Friday, December 13, 2013

Spider-Man 2099 #40: "Judas Goat"

*** (three of five stars)

In a hospital room, Tyler Stone screams at a doctor to tell him where Dana is.  He tells the doctor that, if it's too difficult for him to do, he should get President Doom on the line.  The doctor tries to stall, but Stone demands an answer.  When the doctor tells him that Dana is dead, Tyler sheds a tear and asks how.

Downtown, the Goblin attacks Spidey from behind, hurling a projectile at him that sends him into free fall and then hitting him with a flash grenade to disorient him.  Spidey remembers the location of a near by building and manages to grab the side of it, arresting his fall.  The Goblin announces that he's there to reveal Spider-Man as a fraud; Spidey comments that one masked guy calling another masked guy a fraud is a bit ironic.  The Goblin tells him that he's betrayed the people of Downtown and must be forced to confess, though he doubts that "one such as [Miguel] could ever be genuinely penitent."  He attacks Spidey with another projectile (some sort of bird-looking item) and Miguel leaps to avoid it.  However, before Miguel can get off a Web-Line, the Goblin entraps him with some sort of mechanical belt, pinning his arms to his side.  Nearby, Kasey, with Raff in tow, is driving to a location that the Goblin provided to her in a message, in which he told her that he'll prove what he was saying about Spider-Man.  Raff remarks that he doesn't care what the Goblin has to prove, because he doesn't trust either of them.  They see Spidey falling above them, where the Goblin is telling Spidey that he'll release him if he swears to a public confession and agrees to leave Downtown forever.  The Goblin says that he wants to save the citizens, but, before he can continue his rant, Miguel entraps him with a Web-Line.  Spidey tells the Goblin that he has to save both of them if he wants to save Downtown.  The Goblin tells Spidey that he can't fly ensnared in Miguel's webbing and Miguel tells him that he'll have to free both of them to free himself.  The Goblin says that he'd sooner die and they simply stare at each other as they continue to fall.

At St. Pat's, the Net Prophet appears looking for Father Jennifer, but she's not there; he then leaves.  Outside, the Goblin finally blinks and releases Miguel, who tells him to go loose so that he can snag him.  The Goblin refuses the help, breaking off the webbing himself.  He then fires a series of blasts at Miguel, who struggles to avoid them.  One of the blasts connects, however, and Miguel falls.  When he gets to his feet, he sees numerous goblins and bizarre colors.  Miguel wonders if he's been tossed in cyberspace as Kasey and Raff watch from the sidelines.  Miguel then attacks Raff, thinking that he's the Goblin.  The Goblin declares to the crowd watching the fight that Miguel is "lashing out" over the Goblin confronting him with his lies.  He continues, noting how easily Spidey struck down "one of [their] own" and warning the crowd that Spidey'll want to leave no witnesses.  Miguel hears him yelling (though can't make out the words) and continues his rampage, acknowledging how confused he is.  The Goblin tells the crowd that he'll protect them and tells Spidey to face him.  Miguel focuses on the Goblin's voice as he taunts him, managing to raze his wing with his claws.  Miguel realizes that only one of the denizens is attacking him and shuts his eyes to rely on his senses to defeat the Goblin.

Uptown, Xina packs a bag, telling Jack (her electronic servant) that she'll be leaving town after Dana's funeral to find the "cosmic purpose" for why she's alive and Dana's dead.  Downtown, the Goblin taunts Spidey for "just standing there," but Miguel hears his footsteps and feels the rush of air next to him, accurately guessing where he was.  He grabs him with some webbing and then attacks him, kicking him across the jaw and then landing several punches.  He contemplates how he was just minding his own business when this guy attacked, as others have, but then the effects of the blasts dissolves and Miguel sees Kasey.  Kasey confronts him, telling him that she thought that she knew who he was.  Spidey tries to explain that he was seeing visions, but the Goblin cuts off his sentence, saying that he made him see the truth.  The Goblin declares that he's no hero for the masses, but a corporate stooge.  He then plays a series of videos -- of Doom offering Spidey a Cabinet post, of the Public Eye telling Spidey that it's got orders to leave him alone, of Miguel telling the Public Eye that Spidey is off limits, and of Spidey rescuing Hikaru-sama -- claiming them as proof that Spidey's a stooge.  Spidey wonders how the Goblin has all that video while trying to defend himself, telling the crowd that he saved Hikaru-sama's life when he didn't even know who he was.  Goblin tells him that he just saved his meal ticket.  Kasey asks him to deny it, but an angry guy in the crowd says that he shouldn't, since he's always acted better than them when he's gone slumming in Downtown.  He notes that people always get hurt or die when Spidey's there and asks who needs him.  An enraged Spidey says that he tried to make their lives better, wondering who needs them.  He departs, saying that they're free to listen to the Goblin's lies.  The angry guy tells him not to return and Spidey asks how he'll stop him; the guy and several other denizens show their weapons and some open fire.

Spidey returns Uptown and wonders how he got fired form a job that he never wanted.  He wonders why the denizens bought the Goblin's lies and ponders Doom's message of just taking power and not worrying about people's feelings.  However, falling emps (as seen in "Doom 2099" #33) interrupt his reverie.  Meanwhile, the angry guy from the crowd watches from a rooftop, saying that he and the Goblin now can feed off the rotting corpse of Downtown.  Revealing himself to be the Vulture, he takes flight, revealing that he plans on eliminating the Goblin to have it all to himself.

The Review
This issue feels like a clear shift in the status quo, with Spidey evicted as protector of Downtown and now enjoying not one, but two arch-nemeses.  It's all the more of the shame that this series ends in six issues, since David really just seems to be hitting his stride here.

The Really Good
1) It's not like any period of "Spider-Man 2099" has been bad, but this entire sequence with the debuts of Venom 2099 and the Green Goblin 2099 have certainly felt like something of a renaissance.  Given that both villains test Miguel's ability to defeat them, it make you feel like Miguel is entering the next stage of his career, facing more difficult enemies that challenge him even as he becomes more adroit in using his super-powers.  With Venom, it was finding a way to overcome his sheer strength and brutality, but with the Goblin -- as it should be -- it's outstmarting his array of toys and weapons.  The Goblin using his psychedelic blasts to get Spidey to attack the Downtown denizens was a brilliant tactic, showing that the Goblin knew exactly what he was doing when it came to laying the appropriate trap for Spider-Man.  McDonell really did a spectacular job throughout this issue using a wide palette of bright colors to show how disoriented Miguel was.  Both the device itself and the elaborate plan attached to it are exactly the type of things that the original Green Goblin would've used, making this one a worthy successor.  Both villains make Miguel step up his game, exactly where we should be as we approach 50 issues.

2) Miguel's weariness is really clear here.  As he's fighting Goblin blind, he contemplates how many people have attacked him.  It reminds you that we're talking about a guy who never wanted to be a superhero in the first place.

The Good
1) It's not exactly a hint, but Spidey and the Goblin's mutual refusal to stop their free fall has a fraternal feel to it, something that'll be all the more hilarious when/if it's revealed that the Goblin is really Gabe.

2) It's interesting that Miguel offered to save the Goblin.  After all, he let the Vulture fall to his death.  David seems to be implying that Miguel has realized that the guilt that he still feels for letting the Vulture fall means that he wants to be a better kind of hero.  David doesn't say that explicitly here, but it seems clear that Miguel is embracing a more "Heroic Age" view of heroism here than he is a 2099 one.  It reminds me of the recent arc in "Scarlet Spider" where Kaine refuses to return to being the monster that Kraven wanted him to be.

3) David shows how advanced Miguel's use of his powers is here, with him defeating Goblin literally blind.  It's that delicate dance, with Miguel learning how to use his powers better because he needs to use them better to survive.

4) I thought it was clever that David used a disguised Vulture to incite the crowd against Spider-Man.  It would've been hard to believe (as Miguel found it to be) that the crowd would've turned so suddenly against Spider-Man on its own.  With the Vulture whipping up their anger, it made a lot more sense.

The Unknown
1) I have to say, David is really going to have to deliver when it comes to explaining how the Goblin got his hands on the video that he did.  The images that we see make it appear that he's had some sort of flying drone following both Miguel and Spider-Man wherever he goes.  Is it maybe the Roving Eye that Miguel's father invented?  Is the Goblin Miguel's father and not Gabe?  However cool that may be, it would still be hard to believe that Miguel has had something like that hovering over his shoulder this entire time without noticing it, no matter how accustomed that he is to living in the surveillance society of the 2099 world.

2) I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to believe about Tyler's relationship with Dana.  David made it pretty clear when it all start that it was essentially just Tyler using Dana to get at Miguel, but this issue makes it equally clear that Tyler grew to care for her.  I'm totally fine with that, but it would be nice at some point to get an idea of his original plan (if it was anything more than just screwing with Miguel for the fun of it).

The Unsure
1) If Gabe is the Goblin, his heel turn is notable not just for the fact that he's willing to attack his brother, but also that his plan is so nihlistic.  Rather than just hurting Miguel, Gabe is trying to destroy the faith that Downtown residents have in Spider-Man as their protector.  Gabe doesn't really believe (or care) that Miguel is a corporate stooge; he only want to destroy people's (and particularly Kasey's) faith in Spider-Man.  I can't think of anything more selfish, taking away the one hero that a downtrodden group of people has in order to get revenge on a former girlfriend.

2) Just when I thought that I had continuity more or less established, this issue takes us back a few steps.  This issue shows the emps falling from the skies, an event that originally happened in "Doom 2099" #33, published at the same time as "Spider-Man 2099" #35.  It seems then that everything that's been happening over the last few months in the 2099 universe since "Spider-Man 2099" #35 -- namely, the events of "Doom 2099" #33 and #39, "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1, "2099 A.D. Genesis" #1, and "Fantastic Four" #2 -- occurs after this issue.  Crazy, but true, I think.

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