Miles Morales: Spider-Man is the character’s first new series since his co-creator, Brian Michael Bendis, exited Marvel to start work at DC Comics, and the new creative team has started strong. Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garrón’s first issue retells Miles’ origin, reintroduces his family and friends and restates Miles’ particular relationship to the maxim of every Spider-Man: With great power comes great responsibility.
Polygon sat down with Ahmed, who is also set to take on Ms. Marvel in 2019, to chat about where the new series is taking Miles.
Polygon: Miles Morales has reached a significant height of popularity for a character so relatively new to the Spider-Man mythos. What do you think has put him in that place? What makes him compelling?
Saladin Ahmed: I think it’s because he bridges the old and the new in a really special way. I think there are a lot of ways in which Miles’ story touches on all sorts of classic superhero and classic Spider-Man and classic Marvel beats and retells all sorts of familiar elements of a story that people have latched onto and loved and reinterpreted for decades. But he does it in a way that’s very much about the 21st century and what America looks like now. He just has a different name, a different face, and is from Brooklyn rather than Queens and is maybe a little hipper, you know, more of a 21st century teenager, than Peter was. And so I think he’s a perfect figure to bridge that gap.
Where are we picking up with Miles in Miles Morales: Spider-Man?
When we get to issue one we’re at a place that’s very friendly for new readers, but also familiar for folks who have been following him for a while. We’re at the start of a new school year at Brooklyn Visions Academy for Miles, and it’s sort of a return to his roots as a high school superhero.
This first arc, and really the first little while in the series, is not going to be about big cosmic events. Miles is just coming off of a multi-dimensional Spider-Verse event — in Spider-Geddon, in the comics. And he’s going to be going very much in the opposite direction in his own series, very local. It’s going to be about him starting a new school year and having to deal with challenges both as Spider-Man and as Miles, as a teenager in high school, trying to just live life. But, of course, because he’s a superhero, life doesn’t leave him alone.
You’ve told me previously that he’s taking a new artistic enterprise on at school.
Yeah, he’s in creative writing class. He has it first period [laughs], and he’s keeping a journal as part of his class and it’s starting to spark something in him. And so we’ll see that play out a bit. And there’s also the fun thing of him putting all his secrets into a notebook, which, you know ... [slyly] Hmm, that could pay off down the line.
Yeah, I imagine that’s a little tricky when you have a secret life as a superhero.
Well, there are plans there...
You were a novelist before becoming a comics writer, is that where that comes from, that you wanted to bring writing into the book?
Sort of, but not really. You know, the Marvel Universe doesn’t really have a writer superhero.
I mean, there’s Jessica Jones, sort of, but she’s more of a journalist [in the pages of the series Pulse]. We’ve had photographers, we’ve had lawyers. But I think it’s interesting — I’ve taught creative writing to young people, so certainly I’ve drawn on some of my experience there — but I think it’s actually kind of a natural fit for Miles.
I mean, [correcting himself] Kamala has — I shouldn’t downplay the fact that Kamala writes fan fiction. But Miles is specifically going to be working on poetry in this class. So it’s somewhat from me, but I also think it’s a useful plot device and an interesting way to get his feelings out on the page. I think Miles is probably a kid who doesn’t necessarily spend a lot of time sitting around thinking of about his feelings the same way Peter does. And so this is the thing that forces him to do that.
Is there anything from Miles’ background that you wanted to push more into the fore in your series?
Yeah, definitely! Again, I really want to dig into the question of Miles as a high school student, so we’re going to have a lot of fun adventures with that. But there’s also the question of Miles’s family. We’ve seen a fair amount about his dad, but I think his mom, Rio, is going to become a pretty important figure — as is his uncle Aaron, the villain Iron Spider is going to come back in a pretty big way.
I’m really just [revisiting] all aspects of his community, school, family, the people who live in his neighborhood. I want to revisit all of that at the same time, but still telling fun, punchy superhero stories.
Have you seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse yet?
Despite being very much on inside here at Marvel, I very deliberately avoided any chance to get any glimpse of a script or the film, because I wanted to put these first few issues of the comic to bed as their own thing and get them in. And also I’m really excited to see it with my kids and kind of wanted to do it fresh with them. So we’re going like regular civilians on opening night, Thursday. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers. It’s hard, when you write Miles Morales, but I’ve managed to avoid most of the spoilers. Everything I hear is wildly enthusiastic from people I trust and I’m just totally geeked.
Ed. note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.