Since the debut of the latest volume of Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott has teased readers with the sudden return of many previously deceased characters in Spider-Man’s universe. All of this seems to be facilitated by the mysterious “Man in Red,” a gray-haired mystery character in a red suit that claims to have supernatural powers/”miracles.” His hidden face suggests that he’s someone we’d recognize just by looking at it, which got us thinking, “Who is this mysterious man?”
Cohosts of our Amazing Spider-Talk podcast, Mark Ginocchio and Dan Gvozden, offer their takes on this intriguing mystery:
I’m probably traveling far off the reservation for this theory but I cannot help but fixate on the fact that Dan Slott and co. are taking major strides to keep the identity of the “man in red” for “Dead No More” a secret. Granted, the last time a Slott story featuring a long-running mystery like this, it turned out to be Norman Osborn with a face transplant, so the precedent is there for this villain to be someone we all know and met before, but I’m going to take a leap of faith here and speculate about a total wild card:
That probably elicited a number of “who’s?” and that’s kinda why I’m leaning this way. Johnny Bates is the alterego of the independent character Kid Marvelman, aka Kid Miracleman. Miracleman is one of the most controversial comics in the medium’s history. In the early 1980s a young (but equally crazy) Alan Moore reintroduced the characters after they’d essentially been put on ice for copyright infringement (Miracleman and Kid Miracleman both bear a significant number of similarities to Captain Marvel/Shazam). Bates, once the lead character, Michael Moran/Miracleman’s kid sidekick, was transformed into a sociopathic supervillain. The well-coiffed Bates would always dress in fine suits and was CEO of the electronics company Sunburst Cybernetics.
A few years ago, Marvel Comics acquired the rights to the Marvelman/Miracleman property and started reprinting the old Moore stories in their own series. They didn’t sell particularly well, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from speculating about when these characters might start to appear in Marvel’s main continuity. As was the case with Angela, a character Marvel acquired from Image Comics a few years back, why go through all that trouble only to use the Miracleman property for reprints? And considering we just experienced a major Marvel crossover that brought characters from different universes and timelines together for the first time, it’s not a stretch to think that it could be Bates’s time to cross over.
More specifically, in the most recent issue of Amazing Spider-Man, the man in red tells Max Dillon, “I’m the man who can make miracles.” “Miracles” is certainly a specific word choice, especially for a character who used to go by the moniker “Kid Miracleman.” Additionally Bates physically fits the profile of the man in red (though Amazing Spider-Man #10 reveals his hair as platinum blonde, Moran’s color, while Bates always had jet black hair in contrast to his former mentor).
There are obvious holes to my theory. Why would Bates be targeting Spider-Man? Perhaps in the new Marvel Universe Sunburst Cybernetics is up and running and he wants to take down the competition, Parker Industries? And what’s with the Egyptian motif in the “Dead No More” teaser images? Well, on that end I don’t have much, but the Miracleman comics were always laced with Moore’s sense of mysticism and mythology. He portrayed his characters as living Gods. So maybe there’s something to that with the man in red’s headdress in the latest “Dead No More” teaser.
Lastly, a reveal of this nature feels momentous enough to justify the slow burn tease from the past few months. Why make such a point of obscuring the character’s identity, if you’re just going to put Norman Osborn or Miles Warren in a new costume? Then again … Mason Banks.
Let me just say that I think Mark’s take is so out-there interesting that I kind of hope that he’s right. It would be a bold choice, on the level of bringing in Mephisto for “One More Day,” which doesn’t mean it would be the right choice for the story but it would definitely be interesting (not like Mason Banks).
That said, it doesn’t all fall into place for me, for many of the reasons that Mark already outlines, namely the connection to Egypt and the Lizard’s insistence that he’s worked with the Man in Red before.
That’s why I’m going to make the terribly lazy prediction that the Man in Red is none other than Miles Warren in a new costume, even though I can’t think of a time he’s worked with the Lizard (but they were both top scientists in NYC before they decided to experiment with their bodies and minds). I know it is the laziest guess at who it could be, but hear me out on this, there are reasons to be excited about a Miles Warren reveal. Here’s why:
Dan Slott has been incorporating Miles Warren, aka the Jackal, into his run on Amazing Spider-Man since the very beginning, with him taking the forefront in “Spider-Island” and a few stories afterwards. On our latest Amazing Spider-Talk podcast, Mark and I discussed “No One Dies” and I suspected that Slott was attempting to bookend his run on the book, revisiting previous stories to close each chapter and put the toys back in the toy box.
So it only makes sense that we would revisit the Jackal, who had previously put all his cards on the table, exhausted his cloning schemes to their fullest extent, and was resoundingly defeated not only by Spider-Man, but by Kaine, his greatest mistake. The next logical step for him would be to go back to his roots to rethink his approach to defeating Spider-Man.
Based on the teaser from last week, we see the Man in Red in an Anubis facemask – yet to be seen in the comics themselves – drinking champagne with a reborn Gwen Stacy. Those in the know about Egyptian mythology know that Anubis appeared as a man with a jackal head and was the god of the afterlife, typically associated with the mummification process. Clearly there is something magical going on with the rebirth of all these characters, though they could also be clones.
Let’s say that Miles Warren investigated his Jackal identity and arrived at some kind of Egyptian artifact or inspiration that moved him to update his costume, while retaining the Jackal imagery, and gave him either new but similar powers and a new lease on life, the emotional destruction of Spider-Man. Sure, it is a reach but why did Miles Warren dress like a Jackal in the first place? Well… come to think of it, he never dressed like a Jackal ever… just some strange green monster.
The biggest clue to me that this could be Miles Warren remains the “Dead No More” teaser image and how he’s cavorting with Gwen Stacy, along with the return of Kaine. Miles Warren’s anger with Spider-Man is that he blames him for the death of Gwen Stacy, who he secretly loved during his time as their professor. The romantic nature of their relationship in the teaser poster suggests that perhaps through some devious means Miles has found a way to make that happen.
Also, from Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 4) #10, the Man in Red wears glasses, just like Miles Warren.
Anyway, that’s just my thoughts on the Man in Red’s identity. As much as I’d like to see the Jackal get a makeover I’m also kind of sick of the character and would love to see something crazy like Mark’s suggestion or just a new villain for Spider-Man to fight. The animal motif to the Man in Red is right in line with Spidey’s rogues gallery and I’d love to read the story of a shockingly new villain set to terrorize Spider-Man’s world.
Or… it’s just Mephisto.
What are your thoughts on the identity of the Man in Red? Do you agree with Mark or Dan? Are they both crazy? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.