Community's Donald Glover didn't get the part of Peter Parker in the new Spider-Man movie, but that's okay. His public campaign for the part last summer apparently led the way for Marvel to introduce the world to the first African-American to don Spidey's mask. Come Wednesday's release of Ultimate Fallout #4 the world will get to meet the alliterative Miles Morales, the world's first half-black, half-Hispanic wallcrawler.
The news of a new Spider-Man isn't exactly surprising (Marvel recently killed off Peter Parker in the alternative "Ultimate" universe where Miles Morales lives) and neither is the choice of a minority to take the hero's mantle (DC already did that when Superman died—remember Steel?). But it is still a nice change. And according to Ultimate Spider-Man author Brian Michael Bendis the choice is directly related to Glover's push for the movie role (which eventually went to The Social Network's Andrew Garfield). Bendis told USA Today that the sight of Glover in Spidey pajamas in the Community season premiere last year deserves "mucho credit" for the new hero. "I saw him in the costume and thought, 'I would like to read that book.' So I was glad I was writing that book."
And anyway, "It's certainly long overdue," he says. "Even though there's some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it's still crazy lopsided."
Sounds great (and Glover certainly seems pleased). Between this and the choice to have Sam Jackson play Nick Fury in the Marvel movies we appreciate that the Disney-owned comic book company is willing to play with the races of its flagship characters (related, can we get an Indian Fantastic Four, please?). But having not picked up a comic in quite a few years, we still aren't totally clear on why Marvel currently has an "Ultimate" universe and a regular one. Anyone want to explain to us if there is a reason for this beyond the chance to tell more stories without the baggage? Wasn't that what the old What If comics were for?