ILLUSTRATED BY STEGMAN
INKED BY LIVESAY
COLORED BY DELGADO
LETTERED BY ELIOPOULOS
PLOT: Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, has arrived in a timely fashion to save Tiberius Stone’s butt from getting thrashed by the Superior Spider-Man a.k.a. Doctor Octopus. In the ensuing battle, Stone activates his Spider-Jammer, causing Ock’s Spider-Sense to funk up. 2099 realizes that his grandfather’s a raging tool, and begins contemplating the possibility that perhaps letting Stone die and wiping out his and Tyler Stone’s futures would be a good thing for his future to have.
BASICALLY…: Whilst all this is happening, Grady and the Horizon buddies are keeping the time machine open. Scraps witnesses Stone’s interference during Peter’s demonstration that caused Alpha’s superhero origin back in #692 and photographs it for evidence. Max Modell is released on bail, and seeing Peter’s total unwillingness to assist with the hostile takeover, tells him not to come back. When Scraps returns to 2013, he brings with him both chronoton energy and alpha energy. 2099 arrives after being informed by his AI Lyla that Tiberius Stone causes the destruction of Horizon Labs on November 9th, 2013. Everyone arrives at the time machine just as the temporal event begins to countdown with less than 16 minutes left…
MY THOUGHTS: I’m unsure how I feel about this issue. It has its good points and not-so-good points, but overall while I think I liked it, the storytelling doesn’t seem very focused. This story deals with characters from two different timelines, and the quick cutting between them and a third and fourth party keeps the narrative from leaving much of an impact. So much is going on that you’re interested in seeing where certain things are going, but the weight of it all is lessened. The storytelling is so frenetic that it’s hard to get a bead on all of the chess pieces being moved around, much less care about them. Ultimately I think I enjoyed this, but it has its problems to be sure.
The best part in all of this chaos, thankfully, is Spider-Man 2099. He drives the action and shows more intelligence than the rest of the characters. His father and grandfather are abject tools, so the thought crosses his mind that maybe letting Spider-Man waste Stone is actually a good thing. He doesn’t decide on it, but it’s enough of an independent thought that I appreciated the character’s consideration, especially when things are so high pressured back in his own time. I don’t get the impression that Miguel O’Hara is anywhere near as smart as Peter Parker, but as a super hero he comes with enough common sense to use his brain even when the plot doesn’t demand him to. It’s a nice thing to see.
Conversely, Ock-Spidey is really getting on my nerves. For all of his blustering about his superior intelligence, all he does in this story is run around hitting people for zero reasons. The moment that 2099 hints that he’s an ally of the Parker-Spidey, Ock had a perfect opportunity to use and manipulate him to further his goals. It wouldn’t have worked out, but Ock doesn’t know why O’Hara’s there. Instead, Ock just hauls off and socks 2099 for no real reason. All that does is incriminate himself even further and give him another enemy. What exactly is he thinking? So Tiberius Stone games the system to get Liz to own Horizon Labs. Does he really think killing him publically will set things straight in the quickest and consequence-free fashion?
It makes me want to give up on this title (again). Ock does things as Spider-Man so nakedly out of character, in public, all of the time, and he’s barely ever called on it. Either write the character in a way that doesn’t lead to incredulity over his actions or write the supporting characters responding to it. Slott cannot have it both ways, no matter how hard he wants to try.
I said the storytelling in this issue was too frenetic, and that presents itself best in the second half after the Spidey battle in the street. Peterpus switches his concentration towards getting his crap out of Horizon (illegally), Scraps and friends mess with the time machine, 2099 is running with Ty Stone, and we’re given brief scenes of Mary Jane and the Green Goblin masquerading as the Hobgoblin for a really dumb reason. The scenes eventually converge by the end, but throughout the issue they go back and forth so fast that I found it jarring. The Goblin scene wasn’t funny enough to be anything other than ridiculous, and the Mary Jane panel just served to reiterate how much of a joke her character’s become. Two issues ago I praised how Slott kept the focus on the main action inside of the Daily Bugle, and even when we cut to different characters they all were preoccupied on what was going on with Spidey and Urich. This issue is the polar opposite, with Slott throwing everything into the comic and damning its focus. It’s almost as though there’s an unspoken quota to have an ineffectual Goblin scene in every issue, as those these were Treehouse of Horror episodes and the Goblins were Kang and Kodos.
It’s not all Slott’s fault though, as I actually put more of the blame on Ryan Stegman. He’s a very solid artist, but as a storyteller I think he has some growing to do. I’ve mentioned before my distaste for the thick, white gutters in between the panels, but the panels themselves in the second half all have the camera pulled far back. When they’re closed up on the characters, nothing of importance is being shown (save for Grady taking pictures). Peter getting fired has the camera almost out of focus, it’s held so far back. I don’t understand how that could have happened. Perhaps Slott and Stegman are doing this complete Marvel Method, to the point where Slott has to compensate for Stegman’s pencils. Even still there has to be a better compromise than to leave the scenes how they are now.
The artwork itself is mostly good though. 2099 looks fantastic, with Stegman added a nice fabric differentiation between the red and the blue. His mask looks great, with the blue totally kept in the light and no heavy inking which was the norm back in the day. It makes the whole suit pop, reminding the reader that this is a full mask with no distinct eye pieces or anything obvious. Other times however, the art lets itself down with the women characters. Liz looks inconsistent with disappearing lipstick, and the panel with Mary Jane is plain awful. She looks bored and sleepy while yelling into the phone.
Ultimately, Spider-Man 2099 keeps this issue’s grade positive. Most everything else I didn’t like, but the plot was moved forward in an interesting, if unfocused way.