In the march to “Spider-Verse,” Marvel has been promising fans ‘Every Spider-Man Ever,’ and that doesn’t just include the multiverse of Peter Parker. Peter David and Rick Leonardi revisit the different Miguel O’Haras of the Spider-Verse in Spider-Man 2099 #5. And while the story is guaranteed to delight the character’s most hard-core readers of the past 20 years, it is a departure from the slow, rich character-driven issues of the first arc.
The issue introduces three alternate Miguel O’Haras. The Miggy from Earth-98120 is a member of the Avengers who we haven’t seen since The Destiny War in Avengers Forever #12. The Earth-96099 Miguel is presumably the Spider-Man 2099 from the Timestorm 2009-2099 miniseries. The most intriguing Miguel is the version from Earth-6375. In this reality, Miguel joined The Exiles to help them fix damaged time streams. He’s now retired and living with Mary Jane Watson. He has the battle-tested experience to take on a reality-hopping villain like Morlun. In fact, it seems he’s come up with a way to connect all the different Miguels, mentally. That’s why the 616 Miguel is having headaches every time another Miggy dies.
David practically abandons the storylines we were following in the first arc. We get two pages to check in on Alchemax, Tyler and Liz Allan. It looks like Parker Industries will have a new competitor in the super prison business. But none of the unanswered questions of the first arc are addressed: is Alchemax moving in a more ethical direction? What is Allan’s agenda?
The issue is all plot with little time devoted to the characters. We get to see just a glimpse of some of these alternate realities, and they deserve whatever incursions come their way. The Avengers of 96099 are soft, allowing someone to simply blast their way into the mansion and murder. The Miguel of 6375 is brilliant, but has no patience for Mary Jane. Cut her a break; it may take more than one explanation for a civilian to understand that some kind of soul-sucking vampire is crossing space and time to stalk and kill spider-people. The issue’s most important reveal is also about Morlun. He’s visibly afraid of the 616 Universe, because he’s been killed there before. There’s something special about the 616. Miguel-6375 knows it too.
Rick Leonardi is the perfect penciler for an issue that taps into so much into Spider-Man 2099’s history. He drew the first 25 issues of the original series. However, there are some inconsistencies in this artwork. His web-slinging scenes are most successful, especially when Miguel is chasing after the helicopter. But some of the fighting scenes are a little less kinetic. There are times when the punches look stiff, like an action figure’s pose.
If you’re the type of fan that appreciates the nostalgia of revisiting the different incarnations of Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099 #5 is a big success, honoring a number of different characters in a tight and efficient story. However, if you’ve become a fan of the slow-burning, morality drama of the first four issues, this may seem more like a prologue to the big “Spider-Verse” event.