In the wake of the death of Peter Parker, Ultimate Spider-Man is still slinging webs across Manhattan. (credit: AP Photo/Marvel Comics)   It shouldn’t come as a big surprise since we already have an affirmative action president but that misguided social policy has now become a really major issue: Marvel Comics has killed off Peter Parker, aka Spider Man, and replaced him with another alliterated superhero, person of color Miles Morales. 

The good news for Spidey fans is that Parker only dies in Marvel’s Ultimates series but lives on in its standard series so comic book aficionados can still enjoy his exploits in the latter.  The bad news is inherent in the question, Why did Marvel feel it necessary to have the Green Goblin kill poor Parker in any series and supplant him with Morales? 

The only rational explanation–if reason is applicable with comic books–is that Parker, who had evolved over the years from a bumbling teenager through various transformations to college kid, teacher, and neurotic freelance adult photographer, suffered from a significant, contemporary liability: He was white. 

Spiderman1cover.jpg   The Spider Man franchise had prospered from its sketchy 1990 days through 2003 and was the inspiration for a multitude of plays, toys, Tobey McGuire movies, and its ultimate achievement, the disastrous, accident-prone Broadway musical, “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark.”  

In short, Peter Parker was a big moneymaker for Marvel.  Why else but a shortage of melanin call him a wrap and turn over his fame to melanin-rich Miles Morales?

CBS inadvertently comments on the ratonale without providing a social context: ”Miles Morales is a half-black, half-Hispanic super-powered teen who gets into the hero game after being inspired by Parker’s death.”  Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis elaborates with a few key observations: “He’s younger than Peter Parker, he’s coming from a completely different background, a completely different world view.” 

Hmmm.  Younger sells in our youth-oriented culture as do varied backgrounds in our increasingly diverse land and in those ways Miles makes sense.  However, his as yet undefined “completely different world view” is somewhat suspect.  Will he become a comic version of the already-comical Chris Matthews or a male version of Michelle Bachmann? 

Another obvious reason for the untimely death of Peter Parker and the incarnation of Miles Morales is the socio-political consciousness of the folks at Marvel who must have figured the times were ripe for a black-Hispanic superhero after lo, these many years of kids and not a few adults being restricted to vicariously reveling in a white guy’s adventures. 

Black is beautiful too, right, and some Latino blood can only make Miles more appealing, more attractive to America’s burgeoning Hispanic population, and, of course, it’s much more politically correct.    

The CBS article speculates on “whether the change in ethnicity is going to play a role in casting decisions in upcoming Spider-Man movies or “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.”  (http://cbsloc.al/mYwj9F)

More to the point and more pertinent speculation would relate to how Miles Morales will be depicted in future pages of Marvel comic strips. 

Will he be an equivalently-bumbling, anti-social, Oedipally guilt-ridden nutcase terrified of the opposite gender, as critics have described Parker’s persona?  Or will he be flawless as seen with most blacks on television, movies and commercials?  Or will Miles become a true superhero along the lines of the ultimate superhero, Superman, or Clark Kent’s contemporary competitor, Captain America? 

Britain’s Daily Mail threw a totally different but hardly impossible thought into the Miles mix.  Without explanation but with evident insight which would mesh with the recent ascendancy of homosexuals in the straight world, the Mail thinks Miles will eventually come out as gay, an eventuality that would delight gays everywhere.  (http://bit.ly/o4ejWo) 

The answer to those queries and the answer to Miles’  sexual inclinations will be furnished by Marvel writers and execs over ensuing years and will reveal whether they are truly committed to social change or are just making one, small PC step for mankind.   

Should Miles Morales emerge as a one-dimensional character unlike the multi-flawed, multi-dimensional, occasionally-odd complexity known as Peter Parker, we will know for certain that Miles is merely an affirmative action fantasy, much like Barack Hussein Obama.   

Since I haven’t “read” a comic book in well over 50 years, I hope someone keeps me apprised as to his evolution.