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Thursday, March 22, 2012
SPIDER-MAN is dead.
Peter Parker, the web-slinging, wall-crawling teenager, gave his life to save his Aunt May and girlfriend Mary Jane Watson from the wrath of the insane Green Goblin, and a shocked nation mourns the loss of a true hero.
But this isn’t the conventional Marvel Universe, it’s the world featured in the Ultimate Comics imprint, a more grounded reality where mutants are considered terrorists and the US government runs its own superhero taskforce.
Parker’s death brought to an end more than 12 years of adventures featuring the Ultimate version of Spider-Man, a younger, less-confident counterpart to our Spidey, who was still at high school and juggled his costumed activities in between homework, a part-time job and his commitments to his friends.
Killing off this incredibly popular character was a massive decision by writer Brian Michael Bendis, who had written the entire series since its inception in 2000, and to then decide to come up with a markedly different replacement in the Spider-Man role was a risk only Bendis could have pulled off.
But as this new series demonstrates, in the right hands you can achieve the impossible, and the debut of new webslinger Miles Morales proves that you can put a different person in the Spider-Man costume and still tell fantastic stories.
A 15-year-old of Mexican and Afro-American parents, with a geek for a best friend and a criminal uncle, Miles is completely different from Peter in many ways, yet after he is also bitten by a genetically-altered spider and gains the arachnid’s abilities, proves he has the same courage and resolve.
Unlike his predecessor, this replacement wall-crawler also possesses a “venom sting” and chameleonic powers, and in these initial instalments does not have any web-slinging gifts, but how else he differs from Parker remains to be seen. Whatever talents he has, you can be sure this Spider-Man is here to stay…
A slow and measured start to the adventures of a new hero, albeit one following in the footsteps of a household name, this book marks a fresh beginning for Ultimate Spider-Man and the Ultimate Comics Universe as a whole, and it will be interesting seeing how this alternate reality continues to evolve as it moves further away from its roots in mainstream Marvel.