Marvel has announced a new Spider-Man whose secret identity will be a mixed-race character.
A part of its Ultimates line, a series of comics that focus on contemporary reinterpretations of its famous heroes, Mile Morales, a half-black, half Hispanic teenager will become the new Spider-Man, and will make his first appearance in Ultimate Fallout. It will be released on Wednesday.
“The theme is the same: With great power comes great responsibility,” writer Brian Michael Bendis told USA Today, where the news was revealed. “He’s going to learn that. Then he has to figure out what that means.”
In his first appearance, he breaks up a fight, but his origin and more of his personal story will be revealed in Ultimate Spider-Man #1, which is launching in September.
This is the world of comics, where different continuities and realities can coexist, so Peter Parker remains the hero we know in the regular ongoing Spider-Man series. But this kind of race switching of famous characters is not new for the Ultimates line, which famously changed Nick Fury into an African-American in its Avengers update series called The Ultimates, which launched in 2000. The way he was drawn seems to be inspired by actor Samuel L. Jackson; this is believed to have opened the door for the actor to play the role in the current set of Marvel Studios films.
The news of the new Spider-Man comes at a time when comic book companies are coming under increasing scrutiny of the representation of its characters. Last week, DC had to deal with online outrage over its lack of female creators and strong women characters starring in their own books.
DC is currently undergoing a revamp of its entire lineup, restarting several ongoing series with number 1, and cancelling many series and installing new creative teams. Laura Hudson, the editor of ComicsAlliance.com wrote a post last week noting that DC’s new shuffle had cut female creators from 12 per cent down to 1 per cent.
After DC’s editor-in-chief Dan Didio initially angrily responded to a fan’s question at Comic-Con about the representation, DC later responded on their blog about taking the concerns seriously.
On DC’s Source Blog, a post from last Friday read: “Over the past week we’ve heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously … We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership. Can we improve on that? We always can–and aim to.”
As many comic characters are often in a state of flux–or from alternate realities–there have been several characters that have been rebooted with new ethnic origins. Two in recent memory include The Atom, whose fourth incarnation was Raymond Cho, an Asian scientist, and most recently Blue Beetle, who is Jamie Reyes, a Hispanic teen.