New comic book characters debut all the time, but few of them break out and capture the public’s heart as much as Miles Morales. Created by Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli in 2011 as part of the Ultimate Marvel imprint, Miles has transcended his comic origins to become the lead of his own animated movie (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and now a videogame (Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales) too.

According to then Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, Marvel had plans to introduce a Black Spider-Man around the 2008 election of President Obama but delayed to find a more thoughtful and natural approach to presenting the character. The idea popped up again during the famous #DonaldforSpiderman Twitter campaign that sought to cast multi-hyphenate Donald Glover as Peter Parker in Sony’s cinematic Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. While Donald didn’t get the role, that didn’t stop Bendis from drawing inspiration from the campaign for the next phase of his run on the Ultimate Spider-Man title.

Marvel’s Ultimate imprint, originally started back in 2000, was a way to tell new and reimagined stories featuring classic Marvel characters. Divorced from decades of storytelling continuity, Ultimate Spider-Man was one of the line’s flagship titles for the innovative ways Bendis retold classic Spider-Man tales. However, change in comic books is commonplace, and imprint relaunches happen all the time. It provides publishers like Marvel with a new slate and allows a natural jumping-on point for new readers. In the wake of the Ultimate imprint event Fallout and the Death of Spider-Man, the Ultimate Marvel Universe version of Peter Parker died, leaving the world without a Spider-Man. Bendis used this opportunity to finally introduce Miles to the world. The character instantly resonated, bringing a whole new level of excitement to the Ultimate line.

With the release of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, we’re taking a look at Miles’ comic book origins and recommending five essential reads for those who can’t get enough of this truly amazing character. From the character’s earliest days to his latest ongoing adventures and plenty of dimensional travel in between, there’s a story for every fan of Miles.

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