Looking back at the history of the future
Spider-Man 2099 #1 1992
Marvel is headed back to the future this December, by 80 years in fact, to the year 2099. I thought that this would be a great excuse to journey back to the original 2099, to where it all started, with a young man named Miguel O’Hara.
Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi, the Spider-Man of 2099 grabbed my attention immediately – particularly because Miguel was pretty much everything Peter Parker was not. In fact, Miguel does not flip quips with the same ease and frequency as Peter, Miguel doesn’t even talk until page 10! It was a deliberate choice by David to make Miguel have the opposite background to Peter in order to ensure a fresh story with characters who were somewhat familiar to what we had known, but were a whole new story altogether.
I’m not surprised that this iteration of Spidey lore outlasted the original 2099 universe, breaking into the mainstream in television, games and merchandising. Miguel O’Hara has many qualities that echo Tony Stark rather than Peter Parker. He is an arrogant, scientific genius following in the footsteps of his brilliant father. Miguel also has a “modern day” Jarvis type companion in Lyla who has a striking resemblance to Marilyn Munroe.
The ever present and all powerful Alchemax is the big bad in 2099. Miguel is a hotshot at Alchemax and happily works there until having a crisis of conscience. He is contrasted against Alchemax boss Tyler Stone, a Norman Osborn-esque industry titan with zero moral compass. His subtle arrogance is continually present in his habit of deliberately calling Miguel, Mike.
In a nice touch of intertextuality, Miguel is using a Spider-Man comic from history as inspiration for his genetic experimentation. “His name was Spider-Man. One of the premier boys from the old heroic age ‘round the turn of the century.” The first issue ends with the beginning of Miguel’s origin story which is helped along by a vengeful co-worker with murder on his mind.
Leornadi’s art was quite different to others in 1992, but this is not a bad thing as his panels were striking and I have to admit that the 2099 Spidey suit is my second favourite behind the black symbiote suit! His double page spread on page 2 and 3 hooked me immediately and his final frame (a full-page panel) was all at once haunting, terrifying and exhilarating!
If you haven’t read this original run – do it! You will thank me.
John Vader is a child of the 80s who is still growing up.
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