(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Peter David
Artwork by Will Sliney
Color Artwork by Antonio Fabela
Peter David is without a doubt one of the most prolific and talented writers in comic books today. Certainly a fan favorite; his work in prose novels and comic books is equally revered among science fiction as well as super hero enthusiasts. One of David’s defining qualities is his tendency toward extensive, extremely well thought out runs designed around thoroughly detailed characters; his work on X-Factor stands out as one of the longest, uninterrupted and utterly engrossing runs in comic book history, of course that is in my humble opinion but, I’m sure my sentiments are echoed among the multitude of Marvelites. David has also come to be known for returning to a title or character that he feels an affinity for, each time bringing something new and intriguing to his previous work, again such as X-Factor, which he has currently returned to once more in the All New Marvel Now series, likewise he has also done recurring stints on both Hulk and She-Hulk to critical and fan acclaim. It is in that tradition that David has returned to the world of the future, 2099 to be precise and to his character Miguel O’Hara in Spider-Man 2099.
This time around O’Hara is the proverbial fish out of water, or time as is the case here; he finds himself stranded in 2014 after his involvement with Superior Spider-Man in Dan Slott’s ground-breaking run. Gone are the trappings of 2099 and in their place Miguel finds himself faced with the problems of a slower moving, less tech savvy world. However, these complications are dwarfed by the sinister machinations and down-right slimy dealings of Tiberius Stone who just happens to be Miguel’s grandfather. Miguel gains employment at Alchemax, the company that is destined to become the bane of O’Hara’s own time. David’s narrative begins at this point and picks up steam immediately. The action is rapid fire and peppered with the kind of witty dialog that David’s readers are accustomed to. Miguel is pursued almost from page one by a time traveling adjustor from an agency called T.O.T.E.M. in the year 2211. The agent’s primary mission is to eliminate any mistakes that have arisen due to temporal oversights, which in this case means the painless elimination of Spider-Man 2099. However during the altercation an interesting alternative presents itself involving Liz Allan, a not-so friendly acquaintance of Miguel’s.
One of David’s seemingly limitless abilities is his penchant for writing effective and entertaining dialog; he masterfully introduces us into this group of characters and within scant pages we are invested in their lives. His skillful approach to characterization and character interaction are what makes his stories come to life, it’s in the minutiae and the idiosyncratic subtleties. These are the details that make all the difference between a good character and a great one.
This first issue brings all of the tropes of an entertaining Spider-Man story to center stage, all the humor, the biting sarcastic wit and the run-away train excitement however it’s not Peter Parker or Doc Ock or even Scarlet Spider providing the hundred mile an hour thrill ride, its Miguel O’Hara returning from the 90’s via 2099 to 2014, hey it’s no more complicated than Marvel’s actual timeline, and it works so well with Peter David at the helm, perhaps I should say it works precisely because David is at the helm. Either way, this inaugural issue is a blast with amazingly endearing character dynamics and some serious treats for the eyes courtesy of Will Sliney’s stunning artwork.
Sliney does a phenomenal job capturing the athleticism of Spider-Man, the ultra-flexibility that adds so much to the dramatic poses is here, so is the break-neck pacing that is due equally to Sliney’s imaginative panel placement as to David’s high speed narrative. This guy is a perfect Spider-Man artist; he brings all the impossible contortions and high flying thrill-a-second page compositions that any true believer would appreciate while maintaining that kind of insectoid fluidity that is singular to Spider-Man 2099. Antonio Fabela’s palette brings a gleaming vivaciousness to Sliney’s images that enhance the dynamism ten-fold. This book is as visually captivating as it is entertaining to read.
Overall Spider-Man 2099 #1 is an unmitigated success; David and company come out with guns blazing to deliver a top-notch super hero comic book full of action, excitement, humor and heart. The chemistry between Miguel and Liz Allan is classic; it’s the kind of complex love/hate dynamic that fueled Moonlighting in the 80’s and countless other tense, reluctantly romantic relationships throughout the ages. If you are a fan of the original run of 2099 titles particularly Spidey 2099, you need to be reading this, heck if you are a Spidey fan in general I believe this one should find its way onto your pull list. Well True Believers, until next time, Excelsior! (4/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.