The only Spiderman we now recognize, Miles Morales, was featured as half teen boy, half superhero in an homage to Nas’ classic Illmatic album cover. Marvel Comic editor-in-chief Axel Alonso released images of superheroes on the covers of Dr. Dre, A$AP Rocky, and Eric B. & Rakim more than a week ago. When the first batch of images were released, I immediately looked for Miles, but disappointingly found Deadpool and Iron Man. Obviously, I was too quick to judge because Alonso is rumored to be releasing 50+ images in total, and he has already come through with a second batch that includes Miles, an image that is even Nas approved.
Alonso started this project to call attention to the relationship between hip-hop and comics, as well as to talk about diversity in comics. There have been differing responses, with some believing that this equals to appropriation on Marvel’s part. The first-generation Mexican American artist told Comic Book Resources that the group of artists is racially diverse and that the hip-hop community has embraced the art. “The response of the hip-hop community to these variants has been tremendous,” he said. “All the major hip-hop sites are shining a spotlight on this, and social media outside of comics has exploded with excitement – which means we are talking to a new audience. We’ve revealed less than a quarter of our variant covers at this point, and already the hip-hop community is showering us with love — including the hip-hop artists themselves. I’m talking luminaries: Killer Mike [of Run the Jewels], Posdnuos [of De La Soul], the legendary DMC, the Pharcyde, Pete Rock, Nas – they’ve all expressed their excitement and joy on social media.