Image Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Hello again, fine readers! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend, despite the cold weather. I should warn you today’s review will be considerably longer than many of my recent ones because I’ll be covering the majority of Marvel’s mega “2099” event. There’s a lot to unpack and there are many books involved. So, let’s just say you’d better pack for the long haul. With that said, let’s get to it!
Before I get too far, I should note that this entire event isn’t just contained in one title. There’s also more writers involved than you can shake a stick at. I’ll try to make it as streamlined and digestible as possible to avoid confusion. But, no promises. Here we go!
For the uninitiated, the 2099 concept is an idea that goes all the way back to the mid-90s. It was an experiment that Marvel attempted by creating futuristic versions of their most popular characters. At first blush, it seemed like a cool idea. Unfortunately, the books didn’t sell that well due to lack of quality and the only character to come out on the other side and stay somewhat relevant to this day was Spider-Man 2099. I know, big surprise, right? Lo and behold, some 20 years later, Marvel decides to try to revamp the concept. Only this time, “2099” would be spearheaded by “Amazing Spider-Man” writer Nick Spencer. Not the most obvious choice, but one that I endorse all the same.
Here’s where things will get tricky for me as I attempt to break down the story. Let’s go the basic route. In the present day, a cataclysmic event occurred that brought the “Age of Heroes” to an abrupt and bitter end. Now, in the year 2099, Doom rules all and has cast a spell to wipe everyone’s memory of the heroes that came before. They’re nothing more than a story that parents tell their children at night. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Doctor Doom has managed to capture and enslave Uatu, The Watcher, an extraterrestrial being who can see all—including the future. This gives Doom an extreme advantage because he’ll always know when a new threat emerges. However, the real question is: What caused this catastrophe in the present day?
The answer to that question lies in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man”. In the year of our Lord 2019, Doom is paying a diplomatic visit to the United States. More specifically, New York City. Doom is a high target on the list of almost every agency on the planet. As it so happens, one of these agencies has received intel that THE ACTUAL DOCTOR DOOM is the one here in the States, not one of his Doom-bots. Naturally, this is the perfect opportunity for an assassination attempt. Spidey gets word of this and decides to go watch over the parade that’s being held in Doom’s honor, just to make sure nothing shady goes down. Sure, Doom is an enemy to almost everybody. But, Spider-Man doesn’t condone murder, no matter how deserving the person is. Unfortunately for us, our hero isn’t quite on his game today and the assassination is successful. However, and maybe even more unfortunate, the victim is nothing more than a Doom-bot. Guess that intel was wrong! No matter because Doom still takes this VERY personally. Thus, an attack is launched on New York and all the rest of the states.
We’re left to believe that this is the event that led to this dystopian future. The 2099 that results from this is a place of pain and suffering. Crime runs rampant and chaos reigns. Megacorporations such as Alchemax control most of society and, above them, Doom’s Public Eye. A police force that rules absolutely and doesn’t show mercy for even the pettiest of crimes. Anybody who isn’t part of the upper class is essentially forced to live in squalor. We’ve basically reverted to the caste system. The only brave souls left are “the Thorites”—a resistance band that still believes in the tales of old. Though they fight valiantly, even they can’t muster the strength to stand against Doom’s forces.
The rest of the plot is a bit confusing—especially if you didn’t read every single one of the tie-ins. I read a few that I believe are essential to the overall narrative, such as “Fantastic Four 2099”, “Spider-Man 2099”, “Venom 2099”, and “Doom 2099”. And of course, I read the “2099” Alpha and Omega issues as well. Though each book is important, I won’t dwell on them for too long for the sake of keeping this as short as possible. Basically, here’s what you should know:
- “Fantastic Four 2099”: The original team has been gone ever since the 2019 cataclysm. The team’s robot, H.E.R.B.I.E., is the only one who remembers them and is on a mission to assemble a new group that is worthy of their predecessors.
- “Spider-Man 2099”: Miguel O’Hara is a washed-out former employee of Alchemax. Fired for trying to expose their criminal activities, he now spends his days gambling in an attempt to raise enough money to get out of his previous debts and to get his fix of a drug called “Rapture”. Little does he know that his destiny lies in being the successor to one of the greatest heroes known to man: Spider-Man.
- “Venom 2099”: The Venom symbiote has been contained and experimented on for the last 80 years. Scientists are hopeful that it can be used as a cure for almost every disease known to man. A young girl is accepted as a trial subject to heal her injuries. The procedure goes perfectly and all is well at first. Then, Venom makes himself known to the girl and together they agree to be a hero once more. A “Lethal Protector”, if you will. However, deep below the surface of the Earth, an enemy of Venom, thought dead since before the cataclysm, is beginning to rise again. Venom can sense it, but his new host is far from ready to face it.
- “Doom 2099”: This one honestly confused me. I thought I knew where it was going, but the ending just jarred me. Here’s what I can make of it: Doom wakes up in the year 2099 in the middle of the desert and without his armor. After wandering with a fellow traveler for several days, they come across a blacksmith. While there, Doom forges a new armor and marches into his home of Latveria to confront …….himself? As it turns out, or at least as Doom is led to believe, a rogue Doom-bot has been ruling in his place for the last 80 years. They face-off, but Doom is defeated and left battered outside of his castle. The ending is ambiguous because we are not told if one of them is a Doom-bot or if they are both real.
Well, that’s the gist of it. The Alpha and Omega issues basically lay the groundwork for the environment that we’re living in and the Omega issue, in particular, retells the origin of Spider-Man 2099 with an interesting twist. Though the main thrust of the story takes place in “Amazing Spider-Man”, it’s a four-part story that tells about the assassination attempt, the fallout, and Spidey attempting to stop Doom from taking over the world. Now, what’s interesting is that Spidey is successful. So, we don’t know for sure if the future we see in the “2099” books is set in stone or if it’s what could have happened if Spider-Man failed. It’s left to the imagination, and I kind of like that.
There you have it! The entire “2099” event broken down into a slightly more digestible form. Overall, it’s not bad. It’s definitely better and more successful than what Marvel tried in the 90s. Yes, some parts of it are confusing and it’s probably a detriment that the main part of the story happened in “ASM” because, if you don’t read that book, you don’t know what caused this horrible future. However, the books with the 2099 label are still fun and interesting to read on their own, even if you don’t know the entire background. What I’ll say is that this isn’t a universe changing event. It’s just a fun side-story that even a casual Marvel fan can get a kick out of. But, that’s just my opinion. If you read it yourself, maybe you feel differently. If you haven’t read it, I think it’s worth checking out. But, that’ll do it for today! I’ll be back soon with some more awesome content. Until next time, stay comical!