A quick preface, these issues likely wouldn’t be found in the quarter-bin, but if you do find them there, snatch’em up!
Recently I completed a run of Spider-Man 2099 #s 35 through 38, a four issue arc featuring the debut of Venom 2099, an alternate future counterpart to Spider-Man’s “negative”. I call this the Venom 2099 saga because it’s not only a story arc spanning four issues, but a journey spanning 19 years. Okay, that might be a bit heavy handed, but my acquisition of Spider-Man 2099 #35 was actually a reacquisition. I bought (or had my mom buy from the grocery store) SM2099 35 when it was new. Oh, I had been averse to Spider-Man 2099 because it was in some alternate future with weird characters I wasn’t familiar with, but that didn’t matter this month, because Venom 2099 was there, and he looked awesome. You see, as a kid I was often swayed by cool covers and art inside, and the story was secondary. I dare say not too much has changed for me, but I’ve managed to resist buying up most of the “cool” looking things I see and focus on completing runs or series or any other sort of set you want to come up with.
Regardless, I had SM2099 35, with the debut of Venom 2099. I had what I gather is the primary cover, and I thought it was cool. However, being a kid, it got left in my Lego bin. Most all of my other comics were taken care of, usually bagged, and all stored in their own box, but for some reason this issue fell through the cracks. I think it might have been an issue of the cover accidentally ripping off (as is prone to happen sometimes, even with careful reading) and I just gave up on it and left it lying around. The cover eventually disintegrated, and now a coverless copy of SM2099 35 is probably floating around the closet of my old bedroom in my parent’s house. As I grew older, losing that comic was something that stuck out to me; I had let myself down as a collector and if I could get another copy I could make things right again.
Except by the time I got to looking, the price for the Venom 2099 issues was not something I expected. While earlier Spider-Man 2099 issues populate quarter-bins and random stacks of comics at flea markets, these later issues suffered from low print runs as the 2099 line began to whither. While other issues online were around the one to two dollar range, these were five to seven, and if you look on ebay you can see delusions of grandeur set in. A complete set of eight (regular covers and variants) for $50? Nah. Some think these issues are worth like ten or twenty dollars apiece, and you usually can’t find them for under five. Factor in shipping, and suddenly I’m looking at way too much money to spend on something that I know in my heart of hearts isn’t actually worth that much. Caught between wanting the issues and not wanting to pay $40 or $50 for them, I was stuck in limbo. Then, my salvation came in the form of a local comic book shop. Coast City Comics, where I had picked up the Police Academy cartoon issue in the quarter-bin, had all four issues, at a lovely $3.00 each. I happily paid $12.00 for all four, aware that it was far lower than anything I could hope to find online. So the Venom 2099 saga is not just about future-Venom, it’s about the value of waiting. Online shopping can make things easier; you can things quicker, and sometimes cheaper. But take a second and visit the local comic store, see what they have in stock. You might find a better price, especially factoring in shipping, and get a deal for comics priced to sell, rather than be nickeled and dimed for things auto-relisted on ebay ad infinitum.
So that’s the prologue (and I suppose the epilogue) to the Venom 2099 saga. But what of the books it took me years to recover? Let’s begin with Venom 2099’s first appearance, Spider-Man 2099 #35!
Without getting too bogged down with the storylines preceding this issue, Tyler Stone has been rushed to a medical facility, and 2099’s president, Doom 2099, exonerates his girlfriend of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, somebody named Bloodhammer and/or Bloodmace is sitting around with his cohort, talking about Tyler Stone, when black goop attacks! Bloodmace ends up having his flesh dissolved leaving nothing but bones, and bam, we got ourselves a Venom 2099! Spider-Man 2099’s been swinging around, then Miguel O’Hara (SM2099’s alter ego) is trying to talk to some woman in a car, then tries to talk to what I presume is his ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Venom 2099 slithers into the hospital where Tyler Stone is being kept through a drain (because he’s all liquid, we now find out), and Miguel O’Hara’s there (conveniently delivering the exposition that Tyler Stone is his real father), when double bam, Venom 2099 busts in with a dramatically posed splash page. It should also be noted up to this point the pages have had a border of black symbiote goop that’s been growing and growing, to minimal effect. It just looks kind of silly. But anyhoo, Miguel throws a punch, but discovers Venom 2099 is made of acid, kinda(?), absconds to change into his Spider-togs, and we’re left with a cliffhanger of an ensuing battle next month.
Overall, a plot heavy issue, with the end result being a tease for action next month. Fine enough, and there’s some mystery to Venom’s origin and existence without it being the ridiculous “show up now, we’ll fill in a backstory later” kind of mystery. Venom 2099’s design is something that’s grown on me to where I really like it. He has an entire white face with red eyes and “Venom mouth” (giant tongue and pointy teeth), a simple black body with a separate, three-dimensional white spider wrapped around his torso, and some gnarly claws on his feet and hands. Maybe it could have strayed farther from the original Venom design, but if we’re to believe this is descended from the original Venom (or maybe even the same symbiote) and the fact that they’re calling it “Venom 2099” justifies keeping it closer to the one we’re familiar with. Whether or not another character in the vein of “Modern Day Character 2099” was necessary is debatable, but I suppose it’s a moot point (at least for another 85 years).
Up next is Spider-Man 2099 #36. Will an actual battle between Spidey and Venom take place? Will we find out any more of Venom’s origin? Having never read the subsequent Venom 2099 issues, I have no idea, so I’m just as excited as you are.