The creators of Spider-Man 2099, both Peter David and Will Sliney, have been meticulously setting up dominoes of conflict throughout the first four issues of this new volume of the series. Just a few of these include Miguel’s loss of his girlfriend, Tempest’s mysterious fate and her enigmatic mother, the terrorist attack from The Fist, Miguel’s mission to save 2099, and the shady dealings of his former employer, Alchemax. If readers were hoping for any developments on those plot points in Spider-Man 2099 #5, they may be disappointed. Instead, Peter David and Will Sliney deliver the most action-packed issue of the reboot yet, and while the main plot may be advancing at a slow pace, this is the creators best issue since #1.
This issue is a meat-and-potatoes comics classic: twenty pages of good guys and bad guys fighting each other at the Crossroads of the World. There could be no better way showcase Will Sliney’s art than an issue-long Times Square battle scene and that’s exactly the opportunity Peter David provides. Sliney’s take on the streets of Manhattan has always been one of his strengths on this series, but he’s not always given a lot of opportunities to create detailed cityscapes. By setting this battle in Times Square, Sliney is able to pack the backgrounds with so many fun little Easter eggs, like billboards for the redundant “L’Homme Pour Men” cologne and the Everton Football Club of the Premiere League (obvious delusions of an Irishman artist), that beg for your attention.
Sliney created a 3D model of Times Square to help with the continuity of the scene, which he previously used on the obstacle course from issue #1. My only wish is that Sliney was given an opportunity to really show off the city; there are no double page spreads or big birds-eye view wide shots to be found in this issue. Anyone who’s spent time in Times Square can’t help but be fascinated with the sights and scope of that intersection and while Sliney’s execution is serviceable one cat help but think that different layouts could have yielded even stronger results. Rachelle Rosenberg does a great job with the coloring as this issue features the widest range of palate in all of Spider-Man 2099‘s run, thanks again in part to the sights and lights of Times Square. Additionally, Francesco Mattina deserves a lot of credit for a great cover; it’s a simple image, but is packed with detail and emotion.
Captain America 2099 was a huge part of issue #4, and here, she seems to have been promoted to co-lead of the book. We learn that her super-powered persona is the more omniscient half of Roberta Mendez’s personality and that not only does she have memories of 2099 (and maybe even Battleworld), she’s also smart enough to figure out Miguel’s costumed double-life.
Peter David is obviously playing the long game and weaving a large tapistry with his story. Each issue, he continues to add new pieces to the table and create new conflicts, but hasn’t resolved any of them. Last issue, the focus was on Roberta, and the world-building felt tedious but for some reason this issue is completely different; it spends a lot of page time on Roberta, but because the pacing of the fight is so quick, it feels effortless and therefore more successful.
With a familiar Times Square setting, Spider-Man 2099 #5 makes Manhattan a character for the first time in this series. The issue also manages to take the battle to the next level, introducing more devious threats that need to heroes to handle them, much better than the issue-long warehouse battle from issue #3. However, can the creators continue to introduce new elements without paying off anything? If you weren’t invested in this series from the beginning, would this issue stand on its own? Thanks to a high-stakes action in an iconic setting, I’ve forgotten about the unaddressed plot lines and I highly anticipate the next chapter.
"Spider-Man 2099 #5" is the most action-packed issue of the reboot to date and its fast-paced battle makes it the best chapter since the relaunch, despite not addressing any of the dangling plot points.