Monday, December 2, 2013

2099 A.D. Genesis #1: "Mid Day Sun"

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "And I got bored with little men who sprout sharp things from their hands a long time ago." -- Dust

In the Negative Zone, a "volt storm" hits a Stark-Fujikawa facility of some sort.  As the facility's maintenance crew flees to the "homegate," a computer monitor in the facility reveals that the "life stasis field" is disconnecting.  On Earth, a man walks through the desert, as he has for the last 75 years.  "The Word" has told him that a mutant Messiah and a Herod would be coming and instructed him to find the Messiah among the children in Halo City, the mutant city-state created by ex-President Doom.  The man, named Dust, cuts to the front of the line of mutants trying to enter Halo City and demands entrance from the immigration officer.  The officer tells him to get to the back of the line and the mutant at the front of the line (a dead ringer for Doomsday from "Superman") puts his hand on Dust's shoulder to force him.  However, Dust uses his powers to wither faux-Doomsday's arm and then to hurl the officer from his seat.  The officer and another officer activate their mutant powers as Dust says that Bishop would be disgusted with them considering themselves "security."  The officer asks if Dust was one of the 20th century X-Men; he responds that he was and then knocks him and the other officer unconscious.

In Downtown, a shadowy figure observes the misery of the people living along the 13th St. fault line, expositing that he came from there before dragging himself over it.  He mentions the Night of the Long Knives, when the United States killed the "special people" for reintroducing them to magic (Metalstorm), hope (Galahad), independence (the Hulk), and justice (the Punisher).  The figure saw it happen on the news and committed to showing "them" that it takes "more than gunfire to kill an idea."  He ponders having "no life, no home, no ties, no love" and, jumping off the ledge where he stands, thinks that a man without love is a man without fear.  (Dun-dun-dun!)  Below, a man tries to sell drugs to a woman with two children.  She asks if it's addictive, saying that she and her son could use a "pick-me-up."  He says that it's not and offers her two free doses.  However, the shadowy figure -- revealed to be Daredevil 2099 -- shatters the vials in the guy's hand.  He observes that the pusher is affecting a 13th St. accent, hypothesizing that he's really from Uptown.  The pusher's bodyguard attacks Daredevil, but he uses an energy staff to defeat him; he then hurls it at the fleeing pusher, tripping him.  Daredevil tells the pusher that he knows that the drug is free because it has a "rider chemical" that leaves the user sterile.  He then breaks the pusher's arm, accusing him of trying to kill all birth in Downtown.  He breaks another bone and asks for the pusher's employer; the pusher admits that someone named Frank Wilson created the project because Alchemax can't make a profit with the Downtowners "eatin' and breathin' an' dying."  Daredevil shows the pusher a drug called "chain;" the pusher notes that it comes with a 30-year prison sentence.  Daredevil knocks him unconscious and puts the packet in his hand, informing the unconscious pusher that new legislation now means that it carries a death sentence.

In Halo City, Dust finds Shakti Haddad and demands that she take him to "the children."  She tries to "mindshock" him but he warns her not to do so lest she roast her brain.  She asks how old he is and he tells her that he's from the 1990s, showing her a pendant that he wears.  She asks which one he is and when she starts to suggest Cable, he says that he needs to see the children.  In Manhattan, Mirielle and Suzanne Carter (from "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1) use two stolen stealth-units to launch a rocket at Alchemax, something they do as part of the burgeoning  Re-Activ-8 civil-disobedience movement.  In Halo City, Dust enters the office of the city's leader, Morphine Somers.  Dust tells him that his powers to age something aren't going to work on a guy who's 150 years old and asks to see the children.  Shakti tells Somers that Dust is legit and Somers agrees to take him to them.  They make their way through a tunnel as Somers tells him that they're stashing them there until they can finish the shelter, since they've had some "local" problems.  He asks if Dust knew Xavier and Dust says that he knew "'em all."  Somers opens a door and Dust sheds a tear as he looks on the shadowy members of X-Nation; several of them wear the same symbol that Dust has on his pendant.  He informs the children that one of them is going to save mutantkind.  He then tells them that he was born in the 20th century, but he's changed his name so often that he no longer remembers his real one.  He says that he remembers the time, though, from "the Nineties through to the Great Exodus in the late 2020's [sic]."  He says that he didn't have the guts to be one of the "legends that wore the X," that he was frightened to give himself to the Dream so he ran while the X-Men fought and died "for their place in the sun."  He tells the kids never to "turn away" -- as several of them begin to walk from him -- and murmurs "Forgive me," with one member of X-Nation kneeling with him.

In Manhattan, someone is buried in the Alchemax rubble; Alchemax was left unprepared for the attack since it hadn't employed anti-missile defenses since the Corporate Wars ten years earlier.  Daredevil identifies the man as Frank Wilson; he says that he knew where his office was located because Doom had made all corporate directories and office plans publicly available before he was deposed, to make corporations more accountable.  Daredevil tells Frank that he wants to bring him to justice for the sterilization plan and Frank notes that he could've used the law to do so.  Daredevil sells that he used to love the law, but then discovered that it could be bought.  He says that he realized that the law is blind when you need it the most; at that moment, his glowing eyes go dark.  He punches Frank, who says that the corporations should've ridden themselves of the superheroes when they had a chance.  Daredevil declares everything past the 13th St. fault line to be his territory and then forces Frank to take all the pills.

The Review
I was hoping that this issue was going to give us a better sense of the state of play of Herod's efforts to take over America and generally of the 2099 world.  Instead, it mainly serves as the launching point for the new Daredevil 2099 and X-Nation 2099.  It's not necessarily a bad thing, but, given that this issue and "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 were hyped as essential reading for the 2099 reader, it's hard not to feel disappointed.

The Good
I will say that I was intrigued by Daredevil 2099, but I would've liked more information, honestly.  Given how close I am, at this point, to the end of the 2099 line, I'm pretty sure that he didn't wind up getting his own title; I have to wonder where we're going to see him again.  Hopefully he appears in "Spider-Man 2099."  That said, I'm actually disappointed that we won't see more of him, since he seems like he could fill a gap in the 2099 world.  Downtown is obviously fertile soil for stories that expose the corruption and horrors of the 2099 universe, but we only generally see stories about it in "Spider-Man 2099."  However, Miguel isn't a creature of Downtown; he's generally also juggling Uptown problems.  Daredevil is the perfect character to resurrect (so to speak) to dig into these deeper types of stories.

The Interesting
Although I wasn't super intrigued by the X-Nation story in and of itself, I was fascinated by the fact that it seems to mirror the premise of "X-Men:  Messiah Complex."  Moreover, "Dust's" comments about the unexplained mutant exodus in the 2020s actually really meshes with the story that Remender is telling in "Uncanny Avengers" about the Apocalypse Twins creating Planet X.  I've said it previous in my "Spider-Man 2099" reviews, but, every once in a while, these stories lead me to wonder if Marvel really didn't map out 30 years of stories before it launched the 2099 line!

The Bad
1) Unfortunately, I still have no idea why Herod deposed Doom or what he wants.  It's still unclear to me if he's pro- and anti-corporation and I still don't know if "President" Rogers is the real Cap (doubtful) or someone else.  Again, I concede that these subjects might be covered in "Doom 2099," but, given that Marvel advertised these two issues as necessary to understand the future of the 2099 universe, we should've been given at least a sketch of the new status quo.  Instead, Daredevil 2099 really could've been debuted in the canceled "2099 Unlimited" series (or his own one-shot) and X-Nation clearly could've been handled with in the context of "X-Men 2099."

2) Honestly, I'm over the "mysterious man who forgets his name" schtick.  After all, we still don't know who the Net Prophet is in "Spider-Man 2099."  Ellis hints that "Dust" is actually Cable, but his comments about meeting Professor X once don't really gel with that.  I can't say that I'm intrigued by the mystery to care.

3) I didn't mention it in the summary, but the Daredevil story is interrupted by a several-page montage of splash pages of Doom, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, and the X-Men.  It's totally random, but, to make it worse, it also interrupts the flow of the Daredevil story.  I have no idea why they're included at all, let alone in the middle of the issue.

The Really Bad
As I've probably made clear at this point, Ellis really misses the chance to connect this issue to the larger events transpiring in the 2099 universe.  I was expecting to see heroes rising to Whitlow's call at the end of "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 for the people to rebel and we get that to a certain extent with Daredevil's debut and Re-Activ-8's attack.  But, they're both street-level actions that don't further our understanding of the power struggle happening at the highest echelons of the U.S. government and between the various corporations.  These one-shots seemed to have been the ideal opportunity to make sure all the 2099 readers are working off the same page as we move to the new status quo, but this issue unfortunately dropped the ball that "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 started moving down the field.

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