Miles Morales is Being Handled by Black Creators - Finally

Since debuting in 2011, Miles Morales has proven to be an integral part of Spider-Man history, right alongside Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli with the express intent of giving Bendis' adopted children a character to look up to, he's had writing duties of the character's solo exploits for seven years.

With his shift over to DC Comics in an exclusive deal, Bendis stated that Miles and fellow creations Jessica Jones and Riri "Ironheart" Williams would continue to exist in the Marvel Universe, with different creative teams at the helm. Marvel's solicits for didn't give any indication of a creative team in mind for Miles, but Marvel August 2018 solicits changed that. For Miles' Spider-Man Annual #1, he'll be respectively written and drawn by Bryan Hill and Nelson Blake II. Though Mark Bagley will also contribute art to the annual, this is the first time Miles in a comic is being handled primarily by a Black creative team.

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Apart from Bendis, Miles has largely been written by white men; the first time to buck from that trend was his titular young adult novel that only released a year ago. Up until fairly recently, most of the legacy characters in the Marvel Universe were primarily written by white men, actually, including Ironheart, Black Widow, Unstoppable Wasp, the All-New Wolverine and countless others. And it sometimes showed in the way that those characters were written and the ways fans of color critiqued the way they were written or drawn.

Bendis himself was no stranger to this; one of the first issues of Miles' Spider-Man book following his integration into the Marvel Prime Universe drew ire for how he was described as "def color" by a fan who took notice of him being Afro-Latino. Even in the upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film and Marvel's Spider-Man PlayStation 4 video game, white men are the people given the opportunity to pen the young hero's adventures. Miles has been written perfectly as a teenager, but he wasn't always written as a Black teenager, and even then, not all that well. There's a very big difference between the two, and writing a Black teen in 2018 comes with a lot of baggage.

Now more than ever, representation behind the scenes is important, and when Miles hopefully gets boosted to the live-action status he deserves in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the immediate reaction from his legion of fans will be to wonder who is writing and directing him, same as it was with Black Panther and how it'll be when Kamala Khan gets her own solo project.

Hill and Blake are making a mark on Miles' history, however brief it may be. Bendis' work on Miles Morales Spider-Man will forever be remembered and appreciated, but there is something to be said about a character being handled by those with the same racial background as them; it's why shows such as Black Lightning and DC Comics' own New Super-Man work as well as they do. Diverse creators have a lot to offer in perspective and storytelling that's proven time and time again to pay off; Ms. Marvel, Black Panther and Black Bolt are all proof of that.

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Of course, with Miles' potential super-spy future involving a S.H.I.E.L.D. replacement and globetrotting in some capacity, having a Black writer is paramount. If Miles is going to wind up as a spy or an international hero, he's going to have different setbacks that are unique to people of color. It would be unrealistic for Miles to suddenly become James Bond and smooth talk his way out of an international incident when many of the countries he could be operating out of aren't friendly to people of a different skin tone.

Neither Hill or Blake are confirmed to be working on Miles beyond August's annual, but they will set a precedent for other Black writers and artists to handle him in the future. It's a moment that's been a long time coming, and Miles' future needs someone who comes from a background similar to his own.

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