Picking up a random volume of a random comic book is kind of a crapshoot. It can be hard to jump into a book with unfamiliar characters, especially if it takes place in the middle of a larger story arc. I took a chance on Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 6, mostly due to Peter David. He created Miguel O’Hara for the original 2099 line, and is known for strong character work, so I figured I’d be in good hands. Also, being a collection, I figured there might be some rewarding, standalone elements. Unfortunately, this gamble ended up being a mostly forgettable read.
This five issue collection focuses, kind of, on an offshoot of the Hand called the Fist. Apparently in previous issues they put Miguel’s girlfriend in a coma and are responsible for some dark future 2099 where enhanced people are hunted by the government. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter much.
There just isn’t much point to any of this collection. The first issue features the classic heroes-fight-then-become-partners scenario, issue two reveals the (throwaway) bad guy’s true plan, issue three is the heroes fighting the bad guy, then issues four and five are thinly connected transition stories that are mostly bad guy fights. By the end it seems like there is some direction for the story, but most of what precedes it is kind of irrelevant. Sure, there are some familiar 2099 faces that pop up indicating that something isn’t quite right, but none of it feels important or impactful. I feel mostly confident that you could skip this whole volume and still not miss much of the overarching story.
David’s writing is fairly underwhelming. Not being familiar with any other 2099 stuff, I don’t know how Miguel is normally portrayed, but here he is a knock-off Peter Parker. He has Peter’s light and jokey attitude, but seems like he spends most of the book just reacting to events. With such a weak plot, I was hoping for some interesting character moments, but didn’t really get any. The few moments where he interacts with characters that influence his life, like Tiberius and Tyler Stone, are interesting and play into the bigger narrative. The rest of his supporting cast is pretty bland though, and Elektra’s guest appearance is pretty insubstantial.
The only bright-ish side to this volume is on the art front. It is generally pretty generic Marvel house style: clean and thin lines, middle-of-the-road panel layouts, and flat digital colors. On the other hand, Will Sliney’s character designs are fresh and sharp. Spider-Man’s design might be offensive to purists, but I think it has a sleek futuristic feel while still retaining Spider-Man-iness. The Iron Man and Electro designs are also notable. Sliney captures the action pretty well, but I would have liked to perhaps see more trademark Spider-Man moves. I think Miguel only uses webbing once or twice in the whole volume.
For me, Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 6 was pretty unremarkable. I don’t think David utilized these issues as well as he could have to tell a compelling story, and the art was okay but nothing hugely special. I’m glad I went out on a limb for the exposure, but I think this volume is best left to people following the larger narrative at play.