A Look Back at 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

During the first half of 1993, Marvel Comics had published four monthly series of their 2099 franchise of comic books: Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099 and Punisher 2099. X-Men 2099 debuted in the 2nd half of 1993 but months before that happened, Marvel went ahead with expanding their 2099 franchise by launching what was back then a new, quarterly comic book series simply titled 2099 Unlimited.

That being said, the mentioned quarterly series was officially launched with 2099 Unlimited #1 which, as its cover showed, featured Spider-Man 2099 as well as Hulk 2099. The comic book came with a high price of $3.95 on its cover and it had 64 pages of content (including ads and bulletins). I myself bought a copy of it as soon as it appeared on the shelves of the local comic book store here in the Philippines.

Was the debut comic book fun? Is it good by today’s standards? We can all find out in this look back at 2099 Unlimited #1, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with stories written by Evan Skolnick and Gerard Jones, and drawn by Chris Wozniak and Dwayne Turner.

The cover.

Early stories

“Nothing ever changes!” – the story begins at New York City’s Koop Memorial Hospital where an investigation is happening. A married couple arrives and noticed the unusual activity happening there. As they arrive at another floor to visit their son Michael, they noticed the hallway is full of dead bodies. They panic and start running to find their son. Suddenly a muscular man appears and kills the husband, stating his action is justified by his belief about the natural order of things and his effort to ensure humanity’s survival. The killer escapes.

Weeks later, Spider-Man/Miguel O’Hara returns home from fighting crime just in time to rush and prepare himself for his date with Anna. During their date, Anna talks about her sister who has a rare genetic deformity. She intends to visit her sister at the hospital, and Miguel asked if she wants him to come along…

“Hulk 2099” – the story begins in the Mojave Desert with the Hulk traveling alone in the middle of the night. He has been traveling for over three hundred miles alone hunting something. The Hulk arrives at the private residence of a lady who spots him and alerts the armed personnel of Sweat Dreams Security Services. Soon enough, Sweet Dreams personnel arrive and its tank charges at the green monster…

Quality

Imagine Hulk 2099 trespassing on your property.

The first story featuring Spider-Man 2099 has a pretty interesting concept that was nicely executed and proved to be surprisingly satisfying. The creative team introduced the new villain Mutagen and they succeeded in building his personality (including his obsession with perfecting human genetics and altering the so-called gene pool) which resulted a justified conflict with Spider-Man. The character development, focused mainly on Mutagen, was well done and by the end of the story, he became a pretty interesting villain.

As for Spider-Man, his character development was pretty limited to his interactions with Anna laced with little references to his career with Alchemax, and there were no references to his personal life and the people who mattered most to him. Clearly, the first story was more about Mutagen than Spider-Man, and it has a very satisfying conflict between the two. I also enjoyed the way the creative team presented Mutagen being able to adapt to his environment and the attacks Spider-Man threw at him. While the story is strong, I should say that Chris Wozniak’s art is uneven. His drawings on Mutagen were pretty details but the same cannot be said about his art on Spider-Man.

The second story, featuring Hulk of 2099, is the actual gem in this comic book. Not only was it the first-ever appearance of the character, it unsurprisingly took inspiration from the origin of the classic Hulk (Bruce Banner) and made some twists with themes of the business of entertainment and the human desire of idolatry (always unholy). The new Hulk here is an entertainment executive named John Eisenhart who has been researching the Knights of Banner, a group of people who worship the classic Hulk. What he does in the real world and with people, he strives to make something out of them to boost his career and stand out in the business of amusement. Eisenhart sees Banner’s idolaters having the makings of a new cult of Thor complete with living in isolation

Eisenhart is not the typical good-natured protagonist. Quite the opposite in fact as he is obsessed with success and is a walking tool of Hollywood who exploits people and insists that being civilized is essential and that strength is knowing where the power is. That being said, this story has a lot of build-up on Hulk 2099 while still having sufficient space to tell his origin that arguably links him with the legacy of Banner Hulk. For the most part, the bouts of build-up resulted worthy pay-offs that readers can enjoy.

More on Hulk 2099 himself, this version of the classic character is more monstrous and freakish looking. While Hulk 2099 maintains the intelligence of Eisenhart, he still is deadly and unpredictable. Supporting characters like Gawain and Quirk both lacked scenes and dialogue but that is not surprising since the focus of the comic book is on Hulk 2099. For the art, Dwayne Turner’s work here is satisfying.

Conclusion

Spider-Man 2099 and Mutagen in battle!

When I first read this way back in 1993, I felt underwhelmed. By today’s standards, 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993) surprisingly aged well and it is actually deeper, more meaningful and engaging than I previously thought. Apart from Hulk 2099’s debut, the introduction of Mutagen was pretty engaging and he had a lot of potential to be a major 2099 universe villain. Too bad that Mutagen was not used to be a nemesis against Ravage 2099 or Punisher 2099 or even X-Men 2099. Hulk 2099 meanwhile went on to have a dedicated monthly series which came at a time when the 2099 imprint and the comic book industry in general went way down. This comic book, in my opinion, is more cerebral than it looks and that is thanks to the writers.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $15 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $32.

Overall, 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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