Comic book geeks’ Spider senses are tingling.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man, Marvel Comics is bringing together its two versions of the iconic character — one who is white and one who’s bi-racial — in a meeting that fans never thought would happen.
A new five issue mini-series, “Spider-Men,” available starting in June, uses a common villain to bring the two heroes from different alternate realities: Peter Parker, the one known to generations of fans since he was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962, and Miles Morales, who was introduced last year in the company’s Ultimate line.
“For the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man, what everyone was looking for was a Spider-Man story that mattered,” says series writer Brian Bendis. “Well, here you go.”
When Marvel introduced Morales — a half-black, half-Hispanic teen — as the new Spider-Man in one of its comic lines last year, it made national headlines. Critics like Lou Dobbs grumbled it was a character who would never make it alongside the original Spider-Man.
But Morales has a key stamp of approval from Lee. “Doing our bit to try to make our nation, and the world, color blind is definitely the right thing,” the comic book legend told The News.
That was the point for Bendis. “Someone had once said to me, ‘When I was a kid, I could only play Spider-Man, I couldn’t play Batman or Superman because my friends would say you’re not the same color, but I could play Spider-Man because when I fantasized about Spider-Man, he looked like me under the mask.’
“That was a big inspiration.”
The upcoming series is also barrier-breaking because Marvel has forbidden bringing the two comic book lines together in the 13 years since the Ultimate line was launched. The main titles are meant for fans weened on 50 years of comic book history; the newer line was designed to feature edgier, more modern takes on the same characters.
“It’s something that no one has forseen,” says Gerry Gladston, co-owner of Manhattan’s Midtown Comics store. “The two universes existed parallel for very different reasons and no one ever thought they’d ever come together. It’s going to be like a great ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.”