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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Of Kirbys and Spider-Men

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 10:14 AM

A quick heads up about two comics news stories, both of 'em having to do with Marvel:

FIRST! In the wake of a judge's decision that the heirs of seminal comics creator Jack Kirby aren't entitled to any part of the copyrights related to the Marvel characters he created and co-created, comics artist and editor Stephen Bissette (Swamp Thing) is rallying readers to boycott "any and all Kirby-derived Marvel ANYTHING (comics, movies, videogames, merchandizing)." That's pretty major: While Kirby isn't nearly as well-known to most as, say, Stan Lee, dude had a huge role in creating many of Marvel's most famous (and lucrative) characters, like Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk.

ComicsAlliance has a solid rundown of Bissette's impassioned argument. I expect we'll be hearing about this for a while, especially considering how heavily the Hulk in next summer's Avengers movie borrows from Kirby's unmistakable style:

hulks.png

SECOND! Continuing their proud tradition of spoiling their own books before readers can possibly have a chance to read them, Marvel broke the news to USA Today that—following Peter Parker's death in Ultimate Spider-Man—the new Spider-Man will be....

Eh, I'll do what Marvel should've done and put that info after the jump, at least.

newspidey.jpg

... "a half-black, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales."

I'm curious about where this Miles Morales comes from and how and why he puts on the suit, but this being the internet, everybody's pretty fixated on the fact he isn't white. The press release's boilerplate explanation is pretty uninspiring—

“When the opportunity arose to create a new Spider-Man, we knew it had to be a character that represents the diversity—in background and experience—of the twenty-first century,” said Axel Alonso, Marvel Editor-in-Chief. “Miles is a character who not only follows in the tradition of relatable characters like Peter Parker, but also shows why he’s a new, unique kind of Spider-Man—and worthy of that name.”

—but more interesting is how Portland-based writer Brian Michael Bendis arrived at the character. Back to USA Today:

A year ago, Community star Donald Glover embarked on a Twitter campaign to play an African-American version of Spider-Man in a new movie (a role that went to white actor Andrew Garfield for next summer's The Amazing Spider-Man). As an inside joke, he appeared on the season premiere in Spider-Man pajamas.

"He looked fantastic!" Bendis recalls. "I saw him in the costume and thought, 'I would like to read that book.' So I was glad I was writing that book."

Miles Morales makes his debut in Ultimate Fallout #4, which comes out tomorrow (hope you weren't looking forward to being surprised!), while the new, Morales-led Ultimate Spider-Man kicks off next month. Let's hope the kid fares better than Marvel's previous attempts to get someone who isn't white to squeeze into spider-webbed spandex: Neither Miguel O'Hara nor Anya Corazon are exactly household names.

For those keeping track, this'll be the second time Ultimate Spider-Man has been rebranded in as many years, following the renumbering that happened in 2009. That said, when it comes to the actual content of the book, Bendis' impressive run hasn't let me down yet. Marvel's spoiling of their own stories might be annoying, but when it comes to seeing how Bendis writes an all-new Spider-Man, I'm there.

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