“I…I don’t understand. There’s…no thread for you. How can that be possible? You’re standing right here! You’re…you’re already dead.”
Miguel FINALLY confronts Aisa of The Fist. Will he live to tell the tale…or is he already dead?
WRITER: Peter David
ARTIST: Will Sliney
COLOR ARTIST: Rachelle Rosenberg
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER ARTIST: Francesco Mattina
EDITORS: Charles Beacham with Mark Basso
STORY: Spider-Man 2099 and his amazing friends are being attacked by all the New Yorkers in Times Square, but make their escape, taking a brainwashed officer with them. With his help, they deduce how everyone is being mind-controlled. Tempest and Miguel reunite, but it’s brief as Aisa orders a million people to drown themselves. Recruiting Spider-Man (Peter), Spider-Man (Miles), Silk, and others, the heroes are able to delay her plan whilst Miguel goes to confront her. With Lyla’s help, the immediate threat is stopped, but Aisa, aided by Vulture 2099, gets away. Miguel and Tempest once again regroup, with Tempest revealing who is underneath the mask of the other Spider-Man 2099!
THOUGHTS: I love this cover! It’s so good to have the original costume, or a variation thereof, gracing these pages again! The image conveys a sense of tension with our heroes surrounded, but also gives Mattina the opportunity to contrast the old and new suits against each other. I love how he has the webbing of the classic suit blowing in the wind and the pixelated quality he gives it.
Like Miguel, I, too, had a “what the hell?!” reaction when I saw the other Spidey 2099 start growing spiders from his costume! I’m surprised Peter David didn’t have him say “Shock!” Sliney definitely makes this ability feel creepy, especially as the spiders move onto the officer and make his eyes roll into his head. Miguel’s puzzlement at what these “arachnauts” are gets cut short by Tempest, her disbelief at who is in front of her setting the stage for a revelation later this issue.
As it turns out, the Didyjman app that Miguel was introduced to last issue is what’s actually controlling peoples’ minds, making them under The Fist’s control. Nope, no social commentary there. None at all. It may be a little late in the day to make a Pokemon Go dig as I feel the fad has kind of passed, but I still find it funny and on point. At the end of the day, as long as we still have these mobile devices, you’ll still have people glued to them, “controlled” by social media or the latest and greatest app. Continuing the metaphor, those under the app’s thrall then get ordered to be sacrificial lemmings, commanded to walk off the docks and drown themselves.
It’s in this revelation that The Fist is behind the app that we get another hint at Miguel’s fate. Being that The Fist has ties up and down the timeline, you’d think Aisa wouldn’t be surprised to see Miguel as he’s been a bad penny for them for, oh, this entire series. And yet, Peter David has plans for this, which he’ll enlighten us all on soon and to dramatic effect.
Turns out Aisa goes by another moniker, Atropos, a.k.a. the Greek Fate who cuts the thread of life. At first, I felt like this was an odd choice to make the villain of a 2099 title, even if said title has spent the majority of it’s time in 2016-2017. What would an ancient god have to do with a Spider-Man from the future? She doesn’t exactly fit in with a rogues gallery comprised of animal themes and/or futuristic tech. Then I thought about it a little more and realized that Miguel has been dealing with godlike figures since the beginning of his creation, some who even have a religion based off them, like the Thorites. Recalling that helped me accept her as a proper foe.
I love how David once again gave Lyla her time to shine. The ever-faithful A.I. not only gets to the bottom of Aisa’s true identity, but serves as a humorous distraction to boot, allowing Miguel to come in and strike. Lyla’s wit has always been something I’ve enjoyed since the first series and it’s something this volume hasn’t had enough of.
The big twist for this issue is the revelation that to the people in 2020 and beyond, Miguel is already dead. The exact particulars aren’t detailed, but because of his death, Aisa can’t cut his thread to kill him. Cheating death by being dead already is a trick even Captain Kirk would marvel at and he’s an expert! We do get one nugget-that Miguel died in Tempest’s arms. Could this be the scene from the unused, originally solicited cover for #21 that got pushed back to the cover of next issue, which just so happens to be the final one? Hmm…
Of course, Aisa gets away to have one final confrontation next time, which allows Miguel to sit and ask Tempest if he is dead. They do this at sunset, a fitting metaphor for a book whose time is drawing to its end. The coloring as they embrace looks great, too, as the skies start to darken above. Before we can say good-bye, though, there’s still a mystery to be uncovered. The other Spider-Man 2099 is actually Gabriel! Just as I was thinking how happy that would make Kasey since she’s been lusting after the S-Man since Vol. 1, it’s revealed to not be that Gabri at all! It’s only Tempest and Miguel’s son! The issue ends perfectly with Spidey’s line, “Wait…what?”, closing out with a shock and a laugh. I can only imagine the fireworks between father and son next issue!
Peter David excellently combined his trademark wit with some high stakes, giving us one of the most entertaining issues in this volume. Having the 50 other Spideys show up as backup was a nice touch, but also emphasizes that there are way too many Spider-Folk in New York. Fortunately, their screen time doesn’t detract from Miguel as this is still his story. Sliney has very balanced layouts, cinematic shots, and expressive faces that convey all the disbelief that was being thrown around this issue. The To Be Continued 2099 logo is a stark white as the issue fades to black, serving as a reminder that an end is coming, be it of this series or maybe even Miguel himself. We’ll sadly know soon enough which it is.
MY GRADE: A
JAVI’S HUH?: Lyla introduces herself as a 22nd century life-form. Last I checked, the year 2099 still counted as the 21st century…
Does Aisa have to be in front of the person to cut their life? Why not just cut the thread of everyone you meet? Outside of then we’d have no issue, of course.