While I was twelve years old I found Spider-Man.
Now you need to understand, this is a big deal. This is the time of Superman dying, Batman getting broken, Jim Lee drawing X-men before going on to help found Image Comics. It was a odd time in the industry and yet it was then that I finally found Spider-Man
His name was Miguel O’Hara and it was the year 2099.
Spider-Man 2099 looked awesome. Rick Leonardi had developed a flow of round shapes mixed with the straight lines evoking a natural future with a cyberpunk style of its very own. Al Williamson earned his three back to back Harvey Awards in Inking in 1993-1995. Note about the Harvey Award for inking; it was first introduced in 1993 and the competition included Jim Lee’s frequent partner Scott Williams, Mark Silvestri who inked his own work and was a founder of Image Comics, and Kevin Nowlan who was working on the soon to be very hot Sword of Azreal.
Spider-Man’s costume looked nothing like Spider-Man. It was dark, with red lines that looked like a symbol of death. Mix in the glider material to give a short ‘web-cape’ topped off the edgy look of Miguel. It was the perfect mix of Peter Parker’s Venom/Black Suit and Classic costume. From the glossy red cover of the book with Spider-Man in mid leap reader would never confuse Miguel with Peter.
Peter David was at the high of his twelve year run on the Incredible Hulk and his work on Spider-Man 2099 was some of the best storytelling he made in the 1990’s. His ability to propose a unique cyberpunk future with mixed races, social classes and corporate power was easy to take in and never bombarded with exposition as done with lots of other sci-fi comic books. Miguel O’Hera power’s and transformation was brilliant, only overshadowed by the self discovery of his powers, limits, and definition of what a hero was to be. Miguel very quickly grew into a fully developed character that had reason attached to his actions, whose motivations was clear and made sense to the reader.
These creators, David, Leonardi and Williamson crafted the standard for this new setting. All the other 2099 books were trying to be their own character and setting, creating distance to establish their own book, but Spider-Man 2099 was what everyone had to emulate because it was so ahead of the pack.
Spider-Man 2099 would go through the motions of running into future versions of pervious Spider-Man villains while running into some originals. Vulture 2099 was an excellent example of how to break the preconceptions of versions of villains. The poor section of the city was explored and Spider-Man was hunted by a cannibalistic hunter who prayed on the fallen and lower class in the future.
Marvel 2099 tried to do a lot. It succeeded more in Spider-Man 2099 then it with any other series. Punisher 2099 had some neat twists but fell into the 90’s violent anti-hero mould, Doom 2099 had so potential and was only tapped sometimes, and Ghost Rider 2099 is my favourite version of the character but never had a chance. All issues due to Marvel shutting down the 2099 line with little warning in 1996 after the firing of 2099 editor Joey Cavalieri and the resulting quitting of the creators as a negative reaction.
The end of 1990’s is a bad time for comics. The bubble is getting ready to pop, Anime is starting to no longer influence but replace stories and sales are slowing due to a demand of higher quality from the audience.
Spider-Man 2099 would return in another form later in a run with dimension traveling team, the Exiles and in a pair of par video games published by Activision. None of these returns would be equal to the height of Peter David’s work with the character. In some cases the material was poorly treated and ignored some of the standards set by David.
If you get the chance, find the first twenty five issues and give the series a read.
Where else will you find a half-Irish, half-Mexican, genetics expert transformed into the image of a super hero?