Glow-In-The-Dark, Holofoil, Chromium and Die-Cut – Comics In The Nineties Weren’t All Bad – Spider-Man 2099

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Sman2099The nineties get a lot of flack nowadays from comic fans, and some of it is very well deserved. Many things happened in the nineties that made it a very dark decade for the comic industry, many things we would like to forget happened at all, and some things we just can’t seem to let go of. And pouches, so very many pouches.

For as many reasons as there are to speak in hushed tones when referring to comics in that rather fateful decade, there are many more reasons to shout at the sky in praise. Each Tuesday I discuss the many things that made that decade truly a great time to be a fan. This week, I bring you another reason the nineties weren’t all bad.

Spider-Man 2099.

The Marvel 2099 universe was an interesting experiment, for sure. The proposed official future of the Marvel Universe, the 2099 ‘verse depicted a dystopian America run by corrupt mega-corporations, so, you know, pretty much where we’re headed. Such a happy line of comics was bound to be a hit, right?

Sman2099-2By the time this imprint was created in 1992, Marvel was fairly familiar with divergent timelines, alternate futures, and what if… explorations into their various characters and teams, so this wasn’t anything all that new to comic fans in general. Hell, even when Marvel finally nabbed Neil Gaiman to write for them, he wrote 1602, a series exploring what it would have been like had their heroes existed in, you guessed it, the year 1602. Marvel still crafts these kinds of stories to this day, or revisits old possible future storylines such as the Age of Apocalypse. All of this to say that when the 2099 universe premiered, it was already old hat.

Fortunately for Marvel, the readers apparently love retreads, and the line was somewhat of a hit, spawning 10 different series’ by the time of the line’s demise just six years later in 1998. Most of the titles were truly forgettable, and can be found in many a comic shop’s quarter bins. Doom 2099, Punisher 2099, and Spider-Man 2099 were the launch titles, being followed in the coming years by the Stan Lee written Ravage 2099, 2099 Unlimited, Fantastic Four 2099, Ghost Rider 2099, Hulk 2099, X-Men 2099, and X-Nation 2099. Of all of these titles, only Spider-Man 2099 is looked back upon fondly by most fans.

Featuring the exploits of Miguel O’Hara, a brilliant geneticist trying to recreate the powers of the original Spider-Man, he has an accident that rewrites half of his DNA with that of a spider, and himself becomes the new Spider-Man. A rebellious prodigy who lives with his mother Conchata, younger brother Gabriel, and abusive father George O’Hara, Miguel is a teenager when he is enrolled into the Alchemax School for Gifted Youngsters (Hmm… that name sounds familiar).

Sman2099-13While there his genetic experiments inspired by records of the original Spider-Man’s exploits cause the death of his first human test subject, and Miguel tells Tyler Stone, the Vice President of Alchemax R&D that he’s quitting the school AND his research. Stone can’t let that happen, and he gets Miguel hooked on the highly addictive drug Rapture, a drug that only Alchemax produces. This drug genetically bonds to the user, and while attempting to rewrite his biology and free himself of the drug, Miguel uses the company’s gene altering machines on himself. When a jealous co-worker sabotages the machines, causing Miguel’s DNA to be rewritten with 50% spider DNA, giving him his powers. Stone sends men to hunt Miguel down for experimentation, so he dons a costume he wore to the Dia de los Muertos celebration to hide his identity (Man, I didn’t realize back in the day how dark this series was).

Realizing how bad the world has become, Miguel decides to use his powers for good; backed up by his holographic aid Lyla, ex-girlfriend Xina, and the Net Prophet, fighting for the oppressed against the mega-corporations whose greed has destroyed the world. Spider-Man is back, baby!

Created by artist Rick Leonardi, with Peter David brought in to write and flesh out the character and supporting characters, Spider-Man 2099 #1 is the highest selling book written by Peter David, and the series was continuously selling over 100,000 copies month after month. Marvel had a hit on their hands, and lasted 46 issues, all but the last two written by Peter David, who left in solidarity with an editor who was fired with issue #44. The whole 2099 line was officially cancelled in 1998, with the one-shot 2099: Manifest Destiny.

Sman2099variantSince cancellation, Miguel has still popped up around the Marvel Universe. With appearances in Exiles #75-99 and Superior Spider-Man, amongst others.  Peter David has a tendency to bring characters with him to new books, and this version of Spider-Man has cameos in the David written Captain Marvel, and a new David written Spider-Man 2099 series begun just last month with Miguel stranded in the present due to events in Superior Spider-Man’s Necessary Evil storyline. The character has also appeared as an unlockable character in numerous videogames, including Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and Lego Marvel Super Heroes, as well as having two action figures and a HeroClix mini figure. Suck on that, Ravage 2099!

Miles Morales was all over the news when announced as the new Ultimate Spider-Man, but Miguel O’Hara was the first Latin-American Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2099 started out rather dark, but as it went along it became quite fun, especially to see futuristic takes on classic Spidey villains. And that costume? Fuggeddaboutit. Probably almost as iconic as the original Spidey costume, or at least the black costume. The only 2099 property to live on past cancellation (Because unlike the others, Spider-Man 2099 didn’t pretty much suck), Miguel O’Hara still resonates with the fans, and is one more reason it was pretty awesome being a comic fan in the nineties.

Next week I’ll bring you another.


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