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Roughly a century prior, a massive cataclysm brought about the end of the “Age Of Heroes.” The disaster also destroyed most of civilization, resulting in a much, much worse world than before. (And considering how bad it was before, that’s saying a lot.) The world is now ran by massive Mega Corps (most notably Alchemax), the only police are the privatized Public Eye, and the entire planet is little more than a toxic deathball.
In the year 2099, however, four individuals suddenly get pulled into superheroism. Miguel O’Hara, a geneticist working for Alchemax, accidentally bonds Spider DNA with his own. Paul Philip Ravage, CEO for an environmentalist Alchemax subdivision, goes on the lam to bring down both his former employer. In distant Latveria, a long-lost dictator suddenly returns, and prepares to retake his homeland. Jake Gallows, a member of the private police force, becomes a violent vigilante when the law fails to condemn his family’s killer. Later, a small group of mutants gather in the Nevada desert. An amoral Hollywood producer turns on the Knights of Banner and is pelted with Gamma Rays. A hacker finds his personality trapped on the net, and is transported into a robot body to avenge his death. Not to mention the many, many other heroes that began to crawl out of the woodwork…
Marvel 2099 was very much a product of the Dark Age, with Liefeldian physiques, ridiculous future slang, and heroes you could barely root for. Nonetheless, the first four series (Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, and Punisher 2099) sold extremely well. Spider-Man 2099 would become the most well-known series, and would be the only one to directly interact with the mainstream series. Doom 2099 featured exceptional writing, turning Doctor Doom into an Anti-Hero while still keeping him a Magnificent Bastard. Ravage was the only fully original character, and was written by Stan Lee for the first eight issues. Punisher 2099 was…well, a Dark Age comic.
2099’s best strength, however, was its continuity. Editor Joey Cavalieri worked overtime to make sure every issue of the series fit, while also giving the creative staff considerable leeway in what they created. As a result, the series was akin to Marvel’s Silver Age work; several comics that didn’t cross over every month, but at the same time were clearly in the same universe, with events occurred concurrently. In fact, the lines only actually crossed over once, for the “Fall of the Hammer” story arc, and even that was tightly managed.
Facing declining sales, the comics culminated in the "One Nation Under Doom" event, where Doom took over the United States. It was inconceivably awesome, mostly because they let Warren Ellis write it.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of it. Marvel, desperate to cut costs, fired Cavalieri. Nearly every writer quit in protest. The line limped along for a while, before every surviving series was canceled at once. In their place was "2099: World of Tomorrow," which ran for eight issues before also being cancelled. Finally, Marvel closed the universe off with "2099: Manifest Destiny."
Aside from some brief revisits, the entire 2099 franchise has largely become another part of geek trivia. Spider-Man 2099 has received some new attention from being featured in recently Spider-Man video games, most notably Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man Edge of Time.
This series contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc - In Punisher 2099, there were hints of Split Personality Takeover early on, but that went nowhere.
- Ascended to A Higher Plane of Existence - "Zero" Cochrane (aka Ghost Rider) takes charge of the Internet itself in the end.
- Came Back Wrong - An attempt to revive the previous Black Panther is ruined thanks to the current Black Panther's intervention. He instead becomes a raging cyborg, dealing massive destruction to Wakanda before Doom can take him down.
- Chainsaw Good – Ghost Rider has a retractable chainsaw on his arm.
- Chosen One – Spider-Man is called the “Herald of Thor,” and is prophesied to save the world. Turns out he really was the Chosen One, and was the third person to wield Thor’s Hammer (with Captain America being second.)
- Church Militant - The Sisters of the Howling Commandments.
- And they are inconceivably awesome.
- Colony Drop - Attempted in Fall of the Hammer by the villains.
- Continuity Snarl - About halfway through Manifest Destiny, the Watcher has Miguel and Captain America gather all of Earth's surviving heroes for a final battle. Among them was the Punisher 2099, despite being, you know, dead for several years by that point.
- The aforementioned death happened in 2099 AD Apocalypse (see also Dropped a Bridge on Him below) which had Continuity Snarls of its own. The Punisher 2099 is suddenly back on Earth, while his own last issue (which came out the month before) had in in deep space. Hulk 2099 in turn had his appearance radically altered in his last issue, and is back to old appearance without explanation. Fan Wank has pointed out that both of these characters had previously established doppelgangers, which might explain this.
- Dark Age – It just drips with every 1990s cliché to have ever existed.
- It also subverts the trope at least as many times as it plays it straight. The 2099 comics were laced with quite a bit of satirical humor, laugh-out-loud moments, and optimism. The line was largely about people finding heroes to believe in again.
- Deader Than Dead - One storyline of Punisher 2099 had him killing one perp's very soul so he wouldn't turn into a god upon normal death.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him – Ravage and the entirety of Hellrock are encased in liquid Adamantium, pulled up with a tractor beam, and hurled into space.
- 2099 AD Apocalypse is nothing more than a series of bridge drops, mostly of the minor characters that never got their own books...with two exceptions. Punisher 2099 is vaporized by a giant spider, and Hulk 2099 goes out in via Suicide by Cop.
- Earn Your Happy Ending - Manifest Destiny ended the line this way.
- The Extremist Was Right - Doom liberally switched between kicking and raping puppies for most of his series, but when he finally took over the United States, his reforms greatly cut down on pollution, made necessary items more available, and generally improved life for everyone. About the only thing that got him some flak was the Punisher-run SHIELD. That is, until things got worse...
- Fantastic Drug - Quite a few examples:
- Rapture was a legal designer drug developed by (and exculsive to) the Alchemax corporation that would be distributed to employees in order to keep them loyal to the company. A "very high-powered, mind-expanding hallucinogen," it causes the user to feel perfectly calm and collected ... unless he tries to fight the drug's effects, in which case it causes him to hallucinate wildly, "seeing monsters everywhere." It also bonds with the user's DNA in short order, becoming so addictive "you need it the way you need air to breathe." Geneticist Miguel O'Hara, who would become the Spider-Man of 2099, was slipped the drug by his boss when Miguel tried to quit the company. He tried to rid his system of Rapture by rewriting his own genetic code using a stored file of his genome which he'd been using for experiments. Things didn't go as planned, and Miguel ended up with spidery traits in his DNA as a result.
- A similar drug, Rhapsody, was mentioned in an issue of X-Men 2099, in which it was revealed that the Synthia corporation secretly laced its food products with the drug, so that consumers would become addicted to eating Synthia food, at the expense of their health.
- Chameleon 2099 turned out to be a drug rather than a person, which not only manipulated a user's DNA, it allowed him to shapeshift (either partially or completely) into whatever animal happened to suit the user's mindset at the time of taking the drug. Users have been seen assuming the characteristics of animals like bulls, mice, felines, and dogs. It was an Alchemax-designed drug, but "unstable even by their standards" to the point that users often die painfully from the toll it takes on their systems.
- Chain is one of the most illegal of drugs in that era. In 2099 A.D. Genesis, it was revealed that the legislation on Chain had been upgraded from a "thirty-year stretch" (being physically aged by three decades) for possession to a "death penalty" for even having it on one's person. In his only appearance in the 2099 comics, the Daredevil of that era planted a dime bag of Chain on a drug dealer just to make sure the dealer never pushes drugs again. At the time, the dealer had been peddling a drug laced with "a rider chemical" that "causes communicable sterility". In short, Daredevil signed a drug dealer's death warrant for trying to "kill all birth in Downtown."
- Perhaps the most bizarre example was found in X-Nation #1. The main characters, a group of teenagers living at the Xavier Institute for Indigent Children, had slipped away to a bar and try a unique hallucinogen: milk. They attached diodes to their foreheads; drinking milk stimulated their brains into producing bizarre hallucinations. But as one of them insisted, "'s really good f'r your bones an' teeeeeth."
- Fling a Light Into the Future - Captain America was frozen yet again in the last days of the Age of Heroes. Because he was able to give a first-person account, Miguel is able to avert another such disaster, and in the end save humanity.
- Generation Xerox – Played straight and subverted, Depending on the Writer. Some characters may share similar powers to their namesakes, but have almost entirely different personalities, personal lives, and overall goals. The villains even moreso from the main universe.
- Heroic Albino - La Lunatica from X-Men 2099.
- Heroic Sacrifice – Doom.
- It Got Worse – Invoked twice. The first was when Herod and a fake Captain America overthrew Doom, killed nearly all of the remaining heroes, and wiped out everyone in Latveria. The second was when the Phalanx cause over half of the land mass to be flooded, forcing most of humanity to flee to the Savage Land… and then deal with the aliens.
- The Jailer - The Punisher.
- Left Hanging – 2099: World of Tomorrow ends with the mutant and human survivors trying to work something out in the Savage Land, Miguel leaving to search for his brother, and D/Monix trying to claim Ghost Rider. Manifest Destiny reveals that Miguel found his brother, and that the mutants and humans managed to barely survive each other, but Ghost Rider’s sole appearance makes no mention of the cliffhanger. That doesn’t even mention the few billion other plotlines the writers were forced to give up on.
- Let's You and Him Fight - But of course.
- Meaningful Name - Real name of The Punisher 2099 is Jake Gallows, while the main antagonists of Ghost Rider 2099 are members of the board of a megacorporation named D/Monix (try saying that out loud).
- Nuns With Guns - The Sisters of the Howling Commandments in both X-Men 2099 and X-Nation 2099.
- President Evil: Believe it or not, A fake, robotic Captain America of all people.
- Real Life Writes the Plot - Averted. Appearances aside, the disaster that ended the line had been planned well in advance, and was going to be the linchpin for the transition to the Marvel 2101 line. The bodycount would probably not have been near as high, though, if things as gone as planned.
- Red Right Hand – Pretty much every villain. Fearmaster is a literal example; his right hand is a red, three-fingered stump that can transform any body part it touches into anything. Unfortunately, said right hand works on him, too…
- Stuffed in The Fridge – Fearmaster turns the Punisher’s girlfriend, Kerry, to glass. When Gallows grabs her, she then shatters completely.
- Super-Powered Evil Side – Inverted with Hulk 2099. The big green monster actually develops a heroic personality, while his human side, Eisenhart, verged on a Heroic Sociopath.
- Super Reflexes - Unlike his namesake, Spider-Man 2099 does not have a Spider Sense per se. Instead, he has enhanced perceptions that happen to tune in more quickly to what's pertinent, such as an immediate danger or a general plot point. Unlike Spider Sense, it's limited by what his senses are focused on, and he could still be caught flat-footed.
- Taking You with Me – Doom tricks the Phalanx into coming after him, waits until they’ve got him cornered… and then orders an orbital strike, killing himself AND destroying the Phalanx fleet in one swoop.
- Title by Number
- There Are No Therapists: Subverted. Kerry, an actual psychiatrist with Public Eye, deduces by the third Punisher 2099 issue that Gallows is a little too well-adjusted to his family's death. Her superiors (and Gallows, at first) simply brush her concerns off.
- Villain Protagonist – Doom and the Punisher