Sometimes a good story is like a good stew, it needs time to simmer to make it tasty. That seems to be Peter David’s philosophy for Secret Wars 2099. David and Will Sliney continue to be in creation- mode, fleshing out characters and slowly expanding this universe. But Issue #2 feels less like a chapter two of the story, and more like a 1A. And after two issues, It’s still not clear exactly what this series is about.
The first thing that should be mentioned is the beautiful cover by Dave Rapoza; I incorrectly said it was by Will Sliney last review. Amazing covers has been a hallmark of all the recent 2099-era issues thanks to the wonderful paints of Rapoza that are bright in color and striking in imagery. Here our 2099 Avengers surround a roaring Hulk who is a ferocious as something that might step out of your nightmares.
The main character of Secret Wars 2099 seems to be Captain America of 2099, but a lot of the questions about her from last issue are still not addressed. Instead, David continues the slow burn, showing us more of how this Captain America works: apparently, she can switch from civilian to soldier at a moment’s notice with the catch that there is a transition time before she returns to her civilian form, “‘Roberta;” Captain America is very aware of Roberta, but Roberta is unaware of her superhero side; and her civilian husband is also an Alchemax agent in on the ruse. In the end I’m left wondering, who is Roberta and why is she this era’s biggest symbol of pride and security?
With so much time spent fleshing out Captain America/Roberta, David has to quickly establish his other characters in just a matter of panels. Thankfully he is able to deliver. In just three pages he establishes an interesting one-sentence origin for Hawkeye and a deeper glimpse into Black Widow’s motivations. Lest we forget, David checks in with Hercules to make sure he’s still grumpy. There’s no time to check in with Iron Man or Vision this issue, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these instant interactions throughout the series.
But enough about the character development! It’s great to know that in 2099 heros and villains still fight with their fists. Sliney gives Hercules a hilarious look when he takes a cross to the face from the Hulk, it was easily the highlight of their fight. A lot of times, a Sliney battle scene like this will take place in high altitudes, but Hulk punches Herc through the building on the ground-floor. On a side note, I would’ve loved to have seen one of Sliney’s wide shot panels showing Herc flying through the 2099 skyline. We get that earlier in the issue when Captain America tossed The Specialist out of her apartment; I loved the scale of this because it highlighted Captain America’s raw strength.
Miguel O’Hara fans will have to wait for at least another issue to see if the Miguel Stone of this series has any resemblance of the web-headed hero of Spider-Man 2099. For now, he remains a secondary character. To that point, it’s still unclear what role Alchemax has in this world. So far, it seems to be a benevolent protector of the city, but we know better… right?
For the first two issues, Secret Wars 2099 has essentially been a big meet-and-greet with the world of 2099. It’s unfortunate that a creative team that can build rich characters so quickly hasn’t been able to raise the stakes at the same pace because this series is too short to waste ink space. I would find it hard to argue against someone looking to drop this title in favor of another “Secret Wars” tie-in, but for now Secret Wars 2099 is exclusively for fans of David and Sliney readers who were in for the entire series from the start. Count me as one of them.