Spider-Men is a major Marvel Comics storyline by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, published in the summer of 2012 and centering on Spider-Man. It is a Milestone Celebration of Spider-Man's 50th year and serves as the first-ever crossover event between Marvel's two most popular universes — the mainstream and Ultimate Marvel.
The story involves long-time Spider-Man foe Mysterio creating a bridge between two universes. The original Spider-Man, Peter Parker, falls through it and across dimensions into the Ultimate Universe. There, he faces a world where Spider-Man's greatest secret is public knowledge and where being Spider-Man led to an early demise for Peter Parker; a world where the child Miles Morales has stepped in to fill the gap as the second Spider-Man.
Miles Morales himself finally gets the chance to meet the hero whose name he earned. Hampered by lack of age and experience, Miles struggles to find a place in a world that extinguished the life of an older and stronger Spider-Man. Perhaps Peter's miraculous reappearance will reveal just what it takes to be the wallcrawler.
But the historic union is not without strings attached. Peter has to face some harsh truths in this new universe. His friends and loved ones are not as he knows them, and the reappearance of those he had thought lost forever taxes his guilt-ridden conscience to the core. Miles must deal with forces beyond his novice experience and shepherd Peter through the Ultimate universe. All the while, Mysterio runs both Spider-Men through a gauntlet of treachery and danger with more sophisticated illusions than ever before while his own ambitions are cloaked in secrecy.
With high stakes and dangerously untrod waters, the series provides a climax for not just the two Spider-Men, but the mythos of Spider-Man as a whole.
Following the destruction of Earth-1610, Miles was imported into the mainstream Marvel Universe upon its restoration by the Fantastic Four, serving as the Spider-Man of New York City while Peter jetsets around the world on business.
In 2017, Marvel published an official sequel to this story, Spider-Men II, once again written by Bendis and drawn by Pichelli, addressing the unaddressed cliffhanger at the end of Spider-Men, which involves Peter and Miles discovering the latter's Earth-616 counterpart.
Tropes from the 2012 series:
- Always Someone Better: Even though he soundly kicks (the albeit disoriented at the time) 616 Spidey's butt, Miles starts believing that he is still not yet ready to take on the role of Spider-Man full time.
- Art Shift: In the 616 universe, the text is rendered entirely in upper-case; in the Ultimate universe, upper-case letters are only used when grammatically correct.
- Big Bad: 616 & Ultimate Mysterio. And no, that should not be Big Bad Duumvirate.
- Big "NO!": Mysterio, twice.
- Canon Immigrant: In-Universe, 616 Mysterio becomes this after Ultimate Nick Fury keeps him in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody in the Ultimate universe rather than let him return to the 616 universe with the knowledge of Spider-Man's identity.
- Cassandra Truth: Subverted. 616 Spider-Man gives out the entire truth of his crossover to Nick Fury and the Ultimates. Fury believes him, saying that nobody would be crazy enough to say something like that.
- Cheerful Child: Oh, Miles:Peter: Sorry about that dust-up before and the unmasking. That was not cool of me.
Miles: Hey, I've never been in a helicopter before, this is cool.
- Continuity Snarl: The book is set after Miles and Aunt May's first meeting, but Miles doesn't have his web-shooters even though in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics Aunt May gave them to him the first time they met. The easiest explanation is that he ditched them between issue 14 and the Spider-Men story after running out of web fluid (which is mentioned as a potential danger in #14 of Miles' series).
- Covered in Gunge: Spidey's webs are rendered pretty realistically here, and when Peter yanks Mysterio by his face a little bit, the resulting web-fluid leftovers on his face are snotty little driblets.
- Covers Always Lie:
- Averted with the cover for Issue 3 which shows both Spider-Men being assaulted by a "who's who" of the Spidey rogue's gallery from both universes, though they fittingly turn out to be illusions caused by Mysterio.
- Played straight with the cover to issue 4 that shows a battle-scarred Peter cradling an unconscious Miles. Nothing of the sort really happens in that issue.
- Crazy-Prepared: Mysterio brought his A-game this time.
- Crossover Villain-in-Chief: Mysterio's portal is responsible for Peter getting sent to Miles' universe. He also serves as their primary opposition in getting Peter home.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Despite being far more experienced, Earth-616 Spidey is beaten soundly by Miles' advanced spider powers. Though he probably would have done a lot better if he knew about Miles' venom strike beforehand. And of course, if he hadn't been in the middle of a major Freak Out. Or feeling fluish.
- Dead Alternate Counterpart: The Peter Parker of Earth-616 is trapped on Earth-1610, with his counterpart having recently died. He doesn't have the heart to tell Gwen that her counterpart on his Earth is dead too.
- Defrosting Ice King: Peter doesn't like the idea of there being another Spider-Man, but he finds it hard not to like the thirteen-year-old kid who hero-worships him and is in desperate need of a role model.
- Determinator: Mysterio refuses to back-down when faced with the combined might of The Ultimates and two Spider-Men. Twice.
- Dream Team: Earth-616 Spidey teaming up with Ultimate Spidey and later, the Ultimates.
- Expecting Someone Taller: Inverted. When Miles meets Earth-616 Spidey, he mentions that he'd expected him to be shorter. Understandable, since Ultimate Peter was a teenager, while Earth-616 Peter is a full-grown man.
- Extremely Short Time Span: The whole series takes place over the course of less than two days. Sadly, this means that the two Spider-Men don't actually get to spend that much time together, which becomes all the more apparent when Peter is forced to leave immediately before the portal closes.
- Fanservice: For the ladies. For sticking through all five issues (or just jumping on to see the conclusion), the readers are awarded a scene with Peter in nothing but a towel lounging around his apartment. A small towel.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Played with when Mysterio gives Peter a vision of Aunt May getting impaled by Dr. Octopus — we see the tentacle go right through her torso and Ock is holding her up in the air, but the area immediately around the wound is wreathed in just enough smoke to cover up any gore.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: The first ever directlynote between the Ultimate and the regular Marvel Universes, who were generally kept separate in order to preserve their qualities as distinct lines. It seems that rules can be bent for one of Marvel's greatest heroes' 50th anniversary.
- Kid Sidekick: Peter keeps Miles around as his sidekick despite being weirded out by there being another Spider-Man — in part because Miles was the first person in the Ultimate Universe he met and because Miles was obviously looking out for him.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Peter picks a fight with Miles on impulse, in part because he was feeling "fluish" and freaking out and that implicitly he wasn't taking anymore risks with Spider-clones after the debacle that was The Clone Saga.
- The Mentor: Peter starts playing this role for Miles a little bit too late, but he gives some rapid-fire tips just as he's phasing back to his own universe.
- Mistaken Identity: A Running Gag is that everyone assumes Earth-616 Peter is either some guy impersonating Earth-1610 Peter, or else Earth-1610 Peter back from the dead.
- My Greatest Failure:
- Ultimate Nick Fury considers the death of his universe's Peter Parker as this, which is why he gives more leeway to 616 Spidey.
- Everyone sees their potential greatest failure when Mysterio gases them as a distraction — Iron Man sees the rest of the Ultimates dead, Nick Fury sees New York in flames, Peter sees Aunt May being torn apart by Doc Ock, and Miles sees his uncle the Prowler having beaten his parents to death.
- Also, Peter doesn't seem to have taken the whole clone affair from his past very well.
- Never Lend to a Friend: Peter warns Miles not to lend Wolverine or Mockingbird money, as he'll never see it again.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Mysterio's portal only opens from the 616 universe, so he manages to trap Earth-616 Spider-Man not only in a world where everyone knows who he is, but where his counterpart has been dead for some time. He would've finally been rid of Spider-Man if he hadn't felt the need to open the portal up again to look at his handiwork.
- No-Sell: Miles gets over Mysterio's fear toxins the fastest and is unaffected by the trauma of interdimensional teleportation that both Peter Parker and Mysterio fell victim to. Twice.
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Mysterio stepped up his game sometime between stories; assuming he didn't steal the supplies, he developed an interdimensional portal and a robotic avatar capable of inter-dimensional transmission. Ultimate Tony Stark, the super genius with the resources to develop such technology, admits frustration that he developed the technology before he could, and can't even crack the math to reverse engineer the process.
- Passing the Torch: Peter explicitly gives Miles his blessing at the end of the story.
- Race Lift: Lampshaded. Peter half-seriously refers to Miles as a race-lift of him before hearing the full story of Ultimate Peter, and is bemused by a Samuel L. Jackson-lookalike introducing himself as Nick Fury and describes him as "Frankly, much cooler."
- The Reveal: There is no Ultimate Mysterio — it's just a series of remote avatars used by Earth-616 Mysterio.
- Seen It All: Ultimate!Fury's reaction to Peter's stake of being from another universe is simply a bored "Oh, that old nugget".
- Sequel Hook: Peter Parker makes it back to his home universe, relaxes, showers off, and decides to do a web search for Miles Morales. We don't see the results, but Peter can only bring himself to say "Oh my God." It finally gets picked up again in Spider-Men II.
- Should Have Thought of That Before X: Fury to Mysterio after deciding to keep him in the Ultimate verse.
- Take That!: When Earth-616 Peter is telling Ultimate Nick Fury about his 616 counterpart, Peter mentioning that he's white leads to Fury to smirk and reply "I'm sorry to hear that."
- Teleportation Sickness: Peter experiences this while dimension-hopping.
- The Un-Reveal: Two of them at the ending.
- First, Peter is about to give Miles the most important advice ever:Peter: No, listen, this is the most important thing I can possibly tell you about being Spider-Man. This is the real deal. If you ever see a— (portal closes)
- A more serious one is when Peter looks up Earth-616's Miles Morales and is shocked by what he finds.
- First, Peter is about to give Miles the most important advice ever:
- Younger Than They Look: Discussed Trope in-universe. According to Ultimate Nick Fury, since Miles is thirteen years old, all of the heroes look like they're eighty to him.
- Your Costume Needs Work: Inverted: While in Earth!1610, people assume Peter was partaking in a kind of distasteful act of mimicry.
Tropes from the 2017 series:
- Adaptational Villainy: While he left to settle down, Miles's 616 counterpart was a member of the Rigoletto gang and friends with the Kingpin.
- Age Lift: The Ultimate version of Miles is 13 when he replaced a 16 year old Peter. The Earth-616 version is an adult when Fisk first became the Kingpin, making him older than Peter.
- Alternate Self: Miles Morales' Earth-616 counterpart makes his debut appearance.
- And the Adventure Continues: Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Woman go away, heading for new adventures
- Art Shift: The art style shifts to Mark Bagley's once 616!Miles enters the Ultimate Universe.
- Big Bad: Taskmaster, or an alternate version of him, has activated and is using Mysterio's dimensional portal, leading Peter to wonder where it leads to now that Earth-1610 is destroyed. Peter should double-think that assumption.
- Broad Strokes: Captain America died and Thor lost his hammer in Cataclysm, SHIELD had been disbanded, and Riri had never been in the Ultimate universe, but who cares? The Ultimate universe is back!
- Call-Back: The series has several to the original Spider-Men story, though it's Darker and Edgier.
- Canon Immigrant: As mentioned before, this marks the debut of 616!Miles.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The Miles of Earth-616 meets an alternate version of his wife (and they immediately get along swimmingly) when he crosses over to the next universe...and it's a revived Ultimate Universe! The characters who died like Captain America and Thor are back to life (though Giant-Man and Hulk were last seen travelling the multiverse), Ultimate Riri has become Ironheart, Peter and MJ are still together, Kong joined the Army and is now coming back home, Aunt May has a new boyfriend and they are still close to their friends. The last shot is Jessica shooting a knowing glance to the reader before racing off to join Peter.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: The other Miles has some seriously nasty ones, which he gained defending a young Wilson Fisk while they were in prison.
- Hero of Another Story: In trying to solve the mystery of Miles Morales-616, Peter Parker reaches out to Jessica Jones at Alias Investigations. She quickly mentions she did an exhaustive search, while the art shows a few panels of what she's been up to: a team up with Spider-Woman, a Dazzler concert, a battle with the Red Hulk, wrestling the Blob, interviewing Moon Girl, and running from what appear to be motorcycling ninjas.
- History Repeats: Peter admits to Miles (while trying to patch things up with him over his outburst) that Reed Richards had once blown off Peter not unlike how Peter (unwittingly) blew off Miles, and Peter was so upset about that he cried in his mask.
- How We Got Here: The story opens up with Peter and Miles webbed together, arguing as an unknown person — implied to be Earth-616 Miles Morales — escapes in a jet. Miles frees them but fails to catch the plane in time, causing Peter to take back his Passing the Torch from the original series and say he should have never let Miles become Spider-Man. The story then jumps back to Peter and Miles investigating the sudden reactivation of Mysterio's portal to Earth-1610.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Issue #5 reveals that Peter said what he said to Miles in the heat of the moment. His actual opinion was that Miles shouldn't have to shoulder the kind of stress he deals with (while also admitting he can't help but feel weird about Miles being Spider-Man).
- The Reveal: We finally learn just what Peter saw back at the end of Spider-Men when he looked up Miles Morales... Nothing. Not a bean. As far as Earth-616 was concerned, Miles Morales doesn't exist. Which later turns out to be because Wilson Fisk helped erase all knowledge of him so he could live a quiet life.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: 616!Miles wanted to quit being a criminal. Wilson Fisk helped him get out of the life and settle down in the suburbs.
- Start of Darkness: 616!Miles helped Wilson Fisk become the Kingpin.
- Sudden Downer Ending: Inverted. 616!Miles winds up in the next universe and meets the alternate version of his wife at a wine bar, and the proceed to hit it off... but in the background, a group of people run away in fear, before the window behind them explodes... which, as it turns out, is because the 1610!Green Goblin crashed through the window as he was fighting Spider-Man and the Ultimates.
- Villainous Friendship: Wilson Fisk and the 616 Miles Morales have been close ever since Miles saved Fisk's life in prison. They later ran a restaurant together and Fisk arranged for Miles' retirement from the criminal life.