Filed under: Comic Reviews, Marvel Comics | Tags: Alchemax, Aunt May, Kelley Jones, Miguel O'Hara, Peter David, Rick Leonardi, Spider-Man 2099, The Vulture, Tyler Stone
Back in 1992 (20 years ago – SCARY STUFF!!), Peter David took our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man from his humble origins and set him down in New York in the year 2099. I don’t remember reading the single issues until much later….maybe 97 or 98…..but back in 92, Marvel UK had its “Exploits of Spider-Man” hit the stands with a mix of Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-man and Spectacular Spider-man reprints; as well as some Spidey Classics and in issue #6 in 1993 the inclusion of the 2099 tales.
Exploits only every ran for 40-odd issues ending in 95 and only later would I find out that Spider-Man 2099 would run to only 46 issues. In fact, this volume 1 TPB collecting the first 10-issues was only released a few years ago in 2009. Why it took this long??…Who knows?; because for me, it’s one of the few Spider-man arcs that can be picked up now and read as fresh as it did when it first came out. The main success in that is down to the writing of Peter David, strong characters that you can instantly relate to and even with that futuristic edge, it’s the in-built flaws of every character that make them more real.
This is unlike the usual Spider-Man titles with little more than a passing mention and few fanboy nods to link it to what has gone before. Our main character is Miguel O’Hara, scientific genius working on genetic experiments for Alchemax, one of the largest companies in 2099 which pretty much owns a bit of everything on the planet. Miguel decides to leave his current employer when his recent experiment goes wrong killing a volunteer “picked” from the local prison. A decision that doesn’t go down too well with the Boss, Tyler Stone and he spikes Miguel’s drink with the highly addictive ‘Rapture’ in an attempt to make him stay with the company that could help feed his new habit. Queue genetic experiment for Miguel to try and release the grip the addiction has on him and his company rival messes the whole thing up……well….blows the lab up by screwing around with the equipment.
From this, we get a transformed Miguel, proportionate spider strength, talons to help him cling to walls and the gradual development of web spinners – thankfully from his forearms and not his ass.
Miguel makes a hasty escape with help from a Thorite – a follower in Thor who believes that he will return to save them all from the sins the future has brought to the world (a theme that crops up through the 1st 10-issues and beyond). We’re now onto a chase as Alchemax want there hands on this new mystery figure that has crawled out of their very own experiments. A chase/origin that lasts the first 3-issues and eases us into the mix of new, futuristic ideas with a hint of the recognizable from the Amazing Spider-Man tales that have gone before.
We can’t go further without mentioning the art though, Rick Leonardi and issue #9 guest artist, Kelley Jones. Updating the costume for Spidey to one of the coolest I’ve seen to this day. Beyond the amazing costume work there’s the heights of the polished, futuristic New York with its steel sky-scrapers and it’s highways full of hover-cars through to the grubby underbelly of the city where the dregs of society scrape a living, away from the high-flying rich folks up top.
It’s here in downtown that we some of the most interesting parts of the Miguel/Spider-Man story with The Vulture making an appearance – only this time he’s the head of one of the many gangs involved in wars for turf and food. The Vulture and his gang, The Freakers, are also cannibals – so a turf war can get them some supplies too.
Panels combine to emphasize Spider-Man’s agility and the type of movements that have you tilting the book and asking “What the F£*%?” In fact, the fight scenes in this are pretty amazing too all the while maintaining a subtle heart to the story as Miguel gradually accepts becoming Spider-man and decides to make the most of things as they are until such time as he finds a way to rid him of his genetic changes and return him to normal (whatever that is?). Along the way Miguel has a run in with a Cyborg Bounty hunter hired by Alchemax to find him and within a few more issues we see him run in with a Ninja Assassin named The Specialist, again on the payroll of Alchemax – all adding to the high-paced feel of the action sequences. There’s also the added bonus of some fanboy nods – The Vulture as mentioned before, Thor mentioned in the form of a worshiped god, a 2099 version of Doom makes a brief one-page appearance and there’s evena glimpse of Aunt May in hologram form.
If there’s one complaint I have on this title…..it’s that there’s no plans to release any further volumes of the title in TPB format…..let alone an omnibus or hardback edition collecting the whole lot (which I would’ve preferred). Not a perfect title but then that somehow makes it more real…..at least for me….plus I still can’t get over how AMAZING that new costume is😀
Marvel actually ran a number of 2099 titles with the X-Men, The Punisher, Hulk and the Fantastic Four making a futuristic appearance – among some other well-known characters. Check the link for more info:
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