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This is it! The thirty-fifth and final issue of the X-Men 2099 monthly series from Marvel Comics is at hand. How times have changed in the American comic book industry back in the 1990s. When X-Men 2099 #1 was released in 1993, there was still good demand and room for expanding the 2099 imprint beyond the pioneering characters Spider-Man 2099, Punisher 2099, Ravage 2099 and Doom 2099. By the time the X-Men 2099 series came to an end, Marvel Comics was in turmoil internally and several 2099 series talents behind the scenes left as a result of the termination of 2099 line editor Joey Cavalieri.
With the short history lesson done, we can now take a look back at X-Men 2099 #35, published in 1996 by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore (who wrote ALL the series’ issues) and drawn by Jan Duursema.
The story begins with some members of the X-Men facing off with Darkson (his name is Joaquim, the accelerated grown-up son of Metalhead and Rosa) and his evil mentor Vulcan. Following Vulcann’s command, Darkson lets go of Luna (who was carried earlier by him) who lands on the ground in a weakened state and was approached by Krystallin. In reaction, Krystallin launches some crystals to Vulcann and Darkson but got blocked by a protective aura.
The X-Men realize that Darkson is as potentially dangerous as Zhao. Darkson then strikes at Bloodhawk with a psionic blast and then attacks the other X-Men…
In terms of storytelling, John Francis Moore did what he could with all the plot details and with what was built up during the previous issues leading to this issue’s final conflict. The problem, however, is that the pay-off was ultimately unsatisfactory.
Firstly, having Vulcann and Darkson parallel God and Jesus (complete with doing something about the destiny of people who need saving, which in this comic book referred to the futuristic mutants) in a twisted fashion was just hollow and never engaging. Secondly, the way the X-Men members got together was very rushed in execution. Thirdly and more importantly, the final conflict was pretty shallow and only led to a sequel-bait ending designed to lead into 2099: World of Tomorrow #1.
If you are looking for superhero spectacle, you will find some here but they all feel rushed and unsatisfying. If you care about key X-Men 2099 characters like Skullfire and Xi’an, the way they developed and appeared here will disappoint you. In fairness, Shakti remains the strong-willed mutant as before.
To say the least, there was an effort to emphasize what was at stake for the mutants of 2099 living in Halo City and there was also the idea that the world was coming to an end. The problem here was the execution as the comic book basically showed the X-Men in the presence of Vulcann and Darkson. There was no epic battle here at all and the climax at the end clearly showed rush and even a lack of creativity (note: most likely due to the internal turmoil at Marvel at the time).
I should say that X-Men 2099 #35 is indeed a disappointing conclusion not only to its series but also in the final conflict the X-Men had with Vulcann and Darkson. The pay-off was very unsatisfying and it did not help that this comic book served as just another build-up leading to another Marvel 2099 publication. By the time the conflict ended, I did not care much about the X-Men which, for the most part, became irrelevant. This is too bad because in issue #1 they were very interesting and (after some stories of misadventures showing the X-Men members separated) they became interesting again with the events in issue #25.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #35 (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $17 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $51.
Overall, X-Men 2099 #35 (1996) is unsatisfying. I don’t recommend spending a lot of money for it. Better save your money.
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