Friday, December 6, 2013

Spider-Man 2099 #39: "Brother's Keeper"

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "I have two half brothers.  One thinks he's my full brother, and hates Spider-Man...and the other doesn't know we're related and hates Miguel.  Add them up, I've got one whole brother who hates me completely."  "It's nice to have family."  -- Miguel and Lyla, on his interesting family dynamics.

Miguel becomes increasingly agitated as he walks the halls of Alchemax, noting that people who previously would've called him "Miggy" or nothing at all now refer to him as "Mr. O'Hara."  He enters a lab where Kron is held in a stasis tube and, after Kron taunts him, instructs everyone in the lab to leave.  Miguel asks Kron how he's still alive, but Kron tells him to "byte" him.  Miguel tells him that, as a serial killer, he's only still alive due to the alien symbiote making him a subject of scientific interest.  When Miguel tells Kron that he's killed people that Miguel loves, Kron calls him gutless.  Miguel releases Kron, telling him that he can leave if he can beat Miguel in a fight without the symbiote; if he can't, he explains how he became Venom.  Miguel lands the first punch, sending Kron across the room.  Kron leaps at Miguel, but Miguel grabs his arm; when Kron tells him to "leggo," Miguel tells him that he's trying to "let go" of his anger, but it's not working.  Telling him that he'll have to keep beating up Kron until it's gone, Miguel proceeds to whale on him.  Kron tells him that he'll talk, but Miguel tells Kron that he wants Kron to scream, for all the people that he's killed.

Downtown, Raff is sitting with Kasey and notices a streak of light outside her window.  He asks if she saw it but she continues talking about her confrontation with the Vulture, noting that he had her in his clutches, but some guy appeared to save her.  Raff points at the window and asks if the guy looked like the figure hovering outside it.  Kasey lets the figure into her room and Raff is shocked at her doing so.  He pulls a gun on the figure, who looks remarkably like the Green Goblin and disables the gun with some sort of electrical bomb.  The Goblin then asks Kasey if the Vulture had "manhandled" her since the "scuffle."  She says that he hasn't and the Goblin tells her that a new order exists Downtown; he says that they can all live in peace and reclaim what Alchemax has taken.  The Goblin asks if she'll help and she says that she will.  She begins to say something about him and Spider-Man working together, but the Goblin dismisses Spider-Man as a "corporate tool."  Kasey insists that he's not, but the Goblin tells her that he'll make Spidey confess it personally.  He departs and Raff tells Kasey that he doesn't trust him.  She says that she doesn't either and that she doesn't know who to trust anymore, but she'd like to know more about him.

At Alchemax, several men stand outside the lab wondering about the noises that they're hearing.  One wonders whether they should call security, but Miguel emerges and tells them that it won't be necessary.  He says that they'll find Kron more cooperative and departs; one of them enters and expresses shock at Kron's bleeding and broken face as he asks what they want to know.  At home, Miguel marvels that he has two half-brother, one who hates Spider-Man (Gabriel) and one who hates Miguel (Kron).  Lyla tells Miguel that she's deleted Dana from his holiday-card list and discontinued her security clearance.  Miguel asks why Dana's death doesn't mean anything to her, but she asks why it should.  He acknowledges the point and asks if Gabriel's home.  She says that he's not and he asks about Xina.  She says that Xina's electronic servant, Jack, told her that Xina's not taking calls.  Miguel then heads to Xina's (testing out the new Web-Foil repairs on his costume).  Xina is deep in grief, telling Miguel that she can't believe that Kron has returned to haunt them.  She says that Dana's only crime was that she was over-eager to love people and expresses guilt over the fact that Dana was ready to sacrifice herself for Xina and all Xina could think was that she was glad to be alive.  She asks Miguel what kind of monster she is but Miguel tells her that she was just scared and it's not wrong to be happy that she survived.  Telling her that it doesn't make her misery any less sincere, Miguel is shocked when she tells him that she thinks that he should run Alechmax, asking rhetorically who she is to tell someone how he should run his life.  Downtown, the Goblin tells a figure to stop skulking in the shadows and the Vulture emerges, asking if their "little act" impressed "her."  The Goblin says that it did and the Vulture asks why he singled out Kasey.  The Goblin tells him that it's because she's a pivotal figure in Downtown, but the Vulture asks if he had any "juicier" reasons; the Goblin says that he didn't.

At Alchemax, Miguel is staring at a holographic image of Kron when Father Jennifer enters his office.  He asks why she's so far from Downtown, but she's startled that he knows who she is.  Remembering that he only knows her as Spider-Man, Miguel tells her that he dropped by her church one day.  Jennifer reveals that she was Dana's sister and she's hurt when Miguel makes it clear that Dana had never mentioned her.  Miguel stresses that Dana had talked about her sister "Jenny" in the beginning, but not later.  Jennifer says that they used to be very close but had a falling-out a few years earlier.  Saying that she can never make it right, Jennifer sees Kron's image on Miguel's desk and asks if he's the "individual."  Miguel confirms that he is and plays the video of Kron explaining how he became Venom.  After the Punisher shot Kron, he threw his body into a sewer, where it came into contact with the symbiote.  A revived Kron then used the symbiote to "fry" a homeless person; he left his I.D. on the ashed body and gave an anonymous call to the authorities where they could find it.  He then laid low while his body adjusted to the symbiote but decided to emerge when he heard that Tyler had been shot in order to get his chance to kill him.  Jennifer mutters, "Lord, forgive him" and Miguel berates her for saying that about the monster who killed her sister and his lover.  He says that Kron deserves to burn forever, but Jennifer says that it's to the Lord to judge.  She also tells him that she'll knock out his teeth if he raises his voice to her again.  Jennifer leaves as Miguel gets a call from Gabriel, telling him that he needs Spider-Man to come to Downtown.  Later, Spidey makes his way Downtown, wondering if Dana's death had driven Gabe around the bend, given that he evaporated for a while and then suddenly re-appeared needing Spidey.  He notes that insanity runs in their family -- mentioning his mother and himself -- but decides to indulge the Goblin swoops at him from behind.

The Review
This whole Venom arc has been really great, injecting some needed direction and drama into the series after the Nightshade and Mexico City digressions.  The threats that Miguel is facing are no longer just affecting his superhero activities but his personal life as well.  It's really upped the stakes and makes you wonder how Miguel is going to respond to such an unremitting string of challenges and tragedies.  It's these moments where superheroes are supposed to shine, though David hasn't made it clear yet if Miguel -- who remains somewhat ambivalent about his role as Spider-Man -- will rise to the challenge.

The Good
1) The revelation that the Green Goblin was working with Vulture made a lot of sense.  For a moment, I was worried that David would want us to believe that it was just a coincidence that the Green Goblin just happened to be watching Kasey when the Vulture attacked, but, of course, David is too careful of a plotter to make that mistake.  However, we do eventually need to learn how the Vulture survived his fall and how the Goblin not only found out he did, but recruited him.

2) The design of the Green Goblin is impressive.  It's really a great homage to the originally Goblin's outfit, with the bright green and vivid purple, but with the expected futuristic twist.

3) I was glad that Xina didn't hold against Miguel the whole "choice" debacle.  David definitely gave himself some wiggle room there, given that Miguel originally screamed Xina's name.  But, more importantly, he has Xina focus on her role in Dana's death.  Her soul-searching feels profound; it's likely to provide better fodder for stories than some sort of manufactured outrage at Miguel for possibly choosing Dana over her.

4) Kron refering to "we" and "our" was effectively creepy.

The Unknown
I wonder why Father Jennifer and Dana had a falling-out...

The Unsure
I'm hoping that David isn't done showing us Miguel's grief over Dana's death.  David certainly isn't ignoring it entirely; we clearly saw his grief as Spider-Man last issue and his anger at Father Jennifer forgiving Kron in this one was totally believable.  However, we'll need to continue seeing him grapple with his grief as we continue forward.  After all, the last two times Miguel and Dana spoke were when he screamed at her after he discovered Tyler Stone was his father and when he confronted her in Tyler's hospital room after he learned that they were in a relationship.  Sure, they shared a brief kiss before she escaped from Venom in issue #37, but they never really had an opportunity to assess their relationship after the incident in issue #26.  Miguel did seem remarkably composed when he was comforting Xina over Dana's death; it was odd that neither he nor Xina mentioned his own grief.  In the end, David should be playing up the parallels between Dana and Gwen Stacy, not hiding from them.

The Bad
OK, after finishing this issue, I pulled out issue #38, the issue where the Green Goblin apparently first appeared.  However, he really does look like a living laser.  I get that he zips around so fast that he looks like that (as seen in this issue), but it was still odd to see him presented here like we had previously met him.  It wound up being anti-climatic to see him fully for the first time simply climbing in Kasey's window like he owned the place.

A Note on Reading Order:  I've generally tried to post these reviews in a logical reading order.  Given Miguel's frequent appearances in other titles, particularly "2099 Unlimited," it hasn't necessary been easy to do so and I've tried to at least comment where I think certain stories outside the main title fall.  However, the most recent round of issues have been particularly challenging.  As I mentioned in my review of "Spider-Man 2099 Special" #1, the issue appeared at the same time as issue #37 despite the fact that the events detailed in it took place before issue #26.  Similarly, I began to read the "Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man" #1, since it was published at the same time as issue #37 and "Spider-Man 2099 Special" #1, but realized that it happens after Spider-Man's fight with a revived Vulture.  I expected that fight to happen this issue, but it's clear that it won't happen at least until next issue, issue #40.  Moreover, "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 and "2099 A.D. Genesis" #1 appeared with "Spider-Man 2099" #38 and #39, but I don't think that we're close to them yet, since Doom still seems to be President in "Spider-Man 2099."  Basically, I've taken a long way to describe that the continuity right now is a little difficult to follow, so bear with me.

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