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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the wild 1990s by examining one of the many tales of Marvel Comics’ 2099 line of franchises, specifically through the Hulk 2099 monthly series.
For the newcomers reading this, Hulk 2099 first appeared in 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993) which also had his origin story told. Hulk 2099 was not a mere version of the classic Incredible Hulk with a futuristic touch. In fact, the futuristic green creature highlighted the protagonist John Eisenhart as a very selfish and obsessed Hollywood studio executive who happens to stumble upon the idolaters/worshipers of the classic Hulk Bruce Banner because he was searching for new properties and stories for his studio. Hulk 2099’s origin has notable similarities to that of the classic Hulk and gamma radiation exposure is one of them. As tales of the futuristic Hulk were told through the quarterly releases of 2099 Unlimited, Marvel decided it was time to give the green creature his own monthly series.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Hulk 2099 #1 published in 1994 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Malcolm Davis.
The story begins with the Hulk of 2099 destroying security droids and verbally attacking civilization. As he retains the intellect of John Eisenhart, he expresses his opposition against civilization for keeping people out of the water reclamation zone.
The story then shifts to California where Lotus Entertainment (Eisenhart’s employer) and its crew work on producing a film which is a dishonest telling of Eisenhart’s dealings with the Knights of Banner (already eliminated in 2099 Unlimited #1). During the production, one of the executives notices the absence of Eisenhart.
Elsewhere, John Eisenhart drives his flying car with Knights of Banner youth survivor Gawain as his passenger. Already struggling with the guilt over the deaths of all the adult Knights of Banner members, Eisenhart intends to end his employment and cash out of his contract. Gawain remains hostile towards Eisenhart.
If there is anything that is very obvious to talk about, it is the fact that this tale shows a radically different John Eisenhart who wants to get out of Hollywood’s multiple mazes of crookedness as he feels very guilty over what happened to the Knights of Banner. This happens just as a new entity took corporate control of Eisenhart’s employer before he could leave the company. In many ways, Eisenhart’s distress and struggle with being guilty reminds me a lot about Hardcase of the Ultraverse and the way the creative dramatized him was engaging.
For the story, there is a lot of corporate intrigue going on and Eisenhart’s failure to quit quickly was inevitable because the new enemy he faces here has a lot to do with the sudden takeover of Lotus Entertainment. At least on face value, this looks like an attempt by the creative team to change the status quo and move Hulk 2099 to a new creative direction away from what was established in 2099 Unlimited. Without spoiling the details, I can say that something very significant happened before the comic book’s ending and it will impact readers who followed the futuristic Hulk’s stories closely in the 2099 Unlimited series.
Along the way, there is a lot of action and unfortunate physical happenings which symbolize the chaos concept of the script. The notable thing here is that you won’t see very much of Hulk 2099’s monstrous form as the script was specifically written to tell a tale that went beyond one issue. Clearly, the creative team were sparing Hulk 2099 for a conflict in the next issue.
Malcolm Davis’ art has that visceral aesthetic that fits the established look of Marvel’s 2099 universe of the time but there were instances when he showed so much happening, the visuals looked chaotic and even disorienting. In fairness, his take on Eisenhart, Quirk, Gawain and others made them looked recognizable.
While its story has little of the green monster in it, Hulk 2099 #1 (1994) does a decent job building up the tension on top of the guilt-filled Eisenhart while setting up events that looked like a bold new creative direction was coming. By the time this comic book was published, several Hulk 2099 tales were already published in the quarterly 2099 series. On its own, this comic book lightly builds up the lore of the 2099 universe as it was clearly focused on Hulk 2099’s creative concept and characters.
While Eisenhart was indeed determined to change, it is a turnoff to see him lie and exaggerate details to protect himself from a certain corporate psychologist who is after the truth. There is also a lot of anti-corporate expressions here which seems to suggest that someone within the creative team had been thinking with socialist concepts and decided to use the script as an outlet of expression. The weird but true thing is that by today’s standards, Hollywood is filled with Commies/socialists/Marxists/liberals/woke nuts from the film crew up to the executives that run studios and produce films or shows that are dumb, lies about reality, self-centered and extensions of their ideologies. This showed that this comic book was prophetic in some ways.
Overall, Hulk 2099 #1 (1994) is satisfactory.
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