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New Spider-Man turns out to be a biracial superhero

The mantle of the wall-crawling hero has been taken on by Miles Morales, a young African-American. Marvel says the new alter ego will mean new changes, including the suit. (Anonymous/AP)

You always remember the happiest day of your comic-book life. For some, it’s the first time they read Watchmen. Others will say it was when they discovered the X-Men.

For me, that moment came Aug. 2, 2011, when after reading comic books for two-thirds of my life (I am 31), I read news that made my jaw drop.

The new Ultimate Spider-Man — who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker, easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters — took off his mask and revealed himself to be a half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales.

My brain couldn’t fully process the revelation: Spider-Man was . . . just like me?

This is a moment I never thought I’d see. I — the son of a Puerto Rican man, who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.

I started spreading the word to fellow fanboys. One texted me back: “Just admit it, you’re the new Spider-Man, aren’t you?”

Even though I’m not, now I know I could be.

Generations of minority comic book fans before this day couldn’t say such a thing.

That doesn’t take away from a lifetime of following the adventures of white superheroes. But as a comic reader of color, you realize that these characters were created in the 1930s through ’60s, when civil rights weren’t exactly being passed around. Little was really done to change the status quo in comics (excepting Black Panther).

Black superheroes, of course, have made their mark on the comic book industry — including not only Black Panther but also Storm and Spawn — but this is different. This is Marvel taking its flagship character — one of the most important in history — and placing it in the hands of a kid who reflects the diversity of the world right now.

“Having a character as iconic as Spider-Man, when he peels off that mask, having a new demographic be able to relate to him, we’re very excited about that,” Axel Alonso, Marvel’s new editor in chief, told Comic Riffs by phone last week.

In my joy, I almost forgot the hate of change. Some fans are saying they won’t read the new Spider-Man. There were countless ignorant reactions online.

It is beyond disheartening to consider yourself a part of a generation that has really tried to not care about skin color — a generation that helped put the son of an African man and a white woman in the White House — then read these mean-spirited comments.

I refuse to let negativity ruin a special moment.

Instead, I’ll focus on questions that first came to my mind when I found out that Spider-Man was biracial:

Can he speak Spanish? (He’d better.) Will he get a call from Obama and the Black Panther wishing him well? And because he’s from New York, is he half-Puerto Rican or half-Dominican? (Alonso told me this will be revealed down the road.)

Best of luck, Miles Morales. You’ve got a world to change.



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