Peter Parker and Miles Morales reunite for a milestone story!
In 2012, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli gave us the legendary team-up of Peter Parker and Miles Morales with SPIDER-MEN. Through the dimensional tampering of Mysterio, Peter ended up in the “Ultimate” universe and came face-to-face with his own death as well as a brand-new and younger hero with the mantle of Spider-Man. Five years, one Secret Wars and a Civil War II later, and the two now live together in the Marvel Universe, but one massive question still remains: Who is the Miles Morales of Earth-616? The first five-issue event left that particular juicy nugget of information on a cliffhanger that has yet to be resolved…until now.
The highly-anticipated follow-up to SPIDER-MEN arrives this summer from the reunited team of Bendis and Pichelli along with colorist Justin Ponsor. Luckily, you won’t have to wait until the first issue of SPIDER-MEN II drops in July for some answers. We spoke with Brian about the long-awaited sequel, the iconic web-slinging legacy of Spider-Man, and the question he’s been asked the most on social media for half a decade.
Marvel.com: So tell us a little bit about SPIDER-MEN II…
Brian Michael Bendis: Well first I have to tell you about [SPIDER-MEN]. So a few years ago when Miles first debuted, we did a series called SPIDER-MEN where Peter and Miles met for the very first time. The Peter from our universe, and Miles from the Ultimate Universe, and what was surprising about the series—for me as well by the way—was how emotional it became; it started in my head, as a fan, I would want to see them team up immediately, but the emotions of the series were so raw, and what Miles took away from it was so powerful. And also it just became about legacy and loss and individuality and it ended up becoming one of the best things I ever did at Marvel, in no small part to what Sara Pichelli achieved with Justin Ponsor on the pages. We ended that series with kind of a cheeky, [tongue-in-cheek], cliffhanger or like, what they call, an “anti-cliffhanger” you know? Where after it’s all done, Peter comes back to his universe, takes a shower, sits down and decides to Google Miles Morales, because there was no Miles Morales he knew of. He Googles it, and we see his reaction to it, but we don’t see what he sees. So of course for the last few years, every week and even lately, every day, I’ve been getting beamed with “What did he see?” “Who is Miles Morales in the 616?,” but what’s great since the first series, and the reason we didn’t do another series right away was because Secret Wars was coming and [Civil War II] was coming. There were such big events coming and one of those events, Secret Wars, created a situation where Miles and Peter live in the same Marvel Universe now, which changes the dynamic between them and changes the dynamic of all the Spider-People, and as soon as that happened I was like, “Well, then we get to do SPIDER-MEN II, and they’re in the same universe, like that could be exciting” and also create a brand new story to tell, and sometimes I think that everyone knows that sometimes the thing you worry about the most with sequels, is that it’s just going to be the same story over and over again, whereas this one already the premise is completely different because now Miles and Peter are living in the same universe, their legacy is of the same cloth and it alters everything between them. Plus, we still don’t know who Miles Morales was in the 616 before our Miles got there, so we have a very interesting bunch of things to reveal.
Marvel.com: What’s the gestation period been like over the last five years for the sequel?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it’s one of my favorite things about a shared universe, is that on top of what you’re writing for the characters, other things are happening to the characters, like now Miles is in the new universe, and now he’s a part of CHAMPIONS, and half of [Civil War II] was people fighting over his head, so things have changed in his life, and his relationship to the Marvel Universe is completely different than it was in the first series and that’s exciting. Also, a lot of people know who he is now, they know that there’s a movie coming with him, he’s in the cartoons, he’s a Build-A-Bear, he’s everywhere! It’s exciting to have him with his own fan base now coming back to meeting Peter and seeing what’s up between them.
Marvel.com: Where would you say that this series fits into this tapestry that you’ve been building for nearly two decades within the context of the Spider-Man stories you’ve been writing?
Brian Michael Bendis: I think it’s a very big chapter about legacy; ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN from its very first issue was about the legacy of Spider-Man even though we were retelling the stories or reexamining the stories for modern audiences. We’re still telling the story of Spider-Man, it’s still about the legacy and much like I was living in and continue to live in Stan [Lee’s] shadow with Spider-Man, I can relate to Miles so much because that’s what it must feel like to be Spider-Man when Peter Parker is there, so I relate to it, and what I discovered was that a lot of people did, a lot of people grow up admiring someone, saying “That’s what I want to be like when I grow up” and then they grow up and go, “Well actually, what I like about that person is that they’re an individual with an individual voice so maybe that’s what I should be looking for, instead of looking to emulate.” A lot of people who make comics can relate to this. I broke in and said, “Oh my God, I wanna be Frank Miller” and then you soon realize, “Well, what I like about Frank Miller is that he’s unique, so what can I do that’s unique? Not just imitate him, but what can I do?” Even writing DAREDEVIL, it was a challenge because I was writing the book, the reason that I wanted to be here in the first place. So what can Miles do? And that’s going to the be answered in this series.
Marvel.com: And like you said we left off on this cliffhanger, with Peter researching Miles in his own universe. Is there anything you can tease about what Peter, and as an extension, the readers, will learn about this other Miles?
Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah you know sometimes I, because I’m cheeky online, and I’m cheeky on Tumblr; like I’m half cheeky so sometimes I’m answering serious, sometimes I’m being a goofball. With this one over the years, I’ve been a goofball, like people were “meme-ing” with it, they’d always used it like, “Peter Googled something about comics and there’s the answer,” you know? It was always like a fun meme, which I really like so I would always re-post them so people might think that we’re not gonna really answer the question of who the Miles Morales is in the 616 universe, or [they think] I’m gonna do a trick answer [like], “It’s really been Miles the whole time, there’s no other…” No. There is a person Miles Morales and we’re gonna meet him and it’s a story to tell. So, it’s a very important story to us and we’ve been planning it for years and we wanted to make sure it was the right time and the right people to do it so I just want to make it clear since I’ve been so goofy about the answer that you’re getting a real answer, a serious answer, not a fake out.
Marvel.com: And going off that, how does “our” Miles Morales, who’s now living on Earth-616 play into this hunt so-to-speak? How does he feel about this other “him”?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, that’s it. There’s gonna be a team-up between Peter and Miles, the first one in a while, and that’s gonna not only illuminate who Miles is but they’re going to find themselves up against some serious, serious big time problems, the first one being Taskmaster.
Marvel.com: Now that Peter and Miles know that these other universes exist, what kind of fun did you want to have with these types of concepts this time?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well that’s the thing, it’s actually different because now they’re all stuck in the same place; there is nowhere to go. They’re stuck with each other, so let’s figure out what this [mystery] is about. For Peter, we’re talking a lot about Miles, but for Peter you got to remember, when he put on the Spider-Man costume, he wasn’t [like], “I’m going to start a movement, there are going to be so many Spider-People when I’m done!” That was not the plan. So his examination of power and responsibility gets amplified by the fact that he has brought upon a genuine amount of Spider People that their power may become his responsibility as well. Is it his responsibility? This is what we will look into.
Marvel.com: Since that other storyline dealt with Peter Parker dying in that other universe, in the Ultimate Universe, is our Peter kind of reeling from that knowledge about his death? Is he aware of his mortality than he was before and will it affect his motivations?
Brian Michael Bendis: Excellent question—You will see in [SPIDER-MEN II #3].
Marvel.com: You just mentioned Taskmaster; like Mysterio and the Ultimates in the first run, what can you tell us about the key players, both heroes and villains, in SPIDER-MEN II?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well it looks like Taskmaster was sharing a cell with Mysterio, or I should say sharing a cell-block and found out about what Mysterio was up to in the first series and Taskmaster is using that information for a plan that’s pretty dangerous because Taskmaster may not understand the dimensional ramifications of what he is doing; he is planning to pull off a heist, but he may be folding realities, but this isn’t going to be a dimension-hopping story—we just did an awesome one with SPIDER-GWEN—we are flat out in the Marvel Universe. We’re right here.
Marvel.com: Final question: What are the stakes like?
Brian Michael Bendis: They’re everything. I mean you are talking about a young man who is searching for his identity, you’re talking about Spider-Man who’s looking to lock down his legacy in a way that will do Uncle Ben and everything that he’s worked for proud. Peter’s fought for years [so] he can’t have it all fall apart now, so for the men of [SPIDER-MEN II it’s] gigantic, huge. And If I may, I haven’t mentioned Sara and Justin. Sara, the co-creator of Miles Morales, and she’s been there for every major event, almost, that has happened to him. I really didn’t wanna do this without her so I was thrilled that she agreed; so having Sarah and Justin together which is the entire creative team of not only the first series, but of Miles Morales’s origin and of his [current] book, it’s a real treat that we get to continue on.
Marvel.com: Anything else to add?
Brian Michael Bendis: You know what? It’s exciting just because this series is the one I’m asked the most about. “When are you going to do this? When are you gonna follow up on this?” and there just wasn’t a good time to do it until now, and all the stuff that’s happened since then has made the story that much more potent. Again, a few years ago, when we started SPIDER-MEN, I couldn’t even imagine that there would be a Miles Morales” movie and that the Spider-Man movie franchise would be so loving towards the work we did on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN; what a perfect time to take our next big step [with] the “Spider” characters in publishing.
Get ready for SPIDER-MEN II from Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor this July by reading the first issue of SPIDER-MEN now for free! Offer valid until Thursday April 27 at 9:59 AM EST on one (1) digital copy of SPIDER-MEN #1 only. Marvel user account and internet connection required.