Like the seasons passing, Marvel Comics today has moved from one end to a new beginning. Don’t let that chill fool you, true believer — what you’re feeling is the end of Absolute Carnage and the beginning of a 2099 story! This week Nick Spencer and Viktor Bogdanovic are introducing us to the main thread of the 2099 resurgence and why the heck Dr. Doom 2099 is such a threat. This first issue also introduces the five main players to keep our eyes on as the multitude of miniseries begins to release!
As first issues go, this book needs to be read at least twice to fully understand what is going on. There are some narrative choices I’ll get into later that make the first read confusing, but once you’re finished you will certainly be on board for what is going on with the 2099 big picture. The book opens with all-out war in the streets as police attempt to hold back barbarian-looking baddies wielding hammers. There’s enough here to show there is unrest in the world, which directly leads to check-in with Spider-Man 2099, and eventually Dr. Doom and a certain cosmic someone having a conversation about the state of the world. It’s the Dr. Doom scenes that are clearest to understand. The idea behind this entire series is sound and it should give the creators doing their spin-off miniseries plenty to work with.
The art by Victor Bogdanovic is quite good and should make fans of Todd McFarlane or Greg Capullo very happy. It’s dark in tone and suits the narrative. The sci-fi world looks great too, especially in a double-page splash featuring Nueva York. Dr. Doom’s scenes steal the show thanks to the superhero stuff going on, but other scenes are still compelling to look at even if they are devoid of heroes. That cosmic character I mentioned gets a spectacular full-page splash you won’t want to miss.
As I said above, it may take two reads to get what is going on here. There’s a key transition that has only captions and some kind of moon orb thing in the panel that requires you keep reading to figure out who is even talking. That makes the voices and their intentions difficult to grasp. The biggest problem lies with the opening scene and another meatier scene two thirds through the book. The opening scene establishes the chaos in the streets but gives you nearly nothing to go on with the hammers. Later, there’s a sequence that spends a lot of time establishing a criminal running from the law who gets some help from a dude on a motorcycle. You won’t actually know why these characters matter until the final page. Speaking of which, on this last page there’s a tease for Conan, Ghost Rider, Punisher, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man series, which serves as a guide to why many of the scenes in the book mattered. Structurally the book doesn’t hang itself on anything right off the bat, which is confusing in itself and makes it hard to follow as the book goes on. It reads like a collection of disparate moments that certainly matter, but it’s not immediately obvious how they relate. I ended up putting this down feeling frustrated, even if I’m curious about the big idea of the event itself.
This is a clunky and awkward first step for the 2099 storyline that’ll be sweeping across miniseries. Dr. Doom positively steals the show, but nearly everything else is confusing to read, unclear who or what is going on, and hard to care about. The art is quite strong, but you may put this down feeling frustrated.