This analysis covers SPIDER-MAN 2099 #1-10 (1992).

Oftentimes, when we experience a superhero’s story for the first time, not only does the character grip us, but also the world they pull us into. Miguel O’Hara, the man who would become Spider-Man in the year 2099, was created by writer Peter David and artist Rick Leonardi in 1992. The character was ultimately intended to exemplify our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man if he were to exist in a bleak, dystopian future.

Despite the fact that SPIDER-MAN 2099 encompasses an adaptation of the Spider-Man character we know, the story is more than just a reinterpretation of Peter Parker’s history. It displaces the character in a vastly different setting in which the man behind the mask must become a reluctant hero.

Thus, upon first glance, one may not necessarily define SPIDER-MAN 2099 as an orthodox Spider-Man tale. Though, it is safe to say that there is no set baseline for a “Spider story” in the first place. Consequently, this is why SPIDER-MAN 2099 is an exemplary and innovative depiction of the webhead we know and love.

spider-man 2099 first appearance
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Making My Way Uptown

The reason why the scope of SPIDER-MAN 2099 is so broad is due in part to the vastness of the world Peter David established in the series’ narrative. Firstly, there is an abundance of futuristic elements that distinguish our world from that of the year 2099. Characteristics of the cyberpunk genre populate each and every panel. Flying cars roam New York City, soaring between the vast skyscrapers.

Cutting edge, technological innovation establishes the world of 2099. The titular character, Miguel O’Hara, has his very own holographic A.I. assistant named Lyla. Lyla arguably knows Miguel better than anyone else in his life simply because of her programming designed to be in tune with Miguel’s habits.

Now, in this midst of all this eye-popping, futuristic details, there is an overarching darkness looming over the New York of 2099.

New York City has built upon itself. Yes, soaring towers populate the landscape of the city. These skyscrapers are more than just structures, though; they exemplify the socio-economic division amongst New Yorkers.

spider-man 2099 Cover
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The wealthy live in a place referred to as “Uptown.” “Uptown” signifies the wealthy’s residence in the penthouses throughout the city’s skyscrapers. Meanwhile, the individuals who are struggling to get by, live on the lower levels of those skyscrapers, or “Downtown.”

Thus, to most New Yorkers, staring up at a skyscraper signifies more than just an awe at the building itself. It signifies a longing for escape from “Downtown” living.

Unfortunately for most people, though, that hope is a fleeting thing, lost with the death of the Age of Heroes.

The Once and Future Spider-Man

The Age of Heroes refers to the period of time in which figures such as the “Peter Parker Spider-Man,” Thor, Iron Man, etc. defended the world. In that age, individuals all over the world maintained hope that the world would never totally descend into chaos thanks to these heroes.

By the year 2099 though, these heroes are long gone. The skies are empty. The present is dismal, and chaos reigns.

Consequently, the preexisting tone of SPIDER-MAN 2099 is a dark one. Though, a variety of genres intersect within the narrative to ultimately flesh out that tone. That very intersection is what truly distinguishes SPIDER-MAN 2099 as its own Spider-Man story.

SPIDER-MAN 2099 is primarily comprised of elements of science fiction. This is quite apparent in the cyberpunk setting in addition to the existence of characters such as Lyla and the cyborg bounty-hunter, Venture.

As previously mentioned, technology has engulfed the world of 2099. Technology has displaced humans in a variety of contexts. Therefore, there is a visible tension between humanity and the disconnect that comes with the technological. For example, Lyla emits a convincing façade of humanity in her seemingly genuine interactions with Miguel. However, those “authentic” interactions derive from her design and are thus contrived.

spider-man 2099 Red and Black Suit
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Becoming Spider-Man 2099

So, the resurgence of Spider-Man in 2099 is more than just a hopeful reintroduction of a major figure from the Age of Heroes. This resurgence provides the people of 2099 with a tangible figure to put hope in. He is someone they can identify with since he maintains a sense of humanity.

Though, some are willing to go as far as to perceive that the Spider-Man of 2099 is, in fact, a god.

Specifically, a sect known as the Thorites, who fervently await the return of the God of Thunder, Thor, believe Spider-Man’s return to be a prophetic one, previewing the eventual return of the Age of Heroes.

Interestingly, this grand faith in Spider-Man from the Thorites greatly juxtaposes Miguel’s perception of himself as a hero. As mentioned before, he’s a reluctant hero. His reasons for becoming Spider-Man all stem from his efforts to survive.

The way he obtained the powers of Spider-Man in the first place was out of an effort to avoid succumbing to the effects of an addictive, DNA-binding drug. Thus, he obtained his abilities out of a need to maintain a tether to his identity. His first fight against a true supervillain arose from a need to defend himself as Venture was sent as a bounty hunter to kill him.

So, the Spider-Man persona began through complete improvisation and desperation.

Thus, Miguel O’Hara’s journey to becoming Spider-Man was in no way out of a desire to become a hero that saves others. Though, one must not interpret that as a quality that makes Miguel less heroic as a Spider-Man. Once Miguel began his heroic journey, he never looked back.

Spider-Man 2099 White Suit
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

SPIDER-MAN 2099: What Lies Beyond

Upon first glance, some may interpret Miguel O’Hara as an unlikely Spider-Man. Though, that interpretation probably stems from comparing Miguel to Peter Parker. Thus, the distinction of Miguel’s reality is vital to truly understanding the Spider-Man 2099 character. The world he exists in is vastly different from that of Peter Parker. Ultimately, the very world he exists in is what drives him to become the Spider-Man he is.

Of course, Peter David’s characterization of Miguel O’Hara gives us a vignette of his interpretation of Spider-Man. However, without the world of 2099 that David built, the story would be missing its core.

So, take a trip back to the future to experience hope, rebirth, and imagination.

The year is 2099, and our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man has revived the Age of Heroes.

2 Comments

  1. John Loen

    John Loen

    March 18, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Missing Spidey 2099 the last couple years.

    Reply

  2. Tarik DeFriez

    Tarik DeFriez

    March 18, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Love 2099!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *