SPOILERS CONTAINED BELOW THE PICTURE!
Last night USA Today revealed the identity of the new Ultimate Spider-Man: a half-African American, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales. Many, most notably Bleeding Cool, had been speculating the race of the new Spider-Man ever since the announcement of the death of Peter Parker was made. I've already seen several people on Twitter discount this as a cheap, pandering publicity stunt but I believe this could not be further from the truth.
It's been my experience over the past 11 years of reading comics on a weekly basis that Brian Michael Bendis is one of the most sincere and enthusiastic writers our medium has. I challenge you to listen to an interview with him or attend a convention panel featuring him and not come out feeling the same way. Many people probably don't know this but of Bendis' three children two are not only adopted, but black (one from Ethiopia and one African-American) so it is it so hard to believe that he might actually want to create a strong and lasting character that his own daughters can identify with in the future?
Yes this is getting media attention and seems like a publicity stunt but it also gets people in to comic book shops! Our creators have to start appealing to new audiences or the books won't be there for us longtime fans to read. Like Jim Lee (I believe it was him but I could be wrong) said at one of the DC panels at SDCC, the number on the front of the book won't matter if there's no one there to read them, and the same principle applies here. I don't believe the industry is dying but it has to keep growing.
This is going a little longer than I thought so I'll step off of my soapbox now. If you're one of those people discounting this as a publicity stunt, I implore you to give it a shot. For once, take off your cynical hat and take the creators and editors at Marvel at their word and believe that their intentions are noble. I read Ultimate Peter Parker for the past 11 years and I hope to do the same for Miles Morales.
Max Beckman is a manager at Pulp Fiction in Long Beach, CA and CheapGraphicNovels.com. You can follow him on Twitter @CheapGNsdotcom and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pulpfictioncomics. Pulp Fiction can be found on the web at www.pulpfictiononline.com and at 1742 Clark Ave. Long Beach, CA 90815.