SPIDER-MAN 2099 #1
Written by Peter David
Art by Will Sliney
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: July 9, 2014
Out of all the major Marvel characters, Spider-Man has always seemed to be the one least likely to spawn a direct spin-off, mainly because of the secretive nature of Peter Parker’s power-set. Having said that, recent years have shown many new Spider-characters, characters like Flash Thompson as Agent Venom, Kaine as the Scarlet Spider, Otto’s brief tenure as the Superior Spider-Man, and Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe. The past few years have resulted in numerous new ways to approach the Spider-Man identity, some of them being more successful to different reader markets than others based of the identity of the man behind the mask.
Enter Spider-Man 2099, a restart for a comic that first appeared in 1992 thanks to writers Peter David and Rick Leonardi. The titular hero of the series was Miguel O’Hara, a character with no direct relationship to the original Spider-Man but who none-the-less still managed to receive spider-powers thanks to a laboratory experiment. While O’Hara, and the Spider-Man 2099 costume, has appeared in different media and comic outlets over the last few years, the biggest re-vamp of the 2099 line of comics came when the O’Hara character became involved in Dan Slott’s run of the Superior Spider-Man comic. O’Hara became ensnared in time-travel shenanigans revolving around the fact that he was required to investigate events relating to his future (mainly the villainous Alchemax organization) while then realizing he could not return to his own time.
Spider-Man 2099 #1 plays off the events of Superior Spider-Man in ways that both help and hinder the comic that returning writer Peter David seeks to create. In an attempt to save space (or, to not confuse new readers) a single page spread exists to fill in the history of Spider-Man 2099: he received his powers in X fashion, he is from X time, his relatives are X, and he is in the present because X. It is always a risk with ‘show, don’t tell’ because, well, sometimes telling is all you can actually do. Having said that, the aforementioned backstory page illustrates a problem with the comic over-all – too much talking and not enough action to advance the plot.
Perhaps the best illustration of this comes when the villain, a Terminator-themed time traveling assassin (okay, so, with time-travel as a plot point I am sure avoiding Terminator is almost impossible), has a rather engaging back and forth with a pair of security guards. There is even a small plot point about one of the guards and his connection to the future. I am sure this was meant to imply that the villain, an agent of T.O.T.E.M (Temporal Oversight Team Eliminating Mistakes), has access to knowledge of the future. It simply comes off as unnecessary. In another panel the T.O.T.E.M agent and O’Hara have a conversation regarding a tuxedo, however this is not banter exchanged between exchanges of fire … they just kind of … talk. Liz Allan is brought into the comic and, again, conversations start. Yes, the conversations have a point they need to reach to move the plot along, but the points seems like they could have been reached in vastly easier ways.
Same with a plot point regarding a character from pre-Issue #1 content, Tempest. Will she be important to the comic’s future? Will comments made by the T.O.T.E.M agent about Liz Allan be important? Yes, obviously. As a new reader, however, the lines seem out of place and the needless explanations for things that don’t need to be explained, when paired with the lengthy dialogue regarding things that do need to be explained, add up.
Further complicating the plot is the fact that O’Hara is left with only two moments to really distinguish his character outside of the suit. Sadly, only one of these has any real insight into his character and it is cut short by the arrival of the villain. This scene also prompts a joke which I believe was intentionally mirrored from the Simpsons when Mr. Burns refused to let Smithers into his company escape pod because he wanted to kick his feet up. This is actually one of the best moments in the comic, not a criticism. The more cartoonish-ly evil Tiberius Stone is made, the better. After his plan to sell weapons to a dictatorship because of the money and his disregard for O’Hara’s life, all he needs is a mustache to twirl deviously and a white cat to stroke during meetings.
Outside of the writing, which I only think suffers because of a desire to quickly set-up O’Hara and show how his presence in the ‘present’ impacts the future, the art and character designs are spectacular. Will Sliney creates richly detailed characters in O’Hara, the T.O.T.E.M agent, and even Lyla, the backstory page’s A.I. character. Clothing especially has special attention to detail paid to it and it helps the comic drastically. The star of the comic is, naturally, the Spider-Man 2099 suit itself.
Sliney’s art shines through every flip, every punch, and every display of combat. Spider-Man, every incarnation, has seemed to rely on a particular series of iconic moves and poses in combat which Sliney hits out of the park. The4 nimble agility and the powerful impact of O’Hara’s punches are felt in every panel that depicts combat sequences. Even the T.O.T.E.M agent should be praised for his intimidating cyber-suit and blast designs. While his first entrance into the comic might cause Terminator flash-backs, the art design behind showing an 18-wheeler crashing into an un-moving, time-traveling death machine is spot-on awesome.
Antonio Fabela brings his coloring A-game to the comic with his deft use of the necessary palette to set the tone of this comic. While O’Hara had previously been colored in the bright and vibrant stylings that defined the look of Superior Spider-Man, Fabela’s coloring style for David’s comic showcase a more urban, modern feel. The pairing of Sliney and Fabela together create a very realistic feel that I think will help cement of the tone of the story which David is telling, that being a man trapped in the present and longing for a future he may never see again.
Outside of pacing criticism, Spider-Man 2099 does what a first issue should do in that it introduces the main character, gets backstory out of the way, establishes threads for future plots, and showcases dynamite art while doing so. The execution of the plot takes a hit from the odd banter moments and the limited Miguel O’Hara time, however the future is bright for this series as one of its premier writers and a great art/colorist team take on the challenge of giving us another Spider-Man to cheer for.
The Verdict: 7.0/10