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Behind Spider-Man's mask -- a new, multi-racial face

By Chris Boyette, CNN
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Get ready for a new Spider-man
  • A new Spider-Man debuts Wednesday with Ultimate Comics Fallout #4
  • Peter Parker, the original alter ego of Spider-Man, "died" in Marvel Comics' Ultimate Universe
  • The new Spider-Man is a half-African-American, half-Latino teenager
  • The character "represents the diversity ... of the 21st century," the editor says

New York (CNN) -- In the Ultimate Universe of Marvel Comics, Peter Parker -- the original alter ego of Spider-Man -- is dead, and his replacement is a half-African-American, half-Latino teenager named Miles Morales.

Wednesday, a new book -- Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 -- debuts, and the world will get to see the new web-slinging super hero. The book will be a glimpse into the Ultimate Comics universe after Peter Parker, when a new, multi-racial Spider-Man arrives on the scene.

"He swings into action, kicks butt, and when he pulls back his mask, there is another face there," said Axel Alonso, editor in chief of Marvel Comics.

"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 said. "We have a president of mixed heritage; in fact, I'm of mixed heritage, this is just the world we live in," he continued.

With Spider-Man one of Marvel's most iconic super heroes, the simple fact that Peter Parker will no longer be the man in the Spider-Man costume will be enough to turn heads, regardless of his ethnic background.

"The key thing is (that) the 'wow' factor goes without saying," Alonso said, but he believes Miles Morales will be loveable and recognizable to long-time fans of Spider-Man, as well as relatable to a whole new demographic of readers.

"Miles is on the same journey of self discovery (as Peter Parker), he's nerdy, is good at math, and lives with his parents in Brooklyn," he said.

Peter Parker, a white orphan from Queens, died in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 fighting his arch-enemy, Green Goblin.

"He died a hero, he died fulfilled," Alonso said. "He's really dead too, not come-back-to-life dead," he added, referring to the occasional propensity in the comic-book genre for reviving supposedly dead characters.

Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 will only be a preview of the new Spider-Man, according to Alonso. He will be the main character of a new series called Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, which debuts in September, Alonso told CNN. He said this new series will explain how Miles Morales took over for Peter Parker, introduce his family, and let the reader get to know him better as a character.

iReport: "I'm not feeling a Black/Latino Spider-Man"

Spider-Man is one of Marvel's most recognized heroes around the globe, according to Alonso. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. Since then, Spidey, as he is often called, has appeared in several animated and live-action television shows. Spider-Man comic strips have appeared in syndicated newspaper comic strips and many films for the big screen.

Marvel released the first Ultimate Marvel imprint of comic books in 2000. The Ultimate imprint is an alternate world from Marvel's regular universe, where Parker is still alive and fighting. "The Ultimate Universe is known for its aesthetic and its attitude," Alonso said. "It is responsible for a lot of comic book innovation."