Spider-Man has been known to be many things: Amazing. Spectacular. Superior. Even Ultimate. But Miles Morales doesn’t claim any of those titles just yet. He’s just starting out his superhero career. For the moment, just “Spider-Man” will do.
This guide contains spoilers from Ultimate Spider-Man, Secret Wars, Civil War II, and lots of things that happened in between!!
Who is Miles Morales?
Miles Morales is a teenager living in the new Marvel Universe now called Earth Prime (formerly Earth-616). He lives with his very-much alive mother (Rio Morales) and father (Jefferson Davis). He’s your average high-school kid trying to juggle life in the big city while fighting crime as Spider-Man.
Very few people know his secret identity. These include his father, his best friend Ganke, and his mentor Peter Parker. Miles’ mother does NOT know his secret. She did at one point, but then she died. But more on that later.
Miles is a young man of African-American and Latino descent trying to find his place in the world. As Spider-Man, Miles is pretty green. He is new at superheroing and prone to making mistakes. He is also a card-carrying Avenger for some reason. [Edit: Not anymore! He quit.]
Wait — You thought Peter Peter was Spider-Man? Well, he is. But Peter now has Tony Stark money and he’s off running his international capitalist empire. Miles is now our street-level classic Spider-Man.
The Ultimate Origin
Here is a quick (possibly wrong) history lesson. Years ago, Marvel invented the Ultimate Universe to attract new readers. The Ultimate Universe (aka Earth-1616) was a modern take on Marvel’s superheroes without decades of continuity to bog it down. While there were many similarities between universes, every character was tweaked a bit. For example, Peter Parker was still a genius, but he wasn’t the closeted nerd presented to us in the 1960s. He was now a skater-dude bitten by a genetically-altered spider carrying a drug called Oz. (In fact, most of the superheroes you see in the current Marvel movies are more closely based on their Ultimate counterparts than their original Marvel-616 versions.) But back to Miles.
In the Ultimate Universe, Miles’ Uncle Aaron was a villain known as The Prowler. One day, while doing villain stuff, he steals a sample of Peter Parker’s blood which contains the Oz formula. As luck would have it, a spider gets exposed to the sample, and of course bites poor Miles.
You can probably guess the rest of the story. Miles develops spider-powers, designs a costume, and starts fighting crime as a new Spider-Man, right? NOPE. In fact, 13 year-old Miles is terrified by his new powers. He reveals his secret to his best friend Ganke. Ganke insists that he should become a hero, but Miles only wants to live life as a normal kid. He especially doesn’t want to tell his father, as he has a life-long distrust of superpowered individuals. [Jefferson himself is a former criminal who used to work with his brother Aaron. Jefferson reformed from evilness while his brother decided to become The Prowler instead. You’ll see how that works out for him after the next few paragraphs.]
Tragedy Part 1
Since this is Spider-Man we’re talking about, there has to be some tragedy to get the ball rolling. And tragedy there was. Still refusing to use his powers, Miles went about life as best he could. Miles was on the scene when Peter Parker DIED at the hands of the Green Goblin. (Remember, this is the Ultimate Universe!) Miles was grief-stricken and ashamed when he realized he could have helped. At the urging of Ganke and Gwen Stacy, Miles decided to take up the Spider-Man mantle as his own.
On his first day as Spider-Man, everyone around him is appalled that he is using the Spider-Man name and costume; they believe it is in bad taste. To make matters worse, he is promptly arrested by SHIELD, unmaked, and taken to Nick Fury for a good lecturing. Instead of getting thrown off the carrier, Miles helps SHIELD fight Electro. After the battle, Fury gives Miles a new costume and his sorta blessing to become the new Spider-Man.
Shortly after this, Uncle Aaron (The Prowler) guesses Miles’ secret and begins manipulating him to fight his rivals in Mexican drug cartel. When Miles decides to quit, a fight ensues and The Prowler accidentally blows himself up. Sure, it’s not as tragic as what happened with Uncle Ben, but blowing up your uncle can definitely have an effect on a kid.
Over the next year or two, Miles meets all of Peter Parker’s old friends including Gwen Stacy, Aunt May, and Mary Jane. They even give him Peter’s old web shooters. Miles goes on to have great adventures doing Spider-Man stuff. He spends the next few years training with Captain America and fighting super villains and corporate bad guys.
Tragedy Part 2
Enter Venom. In this universe, Venom is a monstrous symbiotic lab experiment gone wrong. After a few run-ins with Spider-Man, the symbiote comes to the (wrong) conclusion that Jefferson (Miles’ father) is Spider-Man. Venom attacks Jefferson at his home. Spider-Man fights Venom off, but Jefferson is injured and is rushed to the hospital. Venom, not satisfied, then attacks the hospital still thinking that Jefferson is connected to Spider-Man. Miles (as Spider-Man) and Rio (Miles’ mom) race to the hospital to help. After a brutal fight, Spider-Man causes the Venom symbiote to explode revealing the bad guy inside (Dr. Conrad Marcus. Long story; not relevant.) The police open fire and gun Marcus down. Unfortunately, Rio was hit too. She dies in Miles’ arms after telling him never to reveal his secret to his father.
A year goes by, and Miles refuses to act as Spider-Man again. In his mind, the Spider-Man identity has brought him nothing but pain, so he gives up the costume. Eventually, of course, he is thrust back into superheroics.
After his friends’ goading and a chance encounter with other super-powered teenagers, he is eventually forced into wearing the tights again. He forms a new team – Spider-Man, Cloak and Dagger, Bombshell, and Spider-Woman. Each member of the group is somehow related to an evil corporation that has somehow managed to ruin each of their lives by giving them amazing superpowers. The evil corporation is eventually arrested after a superfight, and SHIELD comes in to pick up the pieces.
Shortly after that, Galactus appears and threatens to devour the Earth. (Yep. Just go with it.) Since the world is about to end, Miles reveals his secret to his father. Jefferson, believing that Miles is responsible for the deaths of Aaron and Rio, reacts by disowning and abandoning Miles in his time of need. (Jefferson Davis — Father of the Year.) After that, Galactus is somehow defeated, so that’s a plus.
So what does Spider-Man do when the world explodes? Find out on the next page.