WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Spider-Man #234, by Brian Bendis and Oscar Bazaldua, on sale now.
Miles Morales is currently facing what would be considered a midlife crisis in Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, were he only a little older. The teenaged web-slinger has been questioning whether or not to continue calling himself Spider-Man, his mother recently discovered his secret identity, and he went on a multiversal adventure in order to rescue his father Jefferson Davis.
Now, Marvel Legacy will drop another problem in Miles’ lap in Spider-Man #234, from creators Brian Michael Bendis, Oscar Bazaldua, Justin Ponsor and Cory Petit. The issue sees a new incarnation of the Sinister Six form under the leadership of a mysterious figure wearing Peter Parker’s old Iron Spider costume. The new villain is looking to score some black market tech from Ceres, a relatively obscure arms dealing character, and immediately settles on the Iron Spider. Our mystery man has a big score planned, so he also needs to outfit about five or six people — Sandman, Electro, the Spot, Hobgoblin and Bombshell — with their own upgraded tech.
Ceres runs down the specs on the Iron Spider, and cautions her customer that if he’s looking to make an enemy out of Spider-Man and his spider friends, suiting up as the Iron Spider is certainly the way to go. The devilish smile on his face, the upper portion hidden in shadow, lets us know this is exactly what he has in mind.
The majority of the comic keeps the Iron Spider’s identity under wraps, but the closing moments offer up a shocking return that directly affects Miles, with ramifications spilling out into the larger Marvel Universe.
The original Iron Spider was created by Tony Stark and given to Peter Parker ahead of his unmasking in the original Civil War event. The color palette closely matched Tony’s Iron Man armor’s red and gold, and the back of the suit was outfitted with four spider-like appendages. Peter ultimately switched back to his more familiar red and blue costume when he left the registration side of the Civil War for the resistance.
The armor has made a few appearances since Peter relinquished it, though none of the suitors have lasted for a significant amount of time. It’s even popped up in different forms of media, from Amadeus Cho donning it in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series to Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) offering it to Peter Parker (Tom Holland) at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Miles’ uncle Aaron Davis is alive, a resident of the Marvel Prime Universe — and now, the new Iron Spider. Just like his superhero nephew, Aaron is another survivor of the Ultimate Universe’s destruction during the events of Secret Wars. Of course, Aaron and Miles aren’t the only characters and items from the Ultimate Universe still around; there’s also Jimmy Hudson of X-Men Blue, the Maker Reed Richards, and the Ultimate Thor’s hammer in Mighty Thor, just to name a few Ultimate U refugees that have popped up in recent months.
If it weren’t for uncle Aaron, Miles wouldn’t even be Spider-Man. Back in the Ultimate Universe, Aaron was the masked burglar named the Prowler. He was in the middle of stealing technology from Osborn Industries when a genetically-altered spider hopped a ride in his bag and traveled home with him, where it eventually bit Miles and gave him his special abilities. Playing such a prominent role in Miles’ origin story should have brought the two relatives closer together, but that wasn’t the case. Once Aaron learned his nephew was Spider-Man, their relationship went downhill fast, with Aaron left injured and believed dead after a battle with Miles.
It’s entirely possible that Aaron did die back in the Ultimate Universe, with the universe-altering events of Secret Wars bringing him back to life. After all, this is what happened to another member of Miles’ family, his mother Rio Morales. She died years before Secret Wars during a confrontation between Miles and the symbiote-wearing Venom. Thanks to a good deed by Miles, the Molecule Man owed the young Spider-Man a favor, which he repaid by bringing Rio back to life post-Secret Wars. While it’s not a sure thing that Molecule Man also brought back Aaron, a number of the unexplainable returns in the current Marvel Universe can be attributed to Secret Wars, so its possible Aaron’s return is the result of another favor.
As we mentioned earlier, Miles and Aaron didn’t leave each other on the best of terms back in the Ultimate Universe. Which is unfortunate, because Miles used to look up to his Uncle. It’s not hyperbole to say that Aaron may rank at the top of the list of Miles’ archenemies when you factor in their personal connection to one another. Having your own flesh and blood with a vendetta against you isn’t something to easily reconcile.
Miles was very much a rookie at the superhero business when he first clashed with the now-former Prowler. Though still young, this Spider-Man is now more experienced than before, but he’s sure to be thrown for a loop once he discovers who’s inside the Iron Spider suit. Once he learns of his uncle’s plans to steal a de-commissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, Miles is likely to try and reason with him, but the odds are low that Aaron will be open to listening.
Spider-Man #234 offers up many lingering questions for the series going forward: How is Aaron alive, and how did he escape the Ultimate Universe? What’s his evil plan for the helicarrier? Is he stealing it for himself, or is there another puppetmaster behind the scenes? What will Miles’ father Jefferson think about his brother’s return? Will Aaron keep Miles’s identity a secret? Does he even remember Miles’ secret? Will Aaron’s sudden reappearance play a role in whether Miles decides to remain as Spider-Man? Something else to remember is we‘ve now met the Miles Morales from the Marvel 616 Universe in Spider-Man II, which raises the question of whether Aaron has a duplicate of himself here as well.
Whatever happens in the months ahead, the return of Aaron Davis means Miles Morales’ world just got a whole lot more complicated.