The news of Marvel’s post-Secret Wars Spider-Man has broken early. Personally, even though the story is now in the national media and other websites, I still consider it a spoiler. There’s something about not knowing what a story will be, something about the age before the internet and walking into a comic shop without preconceptions. There’s something about the inevitable frustration in having your stories inescapably being previewed to you four months in advance without a choice in the matter.
So, I am going to say that spoilers follow, and hopefully you’ll have the choice to click the link or not and make the decision yourself.
Miles Morales is the eponymous character in “Spider-Man,” the new ongoing in-normal-616-continuity comic book launching this fall. No news has spilled yet on what the status of 616 Peter Parker will be. Will he be mentor to Morales, a teammate, or perhaps a wholly independent operator in his own title? Or will we see Parker sacrifice himself in Secret Wars, much like Barry Allen, The Flash, sacrificed himself during Crisis on Infinite Earths.? In the story of Barry Allen’s death, his young speedster protege Wally West stepped up to take the Flash mantle, including his iconic costume.
The Wally West Flash stories ran for decades. Many comics readers grew up only knowing Wally. Wally West was their Flash. Over time, he became a fan favorite in a way that Barry Allen had not been in a long time. Some of the greatest comics writers and artists contributed to the excellent runs over the years. Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Geoff Johns all wrote fantastic runs on the title, and Morrison and others used Wally to great effect in other DC Universe books such as Justice League.
Wally was my Flash, just like Tom Baker was my Doctor. I’d seen The Fourth Doctor on PBS as a child, and, as I grew, I forgot about Gallifrey and Time Lords and all that business for twenty years or so until the BBC revived Doctor Who for the 21st Century. My first and most lasting introduction to The Flash was in a stack of issues, #1-48 (Vol. 2), that my brother gave me before moving to boarding school. My Flash was an introspective fellow dealing with real life problems. His stories were very personal, grounded but not gritty, starring an everyman dealing with some outlandish super battles and many relatable interpersonal and psychological battles as well.
In Secret Wars, will we see Peter Parker sacrifice himself to save the universe? Will we see his eager, young apprentice strive to live up to the standards set by his role model? Will Miles don the blue and reds out of respect for his mentor? And will Miles, like Wally before him, have to earn his place among the other heroes, not just as an individual, as a dependable, good person, but also as a superhero who can be counted on as a teammate and a fighter?
The idea excites me. I’ve picked up every issue of Miles Morales’ “Spider-Man” titles since Bendis created him. And, yes, I’ve loved Peter Parker since I was a kid watching PBS’s The Electric Company. Peter really was my first introduction to comics, my Tom Baker, if you will. I have been a long-time reader of the original Spider-Man. I struggled with him as he: worked freelance photography, dealt with school and academia, had many loves, got married, became a school teacher, and... well, and died.
The problem with the “Parker luck” is that Peter has lived through many adventures and has had a number of excellent character endings to his story. He graduated college. He got jobs. He got married. He lived the home life. In some versions, he had a child and retired. Peter Parker has had so many endings to his life and career as Spider-Man, that maybe it is time to say one more goodbye. May he die as he lived, a hero who made the lives of the people around him better. May he sacrifice himself to save others. This is why Barry Allen’s death worked.
And this is why Miles Morales is ready to step into some very big shoes, much like Wally West was. The stories of Miles Morales are just beginning. He’s a teenaged kid with a normal life and normal responsibilities from a relatable background. He’s a new superhero making mistakes and learning from them. He has his whole life ahead of him, with so many stories yet to be told. Sound familiar? Peter Parker’s stories have been told, and they were good ones. And, in the right hands, Miles Morales’ stories will be new and bold. So far, they have been in good hands.
We have the Spider-Man of the next generation. I feel like celebrating.