Since the latest re-launch of Spider-Man 2099, Peter David and Will Sliney have been slowly establishing and rolling-out Miguel O’Hara’s new status quo. The stakes have remained high and the story compelling, whether its Miguel’s quest to save the future, the fate of his girlfriend or his investigation into the terrorist organization of The Fist. That’s why it’s a little frustrating that Spider-Man 2099 #6 abandons all the past plot lines to focus on a new story with new characters and a less compelling conflict.
Instead of going after Qweeg and The Fist, Miguel has another problem to deal with: Parker Industries’ newest contractor is having an Inhuman reaction to the Terrigen Mist, and a teleporting, hulking Lash wants to snatch her up to deliver a potential death sentence. It’s the latest Parker Industries blunder under Miguel’s watch, but there’s even more at stake. The victim isn’t just any mutations expert, she’s the girlfriend of Jasmine, the assistant to Miguel’s assistant, Raul.
I’ve been anticipating learning more about Miguel’s corner of Parker Industries, and this issue gives us a little bit of a look into PI’s New York office. However, it’s not a very satisfying glance. Raul is portrayed as a semi-doofus who’s in the dark about the catastrophe under his nose, while his assistant, Jasmine, has all the knowledge. Even his attempts to talk down and negotiate with Lash are shown to be weak and ineffective. In past issues, Raul has been the answer man; the guy who gives Miguel and the reader all the exposition, so his portrayal as a dummy is a bit out of character.
Unfortunately, nothing that the creators have been building toward in the first five issues gets addressed here. All we get are two pages with Roberta Mendez (how did she get dressed?) to explain why Captain America 2099 isn’t co-headlining another issue. The actions of the last couple issues should have serious consequences. To currently avoid those ramifications must be an intentional artistic choice, albeit unsatisfying.
The art team delivers another solid issue. The scientists in the opening scene are excellent canvases to showcase Sliney’s lively facial expressions. His portrayal of Peter Parker as Big Brother is also an enjoyable counterpoint to the Peter we’re seeing in the other books. Sliney also gives us a very one-sided Manhattan battle, but compared to last issue’s Times Square slugfest, this battle seems uneventful and underwhelming. The highlights of the issue’s art are many: the beautiful final spread, the use of thin web line panels that gave a unique look to certain pages, and especially the full-page wide shot that revealed the scope of the final battle.
After six issues, it’s still hard to say exactly what this series is about. Miguel’s not the globe-trotting Spidey nor the street-level Spidey. He’s not even a clone. Miguel is more like the ‘stumbles into battles that could wreck the time stream’ Spidey. This identity crisis hasn’t been important, because the stories, so far, have been compelling. That’s why this issue’s new focus is especially frustrating. If it’s part of a bigger story, i.e., Miguel is putting together his own Dark Avengers, then I’ll give the creators the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. On its own, Spider-Man 2099 #6 seems to have sucked a lot of the momentum from this series, at a time when sales numbers indicate that Miguel may be running out of time to save his own future.