Miles Morales Spins a Familiar Web in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

***This article contains spoilers for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #14.***

 

Miles Morales now has Peter Parker's web-shooters, and though it's a huge vote of confidence in the star of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, it's also something of a mixed blessing.

In Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #14, in stores now, Aunt May presents Morales with his predecessor's iconic web-shooters in the midst of the "Divided We Fall" conflict, which sees the America of the Ultimate Universe embroiled in an escalating state of disarray — and that world's heroes, Morales included, pulled into the conflict.

"This is literally like being handed Clapton's guitar, by Clapton's mom," series writer Brian Michael Bendis told Newsarama. "It's Excalibur. It's the biggest, 'You're doing the right thing, kid,' that anyone could ever get."

 

Yet when Peter Parker was Spider-Man, he was both a scientific genius and old enough to hold down a part-time job at The Daily Bugle. Miles is neither of these things, making webswinging a considerably trickier proposition.

"He's going to get the web-shooters, a couple of web fluid cartridges that were left over, and the hand-written formula," Bendis said. "So here's the downside: [Miles and his friend Ganke] have to make their own web fluid. And they're not made of money. Where do you get all these chemicals?

 

"For Miles, web-shooters are going to be very expensive," Bendis continued. "Years ago, Gerry Conway used to do stuff where Peter would bitch, 'I don't have enough money for web fluid.' Miles literally doesn't have any money for web fluid, at all. Every time he shoots his web, it's like, 'Well, there goes my allowance.' He has to be more cautious and careful and smart about how he does it."

Bendis's current artist collaborator on the series, David Marquez, joined the title when original Miles Morales illustrator Sara Pichelli temporarily departed to draw the five-issue miniseries Spider-Men. Though Pichelli is returning to the series imminently, Marquez is also sticking around, with the two artists rotating arcs.

 

Marquez sees Miles using Peter Parker's web-shooters as giving the character an added sense of Spidey-authenticity with not just the story's characters, but also any potential fans remaining skeptical about a new Spider-Man.

"It's a passing of the torch in all the various ways you can possibly describe that," he said. "Even though it is Miles and it's a very different aesthetic and a very different story, it really does kind of nail in the Spider-Man aspect of it."

Appropriately enough for a Spider-Man story, the power that comes with web-shooters comes with responsibility: Specifically, living up to the trust that Aunt May, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane have come to place in Miles as a result of "Divided We Fall" and the soon-to-wrap Spider-Men, which takes place "just before" the current arc of the main series, according to Bendis.

 

"If Miles f*cks up, and there may be situations where Miles really f*cks up, they're going to be the hardest on him," the writer said.

For Marquez, the addition of web-shooters also adds a new visual dimension for the character's superheroic exploits, along with further opportunity to develop a physicality for Miles Morales unique from Peter Parker.

"So far he's been limited to five-story buildings," Marquez said. "It opens up things a whole lot more for him."

The addition of web-shooters and the presence of Aunt May, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane — all of whom play a role in issue #14 — clearly call to mind the previous incarnation of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, which ended last year with the aptly titled "Death of Spider-Man" arc.

 

"You want Miles to have his own stories, but part of his story is that he is trying to fill the legacy of Peter, so these elements of Peter's life will show up," Bendis said. "At the same time, all of these characters are dealing with a tremendous loss. It is a continuation of the Ultimate Spider-Man story. It's a new chapter, but it is part of that story."

These characters will continue to be involved throughout the series — though not too involved.

"They're going to show up in the book, it's almost impossible that they wouldn't," he said. "But they'll have a completely different relationship to Miles. It's not like Miles is going to move into Aunt May's house and start wearing his clothes or anything like that."

 

It's now been more than a year since Miles Morales — the 13-year-old half-African America, half-Latino attempting to live up to Peter Parker's legacy in Marvel's Ultimate line — was introduced to the public. The character received a massive amount of mainstream media attention, including vocal criticism from conservative talk show host Glenn Beck — who Bendis thanks for his "completely insane rant" that helped get the character noticed.

"This had 'jump the shark' written all over it. I'm too much of a pop culture professor not to know that," Bendis said. "Here's a book that everybody was fine with — we're going to kill the lead character, replace him with something you don't know. It could have blown up in our face pretty good."

It's instead been a critical and commercial success, and an upcoming arc sees the return of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant, plus Miles against what Bendis calls the character's "first real, big, giant A-list Spider-Man supervillain" — Venom.

"The hope was that the character would represent all the things that we love about Spider-Man, not become this thing that we think is better than Spider-Man," Bendis said. "Literally, it's a character who loves Spider-Man as much as we all do, who wants to try to do the hard thing. And what's not to love about that? Thankfully, thanks to Sara and David, we've been able to accomplish that with the level of finesse that it needed." 

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