There’s a series of comic books Marvel produces week in/week out that are totally separate from their normal books: the “Ultimate” line of comics. The Ultimate books exist as an entirely separate Universe from the regular Marvel U. The idea, originally, was to re-create these iconic characters for a post 20th-century audience. To create a place where writers are free to tell the stories they want to tell regardless of previously established Marvel comics continuity (many, many years of it). Where new and experimental concepts/ideas could live and thrive, like making Cable the future version of Wolverine, for one. So it was shocking to hear many fans’ reactions to the newest Ultimate Marvel reveal this past weekend.
The Ultimate version of Spiderman is dead. For weeks, Marvel has been releasing teasers of the new Spiderman; a subtly different costumed hero soaring through New York City on webs looking as Spiderman-esque as ever. Speculation began, and I couldn’t care less. Some people were writing about how possibly it could be a female, or a friend of Peter Paker’s, or a family member, or an already established character of the series. Then, yesterday, this picture was released:
The new Ultimate Spiderman is none other than one “Miles Morales”, a half-Black, half-Hispanic teenager I’m assuming from New York City. Not bad right? Don’t care much? Neither do I.
It was disgusting to read/see/hear the comments of many comic book readers in reaction to the reveal throughout the day, but perhaps not surprising, as racism exists and it exists everywhere. The comments don’t deserve repeating, nor the commentators named. Needless to say, ugly, hateful, and vile words/phrases were tossed around the interwebs. The reaction’s reaction today has been an interesting one: with comic scholars and writers and lovers all degrading the reaction. Just a couple are Rich Johnston’s “Fear Of A Black Spiderman” and Robot6′s “How Donald Glover Finally Secured The Role Of Spiderman“.
The more intelligent among the commentators would have you believe that they’re simply taking a stand against the “political correctness” of the move, or how Peter Parker is the one and only Spiderman and he’s white, or how this is simply a PR stunt by Marvel to reverse slumping sales.
Trust me, I am someone who does not really personally get offended (I’ll get offended for other people). I don’t censor myself often and I’ll make fun of anyone. Whatever falls under the umbrella of “politically correct”. Whatever that is, how it applies to our society, how it moves, does not apply to me. In fact, I’m not really sure what it means anymore (which I find to be the case with lots of terms and labels which have been around for at least a decade now). I do not find this to be “politically correct”. I see it as revolutionary in some ways: this is the first mixed-race, non-white superhero. A breakthrough like that can not be, by definition, “politically correct” as I know the phrase. It isn’t adhering to any previously established cultural standards or rules, how can it be “politically correct”? Perhaps, like I said, I just don’t know what that term means anymore.
Besides, if roughly a fourth of the United States population is Black or Latino, wouldn’t it makes sense if one out of four superheroes is one, the other, or both? Just based on percentages alone? Right now the mainstream superhero market is probably hovering closer to one out of every 30 or so. Why, when the numbers are that far off and one is introduced, this reaction occurs is beyond me. If it isn’t passive racism (i.e. you don’t realize you’re being racist), then I guess I don’t know what that term means anymore either.