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Never Mind Across the Spider-Verse: Miles Morales’ Secret Nightmare Has Already Happened

Spider-Man Miles Morales universe reality crisis mother father alive or dead in 616 Marvel - Across the Spider-Verse

The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Marvel’s 2015 Secret Wars comic book event.

Think Miles Morales has it tough in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse? Sure, he’s had half the multiverse’s Spider people after him, but at least it’s a situation he can swing, punch, and kick his way out of. His comics counterpart is in a much weirder place, and no amount of web fluid is going to fix it.

Comic Miles’ dad isn’t in immediate danger of expiring, but the problem is that he isn’t really Miles’ dad. His mom’s situation is even stranger — she died, then Miles’ universe died, then she came back. (I’ll explain how in a second.) Just thinking about it makes my brain hurt; imagine what this Spider-Man has to deal with every dinner time.

Even if Miles himself is doing his best to overlook this unsettling situation, it’s a Galactus-sized can of worms that the new Ultimate Invasion series is threatening to open. His parents aren’t Skrulls, not as far as I know, but their questionable state of being stems from the way Miles Morales was introduced to the regular Marvel 616 universe.

He made his name as Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics continuity, following the (kind-of) death of that world’s Peter Parker. He didn’t have a front-row seat to Peter Parker’s demise, but he proved himself a capable successor, taking on a wealth of foes and even teaming up with that universe’s Avengers, called the Ultimates.

Things went sideways when Marvel decided to end its Ultimate line, erasing that universe and killing off every single character except Miles Morales and an evil Reed Richards called the Maker. When that universe was extinguished, Miles was left inhabiting the restored 616 universe — and as far as most people knew, he’d always lived there.

Spider-Man Miles Morales universe reality crisis mother father alive or dead in 616 Marvel - Ultimate continuity

Not only was his father there, but his mother, who had died in the Ultimate universe, was alive and well too. Her existence was apparently a “thank you” for the burger Miles gave Molecule Man. (It’s a long story.)

But as the recently released Ultimate Invasion #1 confirms, he was one of only two survivors from the Ultimate universe, the other being the Maker / Reed Richards. So where exactly did Miles’ parents come from? And how is Miles not going out of his mind?

It’s not the first time Marvel has meddled with its world. One More Day erased Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage, and while it was controversial at the time, the Brand New Day that followed did wonders for the slowly stagnating Spider-Man line. The only snag is that writers are now finding increasingly convoluted ways to keep the pair apart.

Bringing this new Miles Morales Spider-Man across to the main comics continuity was absolutely the right decision, both creatively and commercially. He’s an arguably more interesting character than Peter Parker, and not just because he’s the first Black Spider-Man. He’s got a whole different dynamic, which, amongst other things, has led to some unexpected team-ups, like with the “Superior” Spider-Man and the Rhino.

DC Comics has engaged in similar soft-reboot shenanigans, from Infinite Crisis to The New 52 and beyond. Just a few years ago, The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover resulted in three Earths being merged together. This left me with so, so many questions.

For example, what happened to the souls of the people who perished, given that the Arrowverse has an afterlife? Were they also merged? Are the people on this new Earth in any sense real, if they didn’t exist until Earth Prime was created? What happened to the “old” Supergirl? I could go on, but at some point blood is going to just start pouring out of my ears.

Rio Morales Miles mom Spider-Man

That brings me back to the questionable reality of Miles’ parents, Jefferson Davis and Rio Morales. The Ultimate universe was eventually recreated, but at the time Miles came across, every other inhabitant had been annihilated, Jefferson included.

When Miles woke up, he was quick to embrace his mother, as most people would be upon finding a lost relative alive and well (the ones who wouldn’t run away screaming, anyway). But what went through his head when he was alone, those first few weeks? Did he belong in this world? Did they?

Marvel’s Spider-Men 2 (not to be confused with Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man 2) reveals that there is an adult Miles Morales, though the only thing he has in common with Spider-Man Miles is his name. Jefferson and Rio aren’t that Miles’ parents, so Spider-Man hasn’t erased another Miles and stolen his family.

But even if they aren’t just constructs, they’ve got a different set of “memories” from Miles. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve always lived in the Marvel 616 universe, so they remember things like the first superhero Civil War, Captain America being killed (he got better), and so on.

So if something like that comes up in conversation, what does Miles do? Nod politely? Try to bluff his way through it? And if the Marvel 616 universe has been altered in that way, what else has changed? Is it really 616 any more? Marvel has mostly glossed over the issues that might arise from Miles switching home universes and how it must have been harder for Miles to forget.

Spider-Man Miles Morales universe reality crisis mother father alive or dead in 616 Marvel - Ultimate Invasion #1

Being the last survivor of a universe, even if it was partially restored, has to leave some major scars — survivor’s guilt times several billion. As the Maker puts it to Miles, “(Y)ou must feel the same itch that I do. The one you cannot scratch? The pull of nothingness and oblivion that we share with the world we are from–the feeling of lives erased and forgotten.”

I’ll riot, as will probably half the internet, if the ongoing Ultimate Invasion series somehow ends with Miles trapped in his old universe. It’s not clear whether he’ll figure heavily into this series or if his appearance in issue 1 is all we’re going to get.

Even if he doesn’t get dragged into the Maker’s attempt to remold the Ultimate universe, Miles is unlikely to be in a good place. For better or for worse (probably worse), everything Miles has tried to forget is sure to come flooding back. I wouldn’t wish that kind of existential confusion on my worst enemy. But with Beyond the Spider-Verse months (probably years) away, I’ll be eager to see how this Miles Morales deals with his own nightmare.

About the author

Chris McMullen
Freelance contributor at The Escapist. I've returned to writing about games after a couple of career changes, with my recent stint lasting five-plus years. I hope, through my writing work, to settle the karmic debt I incurred by persuading my parents to buy a Mega CD. Aside from writing for The Escapist, I also cover news and more for GameSpew. I've also been published at other sites including VG247, Space, and more. My tastes run to horror, the post-apocalyptic, and beyond, though I'll tackle most things that aren't exclusively sports-based.