Well-known face: I am a comic-book geek. Slightly less-well-known fact: the Spider-Man you might have known and — perhaps — loved is dead.
Here’s the deal. Marvel Comics, which publishes Spider-Man and a host of other comic-booky characters (not Batman or Superman or Green Lantern, though), has a couple of different imprints. Their main publishing line is anchored by Spider-Man, who is the heroic alter ego of Peter Parker. That’s the dude you’ve seen in the various cartoons and movies throughout the year.
Marvel also publishes a line of comics called (with absolutely no hubris or self-congratulations at all) Ultimate Comics. Basically, that’s their regular comic characters, but off into a corner where the creators can do things they couldn’t do in the mainstream versions. One of the things they did recently was to kill off Peter Parker.
On it’s own, that’s pretty heady stuff. Because this time, unlike with the death of Superman a decade or so back, they really mean it. Peter Parker is dead. Spider-Man, though, will live on. And that’s what’s causing the problem.
You might have noticed people in actual media, mostly right-wing hate fests, have been making something of this because the new Spider-Man is a half-black, half-latino young dude named Miles Morales. Yeah, Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics universe is no longer a white dude.
And people, mostly (it should be noted) white people, are freaking the heck out.
Which is, to me, absolutely astonishing. Not to mention appalling. People are getting all upset because Spider-Man is going from being a white dude that can crawl on walls to a half-black, half-latino (blatino?) kid who can crawl on walls. I just don’t get the furor.
As long as they can tell good stories with Miles Morales, what’s the anger about? Now, I might be reaching here a little bit, but I think I might be smelling the subtle sent of racism here. There are actual people who (without even laughing at the absurdity of the statement) are complaining about this because they think there are too many minorities in, not only society, but in our comic books.
This is just absolutely nuts.
I, personally, am really looking forward to seeing what Miles Morales will do as Spider-Man. The only thing I know about the young dude is that he is different than Peter Parker, that he has had different life experiences than the Peter Parker who was created in 1962. The thing is, the world was different in 1962. We, as society, are different than we were 50 years ago. Isn’t it about time that our fictional characters started reflecting that? And telling us good stories in a way that they couldn’t be used when they were all part of the dominant culture of the country?
Well, yeah. And, seriously, I think the only people really upset about all this are old dudes who don’t understand one thing: Spider-Man, be he Peter Parker or Miles Morales, is a hero and that’s all that matters to the young readers who are going to be discovering the new dude in a couple of months.
These guys, though. . . They get it.
I just wish more people got it the way they do.
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