michael Bendis will still be writing him, and he said "The theme is the same: With great power comes great responsibility. He's going to learn that. Then he has to figure out what that means. It's certainly long overdue. Even though there's some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it's still crazy lopsided."
His editor, Axel Alonso, noted "What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who's reflective of our culture and diversity. We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker."
Ultimate Spider-Man artist Sara Pichelli added "Maybe sooner or later a black or gay — or both — hero will be considered something absolutely normal." Might that be a hint on what else we'll discover about Morales?
While some had speculated that the Ultimate version of Ben Reilly, a black man who worked as a scientist in the same lab Peter's father had worked, would step into the role, since Ben Reilly was the name of Peter Parker's clone in the 616 universe, but as we've now seen, that's not the case, and instead it's an entirely new direction.
Also, it bears mentioning that when casting began for The Amazing Spider-Man, the new cinematic reboot featuring Andrew Garfield in the Peter Parker role, there was a short-lived but vocal groundswell of support for the notion that Community star Donald Glover should be a viable candidate to play the new Spidey. If you don't know why that's relevant, stop reading now, buy the first two seasons of Community on iTunes and call in sick to work tomorrow and spend your entire day watching these episodes, because there's no reason you shouldn't be watching that show.
There's even a slight resemblance between Morales and Glover. Check this out this bit of Photoshop fun:
Is this a case of art imitating life, or a way for Marvel to explore an alternate timeline in reality as well as in their comic pages? Maybe it's a way of saying "hey, if Garfield's stint doesn't work, we've sure as hell got a hook for the next Spider-Man reboot!" Bendis actually credits Glover with some inspiration for the look of Morales, so you can guess who inspired who here.
Anyway, what's your take on all of this? It's a great direction, surely, but is it enough to get you reading Ultimate comics again?