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Mixed-race Spider-Man causes controversy

Marvel comics writers have replaced Peter Parker, a white orphan from Queen’s who’s been the main character of their Spider-Man series for the past 49 years, with a half-Latino, half-African American teenager named Miles Morales. The first book featuring the new character, Ultimate Comics Fallout #4, was released on Wednesday.

Morales will be the main character of a new Spider-Man series that debuts in September, Axel Alonso, chief editor at Marvel, told CNN. (The writers killed Peter Parker off two months ago, in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160.)

Alonso explained the comic-book company’s strategy to Agence France-Presse: “The superhero genre has been dominated by Caucasian superheroes from Superman to Batman. When Spider-Man peels back that mask, there will be a whole new demographic of kids who we’ll be reaching on a new spiritual level.”

“When the opportunity arose to create a new Spider-Man, we knew it had to be a character that represents the diversity – in background and experience – of the 21st century,” Alonso told CNN. “We have a president of mixed heritage; in fact, I’m of mixed heritage, this is just the world we live in.”

Brian Michael Bendis, the Spider-man writer who killed off Parker and introduced Morales, told the Atlanta Post that a multi-racial main character was long overdue in the comic-book world, even at Marvel, known for having some diversity in its superhero ranks. “Even though there’s some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it’s still crazy lopsided,” Bendis said.

Not all readers have reacted positively, the Atlanta Post notes, citing numerous negative and some racist comments posted on the USA Today web site in response to a story about the new Spider-Man. Comments included complaints about political correctness as well as rants over the killing off of a popular character.

The Spider-Man character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko and first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. Since then, the superhero has appeared in several animated and live-action television shows, as well as films and syndicated newspaper comic strips, CNN reports.

In March, a copy of the 1962 comic book that started it all sold at auction for $1.1 million. Originally, the comic sold to fans for just 12 cents, AFP reports.

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