Spider-Man 2099 / Peter David, Will Sliney, and Antonio Fabela
I remember when Marvel launched the 2099 imprint back in the early 90s. I was in middle school and high during that period, and it was among the many things that at that time seemed a lot cooler then than they’ve turned out to be. I will easily admit to a bias here, but aside from Spider-Man 2099, there wasn’t much of that imprint that held my attention for very long. Even the X-Men title didn’t make much of an impression—and I was much more into X-Men at the time than I was into Spider-Man.
But Spidey 2099—that was a cool title. He was just different enough from the Spider-Man I knew and liked to seem distinct, but a lot of the same feel was still there, no doubt propelled by Peter David’s dark creative vision and deft writing as well as Rick Leonardi’s dynamic, kinetic artwork. By the time I left comics behind for a while in college, I remembered that title alone from the 2099 lineup.
Fast forward to 2013. Superior Spider-Man is tearing up sales and doing all kinds of fun stuff I’d not expected from a Spidey title. And around issue #17 or 18, guess who shows up for a special story arc involving time travel?
I just about hit the ceiling, I jumped so high for joy.
When the arc concluded, I, and I’m sure many other fans, rabidly speculated, wished, and did what we could to will this series into existence. The time was right. Miguel was now stuck in “our” present, and Alchemax was starting to form. History was in the making, so Spider-Man 2099 should naturally get a title to expand on that, right?
A few months later, not only was this title announced, but Peter David was named as the writer. I couldn’t have been happier.
So, was it worth the wait? Well, as with all first issues, it’s impossible to predict the future, but I will say that this second volume of Spider-Man 2099 is off to a promising start, picking up the pieces that were left behind in Superior Spider-Man.
Miguel, who is now stranded in the present due to the actions of Tyler Stone, the villainous head of Alchemax in 2099, is doing more than simply carving out a life for himself—he’s trying to rewrite history for the better by working from inside Alchemax at its inception. Employed as an assistant to his paternal grandfather, Tiberius Stone, Miguel is soon confronted very abruptly by the Adjustor, an apparent time cop of some sort sent to eliminate him. It turns out the things Miguel does here lead to some undesirable consequences in the future, so now Miguel needs to deal with the Adjustor in addition to figuring out how to influence Alchemax for the better.
I will admit to having a soft spot for Peter David, as I’ve enjoyed his writing in many forms since I was a teenager. As the creator of Spider-Man 2099, his presence on this title just makes me giddy. With that said, I have to say I like the premise he’s put up for this first issue. The time cop bit has the big danger of falling into cliché, but I trust David enough to be willing to give this time and see where it goes. He definitely captures a lot of good character moments, and also manages to inject humor into the action.
I also like his handling of Liz Allan in this issue. She’s been around in the Spider-Man mythos for a long time, but she’s been utilized far less than most of the other characters who have been around as long. She’s just enough of a blank slate that I can see her doing just about anything, and I think getting the opportunity to see her as a fully realized character and possible primary actor in this series holds exciting potential.
The artwork, while well drawn by Will Sliney and lushly colored by Antonio Fabela, suffers from not being penciled by Rick Leonardi for me here. I admit another bias here, but its easy to notice. Things look accurate, and realistic, and well depicted, and it all serves the story in a positive way, no doubt at all. But where Leonardi’s art—and Stegman’s art in Superior—was dynamic and perhaps a touch less realistic, it was alive in a way that I can’t help but miss here. Again, that’s not to say Sliney’s art is bad in any way; it’s not—in fact, it’s pretty gorgeous, in places—but I just found myself missing snap, crackle and pop of the action scenes from the older comic.
Again, I admit a bias. I’ll grow out of it with time.
So yes, I would call this a promising start to an intriguing title. To say it’s a necessity to Spider-fans would be stating the obvious, but I think it holds its own enough to appeal to those with a broader spectrum of interests in their superhero comics. Time will ultimately tell how things play out, but between the premise, the execution, and the excellent artwork, I think this new Spider-Man 2099 is definitely worth a go.