Spider-Man 2099 #1
May 6, 2013
Shock yeah, Spider-Man from the future!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Today, we're going to talk about...
(Text appears that is spoken by Linkara...)
Linkara: (echoing voice) THE FUTURE!!!! (normal voice) Specifically, this month, we're going to talk about a line from Marvel called "2099".
(Cut to a montage of "2099" comics)
Linkara (v/o): I admit, I can't seem to find much on why the universe was created, what the initial spark or idea was, but it was apparently developed by Stan Lee and John Bryne, possibly in connection to Spider-Man's thirtieth anniversary. That expanded into the idea of "Marvel 2093" to be exactly a hundred years in the future from the initial publishing, and then finally, "Marvel 2099".
Linkara: Because screw round numbers; 99 sounds better than 93.
Linkara (v/o): Much like last week's book, set in 2020, "Marvel 2099" was focused around a cyberpunk dystopian future run by evil corporations.
Linkara: (sarcastically) A crap-ton of technology running our lives with evil companies? Pfft, that'd never happen! Hang on, let me tweet about this on my iPad while simultaneously sending a text message on my smartphone about how EA sucks!
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, the characters were pretty much reimaginings of already-established Marvel heroes, like Hulk 2009, or today's comic: Spider-Man 2099. There were exceptions to this, of course, like, original characters made for X-Men 2099, Ravage 2099 (that we'll be looking at last), and, well, Doom 2099, but his deal we'll get into in two weeks. So what is it that eventually led to the downfall of 2099?
Linkara: Well, long story short, the speculator boom... went boom.
Linkara (v/o): As we've talked about before, Marvel experienced several financial difficulties in the mid-90s, eventually leading them to bankruptcy. As part of those financial difficulties, the group editor of the 2099 books - Joey Cavalieri - was fired as a cost-saving measure. In a show of solidarity, several of the writers on 2099 books quit in protest, rhus a whole lot of books that had very talented and popular creators on them no longer had that same kind of talent to keep things afloat. Sales declined, and eventually the print was cancelled, with occasional nods, cameos, or other such occurrences to the 2099 universe, being made as recently as 2009 as its legacy.
Linkara: But are the 2099 books worth the fan-love that they got? I don't know, we're just going to look at the first issues of the first 4 2099 series, and make snarky comments. With that, let's dig into "Spider-Man 2099 #1".
(AT4W theme song plays; title card has "1234" by Feist playing in the background; cut to a shot of the cover for this comic)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is a holofoil, which, of course, I like because shiny, but otherwise, nothing special, depicting Spider-Man 2099 getting shot at by guys on flying motorcycles. Although, the artwork leaves a little something to be desired. Spidey's ankles are thinner than his wrists, and the rest of his body has a pretty defined muscle structure. Not exactly the thin, waspy Spider-Man. And it's a problem that modern artists often have. We get it, exaggerated muscles and crap to make them look heroic. But if you can't make Spider-Man and Superman have different physiques, you need to turn in your pencils and go back to school! Anyway, we should probably talk about the costume, since that's pretty much all we have for the cover. I've got to admit that I really like it, but I couldn't tell you why, exactly. By all accounts, this should actually be an awful costume for someone calling himself Spider-Man. The blue and red color scheme is fine, the web cape is actually kind of clever, but the pattern does not evoke "spider"; it evokes "Punisher 2099", what with the big skull-shaped logo, which I think is actually supposed to be a spider looking down, but, again, on first look appears to be a skull. There's nothing that really screams out, "This is a futuristic version of Spider-Man," which might actually be why I like it; it tries to do its own thing instead of just being the normal Spider-Man outfit, but with techno crap on it or anything. (the comic opens to the first page) We open in New York City...
Text: In the year 2099.
Linkara: Pokemon: Cyberpunk Edition has gotten its (holds up four finger) fourth re-release!
Text: Many things have changed.
Linkara: The eighth Spider-Man movie reboot is now considered the best iteration of the character.
Linkara (v/o): A group of teens in a flying car are going through the air, and some of them are worrying that they're flying so high is a bad idea and they'll get caught.
Teen #1: We're not gonna get caught.
Linkara: (as teen) I mean, it's not like someone could just look out a window and report us. (beat) Actually, that's exactly what they could do. Why are we doing this?
Teen #2: HEY!! What the shock is THAT?!
Linkara: Ah, it's always fun when we try to predict future slang words.
(Cut to someone who looks like 90s Kid, but wearing a Cyclops-type eyepiece instead of his usual shades and a swirly-colored baseball cap)
90s Kid: Duuuuude! This comic is totally rodalicious! It totally sings, man! I–
Linkara: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Who the hell are you?
90s Kid: Who am I? Isn't it obvious? I'm the '90s Kid from 2099! The Plot Hole caused a temporal time thingy that caused me and him to switch places. (gives a thumbs-up) Everything should right itself in a few weeks.
Linkara: Well, while you're here, can you tell about the future?
2090s Kid: The future totally masks, man!
Linkara: (confused) Is that good? Is that bad?
2090s Kid: Oh, you know, the future is Kleenex, man! Totally Kleenex!
Linkara: I'm going to begin ignoring you now.
2090s Kid: (giving a thumbs-up again) Sewing machine!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, what is it that's gotten these teens using such vulgar language like "shock"? Why, it's Spider-Man 2099 swinging... er, falling through the air. He's being chased by guys on orange flying motorcycles.
Guy on flying motorcycle: HALT! As authorized representatives of the public eye, we're ordering you to halt!
Linkara: Well, seeing as he doesn't have a webline in this version, chances are he'll be coming to an abrupt halt in about ten seconds when he hits the ground.
Linkara (v/o): I mean it, I actually have no idea how Spidey is moving around like this. We see he has rather visible claws on the ends of his fingers that allow him to cling to buildings like his namesake, but I have no idea how he's propelling himself around. Wikipedia says he has organic web shooters on the back of his wrists that allow him to swing around like the original, but none of these shots show them. How does he shot web? His pursuers spot him going between two buildings and try to corner him, but he easily evades their gunfire and suddenly goes into freefall.
Guy on flying motorcycle: He's not killing himself, you idiot! Once he's dropped out of range, he'll break his fall with those webbed airfoils of his!
Linkara: Oh, yeah, I mean, that webbed caped thingy he has looks totally aerodynamic enough to do that.
(Cut to a shot of the panel from "Superman At Earth's End", showing a shot of...)
Hitler Clone: Of course. Don't you know anything about science?
(Cut back to the Spider-Man 2099 comic)
Linkara (v/o): One of the motorcycle cops goes below him to try to hit him with his laser, but Spidey just drops onto him, slashing his face and causing the motorcycle to stall. Spidey yells to the crowd below to get out of the way and then saves the pilot, tossing him aside and making another run for it. The other cops try to follow, but lose him in the crowd of people. We cut to Babylon Towers.
Linakra: This is the story of the last of the Babylon Towers.
Linkara (v/o): The caption also informs us that Babylon Towers are "a subsidiary of Alchemax".
Linkara: And also a division of Confused Co. Industries.
Linkara (v/o): Our hero has arrived at his home in the towers in civilian garb.
Offscreen voice: Good evening, Miguel. The time is 0133 hours. Outdoor temperature is 54 degrees. Air is partly breathable.
Linkara: "Partly breathable"? Ah, so that future predicted in The Airzone Solution came true.
Linkara (v/o): I can't wait for Miguel to have to wear his mask and then not have to wear his mask and then have to wear it again.
Offscreen voice: Forecast for the next two days is occasional cloudiness with a 50% chance of rain.
Miguel: Fifty percent. That means maybe it'll rain, maybe it won't.
Linkara: Wow, nothing gets past you, Miguel. Hey, I heard the temperature tomorrow is a high of 60 degrees and a low of 45 degrees. That means the other temperatures are gonna be between those! Shocking, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): Miguel's personal HAL, or whatever it is, turns out to be a hologram of a woman posing for a shampoo commercial for some reason.
Hologram woman: Your personal bio readings indicate accelerated heartbeat and pulse above the norm. You've been exerting yourself.
Linkara: In the future, no one's allowed to exert themselves or exercise. Miguel, you're ordered to report to the nearest fast food restaurant.
Linkara (v/o): A closer look at the hologram lady makes her look somewhat like Marilyn Monroe, but it's kind of hard to tell. The art style for the book is very similar to John Romita, Jr., especially in some of the faces, but the penciler here is actually a guy named Rick Leonardi. The hologram, named Lyla, says that Miguel has messages waiting for him, and we see the John Romita, Jr., influence in this dude's face: heavy inking, kind of squinty eyes in the closeup, but it doesn't really look bad, it's just kinda weird. Anyway, the hologram message is from a guy named Tyler Stone, who says to Miguel that he needs some kind of drug and that they can come to an arrangement. Miguel tells the hologram, who of course can't hear him because, you know, it's a recording, where he can stuff his drugs and moves on to the next message: a guy named Gabe, who wants Miguel not to be involved in some kind of corporate raiding program.
Linkara: (singing to the Spider-Man theme) Spider-Man, Spider-Man, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Can he swing from a thread? No, he can't, he's too busy performing corporate espionage. Does it rhyme? I don't care. This is the end of the joke now.
(Cut to a closeup of the carpeting on the floor. A Cybermat rolls across several times, making beeping noises as it does so, creating this message in the floor: "We'll Be Right Back", along with the AT4W logo appearing in the corner. We cut to a commercial. Upon return, the Cybermat rolls across the floor again, this time leaving the message, "And Now We're Back", with the AT4W logo appearing in the corner again; cut back to the Spider-Man 2099 comic)
Linkara (v/o): Next up is Miguel's fiancee, who looks like she has a black eye. Yeesh. The only thing worse than that is her hairdo. Half of it seems to be spiked upwards, and the other is in some kind of weird Princess Leia bun thing. Anyway, her name is Dana, and she wants to know what's happened to him, especially since the last time she saw him, he was strung out on drugs. Miguel, with his face in his hands, tells Lyla to dump all the messages, while Lyla continues to look she's dancing to music only she can hear.
Linkara: You know, Miguel, if your fiancee can tolerate your sexy female hologram that poses all the time, (leans in close; sotto voce) it's a sign that it was meant to be! Get her on the phone, dude!
Lyla: Miguel, your present behavior is not within normal programming parameters.
Linkara: (as Lyla) You only need to be mopey after one of your friends turns evil or a girlfriend dies. That's how the original Spider-Man dealt with things.
Lyla: You've diverted from your standard pattern of domestic arrival activities.
Linkara: (as Lyla) You haven't touched a World of Warcraft 2099 in days.
Lyla: You've made no entries in your personal journal for days.
Miguel: My journal? My journal, huh? All right, Lyla. Journal mode, then. Take this down.
Linkara: (as Miguel) I was born in a house my father built.
Linkara (v/o): We flashback to the good Miguel O'Hara as he works on a science project in... Good Lord, this perspective! It honestly took me a minute to orient this and realize that this thing is a console. The bird's-eye view makes it look either really close to the ground or lopsided. There are multiple levels to the place, but the colors, like the shaded pink of our hero and scientist guy [whose name is Aaron], coupled with the oranges and reds, kinda hurts to look at. Also, they're looking down at this reactor thing or whatever it is, but there are no safety railings.
Linkara: I guess, in the future, we cure people of tripping over things.
Linkara (v/o): Scientist guy [Aaron] is talking to Miguel, who's the project head of Project: Science or whatever this is.
Aaron: I don't care if you are one of the great hopes of Alchemax! I don't care if you were given the the full university treatment and brought in to head this genetics program and brought in to head this genetics program.
Linkara: (as Aaron) I don't care if I loudly provide exposition about you.
Linkara (v/o): Basically, Miguel is a loose cannon or something, and he needs to respect scientist guy or else he'll blab to the higher-ups about some of the crap they've done.
Miguel: Aaron, Aaron, Aaron... even you can't deny how well the work's been progressing.
Linkara: (as Miguel) Soon, we'll have chocolate-covered Sweet Tarts! Think of the possibilities, man!
Miguel: We've achieved terrific success at altering the genetic structure of test animals.
Linkara: (as Miguel) I've created squirrels with the power to breathe underwater! (looking up and shaking his fist) I'm fixing all of God's mistakes!
Linkara (v/o): Our hero, everybody, a mad scientist trying to create a master race of gophers.
Miguel: And I've even found some quality research material for inspiration.
Linkara: (as Miguel) Watching animals screwing on the Discovery Channel is very inspiring. (licks his teeth with his tongue)
Miguel: His name was Spider-Man. One of the premier boys from the good old Heroic Age, 'round the turn of the century. Proportionate strength of a spider.
Linkara: (as Miguel) Then he made a deal with Satan. Things get kind of hazy after that. Something about getting possessed by Dr. Octopus and nobody noticing.
Aaron: What do you mean "proportionate"?
Miguel: It means he didn't get a swelled head about it.
Linkara: (confused) Spiders' heads inflate when they use their strength? What?
Miguel: You want an ideal corporate raider? Imagine one that could scale walls, jump 50 feet. Strong, agile. That's the direction we're going.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, goody, our hero is not only playing God, but he's doing it because he wants to battle other corporations. Their boss, Tyler Stone, arrives to inform them that...
Tyler: Alchemax wants results.
Miguel: Alchemax can't want anything, Ty. It's a corporation, a legal "thing." Only humans can have human desires.
Linkara: (holding up hand) Whoa, now, Miguel! Let's try not to bring logical sense into this. We wouldn't want a comic book to make more sense than the real world, would we?
Tyler: Mike, if my father were alive today, you know what he'd say?
Miguel: "Help, help, get me out of this coffin?"
Tyler: He'd say caution is the first refuge of the coward.
Linkara: Which would explain why he's in the coffin to begin with.
Linkara (v/o): Stone is brought in a prisoner who has volunteered to undergo testing. Apparently, in the future, a possible punishment is to artificially age a person by a number of years, and this guy figures the only way his sentence can be commuted is to be experimented on.
Prisoner: Just...do the best job ya can for me, okay?
Linkara: (as Miguel) Well, okay, but I insist on giving you a big, fluffy tail, too.
Linkara (v/o): Miguel says they'll try something simple first, since tinkering with genetic structures is really damn dangerous and stuff.
Miguel: Like the design of the transformation chamber, Aaron? Got it off an old holo... "The Fly."
Linkara: My God! They're gonna turn him into Jeff Goldblum!
Linkara (v/o): When the process finishes, Miguel lifts up the transformation chamber... Oh, yeah, and by the way, you're drawing inspiration from a movie where things go horribly wrong. Good plan, Napoleon. And whaddaya know! He's become some kind of mutant monkey thing who tries to choke Miguel before collapsing into a puddle of goop.
Linkara: Oooookaaaay, (holds up a piece of paper) I'm gonna make a note here: (writes in paper) "Needs... work."
Linkara (v/o): Actually, I'm not too far off. Stone says that despite the puddle of goop, the guy broke his restraints without any problem, and this was actually positive progress. Miguel, naturally pissed off about what happened, tenders his resignation. Stone wants him to reconsider, stating that they raised both him and his father up... Oh, yeah, corporate-taught children, that's a great idea for you... and offers him some wine that quite naturally is laced with drugs. Pro tip: if your clearly evil boss offers you a drink before you leave, DON'T TAKE THE DRINK! Stone explains that the drug is highly addictive and is even legal for some stupid reason, and many employees already take it. In fact, just this small dose will get him addicted, and if he doesn't get the drug from now on, he'll die! As such, this is Stone's way to make him stay on board. Ah, nothing like completely unnecessary evil. Miguel stated that he didn't care if they continued his work without him; he wasn't going to destroy his notes or anything, it's just that he was quitting. He's brought back to his apartment, where Dana is exercising with the Lyla hologram.
Lyla: One two three four, come on, Dana, do some more...
Linkara: Sleepless long nights, that is what my youth was for.
Linkara (v/o): As Miguel stumbles in, he hallucinates and accidentally hits her, causing the bruise on her eye we saw earlier. He apologizes and explains what Tyler did. She says if Tyler's that much of a dick, he should still quit, and they can get the drug in the black market to keep him alive, but he obviously doesn't like that. As such, he instead breaks back into Alchemax and uses his super awesome hacking skills to erase the record that he did so. He goes back to the genetics modifier, hoping to use it to restore himself. It seems the drug bonds itself to his genetic code... I'm not sure how the hell that works, but whatever... and since he has been using his own DNA for testing with the transformation machine, he hopes he can reformat his own genetics back to the way they were before the drug. It's a risk, certainly, but it's actually kind of a clever plan. His own DNA is probably less likely to turn himself into a puddle of goop than something that's pretty alien to him like an animal would. Unfortunately, where things go wrong is that the scientist guy from before, Aaron, is still pissed off about Miguel's arrogance and decides to screw around with it to kill him and take over the project. Unfortunately, his tampering with the controls instead inserts the spider genetic template into it, right into the middle of things, and causes an overload, blowing up the test chamber, but Miguel is otherwise unharmed. Aaron tries to pretend that Miguel did this to himself and yells at him, but our comic ends with the revelation that Miguel has fangs, claws, and worst of all, YOUNGBLOOD'S DISEASE!! (a dramatic sting is heard)
Linkara: (angrily holding up comic) This comic... (abruptly calms down) is not all that bad.
Linkara (v/o): Its primary flaws are in the art department: kinda sketchy figures, and the color leaves a lot to be desired. It does have story problems, but mostly in that it's too short. This is only part of the origin story. We now see where he got his powers from, but we haven't seen where he got his costume from or set up the storytelling engine about the character. In later issues, it's pretty much explained that his costume, made from unstable molecules, because that's a thing in the Marvel universe, was the result of a purchase he made during the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico. The web cape came from a glider he intercepted after escaping from the Alchemax facility. We also establish a bit more about the 2099 universe, including a cult that worships Thor and saw Spider-Man's return as a harbinger of Thor's own return. There are cyborgs running around, and flying cars, and we see just how many people get screwed over by large corporations. I know, what a shock. And we flesh out the supporting cast, including Miguel's brother Gabe. The first three issues pretty much cover the origin itself, which makes me wished they had condensed it into the first issue, possibly in a 48-page comic instead of 22, but hey, the nature of the medium these days is decompressed storytelling.
Linkara: Otherwise, none of this is bad, and I actually recommend checking it out if you ever get the chance. Next week, we continue "2099 Month" with... punishment! A lot of punishment for me.
(Stinger: The cover of "Spider-Man 2099" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): (singing to the "Spider-Man" theme) Spider-Man, Spider-Man, alters his genetic structure to be like Spider-Man. Addicted to drugs, he's our guy. Got inspiration from The Fly. Look out, here comes the Spider-Man!