Monday, 7 December 2015

Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 1: Out of Time (Marvel NOW!) Review

Starring the time period that definitely
ISN'T on the cover.
Writer: Peter David

Artists: Rick Leonardi and William Sliney

Collects: Spider Man 2099 #1-5 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2099 excerpt).

Background Information:

The Spider-Man of 2099 is a creation of the 90s- one of the few to remain unhated since the era passed. The story goes that in 2099, Miguel O'Hara got his genes spliced with that of a spider, and became that era's Spidey.

With us so far?

Good, because in Dan Slott's Superior Spider-Man, Miguel was transported back to our time because some truly whacky things were happening with the space-time continuum. During that time, he became stranded there and found himself having to protect his great-grandfather, Tiberius Stone.

Review:

Not knowing where a series is going is often a good thing. Not knowing if the series really wants to go anywhere? Not so much.

That's the feeling I get when reading Out of Time; a book that shows plenty of potential for the series- but doesn't convince you that writer Peter David even cares about capitalising on it.

Is it just me, or would all the Spider-characters make awesome
ballerinas?
So Miguel is now working at Alchemax- a relatively young company now that will become an evil
monopoly by 2099- and hasn't he just achieved every millenial's dream?! He's entered the company on an executive level and done so just by showing up. After a futuristic cop tries to kill Miguel; forcing him to take him on as Spider-Man, Alechemax boss Liz Allen figures out that her out-of-the-blue worker and the Spidey with a skull on his chest are one and the same. She comes with a proposition: work for Alchemax as Spidey, or get outed as the same.

Have a guess which one Miguel choses.

To be fair; this is a good status-quo. Liz is clearly in control here, and Miguel has no choice but to follow suite. It leads him, for example, to follow Tiberius into what is either the Middle East or South America for the express purpose of selling Spider-Slayers. It also allows him to see the other super-types that Alchemax has under their employ. Here's a clue: they're bad people.

David has also written a great supporting cast here. He's been wise to keep the supporting cast relatively small. We're introduced to Tempest, a landlord who's been diagnosed with leukaemia and therefore doesn't let others get close to her. We're also re-introduced to Lyla- Miguel's wrist-mounted Siri-like hologram. It's her interjections and take-everything-literally mistakes that bring some of the more sunny moments to this book.

This could all work into a situation like what we have in DC's Grayson, where the title character is now working within the evil group to bring it down, but we don't get that here. David created the original Spidey 2099 character in the 90s, and presumably knows Miguel's relationship with Alchemax isn't great. It feels like a lost opportunity.

Spider-Slayers take tag seriously.
And I don't think David is likely to take advantage of this. The series is set to be re-numbered after volume 2 (which is based more around the Spider-Verse crossover) and bring Miguel back into the future. I don't think one volume is enough to really capitalise on the really intriguing status-quo that David has set-up. I know it's unfair to judge one volume on what comes next, but when you get invested in a series, you want a guarantee that your investment is going to result in a fully-realised story and it doesn't look like it will be.

The art is fine, but unmemorable. There's nothing particularly ugly here, but I couldn't tell this artwork from the myriad of other art styles out there. It thankfully doesn't get in the way of David's writing, though and even allows it to be as witty or engaging as you can. Here, you're reading a story more than looking at pictures.

It's a rare moment when I have a five-star love for a book but know that there are legitimate flaws. As much as I love Out of Time, I still have to give it a three out of five wrist-mounted Siris.