In case you have been livingunder a rock recently Marvel Comics has a new Spider-Man, and it is not Ben Reilly.No, with the death of Peter Parker, Ultimate Fallout #4 will be introducing usto a new Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales. Why is this significant you mayask? Well because Miles is half-Black and half-Hispanic. Now admittedly hisrace is not going to make much of a difference in the average comic book geek’slife. Instead we will spend our hours debating whether or not he is as cleveras Parker, he is as intelligent, or his costume colors are right, but thecountry as a whole needs Miles Morales and his controversy too.
Lets for a moment remember whycertain heroes are special. There is a clear line of separation betweenSuperman, Batman, Captain America, and yes, Spider-Man, from the rest of thepack. I have always felt that this is because each of these charactersrepresents something we can all relate to. Superman, for example, representsthe idea that someone who can do anything would choose instead to help as manypeople as he can. He is ultimate humility, like Batman is ultimate redemption,Cap, the American dream, so on and so on. But for most of us Spider-Man is evenmore special, because it was Peter Parker that for the first time hooked us notwith his powers, or his tragedy (though these are important elements) butbecause he was you and I. He represents every insecure, mistake prone,overzealous geek out there.  We all knowthat Spidey is at his core that eternal line of “With great power comes greatresponsibility” but he was also that teenage kid that got picked on, wished forthe girl that was out of his league, and struggled everyday with his own selfworth. Peter Parker represents every teenager I ever met, even if they did notknow it themselves.

So why Miles Morales, and why dowe need him now? For two reasons, first because we need to remember again howimportant Spider-Man is. Unfortunately, I think many of the masses relateSpidey more to Tobey Maguire’s blank stare expression, than to the wisecracking kid we read in the books. Even this new movie appears to be leaningmore towards the The Dark Knight’s heavy tones, than Amazing Spider-Man’s craftyteenager. We need to be reintroduced to what Spidey represents, and what betterway to do than through controversy. Spider-Man is important to society. Hereminds teenagers and geeks everywhere that they are not alone, and that theycan succeed. He is the original “It gets better” campaign, and ironically itnever got better for him. Bendis has made Ultimate Spider-Man so special,despite Ultimate books sales being so weak, in part because he re-introduced usto that reflection of ourselves within Parker. If he can do it now with Miles so under the spotlight, then maybe themasses will be reminded as well. Remember there is no such thing as badpublicity. 
Secondly, take a look at thestate of our country. Our government cannot agree on what’s for lunch,extremism is all around us, and while racism may be limited to a minority, itis still prevalent. Many may ask, “Why a replacement, why not a new character?”To that I answer, why isn’t T’chala in the new Avengers’ movie? Where is thelove for Blade even with a successful movie run? There are some spectacularblack characters in comics, but they never seem to break into that elite group.To be honest new characters in general cannot make that leap, the newest Iwould argue would be Wolverine, and he is his own kind of mess. Spider-Man isunique in his ability to bring us together. I always found it interesting thatthe most significant image of the 9/11 tribute was not Captain America standing over thedestruction, but Spider-Man. He is our national hero, like a song, flag orbird; he is who this country is at its heart. He has surpassed even Supes asour generation’s greatest hero, and Miles Morales gives the all of America theopportunity to embrace diversity, and ironically unite in our love for ourgreatest hero. 
Now it’s possible that this willall turn out to be a mess the size of the Clone Saga. And it could be pointlessif the Ultimate line gets cancelled. But I for one have hope. I am a fan ofBendis and I think he has a vision for Miles. If it is played right, Milescould be a milestone, pun intended, for a country that needs its folk hero. Weneed Miles Morales, because now more than ever we need Spider-Man. 

By Jason Padua

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