First Advisor

Susan Kirtley

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors






Spider-Man (Fictitious character), Spider-Man (Comic strip) -- Criticism and interpretation, Public spaces in literature, Superheroes, Brian Michael Bendis. Ultimate comics Spider-Man




As the anthology Comics and the City explores, cities have been central to comics since the beginning of the modern medium. Yet, scholars have remarked little on the relationship between superhero identities and urban space. Peter M. Coogan's article, "The Hero Defines the Genre, The Genre Defines the Hero," in the anthology What is a Superhero?, cites an urban setting as a secondary identifier of the superhero genre and the superhero identity, but he makes no other remark on this facet in the article or his other work. Much of the works existing on the subject of urbanism and the superhero identity in comics studies only relate to the subject tangentially. Due to the limitations of this thesis project, I use a singular superhero comic as an initial case study, if you will, to provide a launch point for future research. Investigating the first four issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, words by Brian Michael Bendis and art by Sara Pichelli, I find that Miles Morales's identity as Spider-Man is heavily defined in how he is depicted in relationship to crowds, how his powers allow him to traverse the city, and how crucial moments in his character development inhabit marginal spaces both in his version of New York and in the comics as a medium. Ultimately, my findings suggest that the urban space and the comics medium provides the visually demonstrable liminal spaces that define key aspects of Miles's superhero identity.


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