Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1 – A Second Opinion
It has become a paradigm of comic books for the writers to introduce big changes in characters and continuity through massive events. Their scope can encompass a single character’s arc or the entire universe they inhabit. In the most memorable of events, these characters were beaten, broken, put to rest, and subsequently reborn; or replaced entirely. Their absence spurred writers to create new and interesting storylines that helped to invigorate and rejuvenate the books. Additionally, new characters were created for these storylines, or in some cases, existing characters stepped up. These include, but are not limited to Connor Kent, Ben Reilly, Kyle Rayner, Bucky Barnes, Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Kate Kane, and now; Miles Morales.
Following the death of Peter Parker in the conclusion of Ultimate Comics: Death of Spider-Man; for the first time since 1996, someone else is carrying the webhead’s torch. The news of a new Spider-Man splintered fans. At the same time it galvanized interest in Marvel comics so much that it has caught the attention of the national media. Marvel made a bold move that I believe has a chance to ultimately (tee-hee) payoff; however there was one misstep that I did not agree with.
After reading “All-New” Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1, the title of an X-Files episode came to mind: Nothing Important Happened Today. Set in the past, eleven months before Miles’ first appearance in Ultimate Fallout, we are first introduced to Norman Osborn and his attempts to recreate the spider that bit Peter Parker. We are then introduced to Miles Morales and his family, given a small insight into his background, and are shown the early beginnings of Miles Morales’ incarnation as Spider-Man.
My initial reaction to the issue was a resounding meh. It relies on too many clichés prevalent today; things just happen. There is a plot here, but a lot of the circumstances and their subsequent outcomes left me scratching my head at their relevance and/or lack of originality. Bendis focuses primarily on trying to make the character relatable to the point that Miles resembles a caricature. His socioeconomic background is a cliché in and of itself; an African-American/Hispanic from a working class family that resides in Brooklyn gets his big-ticket out of the ghetto when he is accepted to a prestigious middle school. I’ve read this before, you’ve read this before. Bendis is trying too hard.
Making the character a person of color is of no consequence—I don’t mind. What I do mind is the execution. I don’t understand their decision to make the character both Black and Hispanic and then tack on every stereotype imaginable. The only way I have been able to make sense of it, is to characterize the decision as a ludicrous, lazy, down-the-middle, politically correct gimmick. It comes off as a PR attempt to garner media attention and make the character more inclusive to people of color. It’s unnecessary.
The character of Spider-Man has always attracted a large audience and it was never because he was white and lived in a house in Queens; it was because he was nerdy, awkward, neurotic, and anti-social. He was relatable because every teenager felt like they were an outcast or misunderstood at least once. Spider-Man transcended race and appealed to all the fears and complexes that we felt walking through those halls in high school. Bottom line: race and class never mattered.
I am still interested in following this new Spider-Man to see how he interacts with his villains, who his love interest will be, etc. The dynamic is completely different and I’m fine with that. Sooner or later we were going to have to change the page and start a new chapter in the legacy of Spider-Man, but it’s frustrating when you feel like you have read it already.
Need a another opinion? Don’t navigate away: we’ve got you covered! Check out Louis Santiago’s “Buy It, Browse It, Burn It: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1“!