I honestly haven’t been a huge fan of Spider-Man 2099 since the “Spider-Verse” tie-ins started a couple of months ago. I could just be projecting, but the awkward insertion of this storyline feels reminiscent to what inevitably doomed Peter David’s run on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man a few years ago. David is a phenomenal storyteller, and it very well just may be that he was completely on board with Spider-Man 2099 being used as a conduit for “Spider-Verse,” but the problem is, by connecting this book with this arc (arbitrarily or not), it has sucked all of the flow out of the larger narrative focusing on Miguel O’Hara’s “fish out of water” story that the previous issues were depicting. Considering we were only a handful of issues into 2099 before this changeover happened, my biggest fear is by the time David gets his hands back on Miguel, without interruptions, interest in the series will have waned and 2099 may once again be on the chopping block (keep in mind, this is all just baseless speculation on my part).
With all that said, I do think those driving the main “Spider-Verse” narrative in Amazing Spider-Man could learn a thing or two from what David has managed to do in Spider-Man 2099 vis a vis this storyline. Spider-Man 2099 #7, the latest installment in this series, and the third and (I believe/hope) final tie-in to “Spider-Verse,” is a rollicking good time filled with cameos/reveals that are legitimate surprises (and fun ones at that). It’s just a shame that, at the end of the day, I can’t see how these three issues of Spider-Man 2099 provided me with any insights regarding “Spider-Verse,” making the last few months feel inconsequential in retrospect – something, as many of you should note, I absolutely abhor in my comic buying/reading experience.
Yes, I want my comics to be fun, feature some good old fashioned superheroics, and look pretty on the inside, and Spider-Man 2099 #7 has all of these things in spades, but unless I’m missing a seismic plot development, it appears that Miguel O’Hara and his new sidekick of sorts, Steampunk Lady Spider, are really no closer to helping the Spiders overcome the Inheritors than they were before this arc began. I understand that Miguel and Lady Spider studied the DNA of the cloned version of Daemos that they had captured, but the results of their research seemed quite inconclusive by issue’s end when Daemos offs himself inside his prison in order to draw another clone out of the woodwork. And then on the very final panel of the story, Miguel and Lady Spider find themselves in the Safe Zone, where the rest of the Spiders have already vanished.
This is just frustrating storytelling at its finest. In essence, the last three issues of Spider-Man 2099 have been an exercise of futility for the main characters, casting a shadow of irrelevance over the series and its impact on “Spider-Verse.” I’m sure Dan Slott wants to share all the big reveals for himself within the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, but as I very disappointingly expressed in my write-up of Amazing Spider-Man #12 last week, “Spider-Verse” is a narrative in dire need of forward thrust and economy. So much so, that it’s even dragging the tie-in storylines into the morass. With word that Spider-Verse #2, which comes out later this week, will feature even MORE alternative Spider characters, I have officially reached the point of exhaustion with this storyline.
Would it have been so hard for Miguel and Lady Spider to come away from their arc with a bit of a victory against the Inheritors rather than just rehash of the same old, same old (Spider meets Inheritor. Spider fights Inheritor. Spider gets killed by Inheritor. Remaining Spiders flee. Rinse, repeat)? Or is the object of this storyline to punish its readership while simultaneously distracting them with shiny objects like new character reveals and parallel worlds? All the while building towards some kind of flukey ending that says nothing about the heroism of one Peter Parker (or Miguel, or Miles Morales, or Jessica Drew, or any of these characters, really).
Despite these sentiments, I still thought it was great fun when David dusted the mothballs of Punisher 2099 – not necessarily a character I ever enjoyed reading about, but still the kind of “anything can happen” fun that this mopey, dour story is lacking at every turn. Watching Punisher whack Daemos with a baseball bat, before obliterating him with a plasma canon was especially fun. But again, does any of this really matter?
The good news is, regardless of the story itself, David still manages to write Miguel better than any other creator out there, channeling the character’s snarky charm and wit. The patter is fast-paced and at times, irreverent (in a good, pre-2000s Simpsons kind of way), filled with double takes and snicker-worthy one-liners. There is very clearly a pulse to Spider-Man 2099 and signs of a book that I really want to read about and devour every month, but until it separates itself from all of the larger events, the comic still feels a bit like homework for me right now, which is not something I anticipated when this series launched in July.