Marvel's Secret Wars event is still not over - not by a long shot (read my thoughts on it here) - but that hasn't stopped the House of Ideas from teasing the shape of the Marvel Universe coming out the other side of it all. Some of the stuff that we're learning isn't a big surprise, although it's nice to have it confirmed. For instance, we always knew that Miles Morales, the black-latino Spider-Man from the Ultimate Universe, would make the journey to our world, but now we know that he's going to be doing it in a book just called Spider-Man. Brian Michael Bendis, who created Miles Morales, will be writing this new title.
That sounds like a pretty huge statement of purpose to me; Miles will anchor a book that establishes him as Spider-Man - not Spider-Kid, not Spider-Lad, not Miles Morales: Another Spider-Man. Just Spider-Man. What does this mean for Peter Parker, who recently returned to being Spider-Man after dying and having Doctor Octopus take over his body (it's a long story)? No clue, but the Secret Wars Spider-Man title has him still married to Mary Jane and still having a kid - could that point towards the future of the character?
Meanwhile the very popular Spider-Gwen character will also continue in the post-Secret Wars universe, and will be getting her own title. But here's the rub: she'll be living in her own world, separate from this one. Spider-Gwen comes from an alternate universe where the radioactive spider bit Gwen Stacy and where Peter Parker died, and she'll continue having adventures in that universe (although likely visiting the main Marvel U on the regular). I'm glad that she's been kept over there - having Peter's dead girlfriend alive and well in the main universe undercuts the tragedy of Gwen's original demise.
Back to MIles for a moment: I wonder what his deal will be. In Secret Wars MIles is one of the only characters to remember the universe from which he came - will he bring that knowledge into the new Marvel U? If so he's coming from a weird position - the Ultimate Universe is pretty much a dystopia where most of the superheroes have been brutally killed off and where Reed Richards is a genocidal maniac. His perspective on the new Marvel U will be interesting if he remembers all that stuff.
The biggest question: for how long will Miles be Spider-Man? Marvel has made some changes to its core characters - Thor is a woman, Captain America is black - but we all know, in our hearts, that the original white dudes will return to those roles at some point. Even if Peter and Miles are both Spider-Men, at some point the status quo will return and Peter Parker will be the only Spider-Man in town. Either Miles will change his superhero name or he'll be erased from continuity or he'll be lost in time or some other comic book business will happen. Personally I would like to see Miles get his own identity; I always feel like diversifying characters by handing down mantles for a limited amount of time is basically lip service. Miles has a power set that is slightly different from Peter's, and includes a camouflage ability and an electrical stun power that knocks enemies out. I'm glad that Miles will be, for however long, a black Spider-Man in the main Marvel Universe, but I also think he deserves his own identity that doesn't make him stand in anyone else's shadow.