Spider-Man Miles Morales Just Faced His Own Crisis on Infinite Earths

The following contains major spoilers for Savage Avengers #4, available now from Marvel Comics.

If there’s one constant in comics it is that a superhero will die and, if the editorial team deems it so, rise again. The most famous example of this is the Death of Superman, a storyline that killed the world’s most famous superhero, only for him to return a relatively short time later. However, some superhero deaths outlast their shelf-life, which is why 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (by Marv Wolfman and George Perez) is such a monumental achievement.

With its ‘pull-no-punches’ commitment to high-stakes storytelling, Crisis famously killed off both Supergirl and The Flash in two of the most shocking issues in comic book history. Yet, instead of retconning both heroes months later, DC’s editorial team allowed both characters to remain deceased for a very long time. Even though others took up the mantles of the two popular heroes, their original identities languished in darkness for decades, leaving fans to wonder if their beloved Kara-El and Barry Allen would ever return. Taking a cue from Wolfman and Perez’s masterpiece, Savage Avengers #4 (by David Pepose, Carlos Magno, and Espen Grundetjern) sees the end of one of Marvel Comics’ most beloved heroes while still giving readers hope for a courageous return.

RELATED: Did DC Ban Even the Mention of Supergirl in Letter Columns After Crisis on Infinite Earths?

Miles Morales, as fans know him, is dead. Like his mentor Peter Parker, Miles doesn’t have an ‘off’ switch, as he will risk life and limb to save innocent lives. In this issue, the young hero (alongside friend and fellow hero Ironheart) stumbles upon a plan by the sinister Doctor Octopus to harness a Prototype Gate created by Reed Richards to unleash Annihulus and his Annihilation Wave onto a major city. Naturally, Spider-Man is quick to help, transporting through the gate to fight Annihulus. Through his quick wit and unyielding sarcasm, Miles steals the Cosmic Control Rod, and crushes it before leaping into the Prototype Gate, sacrificing himself to save the world in a flurry of energy and light.

Miles’ self-sacrifice is brave beyond belief and pays clever homage to Barry Allen’s tragic demise in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. Instead of Annihulus, the Flash wars against the Anti-Monitor, a powerful being who uses his anti-matter wave to devour planets. To stop the Anti-Monitor’s destruction, Barry chooses to run at hypersonic speeds, a feat which, as he well understands, will lead to his death. In a mirror image of Miles in Savage AvengersBarry succumbs to the overwhelming light and energy of the anti-matter wave, sacrificing himself to save innocent lives from destruction.

RELATED: The Flash: How Barry Allen Was Almost Resurrected

Barry Allen’s death kept the hero out of DC Comics’ continuity for more than 20 years until his return in Final Crisis. While Morrison and squad proved that Barry Allen could literally outrun death, Savage Avengers #4 has a different trick up its sleeve. By the end of the issue, Morales is in control of Deathlok’s reanimated body, proving that while his original body may be gone, his heroic spirit still lives on…literally.

With the deaths of Barry Allen and Miles Morales in the books, it’s worth questioning if bringing a superhero back too soon after their doom is a harmful trend in superhero comics. By resurrecting a fallen hero too soon, the story loses its stakes, defuses its dramatic weight, and renders subsequent deaths less meaningful.

However, Miles’ brief “death” elicits another truth that Crisis on Infinite Earths highlighted well. Ultimately, fans want to see their favorite characters carry their heroic mantles for as long as possible. To this end, Savage Avenger’s #4 almost instantly brings the web slinger back from the great beyond to serve its larger story. Miles is now Deathlok and has the power to change the future. While Crisis left the Flash powerless to shape the DC Universe for over twenty years, Savage Avengers recasts its young Spider-Man for a higher purpose, granting him the opportunity to reset the time stream even after his supposed death.

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