The problems with Miles Morales atm
First article for hellyeahteensuperheroes so I’ll just say this: I am an avid Spider-man fan. Spider-man is the prototypical teen superhero after all so while Peter Parker is grown up selling his marriages to the devil, owning a tech company, and not having life insurance, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that Spider-man’s mythos started as the awkward teen in high school. In fact, that is how the majority of his media introduces him to the audience as, a kid.
So honestly, someone needs to fill in the void of teenaged Spider-man. And that person was…Peter Parker himself in the Ultimate Universe which was a modern take of Spider-man. This is probably the most acclaimed, adapted, and successful comic series in recent memory to the point, Marvel honestly considered making the Ultimate Universe the default Universe…Until Loeb took that idea and flooded it with the most notorious comic event that is comparable to One More Day.
So Ultimate Peter Parker was still the teenaged Peter Parker with a lot of great stories. However, with plans of Universe shifting derailed, Ultimate Peter Parker ,as great as he was. had one glaring problem: He was becoming 616 Peter Parker over again.
You can make Green Goblin the Hulk, change Eddie Brock to Peter’s brother figure, make the Shocker to a joke, and have Peter Parker and Kitty Pryde date; but at the end of the day, you are essentially retelling the same story of a character who still exists in another way in the present. What is the point of Ultimate Peter Parker if he was going to become 616 Peter Parker who still had comics(terrible comics, but I digress)?
Long story short, they killed Peter Parker and Miles Morales took his place.
Miles’ entire purpose is to resemble those old classic Spider-man stories of a young Spider-man from a perspective of a person who was different than Peter, physically and mentally. There are plenty of black people who relate to Spider-man, but Peter Parker as a character cannot relate to them as black people deal with some other shit than Peter who ranted at a group of protestors for sticking to the man and was one of those white anarcho-capitalists who champion Ayn Rand.
Brian Michael Bendis initially was doing so well with Miles Morales. The first 13 issues of Miles Morales’ Spider-man should be textbook examples of how to do an origin story. And then shit happened. Here is the shit.
1. Miles lacks Spider-man esque villains
What separates Spider-man villains and everybody else’s villains is that Spider-man’s villains tie into both his life as Spider-man and Peter Parker. Mr. Negative, Martin Li, ran a charity that Aunt May works at. Dr. Otto Octavius is the mirror of Spider-man and Peter Parker in that they are both brilliant and talented minds, but unlike Peter, Otto resented his peers and embraced his status as an outcast as Peter grew out of that phase. Dr. Connor is his mentor and professor in college. Green Goblin is the father of his best friend and sometimes is that best friend. Eddie Brock, Venom, is a jealous co-worker and competitor of Peter Parker who resented that Peter was able to take glorified selfies and gain success over him.
Even in the Ultimate Universe…well even more in the Ultimate Universe, Peter’s villains related to him as not just Spider-man, but also Peter Parker. It is what makes his rogues galley different than Batman or Superman.
And Miles is honest to god devoid of that. There are only two villains that exemplify Spider-man villains: Katie Bishop and Aaron Davis. The former was not so great, but had potential. The latter was probably one of the greatest villains in the decade, but was killed off. Miles has been around for 5 years and he has only developed two villains of his own that resemble Spider-man villains. The rest of his RG are essentially Peter’s who hate Miles because he is Peter’s legacy, and that is not okay.
This is a common problem for all new super heroes in this day and age. Because their respective universe have become so cluttered with the pasts, it is hard for them to gain a foothold of their own.
2. Crossover events
This shit fucking kills me about Miles Morales. I understand that for the sake of Miles’ longevity and prevalence, you need to give him as much exposure as possible. And that is okay. I am okay with Miles joining teams like the Young Ultimates, the revamped Avengers, or the Champions. However, I am not okay these huge crossover events becoming overbearing to his development as a character.
Ultimate Comics Spider-man 13-18(United We Stand/Divided We Fall)
Ultimate Comics Spider-man 29-31(Cataclysm)
Miles Morales: the Ultimate Spider-man 12(the end was rushed because of Secret Wars)
Spider-man 6-10(Civil War II)
Spider-man 11-14(Spider-Gwen crossover)
There are 50 Miles Morales book focused comics. 19 of them are universe expanding crossover events that he is heavily involved in. Luckily Secret Empire has strayed away from having Miles’ comics involved, but that is bad. Nearly half of this dudes stories get hijacked by these events that rarely if ever character build.
Miles’ constant criticism of his stories is that he does not have a lot of stories of his own to tell and part of that has to do with these distractions because that is what they are: distractions. If Civil War II did something for Miles’ character I would be okay with it, but for most of his part in that event, Miles was just going with the tide utterly confused as to what is happening. The only thing that the event established for Miles is that he fears that his anger might make him go too far, and you do not need that convoluted mess of Civil War II to reflect that.
Miles would have more enemies if Bendis stopped with the incessant events and focused on creating enemies that serve as foils to Miles Morales.
3. Too much focus on Peter Parker
Being that Miles is a legacy of Peter Parker, of course Peter is going to be mentioned and relevant to Peter. For all intents and purposes, Peter is awesome at just letting Miles be.
Let me set the tone. Miles Morales and the Ultimate Universe survived Cataclysm and Galactus. The Ultimate Universe is revamped to three comics series. You have a mostly female and devoid of white men team(the All-New Ultimates). You have another female led team that explored mythos of the Ultimate Universe(Ultimate FF). And you have Miles Morales as the face of the entire universe and it is touted for once as Miles taking ownership of being Spider-man. It was about him. This was a fresh start with new stories. There is a mystery of Miles’ girlfriend. There was a thing with Roxxon. Miles’ dad was missing after he found out about Miles being Spider-man. There were so many stories and so much possibility.
This ran for 6 issues of Miles inaugural re-debut as the Spider-man. The first 6 issues of Miles revamp was about Peter Parker. Miles was playing secondary to Peter Parker and we were rehashing the same story development as Spider-men. Miles has already received the approval of a Peter Parker. A more experienced Peter Parker at that. So there was no character development for Miles to be had here.
This story from the looks of it was to gave Ultimate Peter Parker and Mary Jane closure…which ruins the point because Peter got closure in his death and his funeral. Mary Jane may have needed some closure, but to have it wasted on a resurrection was bullshit when she could have done something to ensure Miles did not meet the same fate or run into the same obstacles. Y’know, actually be a supporting character and taking responsibility of him? But we really just had to appease those Peter Parker fans who have so little exposure to Peter(sarcasm).
The first six issues of Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-man were about Peter Parker. Not Miles Morales.
So if we are keeping count, that is 25 issues that had fuck all to do with Miles Morales. Half of Miles main comics are not about him as a character. And that is bad. Half of those comics could have been used to develop him or his villains.
4. The switch from the Ultimate Universe to the 616
One day I am going to do the differences between Miles Morales and Peter Parker, but right now, I will summarize. To Peter Parker, Spider-man was an escapist adventure. He enjoys being Spider-man more than his normal. It allows him to be a snarky and fun character and it allows the audience to get in on the act as well because they too want to use Spider-man as means of escapism.
Miles, however, is completely different.
Miles is the classical anti-hero. Being a superhero or more specifically, being Spider-man causes more problems for Miles than it solves them. Miles, initially was not thrilled that he had Spider-powers.
It’s a burden to him. He is only Spider-man because in the Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker died. Also in the Ultimate Universe, there are very few superheroes running around protecting people.
Being Spider-man only caused Miles problems. His genial relationship with his Uncle became toxic. His relationship with his father could be summed up as if Jonah Jameson was Peter Parker’s dad and at every dinner, daddy would talk shit about what you as Spider-man did unaware that he was talking shit about his own son. His mom was killed in a Spider-man related battle which involved him.
Miles is Spider-man because no one else, but him, can be. It is metaphorically thrusted on him. He doesn’t want superpowers. He wanted a normal life.He wanted to go to school and have fun. Unlike Peter, Miles is not picked on at school and his not a social outcast. It helps that he is at a charter school with a bunch of nerds, but the point is that his normal life was satisfying to him and as soon as being Spider-man becomes too much for him, he ditches the outfit and tries his damnest to live a normal life.
Him being in the 616 Universe ruins the point of him. It derails his character in that in a world were Peter Parker not only still lives, but there are also several superheroes who are more than happy to fill in a role and have the purpose to do so, Miles has no motivation to be Spider-man anymore. And it is not like being Spider-man has becomes less burdensome for him with the switch. Miles’ main reason of being Spider-man has vanished.
5. Poor Social Commentary
I have so many problems with these panels.
First, this girl specifically mentions the possibility that Miles may be Latino. She says that he is brown so the dialogue is disjointed and Miles problem with her becomes a non-issue and he is annoyed for no reason.
Second, he has a problem being identified as the Black Spider-man. But you are black and Spider-man so you are both. It sounds like he is ashamed of being black because he acts defensive towards being identified as black as if a person is supposed to immediately recognize that looking at him.
Third, Hispanic is not the proper identifier. Latino is. No self-respecting LatinX would call themselves Hispanic unless they are from Spain. Miles should know this and every time he refers to himself as Hispanic, it questions if he is aware of those roots that he will gladly use in defense if someone calls him black.
Fourth, how in the fuck does Miles not recognize the importance of a black Spider-man? A kid in New York in times where their is heightened racial tension does not understand the big deal of being a black superhero. “Why does it matter?” he asks when black people are being shot up by the police because they are a perceived threat. Black people are being incriminated and are being massively incarcerated and targeted. The fact that Miles does not get this yet says to Luke Cage in person that he(Luke Cage) is the only super hero that his father respects. Gee, I wonder why, Miles?
Fifth, you do not need this faux post-racial commentary to make Miles sound profound. More importantly, he sounds like a white person who has no clue about racism. The fact of the matter is that the majority of Miles Morales’ fandom loves him because he is the black Spider-man and shaming them for doing so is the wrong move and turns people off. The girl literally sounds like a stereotypical SJW r what people perceive SJWs are like and Marvel already has a bad reputation of attacking those people(Nick Spencer) while at the same time trying to appeal to them over DC.
But there is more cringey Social Commentary in the hands of a writer who does not quite get it.
The oppression Olympics debate! First off, intersectionality is not a matter of whom is more oppressed than whom. It is to understand that people are oppressed in several ways. So Ganke pointing out that Miles is skinny and black while Ganke is fat and Asian completely misses the point of intersectionality because he is trying to say that he is more oppressed than Miles while erasing the fact the Miles faces racial injustice that can get him killed. And I am not erasing being fat and Asian, and I am just pointing out that there are better ways to have this discourse without turning it into a haphazard “Who suffers the most” dick measuring contest.
Also, Miles calls himself Hispanic as if his mom does not look like Beyonce and it counts as half.
There is a lot holding back Miles from developing into his own Spider-man. Hopefully in the future, this gets rectified because I want Miles to succeed.