The Spider-Man of 2099 is trapped in the past, on a mission to take down an evil corporation from the inside. The wrong decision could not only change the future, it could even eliminate his existence, Marty McFly-style. He doesn’t even know about the killer who is targeting Spider-Men throughout the Spider-Verse. So what is the big priority in Miguel O’Hara’s life? Chicks, duh. Spider-Man 2099 #2 follows up an action-packed first issue with a story that can be interpreted as fascinating character work, or cheesy soap opera.
Issue #1 indicated that Miguel’s supporting cast, especially the women, would be an important part of this series. But few could have predicted an entire issue devoted to these relationships so early in the series. We see so little of Miggy in costume (14 panels on 4 pages); you’d think Peter David and Will Sliney were trying to set some kind of record. In fact, the action scene in costume is the most forced part of this story. Do we need to have Miguel waiting in line at a bank at the very moment of a robbery? Between his wristwatch assistant and Alchemax direct deposit, the only reason Miguel would need to go to a bank, is because he’s fascinated with 2014 culture. It also seems unnecessary to have Miggy complaining about trouble following him wherever he goes. His time in 2014 has already involved battles with a goblin army, Spider-Slayers and an unethical time cop. But this common bank heist is the thing that gets on his nerves? Unless this is going to be a motif of the series, I’d expect Miguel to be more confused with the world around him, instead of annoyed.
There’s one other instance of high-stakes, superhero-esque action, but it ends up being a Walter Mitty moment. The gag actually brought a much needed moment of levity to the scene and could be effective if it becomes a recurring bit.
We’re still learning what kind of person and what kind Spider-Man Miguel O’Hara is, and frankly, so far, he’s kind of a jerk. It’s not just the complaining at the beginning of the issue. Miggy is sort of rude to women in general. Sure, he’s being kind to Tempest, but he’s also seeking acknowledgment for his act of kindness. And this is also the second time in two issues that he’s at least entertained the idea of killing Liz Allan.
I think it’s going to be hard to judge the effectiveness of this issue’s character work, until we see what the creators do with it. We learn more about Miguel’s potential civilian love interest. His super, Tempest, is a tomboy with some daddy issues and absolutely no reason to live. But, her thick, defensive shell is already starting to soften around Miguel. Is he going to have to save her from her predicament to win her over? It sounds like a plot from a Nicholas Sparks novel.
The most fascinating relationship in this series seems to be Miguel’s connection with Liz Allan, and it’s even more complicated after the events of issue #2. Liz is now completely up to speed with Miguel’s mission and intentions. That makes their big lip-lock even more surprising (by the way, there’s been more tonguing in the last two months of Spider-titles, than in the entire Gwen Stacy era). Didn’t Liz think Miguel was the one true Spider-Man just a few moments before, aka the person who is always there during the most stressful moments of her life? But now she wants to hook up? I’m convinced this is some ploy. Liz must have needed to kiss Miguel to capture his DNA or to get something that could be used as a bargaining tool later. I hope that’s the case, because I really enjoy Liz as the one pulling the strings, and not as a love-drunk admirer.
The most confusing woman is Miguel’s life is Lyla, his holographic assistant. For the second straight issue, she’s the dumbest person in the room. She doesn’t understand the people and actions of 2014 and hasn’t done anything productive yet, on page, except change Miguel’s clothes. It seems that her only role, so far, is to ask obvious questions so the reader can stay up to speed with everything that’s happening on the page.
Will Sliney is forced to draw a lot of conversations in this issue, but he makes the most of them. In the lone action scene at the beginning, he squeezes in some great Spidey poses that are very kinetic. I praised his city skylines in issue #1. He only has one panel of NYC in this issue, but he still finds a way to give it a unique twist. One of Sliney’s strengths continues to be the expressions in his faces. One of his only splash pages in this issue features a shocked bank teller with a look on her face that completely steals the scene.
In a lot of ways, Spider-Man 2099 #2 feels like a story that should have been included in issue #1. This was all about setting up more dominoes and making the supporting cast more three-dimensional. More importantly, there was nothing about this issue that made me less excited about the series in general and its future. I’m giving David and Sliney the benefit of the doubt and hopeful that this character work will ultimately pay off down the road and provide a more enriching reading experience.