As of a few months ago, I decided I wanted to get back into comics. This may or may not have been directly influenced by successfully turning a B&N Nook Color into an epic full color comic reader. More on that later.
Part of what makes comics difficult to follow is the sheer volume of options and issues that stories are spread across. Unsure of what to read or what superhero arc to pick up on, I thought back to the two issues of Spiderman 2099 I owned as a kid. I was always a big fan of the original Spiderman (lots and lots of those lying around in a basement somewhere), but for some reason, I had the first issue of Spiderman 2099 and the 41st issue. Turns out the series did not run too much longer than the 41st, finishing with 46 regular issues, two annual specials, and one cross-over with the friendly neighborhood Spiderman we all know and love — a relatively limited series to ease my way back in. Also, the 2099 version of Spiderman seems to be seeing a resurgence in popularity primarily due to his being featured prominently in all of the newer Spiderman video games, and not just as a bonus costume.
In the 1990s, Marvel had this habit of doing grand-scale things that nobody ended up liking a whole lot. A prominent example is the Spiderman clone saga. I think the 2099 series was one of those things. The 2099 series followed different iterations of superheros in the year 2099. Some titles included Doom 2099, Ravage 2099, Punisher 2099, X-Men 2099; you get the idea.
But while the overall concept wasn’t too much of a success, Spiderman 2099 stuck out as a fresh take on an old Spiderman. The setting is a dystopian cyber-punk future where corporate empires run everything and something in the past has wiped out the entire population of superheroes. When Miguel O’Hara, a geneticist at Alchemax, tries to recreate superpowers sabotage and accidents lead to his genetic code being infused with spider genes. From there on out, Miguel not only fights crime and super-villains (such as 2099 revisions of familiar foes, such as the Vulture and Venom), but becomes the champion and hope-bringer of the underclass that is downtrodden by society. The series had many upsides and a number of downsides, but was generally fresh, entertaining, and worth the read. If you have to read any 2099 series, make it Spiderman.
- Fresh character; personality is remarkably different than Peter Parker. He’s a little bit edgier and actually kills when pushed to it.
- Character development is well-paced and doesn’t seem contrived; Miguel is a selfish corporate scientist who goes on to fight for the opposite side in class warfare. The drastic shift is well characterized.
- Various degrees of classic dystopian science fiction theme intelligently infused into the series.
- Likable supporting cast, including Miguel’s younger brother.
- Well-paced story arcs throughout the series run.
- Post-feature featurettes such as “Young Miguel” help to provide back story on various characters without bludgeoning the reader with exposition within the actual issues. Also utilized effectively as a foreshadowing tool.
- Possibly the coolest Spiderman costume since the black and white one.
- Series ended far too quickly and in a rushed manner. It was a tough period for Marvel and comics in general, with various firings and financial troubles, and the 2099 series suffered at large for it.
- There were some tie-ins, but there could have been more tie-ins with past Marvel events. Part of writing the future is seeing how the events of the present affect those futures.
- More super-villains — there was a distinct lack of them throughout the series.
- The virtual reality elements were somewhat cheesy, but that may have been done with campy intentions.