Peter David and Will Sliney kicked off Spider-Man 2099 (vol. 3) with one of the best debuts (so far) in the All-New, All-Different era. They quickly built a rich world, filled it with distinct characters, and were sure to raise the stakes to a fever pitch. That’s why I was pretty surprised, when Spider-Man 2099 #2 took the most important parts of that world and seemingly threw them all away! Instead, the issue chose to dig deeper into the psyche and motivations of the main character, Miguel O’Hara, without missing an opportunity to debut his new suit.
David is definitely taking a ‘slow burn’ approach to story-telling in this first arc. Once again, the issue is light on action and features no big super-powered battle. Instead, it focuses on the mentality of Miguel O’Hara, who continues to have his world ripped out from under him. His 2099 life has already been destroyed and now everything that he was living for in 2015 seems to have gone up in smoke as well. Miguel has always been a little more self-centered than Peter Parker (he gave up heroics and embraced personal glory, something Peter has only flirted with in the past), and allows his grief and rage manifest as vengeance. He’s also forgotten about his responsibility to his company and the future, and he’s become blinded by his tearful rage.
It doesn’t help that Miguel has always been a bit of a prick. His prickly, insensitive nature has left him a loner with no one to turn to, not even the globetrotting, micromanaging Peter Parker. The two have a brief, unemotional exchange here that’s a little uncharacteristic of Peter, considering he should know more about personal loss than anyone, but I think their interaction is more telling of Miguel’s approach to friendship; Peter and Miggy are simply not that close. It’s fitting then that the only ‘character’ who tries to talk some sense into Miguel is his pocket-sized hologram. Lyla, his emotion-mimicking holographic personal assistant (think a less annoying C3PO) tries to act as Miggy’s conscious, but compassion is the last thing on his mind.
I found it interesting to compare Miggy’s aggressive reaction to Lyla in this scene to Otto’s use of a holographic assistant back in Superior Spider-Man #33. Otto asks his lyrate life-form to look like Anna Maria as an expression of love. Miguel has a completely opposite reaction when his holograph takes the form of Tempest. Instead of love or grief, he expresses anger.
David’s unorthodox issue is rather refreshing. There’s no super-villain mastermind targeting Miguel and his loved ones, it’s seemingly just a random attack (although the creators try to have it both ways), no big battle, and a lot of conversation. We
don’t even see the new costume until we’re two-thirds into the issue. David only briefly checks in with some of the sub-plots: one page on the business developments at Alchemax, and another on the mysterious inclusion of Captain America 2099.
Due to the lack of action, Will Sliney is challenged for the second straight issue to rely on facial expressions and emotion to carry the artwork. He finally shows us the new costume, and it is well worth the wait. Sliney uses large panels to show off as many angles and perspectives of the suit as possible. The new tech makes Miguel seem more like Iron Man than a Spider-Man (I’m sensing a pattern here), and even though he’s never been a web-slinger, Miggy’s upgrades makes him unlike any other Spidey in this universe. Unfortunately, two weapons in Sliney’s arsenal seem to go underused in this issue: his New York cityscapes and his small-scale wide shots.
As a stand-alone story, some may consider Spider-Man 2099 #2 a weak issue, mainly because it lacked the traditional comic book tropes most of us continue buying comics for. However, taken as part of a character-defining arc, it certainly delivers in all regards. It is safe to say that my enthusiasm for Spider-Man 2099 has not waned a bit.