Jason Reynolds Takes on Spider-Man

Seira Wilson on July 06, 2017

MilesMoralesSpiderMan200How would you like to recreate an iconic superhero according to your own vision?  Jason Reynolds got the chance to do just that in Miles Morales: Spider-Man, illustrated by the incredibly talented Kadir Nelson. 

Miles Morales is Spider-Man for the world we live in now.  He's a superhero that comes from the streets and doesn't have to seek out danger and injustice; he sees it every day.  Miles is an intelligent and compassionate teenager who likes to hang out with his friends--but he also has Spidey-senses and they are starting to give him some very ominous signals...

We asked Jason Reynolds what it was like to write Miles Morales: Spider-Man -- here's what he had to say about it:


Spider-Man. The name alone has a certain weight to it, not because of the obvious implications of someone being part spider and part man, but because of the more obvious institution that is Peter Parker. So when I was given the opportunity to write a Spider-Man who isn’t Peter Parker, who’s untethered from the juggernaut of the blue and red mask and the neighborhood in Queens — and is half black, half Puerto-Rican — I jumped at it. And I mean, jumped. Like, in the air. If only I lived in one of the Marvel universes where my laptop screen could’ve been some kind of portal, I could’ve dove through it just to look the folks at Disney and Marvel in the face and say, yes. Skype wouldn’t have sufficed.

I was in. I was going to write the novel about Miles Morales.

Admittedly, after the buzz came down, the panic set in and it became, “Oh no! I’m going to write the novel about Miles Morales!” And after the panic subsided, eventually, it became, “Okay, what new can I bring to the story?” That was the question. What could I do that was new? The answer, after much mulling, ended up being simple. My job was to explore who Miles is without the mask on. Once he dons the mask and assumes the role of Spider-Man, there’s an inevitability of plot that can’t be bucked. Spider-Man is a winner. He’s a hero. He’s been a hero for decades now. But who is Miles Morales, the Brooklynite, scholarship recipient for an elite boarding school, son of a felon, and best friend of Ganke, his Korean-American homeboy? What are his fears, his insecurities? How does he feel about the responsibility of having superhuman abilities, and how does that responsibility create dissonance in him when bumped up against the normal messiness of adolescence? And on top of all these things — and this is important despite the discomfort it sometimes causes — what does it mean that he has brown skin, steeped in and connected to a specific cultural coding?

This is what I focused on. This was my angle. I wanted to add razor-sharp details, and rich textures to his character so that we get to really live with him, not just in his head, or behind his mask, but we get to live in his home, in his barbershop, in the mouths of his parents, and on the sidewalk of his neighborhood. We get to live in his first skin, which better informs us of why he is the way he is in his second.  --Jason Reynolds


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