Miles Morales’ has finally uncovered the worst aspect of his new timeline, and it changes everything he has ever stood for into abject horror.
The following contains major spoilers for Miles Morales: Spider-Man #39, available now from Marvel.
Miles Morales is no stranger to the horrors of the multiverse, but his latest trip through alternate realities has easily been the worst of them all. After dismantling the machinations of Beyond Corporation, Miles stepped into a world unlike any he has seen before. One where he died during his climactic battle with Selim and in which his maniacal clone has created his own fascist empire on Earth. Even worse, Selim and his army have twisted Spider-Man’s iconic emblem into a sign of sheer terror, and there might not be anything left to do but let it go.
Miles and his allies have made their way into Selim’s stronghold in the hopes of destroying his empire, only to find an elderly Peter Parker imprisoned within it. Though the two are quick to reconnect, they are just as soon targeted by Selim’s soldiers, including a terrifying new Mindspinner. As the fight rages on in the pages of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #39 (by Saladin Ahmed, Alberto Foche, David Curiel, and VC’s Cory Petit), it soon becomes clear that things are far more personal than they first appeared to be. Out of all the horrors he has wrought, the way Selim twisted Spider-Man’s iconic symbol is the sting that hurts the most.
Selim’s rise to power came with a rebranding of everything that Spider-Man has ever stood for. With his world’s Miles dead, Peter captured and its other heroes unable to set foot in his empire, there was nothing that could stop Selim from establishing a new understanding of the once altruistic Spidey symbol.
The tragic history behind the deterioration of that insignia is largely the reason why Miles’ friend Ganke has been unwilling to share the truth with the now-grown Billy Morales. The hatred that festered within her for every iteration of that symbol was what drove her to be the person she is today. Discovering that she was a part of its history would certainly break her heart. Seeing his emblem become that of a fascist state may have driven Peter into a well-deserved fury, but for Miles, it is keeping him from ever being a part of his own family in that timeline.
As if all of that weren’t bad enough, the starkest realization is that no matter what Miles, Peter or anyone else does, the Spider emblem may never be restored. Selim hasn’t just co-opted their symbol, he has given it a new meaning to the people in his universe. Even if Selim is defeated, there will still be a negative stigma attached to the icon due to what it represented under his rule. The heroes might save the day, but that alone won’t be nearly enough to undo the damage that Selim has caused in the eyes of those who he has oppressed.
On the other hand, the spider icon in and of itself has only ever been that. Heroes like Peter Parker, Cindy Moon and the various versions of Gwen Stacy who have carried it were always the true inspirations for hope, with their emblem merely making that promise a bit more recognizable. When and if Selim falls, the spider may not survive, but that doesn’t mean a new symbol won’t emerge in its place.
John Dodge has been an avid consumer of comic books and nerd culture for as long as he can remember. An expert on competitive gaming and obscure kids shows from the 80’s and 90’s, John has far too many opinions about Beetleborgs for someone in their thirties. You can find him occasionally discussing them over on Twitter at @JohnJDodge.