Amazing Spider-Man has hit an odd stalling point with this latest story arc involving Spider-Man 2099’s presence in the present. Everything involving Spider-Man 2099 has just not worked because his story has come across as a distraction for everything else going on. Nick Spencer has not gotten Spider-Man 2099’s storyline past feeling like a back-up story. Maybe that will change with the events at the United Nations possibly bringing the present and 2099 Spider-Men together to deal with what is going on with Doctor Doom. Let’s find that out now with Amazing Spider-Man #34.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Matthew Wilson, Dee Cunniffe and Chris O’Halloran
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Spider-Man 2099 wanders down an alley. As he is walking memories of the 2099 future constantly being warped keeps popping to his head. Those memories lead Spider-Man 2099 to remember Doctor Doom 2099 telling him that he is responsible for their timeline becoming so damaged.
Spider-Man 2099 wonders why he trusted and followed Doctor Doom 2099’s orders after this.
At Empire State University, Peter Parker compliments his classmate, Jaime, for creating a device that can look into the multiverse and see all possibilities that there are. Jaime says that the device is still limited due to not having the correct power source.
He goes on to say that is the reason why he wants Peter to help him since Peter has experience with working on these types of devices. Peter isn’t sure but after some talking Jaime is able to convince Peter to work together on this project.
Suddenly alarms start to ring due to the recent breaking news of Doctor Doom being shot that United Nations headquarters.
Outside the United Nations New York City headquarters Countess Karkov orders Hitman to shoot Doctor Doom. Hitman is able to hit Doctor Doom with a headshot. The entire crowd outside the United Nations start running.
In Symkaria, Countess Karkov and Chameleon talk about how she knew Doctor Doom wouldn’t be able to resist a direct challenge from her country. Chameleon reminds Karkov that Latveria is a powerful enemy to make. Karkov doesn’t seem to care as she is expecting even better things to come.
Somewhere in New York City, Spider-Man decides to swing over to check on what is going on at the United Nations. When he gets there Spider-Man is held at gunpoint by security guards. Spider-Man easily gets around them.
When he checks on Doctor Doom the security guards tackle him to the ground. Spider-Man is able to overpower the security guards and reveal that the Doctor Doom that was shot was just a Doombot. The Doombot activates and tasers Spider-Man.
Spider-Man 2099 suddenly shows up and immediately grabs Spider-Man. The Berserker Squad show up and attack the Spider-Men.
Spider-Man 2099 is able to grab hold of Spider-Man again and creates an electric dome shield to protect them both from Doctor Doom and the Berserker Squad.
Spider-Man 2099 then tells Spider-Man that the scientists from his time are working on figuring out how to stop the anomaly that is causing chaos in his timeline. During that investigation they realized that the constant changes that go on due to all the events in the present are causing the 2099 future to constantly shift in directions. Spider-Man 2099 reveals that this is because unlike other alternate universes Earth-616 is the actual past for the 2099 future.
Spider-Man 2099 suddenly starts to freak out as his body is being teleported back to his future. Spider-Man 2099 decides that instead of continuing to try to explain things to Spider-Man that he will instead show him. A white light then consumes the area.
Spider-Man then wakes up and finds himself in the 2099 future.
Somehow the 2019 Doctor Doom, through his Doombot army, sends a warning to the people of the 2099 world that his rule will not be questioned. He then goes on to state “Doom Demands Justice.”
Spider-Man realizes that the events at the United Nations with Doctor Doom being shot led to the current 2099 future he is in where Doom shuts down Manhattan.
As that realization happens Jaime’s device that Spider-Man is carrying suddenly starts to activate. End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #34 is an example of how even the most interesting concepts can’t help a messy storyline actually improve. More than anything else, Amazing Spider-Man #34 just solidified the fact that if you are not interested in the 2099 storyline this is a skippable story arc. That was likely not the intention of this story but it is unfortunately what happened.
Establishing the fact that the 2099 Marvel Universe is the actual future for the present Earth-616 is a smart idea. This is something that has been mentioned in the past when it comes to 2099 Marvel Universe but never firmly established. Verifying this fact gives the 2099 Marvel Universe a unique thing to stand out from the other versions of Earth’s we’ve seen. This is a concept that gives greater importance to how all the events Marvel likes to do keep shifting the path of everyone’s future. That constant status quo shifting after every event makes it logical that the 2099 would be thrown into a chaotic period with time literally breaking around their Earth.
Another thing that Spencer did a good job with in Amazing Spider-Man #34 was how he is continuing to build Countess Karkov. With Silver Sable out of commission for a short period we are seeing how Countess Karkov is not wasting any time in taking advantage of that opportunity. The opportunist nature of Countess Karkov is on full display during her short period in Amazing Spider-Man #34. Her lack of care about causing a bunch of chaos at the United Nations played in well to get over how she only cares about the power and control she can wield.
Even for how chaotic things got in Amazing Spider-Man #34 Patrick Gleason was a consistent force with the artwork he delivered throughout this issue. Even when there were a lot of things going on in a single panel Gleason made everything clear so you knew what the focus was. That was best shown in the opening sequence as Gleason got across how in flux the 2099 future was while still capturing the designs of the characters of that timeline.
The Bad: As intriguing as the concept of the 2099 timeline being the future of Earth-616 is the execution of that failed to deliver. At no point does Spencer get passed how making Amazing Spider-Man #34 feel like its own story. Instead this issue reads like a big promotional piece for the 2099 one-shot comics that Marvel is releasing. That does no favors for Amazing Spider-Man as fans just want a good Spider-Man story.
There should not be a feeling that you are being advertised to when reading a comic book. But that is what Spencer does with Amazing Spider-Man #34. More than anything that makes it immediately clear that this story arc involving Spider-Man 2099 can be skipped and you can return to Amazing Spider-Man once things wrap up.
The blame for that goes directly on Spencer. He should’ve done more to make this storyline involving the 2099 stand on its own rather than as a tie-in for a bunch of other one-shot comics. Little things like having Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara interacting much sooner than they did would’ve gone a long way to make Amazing Spider-Man #34 and earlier issues stand on its own. Rushing their interaction to take place in just three pages did not allow there to be enough time to establish a chemistry between Peter and Miguel.
It doesn’t help that Spencer went with the obvious Doombot route when it came to the assassination attempt on Doctor Doom. What would’ve been much more interesting is if the real Doctor Doom was shot and was shown to not be damaged because of his armor. That would’ve added so much more to the anger shown by the Doombot. Rather than an angry robot we could’ve had Doctor Doom use this action to turn against the United Nations, leading to an even bigger storyline. But in going with the Doombot route the predictability of this turn of events just hurt where things went from the point of that reveal.
Going with this whole doom and gloom future for the 2099 timeline also hurt the direction Spencer went with the group project Peter was working on. This is a storyline that had the potential to further the sub-plot involving Peter’s new school life at Empire State University. Instead Spencer used the group project to introduce a device that is likely to be a deus ex machina for Spider-Man’s current predicament of being sent to the future. Amazing Spider-Man #34 ending with Jaime’s device activating did that disappointing development no favors. All it did was tease the deus ex machina nature of the device.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #34 was nothing more than an advertising piece for the 2099 comic books Marvel is publishing. Nick Spencer did not sell fans on why they should stick around to read this story arc. All Spencer accomplished was confirming how you can skip this story arc and return for the next Amazing Spider-Man arc without missing anything.
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