The third chapters of “Spider-Man 2099” arcs have typically been the slowest issues of this series. The creators, writer Peter David and artist Will Sliney, are great at establishing conflict and building new worlds, but it’s obvious that they write for the trade, complete six issue arcs. Spider-Man 2099 #15 falls into this same pattern. It adds new details and deeper understanding to 2099 and its inhabitants, but never shifts the bigger story into the next gear.
Peter David goes deep on the world building in this issue, but it’s much denser and more complicated than in issues past. Here, he’s explaining the buracrecies, hierarchies and allegiences of this universe. For once in a comic, extra exposition is actually very welcome, if not essential, to understanding the situation. The Power Pack of 2099 explains the power structure of Nueva York not only features Alchemax and its shady CEO, but also a president, lawmakers and its own S.H.I.E.L.D. On one level, all of these entities (government, business and law enforcement) seem to have a copesetic relationship, but Nikola Fury describes a situation where Alchemax seems to be the all-powerful hand that guides lawmakers and law enforcement. She definitely is her grandfather’s granddaughter, an independent thinker who is skeptical of all authority. Through her character, the creators show that the world isn’t exactly the black and white dystopia that has been portrayed in the past. Not everyone is on board with Alchemax’s actions and there are many more shades of grey when it comes to right and wrong.
David has turned this series into an infinity fountain of 2099-based 90s nostalgia, and once again he delivers more Easter eggs for original readers. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s floating base of Asgard first appeared in the only original 2099 crossover, “The Fall of the Hammer.” Bloodhawk, Skullfire and Luna, aka La Lunatica, were all members of “X-Men 2099.”
The big problem with this arc and its stakes are that we’ve already seen this exact scenario play out in Marvel’s original Civil War. The government is cracking down on super-powered beings, even though it has its own stable of capes. The most tangible difference between the two scenarios is that in 2099, the reader and characters are aware that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ side to the battle, even if certain heroes have noble intentions to following corrupt orders.
This issue features so many different characters, and each one gives Will Sliney new opportunities to showcase his spectacular facial expressions. The expressions on these faces convey so much emotion, especially in the scenes involving Strange, Punisher or Harry Mendez; it’s almost a shame that so many characters wear masks in this issue. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg may be the issue’s artistic MVP, her color palette adds so much context every page. There’s a stark contrast between the neons of the city and the warm natural light inside Strange’s home. Even when the scenes occur downtown, the windows in the empty buildings reflect a subtle neon from the metropolis further uptown. Primary colors are only used for Captain America and the Power Pack, making those characters pop off the page with a bold and sharp look. The only weakness in the art may be the Incredible Hulk of 2099 who hasn’t looked very intimidating and the only noticeable difference from his 2016 counterpart is his mohawk/mullet.
This issue gives us some very fun twists and an awesome assortment of characters, but this is ultimately still a story about Miguel trying to find Roberta in 2099 and bringing her back to the present. There are seemingly no stakes to the conflict and no reason for Miguel to insert himself into this “Civil War 2099,” reminding me of how I felt about “Secret Wars 2099”: a time to hit pause on the main narrative to tell a completely separate story that only slightly ties in to the company crossover.
Spider-Man 2099 #15 dives deeper into the world of 2099, but never takes the story or the stakes to the next level.