When Marvel Comics kicked off its "Ultimate" universe in 2000 (a new, start-from-scratch continuity that exists separately from the "main" Marvel universe that has been around since the 1940s) it did so with the express goal of updating and revamping its core characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Avengers for new audiences.
Nothing says "bold revamp" more emphatically than killing Peter Parker and introducing a new, mixed race Spider-Man, does it?
That's exactly what Marvel has done, putting to rest the "Ultimate" version of Peter Parker and having a teenager named Miles Morales - who is half black, half-Hispanic - assume the mantle of the Spider.
Morales will have some similar, but also some unique, spider abilities, and he will interact with Spider-Man mainstay characters like Peter's Aunt May and former girlfriend Gwen Stacy.
"What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who's reflective of our culture and diversity," says Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. "We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker."
Marvel's decision to completely redo Spider-Man in this manner certainly shows that it is paying attention to its audience. Back when it was announced that director Marc Webb was going to reboot the movie version of ol' webhead, a grassroots internet effort tried to convince Webb to cast "Community" star Donald Glover in the lead role, arguing that race had nothing to do with the basic story of Peter Parker.
Morales' origin will be unveiled in September, when the series relaunches with a brand new first issue, "Ultimate Spider-Man #1."