Peter Parker wasn’t my first Spider-Man.
He’s one of my favorite characters, don’t get me wrong, but Peter Parker’s origin story was collective knowledge, it wasn’t new. It was picked over turkey with all the baggage of a holiday meal. I knew going in that 2099 would be different, but I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I was twelve, eating lots of Brooklyn pizza, and guzzling Arizona iced tea at a rate surely to put me on the diabetes fast-track (thankfully, it did not), and not really thinking about much else except how shiny the foil cover looked. A Foil #1! Look! It still makes me feel special today!
Miguel was something new, and I didn’t know how much crossover to expect. Still part of me was a little surprised that the Spider-Man of 2099 had nothing in common with Peter Parker. Not a grandchild, not a clone, not a drop of blood, nothing. Marvel didn’t drop a time-displaced Peter Parker into the future, that would have been too easy.
Far from mild-mannered, Miguel O’Hara is a brilliant corporate science exec at Alchemax. He lives in a 80’s Wall-Street Sleaze bachelor penthouse. His AI assistant, Lyla, is basically Marilyn Monroe. Gabriel, his own brother, thinks he sold his soul to be a corporate raider in a New York City (Not yet Nueva York in issue #1, oddly).
Spider-Man 2099 issues 1-3 introduces us to the most popular 2099 character of all: Miguel O’Hara and his incredible suit, which is a really funny lampshade on the age old question: how do rookie super-heroes sew spandex without cosplayer friends? In Miguel’s case, he bought an extra durable costume for a Día de Muertos festival and had it custom tailored out of “unstable molecules”.
Reminder: I’m not a huge comic book guy. I realize that by reading all of Marvel 2099 and blogging about the whole thing means nobody will ever believe me. I also acknowledge that this blog will ensure I am forever remembered as a huge comic book guy. So when I say this: (ahem) “Peter David is the writer credited with creating Spider-Man 2099 who would go on to write issues 1-44 (of the 46) of the title, and who would then go on to return to the character in 2015 during a storyline that featured Miguel stranded in 2015 New York with Peter Parker due to events from the “Secret Wars” storyline”, I want you to believe that I have zero clue what any of that means. Like nada. I’m not really a comic book guy, I just had a weird obsession with 2099. Nobody believes me, but it’s true.
What I do know is this: Chris Miller and Phil Lord dropped the trailer for “Across the Spider-Verse” while I was engaged in a frustrating eBay bidding war over Spider-Man 2099’s rarest back issues and drove the price through the roof.
But the focus here is on Issue 1, where we meet Miguel as Spider-Man 2099 swooping into frame at the literal shock of hover-car drivers.
At Alchemax, Miguel oversees a DNA-infusion process, to I guess make Super-Soldiers because, in the future, the super-soldier creation game is privatized. In a scene reminiscent of the Fly, Miguel’s co-worker Aaron botches a human test trial resulting in a gruesome death.
Showing some moral fortitude, Miguel directly tells the CEO of Alchemax, Tiger Stone, that he quits. Tyler takes it well, and offers Miguel a better deal and a drink. Miguel rejects the deal, but accepts the drink. They toast to an animosity-free exit from Alchemax.
Ha. Yeah. That’s not how capitalism works, teens of 1992!
Tyler stone laced Miguel’s drink with an Alechemax-produced drug called “Rapture”. It is highly-addictive and causes severe withdrawals. The only antidote to Rapture addiction is “more Rapture”. Naturally, Miguel freaks out. He’s got a fiancée, a brother, and a Marilyn Monroe AI to consider. A Rapture addiction will drain his life and his bank account. Or, you know, he could reconsider his cushy job with Alchemax and have access to the best Rapture America produces.
Left to ponder these thoughts, and probably trip fiercely in a neon-soaked future, Miguel comes to a decision. Later that night, he sneaks back into the lab. His goal: use the fatal tech to infuse a possible cure directly into his DNA to stick it to Tyler Stone. However, Aaron’s lurking around and finds Miguel testing on himself. Still stinging from Miguel’s rebukes over the earlier fatal tests, Aaron deliberately messes with the machine’s settings. Instead of a cure for Rapture, Miguel is appropriately weird-science-d into Spider-Manhood and looking sufficiently creepy with glowing eyes and vampire fangs. What kind of Spider-Man is this?
The end of the first issue is a full-page depicting Miguel like a monster.
Overall, it’s a really great issue. Read it over a couple of times to just take in moments of the art and let the nostalgia pull me baaaaaack.
Since I’m supposed to rate things (I think, I’m not really sure about all the rules), and I’m all out of ideas. I’m going to award Spider-Man 2099 #1 5 organic-wrist-web-spinner out of 5 just for the foil-cover alone.
Matt’s Favorite Panel
Peter David says he was inspired by sci-fi body horror like “the Fly” (and even name drops it in the pages).
Miguel burns his middle-manager.
WORLDBUILDING / EASTER EGGS
- Fun world building note: apparently Stark Industries merged with another entity in the 2000s and is now called Stark-Fujikawa.
- Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker) depicted on a screen.
- Church of Thor is a thing…