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Gimmick or Good? – Spider-Man 2099 #1

In this column, Mark Ginocchio (from Chasing Amazing) takes a look at the gimmick covers from the 1990s and gives his take on whether the comic in question was just a gimmick or whether the comic within the gimmick cover was good. Hence “Gimmick or Good?” Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far. We continue with 1992’s foil cover Spider-Man 2099 #1…Spiderman2099_cover

Spider-Man 2099 #1 (published November 1992) – script by Peter David, pencils by Rick Leonardi and inks by Al Williamson

In 1992, Marvel launched a major initiative known as its 2099 line. A number of its most popular characters were to be re-imagined more than 100 years into the future, with new alter egos and supporting casts. Spider-Man 2099, which featured writer Peter David and introduced the world to Miguel O’Hara, the first Latino Spider-Man, was the most popular series in the line until cost-cutting measures by Marvel led to the termination of the 2099 universe in 1996. For its first issue, Spider-Man 2099 #1 sported a red foil banner – a somewhat traditional embellishment for this era of comics.

But what about inside the comic?

Spider-Man 2099 and Miguel are front and center again thanks to the recent Superior Spider-Man storyline being written by Dan Slott. Slott is doing a fine job getting fans who may be unfamiliar with Miguel up to speed, but regardless I thought the timing was right for “Gimmick or Good” to time warp back to 1992 and analyze the contents of this first issue.


I don’t remember this comic leaving much of an impression on me when I was younger, but more than 20 years later, I actually think David and Leonardi do a great job creating a universe that’s both an homage to the Spider-Man of yesteryear, while also setting out to traverse new themes and ideas. Miguel is a brilliant geneticist with a snarky wit and a bit of fascination with the “old” Spider-Man, but that’s really where the bulk of the parallels end. For the most part, Miguel features his own look, his own power/abilities set, and an interesting supporting cast of characters that are darker and grittier than Stan Lee/Steve Ditko’s Aunt May and Flash Thompson.

Leonardi’s character design remains my favorite element of this comic. In terms of aesthetics, Spider-Man 2099 may be as perfect of a re-imagining as it gets. The character looks futuristic but there’s also a classic vibe and in a few panels I swear Leonardi is referencing the iconic John Romita Sr.


Miguel’s costume is sleek and simple and the color scheme is terrific. The splashes of red add a touch of flair. The webbing “cape” Miguel wears is a nice callback to Peter Parker, but again, the creative team doesn’t come across as being overly burdened in trying to make every component of this character connected to the more “familiar” Spidey.

David creates a whole new vernacular for his 2099 universe with the phrase “what the shock,” being used in place of your expletive of choice. Miguel meanwhile is portrayed as a “good” guy but not necessarily a nice guy. While an argument can be made that the Lee/Ditko Peter wasn’t the saint a lot of contemporary writers have made him out to be, Miguel is unquestionably more hardened and arrogant. He has issues listening to authority, which is partly due to his personal moral code, but can also be chalked up to just plain hubris.


Like Peter, Miguel’s life as Spider-Man is set into motion through trying to use his power responsibly. During a genetic test, the subject is transformed into a hideous creature and attacks Miguel. Miguel then goes to Tyler Stone, the CEO of the company he works for, Alchemax, and resigns because he no longer wants to be a party to such a level of human experimentation. Of course, Miguel’s resignation goes horribly wrong. Stone slips him a highly addicting drug called “the rapture,” which bonds to a person’s DNA. The cure for the drug is proprietary to Alchemax employees. But rather than submit to Stone’s game, Miguel self-experiments, giving him the abilities of a human spider (and fangs and claws to boot).

My biggest issue with the comic is something I’m sure some of you will find to be innocuous and inconsequential. I found some of the futuristic details of the 2099 universe – the flying cars and holograms – to be a little trite. Granted, this was written in 1992 when some of these ideas for “the future,” were fresher to readers, but as I sit here writing this article in 2013, I’ve become more convinced that 86 years from now, the world is not going to look like the set from a movie based on a Philip K. Dick novel.

Story continues below


Yet at the same time, there’s something eerily prescient about David’s script here. While the comic was written in the early 90s, a lot of its themes of corporate greed and pharmaceutical industry corruption resonate in 2013. The fact that a legal drug like the rapture exists in this universe was particularly eye-opening. This is a drug that is essentially manufactured to be addictive so that the user needs to take even more drugs to feel better. Keep that in mind the next time you stop and read the list of side effects during an advertisement for whatever the prescription drug of the moment might be.

Reading this comic today made me disappointed with my 11-year-old self for being so unimpressed with Spider-Man 2099 back when it was first released. This is a fun concept that also served as a precursor for other “alternative” Marvel timelines, like the Ultimate universe. The only difference here is that Spider-Man 2099 feels completely untethered to the “traditional” Spider-Man story that it gives the creative team carte blanche to craft a story that was unlike any other Spider-Man story that preceded it.

Verdict: Good


I was just reading a Runaways issue where a Time Traveler used “shock” as an expletive, just like that last panel. Is this a recurring thing in the Marvel future?

The 2099 line was never spectacular, but it was at least on the level with half the other comics coming out in the 90s. It certainly was better than most of the Image-style garbage that flooded shelves at the time.

I loved this comic as a kid, although I think I only got up to around the fifteenth issue or so before I started dropping out of comics all together. Still, it always stuck with me over the years. I wish Marvel would start issuing TPBs (I think the single one they did a year or two ago is already out of print), as I’d love to read it again.

@MonikerNV — I would imagine that was an inside joke/reference to the 2099 titles. To the best of my knowledge they never made a habit of using “SHOCK!” outside of the 2099 Universe (which had TONS of ludicrous “future slang”).

“I found some of the futuristic details of the 2099 universe – the flying cars and holograms – to be a little trite.”

I dunno, the fact that Coke is still sponsoring over the top events in the future seems plausible.

Warren Ellis did some of his earliest stateside work on Doom 2099. And while not as memorable as a lot of his other stuff, it was pretty solid stuff. Other than that, nothing about the 2099 universe really did much for me.

I really enjoyed Fantasic Four 2099 back in the day, as well as dabbling in Hulk and Ghost Rider 2099. They were a pretty solid take on the characters overall. The art on GR2099 was pretty good as well.

“I found some of the futuristic details of the 2099 universe – the flying cars and holograms – to be a little trite”

Don’t you think that a whiz-bang sci-fi future is pretty plausible in the Marvel Universe though? I know it’s supposed to be tied to reality presently, but it’s already got plenty of flying cars and crazy tech.

I’ve always been curious about the 2099 Line.

They seemed to have some quality people working on the books. While digging through a quarter bin a few months ago I noticed that Pat Mills was the main writer of Punisher 2099. I wish I would have picked up those issues now. Peter David on Spidey 2099 sounds like a winning book as well.

I loved this book and I’m still kind of bitter over the way it just sputtered to a halt. I’m starting to think of it as the Peter David curse; the guy is a total pro and writes solid stories for years and for this he’s generally rewarded by being thrown off the book and then it’s rebooted with a vastly inferior direction. SPIDER-MAN 2099, HULK, SUPERGIRL, AQUAMAN… that’s just off the top of my head.

I believe there have been 2 trades of Spidey 2099 now, with the first reprinting the first 10 issues and the second just came out a few weeks ago and I’m not sure how much it reprinted. Also the Ellis Doom 2099 stuff came out in a trade within the last couple months.

Yeah, this issue was pretty good, from what I remember. A decent series from what I’ve read of it.

Yeah, I was a fan of the 2099 universe. Especially Spider-man and the X-Men (I still want a return of Skullfire!!).

[…] Spider-Man #1, for my latest Gimmick or Good? column at CBR’s Comics Should Be Good blog, I take a look at 1992′s Spider-Man 2099 #1. This red foil book was the first installment in Marvel’s 2099 line and featured a script by […]

It should be noted that Peter David intended Miguel to be the “un-” Peter Parker. Whereas Peter was obsessed with “power and responsibility,” Miguel really wanted nothing to do with heroism and was a lot more self-centered. (He grew out of that as the series progressed.) PAD made an in-joke about this in a later issue, where Miguel’s holographic assistant showed various other personas she could use…including one that resembled Aunt May. “Kill that one,” Miguel said.

Peter David, Rick Leonardi, AND Al Williamson (One of my top 5 comic artists of all time) on a book together? This has to be the best book you’ve featured in this column so far. I worked a booth with Rick Leonardi at NYCC last year and almost every person who came up to talk to him praised his work on Spider-Man 2099. I had never paid attention to the 2099 line but it sounds like it must’ve been a good book and made an impact for people to remember it so fondly 20 years later.

Wow. Seriously, are you sure about this?
Why don’t you review something easier, like Cyberforce, Spawn, WildCats?
I guess that they would suit your column best.

And seriously, how the hell people were supposed to know that 2013 will be as shitty as 1992?

@chakal, I avoided responding to you when you complained about the feature during the X-Force column, but seriously … what is your problem? If you feel this column is such a waste of time, don’t read or comment on it and if you want to talk further about what you dislike about my writing style e-mail me at markginocchio at gmail dot com and we can talk more about your opinions offline. There hasn’t been a single piece of mine where there wasn’t at least 1 or 2 people who didn’t disagree with the verdict (and in many cases, many more) and just in these comments alone, there are a bunch of people who feel rather “meh” about 2099 or are unfamiliar with this story, so your outburst here feels unnecessary. You seem to feel that this column is a personal affront to your sensibilities and that just makes no sense. It’s a fun little feature that was born out of the fact that a lot of the 90s gimmicks and storylines are being revived in modern comics.

I missed the whole 2099 thing because I stopped reading Marvel comics entirely for pretty much the entire decade of the 1990s, but I read the first trade of this run for the first time a couple weeks ago. It took me a while to get into it because it did have a bit of that ’90s sensibility and I found Miguel to be kind of a jerk, but I soon settled into the fun of it. It never quite became my cup of tea, so I dunno whether I’ll get around to the second trade or not, but I liked it a little better than Spider-Girl, anyway, just because I like David’s writing better than DeFalco’s.

“I found some of the futuristic details of the 2099 universe – the flying cars and holograms – to be a little trite.”

As the saying goes, nothing ages faster than the future. That has always been the bane of science fiction, especially in stories that are set only a few decades in the future. On an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, while watching the 1961 sci-fi movie Phantom Planet, which was set in the far-off future year of 1980, Crow T. Robot dryly commented “Oh, our old future.” :)

I did not follow Spider-Man 2099 regularly, but I have several issues, and I thought Peter David did some good, solid writing on the title. And the artwork, with Rick Leonardi inked by the legendary Al Williamson, was amazing. In retrospect, I am actually surprised that I didn’t end up following Spider-Man 2099, whereas I did collect other stuff that, 20 years later, I really don’t like anymore. So I’m glad that there have been a couple of TPBs released. Gives me the opportunity to see what I missed the first time out.

By the way, I once blogged about “the old future.”


That said, 2099 is far enough off that I seriously doubt if the majority of us will still be around to see if Marvel’s vision of the future comes true or not. I’ve written some science fiction, just for fun, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to see anything published. But I always try to set my stories at least 100 years in the future. That way, if somehow something I wrote ever does get printed, a century from now I won’t have to be around to find out that I totally messed up in my predictions of how the future would look :)

@Greg Hatcher
Luckily, he did get to finish X-Factor how he wanted. At least the Jamie Madrox team, if the all new Marvel Now “Corporate” ad refers to a new X-Factor team.

This book….

So, it came out when I was first getting into comics, roughly the same time as the “Death of Superman” hype (yes, I jumped on the band wagon then). Since trying to get a copy of Superman #75 was out of the question on my allowance, I went looking for whatever comic I could own that I could show off to my friends. “Oh, you have “Stormwatch” #1? Here’s my “Spider-man 2099″ #1.”

Well, that didn’t really help, but for all my friends who had every first issue of an Image comic from 1992, I still have my collection and I still have this issue. I actually had my younger brother buy it since I was strapped for cash after buying some X-Men book, I suppose. I think I made a deal with him that if he bought it and let me take care of it then, when I sold it for big bucks because that was what was happening in the early 90s, then I would give him the money. Yeah…that never happened.

I don’t like Rik Leonardi’s old fill-in X-Men work, but this is GORGEOUS.

People saying they like this interior work is blowing me away. It was the best written 2099 title (overall), but it looked like SHIT, as did all the rest of the line.

Something that rarely gets mentioned is how much of a debt Batman Beyond owes to Spider-Man 2099. Batman Beyond is Lee/Ditko Spider-Man meets Spider-Man 2099 meets Dark Knight Returns. But the black and red costume with no traditional boots and gloves, the under-arm accessories that also work as gliders, the future setting, the evil megacorporation, the Irish last name even…a LOT of similarities there.

“Warren Ellis did some of his earliest stateside work on Doom 2099. And while not as memorable as a lot of his other stuff, it was pretty solid stuff.”

Marvel clearly thinks it’s worth having in print now; they put out an omnibus collection of Ellis’ Doom 2099 just earlier this year:


I, too, remember this book fondly. The rest of the 2099 line didn’t appeal to me, but I collected this one religiously. I wasn’t terribly keen on the art at the time (although I look at it differently now). It was David’s story that hooked me. I was enjoying his X-Factor run and picked this up on that basis.

Surprised that no-one has yet noted that in the Spider-Man movies, Sam Raimi and co used the organic web-shooters that David conceived of here.

Please tell me Marvel hasn’t resurrected the ‘original’ (as in not-based-on-an-existing-character) titular character from RAVAGE 2099. He sucked.

Jesiah DeChanel

October 14, 2013 at 4:54 am

I loved Spider-Man 2099 as a kid and as I grew up I have most issues. The only thing I thought it lacked were great villains. Nice to see some people give it respect in October 2013. And I also thought batman beyond took a lot from spidey 2099, never thought about the irish last names though, good eye.

“While digging through a quarter bin a few months ago I noticed that Pat Mills was the main writer of Punisher 2099. I wish I would have picked up those issues now.”

You should grab a few and see if you like it. If you do, they’re all basically exactly the same, so presumably if you dig one you’ll dig them all.

Spider and GR 2099 was awesome, maybe with a different creative teams and ideas it would have been released for another few years.

As evidenced by my screen name I loved the 2099 universe. I was impressed with the whole 2099 concept when it came out but not necessarily all of the titles. I picked up Spidey and Doom religiously. I loved those books. X Men 2099 and Ghost Rider 2099 were good too. Ravage, Punisher, Fantastic Four and Hulk 2099 weren’t that great (Punisher had potential though). Fantastic Four was really irritating actually. Also at some point characters needed to stop saying it was the year 2099. Nothing wring with keeping the 2099 title, just stop referring to the year in the comics or something.

It was sad when the line started to decline. When Cavelieri was let go that was pretty much it. Story quality and art drastically declined.

What I didn’t get was why they didn’t connect the 2099 Universe to the Onslaught saga. In the 2099 books there was always talk of how the heroic age ended when all the heroes mysteriously disappeared. At the end of the Onslaught saga that’s exactly what happened. To me that would have been a perfect segue into that timeline. But I digress. They’ve tried to capitalize on 2099 a couple times since but it hasn’t been the same. The original concept borrowed heavily from Blade Runner and the like. I’d like to see an update on the concept borrowing from Neil Blomkamp and Joseph Kosinski. I think that would be interesting. For now at least we get to see Spidey and Doom showing up in the present day Marvel U.

And by “segue” into 2099 I mean just say the 2099 books sprang from a reality where the heroes never came back after Onsalught. One of many possible futures.

I won this comic on ebay and it was amazing!!!!

I just also won numbers 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,24,25,26,27,and28!!!

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