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Feature Article

Who The Hell Is Miles Morales--The Other Spider-Man?

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Move over, Peter Parker.

Chances are, if you've been paying attention to Spider-Man stuff at all this year, the name Miles Morales has come up. After all, it's been a pretty big year for Spider-fans, between Pete's new suit in Infinity War, the release of Insomniac's Spider-Man video game, the Venom live action movie, and now the upcoming Into The Spider-Verse animated movie--and Miles has come up in two of the four. Not a bad ratio for the new kid on the block.

Miles may not quite be at Peter Parker levels of name recognition just yet, but he's well on his way--which means it's time to sit down and take a look at just who this new Spider-kid actually is, where he comes from, and most importantly, where he's headed.

Introduced in 2011 with Ultimate Fallout #4, Miles originally made his home in what's known as the "Ultimate" Marvel Universe, an alternate reality full of alternate versions of classic Marvel heroes, set outside the traditional Marvel continuity. The idea behind the Ultimate line was to give people who hadn't read decades worth a back issues a line of books they could, in theory, pick up at number one at not worry about, so they typically featured new retellings of origin stories, slightly modified characterizations, totally new takes on villains--you name it.

In the Ultimate universe, Norman Osborn and a team of scientists had been studying Peter Parker's blood in an attempt to reverse-engineer his abilities by genetically altering spiders. Miles' uncle Aaron, a thief and low-grade supervillain named Prowler, broke into the lab and stole the formula, unknowingly giving one of the modified spiders a ride out in his duffle bag in the process. Later, when Miles goes to visit his uncle's apartment, the spider stowaway skitters out of hiding and bites him.

Miles, quickly realizing he's suddenly got a whole bunch of weird superpowers to deal with, actually decides that it would be best to lay low and pretend nothing is wrong. He'll leave superheroics to the actual superheroes, thank you very much. At least, that is, until Peter Parker is killed. After witnessing the tragedy, Miles realizes that he may have been able to do something had he actually embraced his new abilities and stepped in--his own variation on the "great power, great responsibility" awakening--and decides to take up a costume and figure this whole Spider-Man thing out.

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Miles's powers are basically the same as Pete's. He's got a "spider-sense" to alert him of danger, enhanced reflexes and strength, and the ability to cling to walls, and he even comes into possession of Pete's old web shooters (a gift from Aunt May) so he can go swinging around New York just like the original. However, in addition to the standard Peter skillset, Miles also has the ability to camouflage himself, rendering his body invisible to the naked eye, and the ability to create "venom blasts" that can knock people he touches unconscious.

Originally clad in a store bought Spider-Man Halloween costume, Miles takes to the streets to clumsily fight off low level crime for about a day before he attracts the attention of Peter's remaining friends, family, and superheroic co-workers--who take the arrival of the new kid about as well as you might expect at first. Spider-Woman, a member of the Ultimates (think the Ultimate universe version of the Avengers), arrests Miles and brings him to S.H.I.E.L.D., where he's questioned by Nick Fury, who eventually gives him a new, non-Halloween quality costume in his own red and black color scheme.

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For several years, Miles' stories continued on in the Ultimate universe where he met and came up against new incarnations of some of Peter's classic foes as he became more and more established as a hero in his own right--at least, until 2015.

That's when a massive crossover event called Secret Wars took hold of the Marvel Universe, and multiple realities and timelines came crashing together. In the same vein as the classic DC Comics cosmic crisis style story, Secret Wars took myriad, isolated versions of Earth and functionally condensed them into one thing. This meant that characters from the Ultimate universe were transported into the mainline Marvel universe, or Marvel-616, permanently.

No longer sequestered in his own timeline, Miles took up the role of Spider-Man next to an active Peter Parker, meaning that there have been two Spider-Men simultaneously swinging through the Marvel universe for the past few years, right alongside all the other Spider-people in the mix (there are a whole bunch of them) for a whole family of Spider and Spider-adjacent heroes.

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Ironically, the opposite of Miles's dimension hopping in Secret Wars is the core conceit of Into The Spider-Verse, which features an alternate reality Peter Parker being sucked into Miles's reality after a major cosmic catastrophe shuffles the deck. While it's not clear whether Into The Spider-Verse is officially set in an animated version of the Ultimate universe, or if the deadbeat, mid-life-crisis Peter Parker that winds up training him is supposed to be from the Marvel-616 universe, the concept is still pretty much the same. Miles and Peter wind up teaming up, side by side, along with a whole slew of other Spider-characters who also happened to be shuffled around in the reality warping event.

In addition to his role in the Spider-Man video game, and his upcoming starring role in Into The Spider-Verse, Miles has a brand new solo ongoing comic, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, heading for shelves this December. So, it's pretty safe to say you'll want to keep an eye on Miles, especially if you're a Spider-Man fan--he's really going places.

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