'Spider-Man' Writer Saladin Ahmed Talks the Joys of Miles Morales, Plans for Kamala Khan, and the Brilliance of 'Spider-Verse'

In addition to taking over the big screen with a leading role in Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales has landed a brand new solo series from Marvel Comics, though this one comes with a bit of a twist. For the first time, a Morales title isn't being written by co-creator Brian Michael Bendis. Instead, it's quickly rising writer Saladin Ahmed taking the reins.

After a standout comic debut with Black Bolt, and a fan-favorite run on Exiles, Ahmed took over Miles Morales back in December and his debut couldn't have been better. The issue sold out of stores and was ordered for a second print almost immediately. ComicBook.com's official review called the marriage between Ahmed and Morales "a match made in heaven." It's safe to say that Ahmed is one of Marvel's biggest rising stars, and he's looking to continue his impressive run of hits when he takes over Ms. Marvel later this year.

Ahmed recently took some time to chat with ComicBook.com about this new series, what it means to him to be writing Miles Morales, what can be expected from his coming run with Kamala Khan, and much more.

miles morales spider-man
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

ComicBook.com: Now taking over what is one of the more diverse characters in Marvel. Miles has such a mixed background, and you're the first not Brian Michael Bendis person to write a solo Miles book. It's very fitting that it went to someone with a diverse background like yourself, and I kind of want to hear about your take on that character and what you bring to the table for Miles.

Saladin Ahmed: Yeah, I mean, I'm thrilled to be kind of taking over such a crucial character for where Marvel is at, where comics are at, where pop culture is at, at this point, right? With the movie [Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse], with him in the video games and stuff, this is Miles' moment, right? And to be taking the reins of a comic at this point is intimidating. It's an honor, but it's also intimidating.

But from the moment I heard the announcement, and this was back when I was writing poetry and didn't dream I'd be writing for Marvel, but I heard the announcement of Miles when Bendis first brought him into the Ultimate Universe. I've been geeked about this attempt to kind bridge the classic Marvel superheroics with the era we live in now, which looks different than 1963 looked. And so, I've been geeked about Miles since he came out. So, just kind of taking over this book, or launching this book is a dream.

I'm sure it was a tough process, diving deep into the mindset of a teenager in 2018. What were the challenges of that aspect of Miles?

I mean, to me, it's always kind of walking a tightrope, because I'm trying to write a book here that captures the classic teenage energy of an old school Marvel comic, of an old school X-Men or old school Spider-Man, but also I'm trying to write a book that speaks to what it means to be a teenage today. Right? And yet, I'm trying to do all of that without being that old guy with my skateboard over my shoulder, right? "Hey, fellow teenagers!" Because I'm a 43 year old guy. And so, for me as a writer, I try and honor the specificity of a teenager's experience in 2018, without trying to seem authentic, aping it. Because that's never going to work, right?

But you could write a story that says, "Hey, I've listened to you guys and I honor where you're coming from." And that's the kind of Spider-Man story that I'm trying to tell.

What can fans that are new to Miles Morales expect coming into your series?

I'm trying to write a book that's both going to serve as an introduction for those who don't know Miles and are reading him for the first time, but also that is sort of a new chapter for the folks who've been following him for a while. And I guess the primary thing I'd say is, we kind of bring the focus back in local with this book. And while his most recent kind of adventure in the comics has been in the event Spider-Geddon, which has been this big multidimensional event book, right? And this is kind of the opposite of that direction. It's Miles starting a new year at high school and at Brooklyn Visions and kind of dealing with a new set of classes, some romantic tension, and some very local Brooklyn based mysteries.

And we're gonna dig a little deeper into Miles. What it means for him to be not just Spider-Man, but to be Miles Morales, to be this teenager who has this background from Brooklyn, who's at this school, who has these friends, who goes on these dates, all of these sort of very human things that maybe haven't gotten as much attention with him as the superhero stuff has, is gonna be front and center in this book. Although, we're still gonna have some pretty exciting superheroics.

I'm curious, as you go forward with this, are you looking to kind of stick in comics for a while? Or are you kind of like, "OK, when I've done Miles, I'm ready to go back to doing some poetry stuff"? What's next for you?

I've actually been, because I can't sit in one place for too long, I've actually been starting to work in screenwriting. So, I've been doing some TV stuff. I was out in LA for a couple months, working on mostly things I can't talk about. But yeah, if anything lures me away, it's going to be TV, rather than fiction or poetry probably. But Marvel and I have a great relationship. I've been starting to do some work with DC. I love comics. Again, it's the medium that brought me to storytelling, probably more than any other. And so, I think I'll always have a place in my life and my work schedule for comics in some capacity.

And as far as Miles goes, I've got some stories in mind for him, so I plan on, as long as readers dig it, I plan on sticking with him for a bit here.

How have people been reacting so far to the first issue?

So far we've been very lucky that people have really responded well to it. We're benefiting from the fact that we're in a tidal wave of Miles affection right now, but I've counted myself very lucky. The reaction to the first issue has been overwhelmingly positive to Javier [Garron]'s art. A lot of love for the way he's captured Miles as a young person, and his friends as a high school crowd. Yeah, people have been overwhelmingly supportive. I don't take it for granted, and I'm ready for people to be less forgiving of number two or number three, that's just how the business goes, but it's been great so far.

I really love the Rhino twist at the end of the issue. Is there anything you could tell us about what's to come in your run, following the first issue?

Well, as we got a hint of in the first issue, Rhino and Miles are actually going to be teaming up in issue two. There are some kids missing in Brooklyn, and somebody close to Miles, and somebody who Miles knows, somebody close to Rhino, and they're both on this trail. So they find themselves, despite the fact that Rhino is nominally a villain, they find themselves kind of on the same trail and working together, and it's going to prove challenging for both of them.

I'm interested to hear your reaction to Spider-Verse. You're writing Miles, and Miles is all of a sudden one of the most popular superheroes in the world.

Yeah, it's been bizarre. I didn't see the film in any kind of advance way. There was possibilities for early access to stuff, but I wanted to just write my first arc, and then have that be my thing, and not be unduly influenced. I also wanted to just go to the movies with my kids, and just check it out fresh, and I'm really glad it did, because it was an amazing film. I see a lot of animated films with my kids, I go to superhero movies with my kids, and this is something truly special, and people are responding to it. It's really wonderful to be writing this character in a time where people who don't necessarily read comics even, know who Miles Morales is now.

Not long ago Marvel announced another big property for you, in Ms. Marvel. G. Willow Wilson has been the only one to write Ms. Marvel, and now you're taking over, just like you did with Bendis and Miles. Walk me through that experience, landing the job and your plans for Kamala Khan.

Writing Kamala is not a job I would have ever put myself forward for. It's profoundly intimidating because she is so beloved. And, in a way even more so than Miles, has a very, I don't want to say niche, but a very dedicated, self-identified community of fans that Willow has connected with in an unprecedented way, so it was intimidating, the notion.

But Willow and Sana [Amanat], the two Muslim women who co-created Ms. Marvel, came to me and asked me, because Willow had felt she'd told the story she was able to tell there, working on other things, and they didn't want to just hand her off. They wanted somebody they felt could handle the character, and they seem confident it's me. I hope [I am]. I'm not sure yet, only readers will know, but it's been a tremendous opportunity and blessing to work on this character.

We're still in the pretty early stages. I've got the first arc locked down and first couple issues done, but yeah, it's amazing, and it's been astonishing interacting with the fans already. The enthusiasm and the love is just off the charts.

It sounds like Willow is really behind you taking over the series.

She and I are friends, she's my sister. There's not a lot of Muslims in comics. She's also a fantasy novelist, people forget this about her, so we had fantasy novels come out around the same time. We've been on certain journeys together, and when I transitioned to comics she was really a kind of coach to me in terms of navigating that. So, we're professionally close, and yeah, I couldn't really say no to her.

Lastly, one of the most important cogs of Jim Zub's current Champions series has been the relationship between Kamala and Miles. Is that something you're going to explore going forward with those two solo books?

Without giving too much away, I think there's a fine line to walk there, because Champions is a team book. And so it's very much about the interactions between those characters, and Jim has created a really compelling kind of relationship there, that makes perfect sense in Champions. It's this weird thing of the comics universe, is that things are happening in the universe, in a team book and solo book, but the emphases are going to be different.

I'm really interested in the Miles/Kamala relationship, with a small "r", before people think I'm hinting at shipping them or something. I'm very interested in their dynamic, but for the first little stretch of each of their books, it's going to be their book. Then, the focus is going to be on Miles, in Miles' book, and Kamala, in Kamala's book. But, I'd be a fool to say never the twain shall meet, right? It's too ripe with possibility.

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales #2, written by Saladin Ahmed and illustrated by Javier Garron, is now available online and at your local comic book shop.

Check back next week for the second part of ComicBook.com's profile on Saladin Ahmed and learn about his upbringing in Detroit, the struggles of writing novels, and how he made the move to Marvel Comics.