Marvel Comics have released their solicits for June 2018, and it hasn’t taken fans long to notice a couple of key absences. It seems two prominent “Legacy” characters have had their books canceled; Falcon and, more notably, Miles Morales’s Spider-Man.
Most surprising is the cancellation of Spider-Man. There’s a sense in which Falcon‘s cancellation was inevitable, since the book’s sales figures weren’t great and the character has never had traction as a solo hero (back in 2015 writer Al Ewing penned a tongue-in-cheek scene where Falcon noted “My name isn’t Captain-America-and-the—” as a reference to his famous role as Cap’s sidekick).
It’s true that Sam Wilson stepped forward as Captain America during Nick Spencer’s controversial run, but Steve Rogers is back in action nowadays, and Sam Wilson has handed back the shield. The Falcon series never seemed likely to last, but Miles Morales’s Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most high-profile “Legacy Heroes;” since he was introduced back in 2011, he was arguably the forerunner of the whole movement.
Given the current health of the comic book market, sales performance seems pretty strong. What’s more, Miles is about to get another publicity boost later in this year, when Sony release their animated Spider-Man movie. It seems a strange decision. So fans are rightly asking the same question:
What’s Going On With Miles Morales?
It’s certainly tempting to see this as part of a shift in Marvel’s strategy – a deliberate move away from the so-called “Legacy Heroes.” After all, Marvel’s “Fresh Star” comic intiative has resurrected the classic Wolverine, and the original Thor Odinson will be stepping back into the spotlight. X-23 will be abandoning the Wolverine mantle (somewhat more understandably, given that Logan’s back), Jane Foster’s Thor is being killed off, and now both Falcon and Spider-Man are being cancelled.
In reality, it’s likely this is more an unfortunate bit of timing than anything else. Marvel’s “Fresh Start” is a naked appeal to nostalgia, hence the return of Wolverine and Thor Odinson. Jane Foster’s death was inevitable, given the character’s fatal battle with cancer was a core part of her story. And Falcon was never bound to continue permanently barring a sales miracle.
But lining up these shifts away from greater diversity in their leading books – considering the heat Marvel took by previously suggesting comic fans don’t want diversity – isn’t a good look.
As regards Spider-Man, the reality is that this book was always going to need a relaunch at this point. Brian Bendis has been writing Miles’s story for years, but he’s now left Marvel exclusively for DC Comics. It seems likely Marvel is attempting to work out a new direction for the character under a new creative team. Certainly the conclusion of Bendis’s Spider-Men II teased a major shift in direction for Miles, and there have been strange rumors that Marvel is considering rebranding him as “Spy-D.”
Many aspects of Marvel’s “Fresh Start” have seemed like an attempt to establish a synergy between the movies and the comics. It’s no coincidence that Marvel’s latest event is the so-called Infinity Countdown, that Jean Grey has returned in the year of Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie, or that they launched a New Mutants comic (even though the New Mutants movie got pushed back to make it scarier).
Given that’s the case, it’s unlikely Marvel will cancel Miles Morales for long. In the meantime, fans will still get to see the character in the pages of The Champions, and it’s also possible he’ll turn up for some more inter-dimensional dates in the pages of Spider-Gwen.
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