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By the year 1993, Marvel Comics’ new comic book line of the 2099 universe kept filling the shelves of retailers and made it into the hands of collectors and fans with the monthly series composed of Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099 and the new addition of the year X-Men 2099. Back then, the Marvel 2099 line expanded a lot and saw the establishment of new fans. Even the quarterly series 2099 Unlimited caught the attention of some readers as it told the early stories of Hulk 2099 (who debuted in 2099 Unlimited #1).
Unsurprisingly, there were fans of the 2099 universe who wished for a crossover storyline that would bring together their respective favorite futuristic heroes. Remember the rivalry between classic Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and the Punisher (Frank Castle)? Some wanted Spider-Man 2099 and Punisher 2099 to encounter each other.
Eventually, the crossover dream of the fans came through in the form of The Fall of the Hammer storyline that took place in five parts. Specifically one issue each of Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099 and X-Men 2099. It was also an opportunity for the 2099 creative teams (note: the legendary Stan Lee and Peter David were among the writers at the time) to get together and contribute to make something special under the watch of 2099 editor Joey Cavalieri.
With those details laid down, we can finally start examining the beginning of The Fall of the Hammer storyline in this look back at Spider-Man 2099 #16, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.
The story begins with the arrival of the floating city of Valhalla, disturbing the people of the town of Randall below. On the floating city itself, a crowd of people – with Miguel O’Hara and Dana among them – stare at a hammer-wielding, caped blonde man who claims to be Thor (their idol). Accompanied by Heimdall, Thor tells them that a select few among them will remain in the city to act as sentinels while the rest will come with Heimdall to a place of departure.
Thor turns his attention on Dana causing Miguel to intervene and challenge his so-called authority. As Thor reacts to Miguel’s defiance, he throws a punch which got deflected. This causes the so-called god of thunder to be surprised given Miguel looking ordinary to him. In reaction, Thor grabs him and throws his body several feet over many people’s heads. This leaves Dana helpless.
Miguel crashes through a glass window, falling outside until he shoots a web to control his movement. He takes off his civilian clothes, revealing his costume as Spider-Man of 2099. He sets off to get back at Thor…
To make clear the obvious, the writing by Peter David is indeed solid although the sketch-like aesthetic of the art of Rick Leonardi badly needed more visual details.
As for the story itself, it is succeeded in creating tension with regards to the caped figure who believes himself to be Thor who is the central figure of religion in 2099 America and has the means to wield power by even involving technology (with Valhalla as the center piece). That being said, Spider-Man 2099’s encounter with him was inevitable, and so was the result (a bit predictable). The story also sheds light on the perceived omnipotence of Thor and how Spider-Man 2099 (who was previously referred to by some people as Thor’s harbinger) got associated with his legend.
To make things clear, this one is purely a Spider-Man 2099 story that justifies the concept of needing other 2099 heroes as the threat was simply too great for any one hero to handle. I should also state that the crossover between any heroes does not begin until the final page of this comic book.
Spider-Man 2099 #16 (1994) is still a good read and as the first chapter of The Fall of the Hammer storyline, it served its purpose well. This is mainly due to the strong writing by Peter David who also succeeded in establishing 2099’s Thor not only as the villain but also as a figure who truly is a threat to the people. This comic book also shows that people in 2099 failed to realize who their true Creator is as they embraced religion (instead of faith) and committed idolatry (which is truly unholy) by believing in a false god like Thor.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #16 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint copies of the newsstand and the signed-and-numbered editions cost $120 and $300 respectively.
Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #16 (1994) is recommended.
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