Last time on the Monday Morning Quarter-Bin, we took a look at the first part of the Venom 2099 story arc running through Spider-Man 2099 35-38. Issue 35 introduced the character of Venom 2099, and was an issue and character that had intrigued me since I got it as a child when it was new. Sadly, my youth caused that issue’s cover to disintegrate, and I never bothered with the subsequent issues. Now, though, I’m righting the wrong; I’ve found all four issues of the story arc and we’re at Spider-Man 2099, number 36!
First off, the issue makes no bones about the hype surrounding the Venom 2099 character; the demonic looking black and white creature is full and center, with his own name in the “title section” of the cover, relegating Spider-Man 2099 to a small blurb underneath. I suppose if you have a Spider-Man alternate universe series, the introduction of that universe’s Venom, Spider-Man’s “negative”, antithesis, the “anti-Spider-Man”, should be a big deal, and this is giving the character a strong push rather than wasting what could be a breakout character.
Issue 35 introduced Venom 2099, in a somewhat mysterious fashion, and as alluded to at the end of that issue, the next issue picks up with a full on battle between Spidey and this newfound nemesis. As was implied in the previous issue, Venom 2099 is surmised to “secrete a skin-eating acid”, which plays into his jagged, caustic look. After a few blows, Venom leaves the body he had been possessing to leap to a doctor, leaving behind a smoking, raw body in its wake as Spidey describes “the stench of burnt flesh”. Clearly this is taking the symbiote possession to another level. Venom goes all Plastic Man on us, turning his arms into wacky weapons like a mace and whip, before knocking Spidey out of the highrise medical facility they had been fighting in. After creating some separation, Venom is confronted by the futuristic police/security force present in the 2099 universe (SHIELD?), and Venom quickly makes short work of them, this time with some of their own guns (What if Venom 2099 Possessed Punisher 2099? – Gold, that’s what).
Regrouping, Miguel O’Hara is now in charge of Alchemax after Tyler Stone was taken out (alluded to in last issue, a longer arcing story that extends beyond this). Miguel calls off the dogs on Spider-Man, his alter ego, and asks for historical references to “Venom”. Then, Miguel O’Hara’s mom commits suicide, again probably part of the larger arcing story I’m not privy too. Still, seeing some older lady put a gun underneath her jaw and do the deed was quite shocking.
We end this issue with Venom 2099 tracking down Miguel O’Hara at the Alchemax offices, tearing through staff members and finally confronting Miguel with a Sophie’s choice over the lives of Xina and Dana, Miguel’s dueling love interests: “You see these two? One of ’em gets to live…on your say so…while the other dies. You’ve got five seconds to decide…or I’ll just kill them…both. Choose.” An effective cliffhanger, because I’m officially sucked into this saga. What does Venom 2099 have to do with the original Venom? What is his beef with Miguel O’Hara and Spider-Man? How does he know the secret identity? Can Miguel save both Dana and Xina? All these questions and more, same Spider-Time, same Spider-Website (hey, a pun!). It’ll be Spider-Man 2099 issue 37, and it’s gonna be awesome.
(PS, as far as critiquing, I find the writing to be compelling, with a mixture of personal drama and super-hero action, but the art in this issue was a little clunkier than in the previous issues).