Out this week is the collection edition of Steve Orlando’s 184-page and seven-issue epic focused on Spider-Man 2099. More broadly, it covers multiple 2099 characters as Orlando takes a stab at adding to the mythos with new characters, clever hooks into techno-futurism, and more Spider-Man 2099. Given that Spider-Man 2099 is going to be a prominent character in the upcoming Spider-Verse movie, now is as good a time as any to dive into new adventures with the character.
Spider-Man 2099: Exodus collects Spider-Man 2099: Omega #1, Spider-Man 2099: Exodus #1-5, and Spider-Man 2099: Exodus Omega. It opens with Spider-Man 2099 running into Ghost Rider 2099, weaving in villains like Crossbones of the future, and introducing readers to Winter Soldier 2099 and the X-Men 2099. It’s as radical as it sounds, especially for a ’90s kid like myself.
As soon as you crack this book open, you’ll find how the creative team fundamentally understands the character. The setting is great, the look of Spider-Man 2099 is spot on, and the general vibe is cool as hell – as the preview shows, Spider-Man dives into a situation that requires a vigilante hero. Things soon get dangerous with explosions getting set off, and a McGuffin is introduced.
Fry draws a great Spider-Man 2099, right down to his curled toes. The look is spot-on — the tattered web cape adds good movement, and he even gets to show us a riff on the costume at one point. The futuristic, technological look of the book is great thanks to the colors by Neeraj Menon. There are some key hologram effects later on in the issue that are great, and Ghost Rider’s flaming head is so bright it’s practically blinding. You’ll also want a full-page splash of Ghost Rider in poster form. It’s just that cool. Fry draws the first and last issue of the series, giving his visuals a bookended feel to the story.
That cool techno-future vibe isn’t the only draw to the story. This issue sets up a problem only Miguel can resolve to hook readers for more. The story moves quickly, with scenes never feeling slow or overly expository. It can sometimes feel almost too chaotic, but you’ll never feel bored. The cliffhanger should also have casual Spider-Man fans interested in what comes next.
Letters by Joe Caramagna are excellent, with tons of emphasis in bold as needed. Shouts nearly burst from word balloons, and sound effects are well placed. Clayton Cowles also takes over for specific issues, delivering the top-notch work we’ve come to expect from both.
The second chapter in this narrative focuses mainly on Winter Soldier 2099. We get insights into her backstory, how she was made by the Russians, and the cool special powers she has that suit this dystopian futuristic world. I will admit I wanted more Spider-Man 2099 in this issue, but he serves as the tale’s bookend, so there’s some cohesiveness. Thankfully, Orlando builds on the 2099 lore we know with logical character rebrands for the future and great techno-speak.
This issue serves as an origin for Winter Soldier 2099 as well as building toward the larger story, which is a common theme as the story plays out. Both work well, thanks partly to a big superhero vs. supervillain showdown. If you’re familiar with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Metabarons or his other iconic sci-fi work, this issue will feel right at home regarding future tech and ideas introduced here.
Art by Dave Wachter and colors by Carlos Lopez suit the techno-organic design of Winter Soldier 2099. You see the skill in the cracks in Winter Soldier 2099’s face as if she’s got skin flaps instead of real skin. The organic nature of this character and the main villain is also expertly done. I’d wager the villain is the standout artistic element in the issue, as he’s a mix of skin and metal. The environments look good, especially a “garden” Winter Soldier 2099 goes to. Lopez makes all the hues of trunks and water come to life.
It’s not a huge spoiler to point out that Norman Osborn is the main villain. He’s been brought back, and he’s as evil as ever, desiring to crush another Spider-Man. He is cast as the maniacal villain who serves only the rich and powerful. Aside from that, this collection does a bang-up job of making the 2099 universe feel bright and wide open for more storytelling. It’s a rarity for this franchise to get the attention it does here, and hopefully, it inspires Marvel to continue telling stories.
Regarding gripes, it’s unfortunate that Spider-Man 2099 isn’t the main character in every issue. He takes a heavy side step out of the main narrative to allow Orlando to play with other characters. Given how great Spider-Man 2099 is in the opening issue, it’s hard to get over his focus being distant. The final issue also becomes a major fight that can sometimes look a bit sloppy. While each artist brings a lot of talent to this book, the multiple artists make for an erratic read. The finale also comes rushing to detail how things are left off, and Norman is beaten in a rather unsatisfying way.
There’s a lot to like in Spider-Man 2099: Exodus, from its cool-as-hell visuals to its bold new direction for the future mythos. It’s also bright and loud, with a main story that feels at home next to culturally significant sci-fi like Tron and Blade Runner. It does suffer, however, from the many different artists and a finale that doesn’t feel as large as the beginning of this story promises.
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