Comic Review: Miles Morales / The Ultimate Spider-Man

(spoilers will be spoken about in this article related to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Miles Morales story as Spider-Man) 

Miles Morales. A name that has been popping up all over pop culture recently, especially due to the fact that he has had his own animated Oscar winning movie that has been released (WOOOO go Spidey!), appearing in multiple cartoon TV shows and even a side character in the 2018 Marvel’s Spider-Man video game, and a YA Novel released in 2017.

But the history of Miles Morales is something to truly be admired, with Miles becoming the first black African American Spider-Man, it ignites hope and inspires the world that anyone can truly wear the mask, and Miles has had such a huge impact on not just the comics industry but the entire pop culture world, especially becoming a strong character when it comes to seeing cosplayers at cons, and hearing people’s stories on why Miles inspires them to wear a spider suit. And he’s only been around for eight years, spanning multiple different comic series and being a member of various teams, EVEN A MEMBER OF THE AVENGERS. Not many comic book characters have pulled off all of the above within the space of eight years!

When news struck in 2010 that Marvel decided to pull the trigger and finally announce that Spider-Man was going to be killed, my heart stopped for a moment. I’m not sure how I felt about somebody that wasn’t Peter Parker in the modern day world taking over the role of Spider-Man, then Miles Morales came along… and boy I fell in love with this character.

First appearing in the mini series, Ultimate Comic Fallout #4, after the death of Ultimate Peter Parker (Peter Parker from Marvel’s Ultimate Universe known as 1610), Miles has blossomed into a beloved character, and a worthy successor of Parker to carry on the mantle of Spider-Man.

Created by iconic comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, known for his run on Daredevil, New Avengers and creating the super heroine with an attitude Jessica Jones and popular comic book artist Sara Pichelli.

The Story of Miles is something not out of this world and is pretty grounded and relatable in some ways. A character surrounded by a family that loves him, wanting him to achieve everything in life, you feel there’s something holding him back, a 13 year old moving to a boarding school, to then be given such a heavy burden, with a secret he has to keep, might have something to do with it.

The universe Miles is born into also comes with a wide range of costume designs. Most of these designs used in the Ultimate universe are what inspired most of the MCU costumes, with Nick Fury specifically designed and drawn in the style of Samuel L. Jackson (this was way back in the 00’s), a more military designed Captain America, and Hawkeye’s design is near enough adapted perfectly. Instead of the classic red and blue spandex Peter sports, Miles is known for rocking a black and red suit. Now I’m a sucker for just the plain red and blue suit, I’m pretty boring when it comes to branching out with different designs, but this red and black suit is something else. Contrasting perfectly and was an instant cosplay for me. It was adapted perfectly in the Spider-Verse movie, but altered to suit the style of Miles, giving him a bomber jacket, cargos and some slick looking Nike’s. Along with Miles, we also see a few of his villains bring new styles to the series. With the Ultimate universe trying to be a more realistic world, the costumes reflect what people would wear in the real world, for instance the Prowler is seen in a more slick stealth spandex suit, rather than the traditional huge purple cape and green suit. A much younger Spider-Woman plays a pivotal role in Miles’ story, and again her costume is altered to more of a plain red suit with a large white spider running down the suit. This opens up the door for the women of the cosplay world to have a more widen range of choosing a Spider-Girl. These designs can benefit the cosplay world as it gives us more realistic looks, and more choices when it comes to choosing what version of a character we want to do.

The first story arc of Miles’ story actually begins with him not being Spider-Man. Instead the first four issues explore more of his background, introducing us to his family, his school life and his close partner in crime best friend Ganke. Set 11 months before the actual death of Peter Parker, we see a scared kid come to grips with these powers, being bitten by the same spider that gave Peter Parker his powers, even learning a fair few extra powers that Peter doesn’t even have. So we’re not thrown into “Here’s a kid with superpowers, watch him do everything instantly”. It’s not until around issue 5 we start to see a more comfortable Miles, still learning the ropes, but with a bit more finesse, fancy acrobatics, reeeeeeally cheesy quips, you get the idea. Of course with this, you see the rise of something dark lingering in the background, where Miles faces consequences on what will make him a hero.

With Bendis being now known for writing two Spider-Man origin stories, it’s nice to compare the two and looking back on what parts are similar and how Miles and Peter contrast each other. Of course Sara Pichelli’s artwork knocks this book out of the park. Being one of my favourite books in the past 10 years with consistent art work, really showing how strong this team work together, and I knew that this book was going to be a favourite of mine. And eight years later, Miles’ adventures still are some of my favourites. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue of a Miles led book, with that being either his own solo adventures, his team ups with Peter Parker (Yeah Miles’ ultimate universe collided with the 616 universe, it’s kind of a long story, so you should most definitely check out Secret Wars 2016 by the incredible Jonathan Hickman, which meant Miles joined the world of the heroes we well and truly love becoming a core member of the Marvel Universe.) or even his teen team led book The Champions.

The world truly is blessed to have such an iconic character as Miles Morales, and to now have a role model for younger audiences truly is something wonderful to look at. With the reception of Spider-Verse, I hope this makes people go back to check out some of Miles’ older adventures (which is why I hope you are reading this article!), with Spider-Verse being heavily influenced by the first set of stories about Miles, specifically focusing on having the same abilities, keeping all the same beats as the book, minus the whole multiple dimension thing, If you want to check that story out I’d recommend Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse, it’s a great read and introduced some of the characters you see on screen such as Peni Parker and Spider-Gwen.

Miles Morales has a bright future ahead of him, and with the upcoming force of new writers and artists, being welcomed into the comic industry, I’m very excited for what the Marvel Universe has in store for our teen web head next. 

Some books you should check out filled with lots of Miles Morales goodness!

  • Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Book 1-3
  • Ultimate Comics: Fallout 
  • Spider-Men
  • Spider-Verse
  • Champions
  • All New-All Different Avengers
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