The future world of 2099 is a high-tech but oppressive world. Anybody who's ever seen the movie "Blade Runner" would recognize it. Moreso than individual nations, massive corporations tended to run things, such as Stark-Fujikawa, Alchemax, and others.
The 2099 stories enjoyed a fair amount of success, but not enough to sustain themselves over a number of years. There were also some personnel decisions at Marvel Comics that hurt the overall 2099 imprint that I shall not get into here. The 2099 titles commenced in 1993, and were concluded in 1998, with a coda to the series, 2099: Manifest Destiny, in which Captain America was found in suspended animation and, with help, assembled the various 2099 heroes into a new team of Avengers.
Toy Biz produced a number of action figures over the years to some of these 2099 figures. And of course, there was a Spider-Man 2099.
Spider-Man 2099's alter ego is Miguel O'Hara, a half-Mexican, half-Irish genetic engineer at the Alchemax Corporation. Miguel feels that the company is too corrupt and decides to quit, but Alchemax's owner, Tyler Stone, slips him a highly addictive drug that many of the personnel at Alchemax use, but which Miguel has always disdained. One dose is all it takes to be hooked, and Alchemax is the only supplier of the substance.
In order to try to get the drug out of his system, Miguel undergoes a dangerous procedure, but a vengeful co-worker, Aaron Delgato, sabotages his experiment and causes Miguel to accidentally splice his DNA with that of a spider's DNA. He soon realizes that he has gained arachnid-like powers, similar to the original Spider-Man, but different in some respects.
Like his predecessor, he has the proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider. His durability was also increased to a point where in an issue he suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs, major abrasions and bruises, and made it to a hospital in time where a doctor told him he has amazing constitution for him to be alive. He also notably heals faster than a normal human, but does not have a healing factor. Interestingly, he does not have his predecessor's "Spider-Sense" to warn him of immediate danger. Spider-Man 2099 seems nearly as flexible, acrobatic, and evasive as his namesake. It is generally assumed that his overall abilities are on a par with his 20th century counterpart.
In addition, Miguel has spinnerets in his forearms enable him to fire organic spider-webbing from the top of his wrists, usable in a wide variety of ways. Interesting how this was actually mimicked by the Spider-Man movies, whereas the comic book "original" Spider-Man has used devices that shoot chemical webbing that Peter Parker invented.
Retractable talons in his fingertips and toes enable him to climb walls or cut enemies. Though they are rather short (approximately an inch long), they are extremely sharp, and seem strong enough to resist breakage despite his enhanced strength - Miguel is shown capable of tearing metal armor on numerous occasions. He possesses venom glands and slightly enlarged, pointed canine teeth, which allows him to paralyze his foes should he choose to bite them. Compensating for his lack of a "Spider-Sense", his hearing exceeds the acuity of a normal human, as does his vision - he can see extremely well over both long distances and in low-light conditions.
His web cape is made from a "Lyte Byte" material commonly used in the manufacturing of hang-gliders, and acts as an air foil, allowing him to glide on air currents for a short period of time. The rest of his costume was from a Mexican "Day of the Dead" festival, and is made from the ever-popular-in-the-Marvel-Universe "unstable molecules" originally invented by Reed Richards, and darn near indestructable.
The Spider-Man 2099 title, perhaps not surprisingly, outlasted most of its 2099 counterparts, boasting a healthy four year run of 46 issues. Over the course of the series, Spider-Man 2099 encountered futuristic versions of modern Spider-Man villains, including the Goblin, Venom, the Vulture and the Chameleon. He also battled new villains like Venture, a cyborg; Discord, a virtual reality archetype; and others. In a special edition entitled Spider-Man meets Spider-Man 2099, he met up with his original web-slinging counterpart. The modern-day Marvel Universe is known in the future as the "Age of Heroes". At one point, for reasons unknown, the heroes all vanished. Although it's never cited as such, I've always believed that, given the timing of the titles, it might have been an allusion to the heroes' temporary disappearance during the Onslaught storyline.
Very little has been done with the 2099 Universe in recent years. There was a small series of one-shots a couple of years back called "Marvel Knights 2099". but until recently, no one had given the concept much thought. The only other significant mention of Spider-Man 2099 until recently was in Amazing Spider-Man #439, which takes place 1,000 years in the future (technically the year 2998). Two archaeologists stumble across relics belonging to Spider-Man and speculate on his career, and discuss the other heroes who were inspired by him, such as Spider-Girl, Spider-Man 2099, and Spider-Man 2211, a hero who appeared in the "Spider- Man meets Spider-Man 2099" special.
Recently, however, in the pages of the alternate-reality-traveling EXILES title, the 2099 universe did come into play, and Spider-Man 2099 ended up joining the Exiles team, and it still with them as of this writing.
Even so, so little thought is given to the 2099 universe these days, that even though Spider-Man 2099 was its brightest light, certainly, I was sincerely stunned to see a Spider-Man 2099 figure as part of the first releases of Hasbro's newly-acquired Marvel license.
Called SPIDER-MAN ORIGINS, this line of 6" scale figures has been very effectively carried out, and currently features several versions of the original Wall-Crawler, as well as a number of villains. Precisely what inspired Hasbro to include Spider-Man 2099 in the set, other than getting one more figure with the Spider-Man name into the assortment (which was probably the main reason) that certainly had a distinctive look to him, I have no idea. While the 2099 universe was popular enough for a while, over ten years ago, it's barely been a blip on the radar since.
Not that I'm complaining. While I didn't follow the 2099 titles all that closely, I did always feel that Spider-Man 2099 had an interesting look to him, and certainly this has been effectively carried out on the figure.
Unlike the Spider-Man we know so well, Spidey 2099's uniform is very predominantly dark blue. The only real red on it is a spider-skull like image on the chest, red stripes down the arms, and markings on the face mask that look something like Spider-Man's own, enough to being about the indication of them without being anywhere near a precise duplication. Honestly, it's not a design I would expect is easy to carry off on an action figure, especially the stripes down the arms, but Hasbro has done a good job.
They also added a cool feature. They call it "Supermetal Finish", but whatever the name, it looks very impressive. The dark blue of Spidey's costume has been given a very metallic finish. Hey, you gotta figure that the clothes from roughly 100 years from now, especially super-hero costumes, are going to be a bit more advanced than they are now.
The overall darkness of Spidey's costume reflects his personality, which is curiously the opposite of the original Spider-Man. Peter Parker was, for years, something of a shrinking wallflower, while he was readily able to cut loose with a wide range of sarcastic jibes and jokes as Spider-Man. Conversely, Miguel O'Hara was a fairly regular guy, although he tended to get a bit jumpy after he gained the spider-powers, not wanting anyone else to know what had happened to him. But under the guise of Spider-Man, he tended to become quite silent. No jokes, no jibes, just get the job done. Stick a couple of pointed ears on his head and call him Batman, because he was almost that grim at times.
There's an interesting contrast between the web cape that the prototype (I assume) figure is shown wearing on the back of the package, and the one that the production figure is actually packaged with. The prototype figure's cape looks like shredded netting. The production figure's cape is more like somewhat shredded fabric with webbing printed on it. I can understand the switchover. I don't know what it would take to turn out custom-fit shredded netting for however many tens of thousands of these figures that Hasbro made, but I wouldn't want to figure out how to do it.
And for those that aren't fond of the look of the cape (and personally, I never have been), it's removable, attached to the figure with elastic straps.
Paintwork on the figure, such as it is, consists, I'm sure, of spraying the entire figure in the metallic blue, and then stamping the red detailing on him. For the most part, this works very well. There's a few places where it looks like, however they do this sort of thing, it didn't quite take, but this is distinctly minimal, not to mention repairable for anyone with a paintbrush and the right colors. On the whole, it's extremely well done, especially when you consider the complexity of the designs and having to fit them over a rather highly muscled figure with no real flat surfaces.
Articulation is, for the most part, good. The figure moves at the head, neck, arms, upper swivel arm, double-jointed elbows, lower swivel arm, hands, and finger groups.
Curiously, though, the figure's legs are nowhere near as well articulated. Spider-Man 2099 moves at the waist, legs, knees, and ankles. There are no swivels, and the legs only move forward and backward, not outward. They're slightly but not severely pre-posed, and the figure stands up well, so it's not that much of a problem from that standpoint, but it is unusual. For those of us who have gotten used to Marvel Legends-level articulation on Marvel based figures from Toy Biz even if they didn't necessarily bear the Marvel Legends banner, it's a little disappointing.
However, Spider-Man 2099 is still a very cool-looking figure, and certainly a figure of an obscure enough character that it really is something of a surprise to see him turn up like this. Given all of that, I can overlook a slight reduction in the articulation.
I'm not sure how heavily-packed in the assortments SPIDER-MAN 2099 is, but if you see him, he definitely has my highest recommendation! It's cool to see this lesser-known Spider-Man back in action figure form!
Now let's return to the present day, and have a look at a recent, unusual, and admittedly somewhat short-lived incarnation of everyone's favorite Wall-Crawler...
Spider-Man is one of those characters whose origin you almost feel embarassed to explain, but -- you have to start a review somewhere, I suppose. Spider-Man is Peter Parker who, as a decidedly nerdy teenager attending a science exhibition in high school, was bitten by a spider who had been exposed to some form of radiation. This in turn gave Parker the abilities of a spider -- proportionate super-strength, heightened speed and reflexes, the ability to climb nearly sheer walls, astounding agility, and a "spider-sense" that warned him of approaching danger.
His science background enabled him to formulate a "web fluid", and shooters that he could wear on his wrists that allowed him to fire this web fluid, which had sufficient tensile strength to support his own weight, and a capability to adhere to almost any surface, although the substance itself disintegrates after an hour.
He fashioned a costume for himself, and thought to cash in on his abilities by entering the world of entertainment. Showing a surprisingly selfish side, he refused to stop a crook at a studio where he had performed. This would prove to have tragic consequences before long, as that same crook would later break into his home, and kill his Uncle Ben. The lesson "With great power comes great responsibility" had been learned, and a hero was born.
More recently, Spider-Man gained several new abilities as a result of experiences in a couple of special series. Most notable of these is the organic ability to shoot webbing, presumably nearly identical to his artificially created formula. It is thought that this was done to have the comic character be more in keeping with the movie Spider-Man's ability to shoot webbing directly from his arms, a controversial point at the time. He's also gained natural night vision, and several other relatively new abilities.
For years, Spider-Man operated under an aura of suspicion, cultivated largely by Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, who didn't have much use for any super-heroes, but hated Spider-Man in particular. Spider-Man just couldn't seem to get a break, ever.
When Captain America and Iron Man decided to bring back the Avengers, it looked as though Spider-Man might finally get a break. Although never a formal member, Spider-Man had long been considered a reservist, but Spidey had never seen himself as a team player. But it's hard to turn down Captain America, who went to directly recruit him. Parker once again commented that he really didn't see himself as a team player, and Cap countered with, "And how well has that worked out for you?" Realizing that the Avengers had a sterling reputation, and that working with them might finally be to his advantage, Spider-Man agreed to formally join the team.
Not long after, Iron Man -- Tony Stark -- also recruited Parker. Stark wanted a protege, someone he could trust completely, someone with the intellectual skills to understand where Stark was coming from technologically, and perhaps even be groomed as a successor. It was an incredible opportunity.
Part of the deal included a new costume for Spider-Man. Designed by Tony Stark, the new costume was more like armor, not just fabric. The costume featured many gadgets, including three mechanical spider-arms that could be used to see around corners via cameras in the tips, and to manipulate objects indirectly. Stark described them as too fragile to use in combat, but Spider-Man used them not long after to destroy the sensors in Titanium Man's helmet.
Other features included short-distance gliding capability, limited bulletproofing, built-in emergency radio scanner, audio/visual amplification, a cloaking device, filters to keep out airborne toxins, and a short-range GPS microwave communication system. It granted the ability to breathe underwater, and was able to "morph" into different shapes due to its "'smart' liquid metal" form, allowing it to sort of disappear when not needed, and look like other styles of costumes Spider-Man has worn over the years or turn into his street clothes. All these features are controlled by a computer system in the chest piece. The suit responds to mental control.
It seemed Spider-Man was on a truly positive track for the first time in his career -- until the Civil War hit. For a time, Spidey sided with Iron Man's faction, even going so far as to expose his secret identity on television. But as the Civil War escalated, Spidey found himself in increasing disagreement with Iron Man's objectives. He ultimately turned his back on Stark, and that's when things got really unpleasant.
Spider-Man discovered that Stark had put a number of secret devices in his new costume, not the least of which was a means of monitoring Parker's bio-functions, including his "spider-sense". This was almost a slip-up on Stark's part at one point, when he mentioned it to Spider-Man, and Spidey wondered to himself how Iron Man could know about it since he'd never openly talked about it. Eventually the armored costume was able to mimic Parker's own spider-sense, giving Spider-Man occasional "red herrings" via Stark's instructions.
The armor also had a secret override that can be activated by Iron Man in case of emergencies or if Spider-Man switched sides in the Civil War, which of course he did. However, unknown to Stark, Peter was already aware of the safety measure and had bypassed it with his own override. When Stark shut down the suit, Parker reactivated it, decked Iron Man, and escaped. For a time, Spider-Man switched back to his traditional red- and-blue costume, and is returning to his mysterious black costume in the aftermath of the Civil War, and no doubt to hype the black costume look for the sake of the third Spider-Man movie.
The armored costume received a mixed reaction from fans. Part of it was undoutbedly the color scheme -- it was mostly red with some yellow trim. Iron Man's colors. According to Marvel's Editor in Chief Joe Quesada, this boiled down to nothing more than Stark's ego. "My suit design, my colors!" No doubt Stark wanted to remind Parker just whose payroll he was on.
This costume, which has come to be known semi-officially as "Iron Spider- Man", has apparently had its time in the pages of the comic book, and it was relatively short-lived at that. But it lives on elsewhere. It's an unlockable character in the "Marvel Ultimate Alliance" video game) -- and of course there are action figures.
The thing about Spider-Man is that he really hasn't had all that many costume changes over the years. Variances in his traditional outfit tend to amount to little more than artistic interpretation. There was the black costume, of course, which honestly wasn't all that well-received at the time either, but which since has become more popular. But Hasbro has the dilemma of wanting to do a good Spider-Man line of action figures, now that they have the Marvel license, but having a major character whose costume is just as distinctive as Batman's, and in some respects even less open to interpretation (not that this has stopped either Hasbro or Mattel over the years from putting Bats in costumes in every color of the rainbow and then some). Although in fairness, the Spider-Man line from Hasbro has, to date, made generous use of Spider- Man's very numerous villains, and hasn't been cranking out made-up Spider-Man variations at the rate of 10 Spidey's to 1 of someone else -- yet, anyway. Let's hope they can avoid it, too.
While it wouldn't surprise me over the years to see some interesting and strictly toy-created Spider-Man costume variations, you don't really want to start out the line that way, and so Hasbro had to work with whatever variations were legitimately in hand to use. That meant the black costume, it meant Spider-Man 2099 -- and it certainly meant Iron Spider-Man, the most recent variant, even if it wasn't particularly long-lived.
There's already two versions of Iron Spider-Man out there. This review will take a look at the 6" figure. I'll review the 9" cloth-costumed version another time.
This figure has several things in its favor right off the bat -- an incredible level of articulation, a complete lack of pre-posing, and a really cool metallic finish. The only other figure in the Spider-Man line that this "Supermetal Finish" has been used on is the Spider-Man 2099 figure. It's just a shame they couldn't somehow do it to the fabric costume of the 9" version, but -- never mind. It certainly looks impressive here, and is certainly appropriate, since this costume is supposed to be made of "liquid metal".
The costume is almost entirely red, with yellow "Spidey-Eyes", a large yellow spider emblem on the chest that is a very distinctive design unlike any of Spider-Man's other insignia, and yellow cuffs near his gloves and boots. The three mechanical spider-arms are also yellow.
The bodily proportions are perfect. Muscular but somewhat slender. Ths figure definitely looks like Spider-Man. Articulation is amazing. The figure moves at the head, shoulders, upper arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, individually articulated fingers (!), mid torso, legs, double-jointed knees, ankles, and "toes". An upper leg swivel is accomplished with a ball-and-socket-like construction for the leg joint. About the only thing this figure lacks articulation-wise is movement at the waist, and rotating wrists (they move up and down). But heck, with this level of articulation as it is, I'm not about to complain.
As if that isn't enough, the mechanical arms are articulated, something even the 9" version can't claim. Each one is on a ball-and-socket mount on the back of the figure, and has two additional articulation points along its length. The sculpted detail on these arms is amazing.
Any complaints? Well, just a few. Clearly to achieve the "Supermetal Finish", the figure was painted in a highly metallic silver, and then sprayed with a high-gloss transparent red. Unfortunately, especially around the double-jointed articulation points like the knees and elbows, I think the figure might've been assembled before the paint was fully dry or something, because some of those articulation points are pretty stubborn, and a bit of the silver shows through, or a few spots where the paint has "clumped" a bit. But it's not a problem everywhere. The tiny fingers, for example, are just fine.
There's a few spots where the yellow wasn't applied as neatly as it could've been, either, especially around the eyes. But anytime you spray a lighter color over a darker plastic, there is this risk. In fairness, the spider emblem on the chest, which had to be a complex piece of work, is very well done, and honestly, this sort of problem isn't going to crop up on every figure, and isn't even a situation exclusive to Hasbro. I've seen it with Toy Biz and almost everyone else, for that matter. I'm just nit-picky, I'll admit.
The figure is a little difficult to stand up on his own. His ankles and feet are almost too articulated for their own good, with a forward and back as well as back and forth motion to his ankles and feet, and his feet are a little on the narrow side. He will stand up on his own, it just takes a little to get him to do it. For those concerned about falling mishaps, he comes with a display base with pegs for his feet.
These are minor points, however. On the whole, this is a spectacular Spider-Man figure, an excellent rendition of the "Iron Spider-Man" that actually looks legitimately metallic! That's pretty impressive. And it's also cool to have a Spider-Man figure in a motif that -- well, it's already gone from the comics and isn't terribly likely to return. It's a little like that 9" figure I have of Superman in that "blue energy" form he had very briefly a number of years ago. It's a legitimate part of the continuity of the character, but it's also a pretty danged short part of it, too.
Iron Spider-Man definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!