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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The New Ultimate Spider-Man: Don't Call It a Publicity Stunt!


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 You can follow him on Twitter @CheapGNsdotcom and on Facebook at Pulp Fiction can be found on the web at and at 1742 Clark Ave. Long Beach, CA 90815.


JA said...

This will be a great story...and Bendis will have a lot to say, but Marvel for sure turned this into a publicity stunt...and I think it’s embarrassing for them.

Marvel said things like "Shocking" and "this can only be done in the Ultimate Universe"

I love Marvel but not as much as Marvel loves themselves.

That said, I am looking forward to the new book.

My two cents

Max Beckman said...

I don't care if they make every book a publicity stunt if it gets one non-comics reader to buy the book. When Johnny Storm died, Hickman said he basically had two options: 1) keep it a secret and have Fantastic Four keep selling at the same mediocre level or 2) publicize it and sell a fuckload of copies and make FF a top 10 book. His point it he'd rather have a lot more people reading his work than keep the secret and share it with far, far less people. It's a dog eat dog world out there when competing for consumers' time and money and despite my personal wishes to sometimes be kept in the dark and experience stories as they unfold without being spoiled, I believe the companies need to pull every trick possible out of their hats to get new and lapsed readers in the store. The New 52 is one GIANT self-admitted publicity stunt. DC Comics is dying and they too have to do whatever they can and like Brevoort has been saying, the stronger DC is, the stronger Marvel has to come back.

JA said...

"DC Comics is dying and they too have to do whatever they can and like Brevoort has been saying, the stronger DC is, the stronger Marvel has to come back."

Completely agree...but I didn't think Spider-Man (Ulimate or Not) needed help in sales.

However, the idea of the who this new character is not as interesting as that there is a new Spider-Man...but the how proud Marvel is coming across about who this new Spider-Man is a tad ridiculous.

Somewhere Ultimate Nick Fury is crying.

Max Beckman said...

Honestly I don't see any of their comments as boastful at all and you're right the fact that there is a new Spider-Man is more important than who he is. But, I think it's way different than taking Nick Fury, an already existing character, and making the Ultimate version of him black. This is a whole new character than black or hispanic kids and/or adults can get into on the ground floor.

Do you see all of DC's diversity drum beating for the New 52 the same way?

JA said...

It's how Marvel is/was going about this that lame to me.

Yes DC is saying...HEY look at at us we now have a black Africa.

But Marvel is saying..."who the new Spider-Man is "Shocking"...

Its the Shocking statments that has me stratching my head.