… or is it? Firstly, despite lots of retconning over recent years, Peter Parker continues to be the indentity of the web-slinger in Marvel's mainstream universe. The changes are happening in the 'Ultimate' line of the company's comics that re-imagined the origins of key characters in a more contemporary setting and has been able to run several major story-lines that the main '616' Marvel stories might not want to risk as 'canon'.
The decision, getting a lot of press, is the one to make the new Spider-man a black/hispanic character called Miles Morales. Though there have been claims that this plot-point is merely designed to court headlines, this is hardly the first ethnic-minority secret-identity. While the scales might still be perceived as uneven, Marvel's characters already boast the likes of Storm, Luke Cage, Ultimate Nick Fury and Black Panther. But Marvel did send out issues of Ultimate Fallout #4 (where the character first appears) in sealed bags, a move usually designed to denote a shock value/important revelation… a tactic made somewhat moot by annoucing the secret to main US news outlets a full day earlier.
The reaction so far has been mixed. Somewhat sadly, some internet posters have unleashed a barrage of racist comments against the character, based purely on his skin-colour and the UK's Daily Mail ran a headline claiming that that Marvel was also considering revealing Morales' character to be gay. (They aren't… as more accurate sites noted, the actual quote from artist Sara Pichelli was: “Maybe sooner or later a black or gay – or both – hero will be considered something absolutely normal"
The character, featured in Ultimate Fallout #4 will make his formal solo debut in Ultimate Comics: All-New Spider-man #1 in October.