In “Spider-Man 2099” #1 by Peter David and Will Sliney, Miguel O’Hara gets his own ongoing series again, but it’s no picnic. He has to deal with a bloodstain in his new apartment and attempt to influence his grandfather, Tiberius Stone, an over-the-top plutocrat who he travelled back in time to rescue. There’s also a time-travelling armored agent who has a mission to kill him.
Dan Slott brought the popular alternative web-slinger back into play last year within the pages of “Superior Spider-Man” #17-19, but it’s good to see Miguel being written again by Peter David, one of the original co-creators of the character.
David opens with a cinematic sequence that introducing a Terminator-like agent from the year 2211 who works for T.O.T.E.M. (Temporal Oversight Team Eliminating Mistakes). It’s not the most original hook, but establishes a new antagonist very quickly and with no information dumps. As villains go, the T.O.T.E.M. agent is disposable. The organization, not the agent, is the real threat to Miguel. However, David gives the agent some personality in the fight scene towards the end of “Spider-Man” #2099. The agent exhibits unusually independent decision-making for a lackey and also drops hints about Liz Allan that foreshadow future plot developments.
After the opener, David slows down to a leisurely, slice-of-life pace to reintroduce Miguel. The jokes about Unit #2099 and “mercurochrome” lighten the tone, too. This scene segues smoothly into another encounter with Tempest, the woman who Miguel saved from muggers in “Amazing Spider-Man” #1. Sliney’s facial expressions are excellent as Miguel tries to cajole a friendly response from the surly Tempest. Sliney gets across awkwardness, puzzlement and final triumph — no small feat considering that Miguel’s sunglasses obscure his eyes.
The strong body language and facial expressions are there even for minor characters, too, and Sliney’s transitions and composition are also sound. On the other hand, his backgrounds are boring and sparse. The 3-D rendering for some backgrounds doesn’t mix well with his linework. Even his most detailed backgrounds for Tiberius Stone’s office lack spark. This dullness is reinforced by Fabela’s unimaginative coloring choices for the bookshelves and walls.
Except for the apartment scene, “Spider-Man 2099” is mostly action. Character development is a little thin, but Miguel’s personality does reveal itself in his interactions with Tempest, Tiberius and the T.O.T.E.M. agent. David even slips in a tongue-in-cheek comparison of Miguel vs. regular flavor Peter Parker Spider-Man via Liz Allan’s comments.
The humor also helps with the unwieldy time-travel-enabled setup.
David attempts to get around the creation of new timelines by having the T.O.T.E.M. agent only kill people who “pose no major contribution to the future”. This solution doesn’t really address the butterfly effect, and like most stories with time travel, it falls apart if you think about it with any degree of rigor. On the positive side, it’s good that David is keeping it clean and simple. He’s also wise enough not to take the time travel too seriously and uses it as a platform for some of the best dialogue in the book. The conversation between the T.O.T.E.M. agent and Alchemex’s Front Desk Security agents is hilarious.
The resolution of Miguel’s fight with the T.O.T.E.M. agent is also a highlight since it’s similarly tidy and funny. Both the character and the plot hold up with compared to the original “Spider-Man 2099” #1 from 1992. It’s a solid debut, and will appeal both to existing fans of the character and new readers.