Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spider-Man 2099 #10 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "I'd explain it but I'd need charts and graphs and maybe an easel."  "You're hilarious.  Good thing I'm dying so I won't have to listen to this much longer."  -- Strange and Miguel, employing some gallows humor

As Maestro strides through the halls of his palace, his minister approaches him, cautiously asking him if it was wise to place Spider-Man in the same cell as Strange.  Maestro says that he's knows what he's doing and that he's not interested in the Minister's confusion.  He's also not interested in this world, because he's accomplished everything that he can.  (Foreshadowing!)  He says that he wants more and then joins a few scantily clad women in a room (with the usual, "Now, ladies...where were we?" line).

In their cell, Miguel tells Strange that he thinks that he's dying, and Strange asks if he could drag himself to her.  She tells him that the binders prevent her from projecting her magic, but she can help him if he enters her circle.  He tries, but he collapses en route.  He mutters that none of "this" should be here, and Strange agrees with him.  Miguel asks why she didn't change when the world changed around her, but she says that it's part of the "sorceress gig."  (Cue above exchange.)  She then tells him to shoot a Web-Line at her.  He does and he's startled when a demon-looking creature under her arm uses it to pull him towards her.  She then touches his hand and he screams in agony.  A guard rushes into the room as a result of the noise, and a fully healed Miguel knocks him into a wall.  Unfortunately, the guard doesn't have keys to her shackles.  He tells Strange that he's going to return to 2015 to fix the future, and she tells him that Maestro has a time machine but can't fix it.  Miguel asks if she can get him to it, and she tells him that she can if he gets rid of the symbols on her binders.  He uses his talons to scratch them and she then uses her powers to dissolve them.  Miguel asks where the machine is, and Strange tells him that it's in his Trophy Room.  Miguel then offers that his specialty is biology, not technology, so he's not sure if he can fix the machine.  Strange responds that Maestro has a bunch of other technology down there, so it may help.

En route to the Room, they run into some guards.  They make short work of them, with Miguel motivated by the realization that he has to succeed if he wants to save his world (and his mother and brother).  The aforementioned minister observes them as they run through the hall, and they arrive in the Room full of relics (like Spidey's mask and Cap's shield) that Maestro collected from the heroes "who survived the catastrophe in the early 21st century."  They then find, not surprisingly, at Doom's time platform.  Strange gives Miguel the device to control it, and she lets him know that Maestro hasn't figured out that device either.  Miguel asks how he's going to fix it, and Strange says that she doesn't know, since her specialty is mysticism, not machinery.  Miguel points out the fact that Bruce Banner builds bombs, so he's more likely to be able to fix the platform than Miguel is.  However, Strange lets him know that he hasn't built anything in decades, since he doesn't like to dwell on who he was.  Miguel then notices several of Iron Man's suits and realizes that he can hook up their power sources to the platform.  (While he's doing it, he mentions to himself that he still thinks that it's weird that Maestro didn't do it.)

Miguel finishes doing what he's doing, just in time for Strange to be stabbed from behind.  Maestro reveals himself, showing that he used the Hood's cloak to be invisible and a soul dagger to take out Strange.  Miguel leaps past him, grabbing the dagger with his Web-Line.  Maestro struggles, turning in time for Miguel to use the cannon on a huge (possibly Hulk-Buster) set of armor to take down Maestro.  Maestro hurls Miguel onto the platform in rage, and Miguel disappears as Maestro collapses.  In 2015, Miguel realizes that the platform's control device stayed in 2099 (likely because it's chronically locked to it), and Miguel worries that Maestro is still alive and might return to 2015.  In 2099, a voice tells Maestro that Miguel is gone, and Strange is revealed to be possessed by the demon that helped Miguel earlier.  He asks if they should complete the plan, and Maestro says that they should, soon arriving in New Mexico on Christmas Day (though the year is unclear).

The Review
I honestly don't have too much to say, because David is really only getting started here.  So far, though, everyone's motivations make sense, even if we don't have all the information that we need.  In other words, we have questions, but they're questions that flow from the story itself and not because the author missed making obvious connections.

My only complaint about this issue is that I'm really, really done with time-travel stories.  I had hoped that Miguel would stay in 2099 when he returned last issue.  I mean, I love Miguel, so I'll keep reading, even if he's in the Stone Age.  But, despite happening in the future, the 2099 stories weren't actually time-travel stories.  They were stories about a certain time and place, and I'm anxious to visit said time and place after so many years.

The Good
1) The best part of this issue is probably the hint that Sliney includes halfway through the issue that foreshadows how the issue is going to end.  It's the moment where we see the demon pulling Spidey to Strange.  He wasn't there in previous panel, and he's not there in the next one.  It would actually be pretty easy to miss him.  In fact, even if you do see him, you sort of forget about him immediately, because it's unclear if he's just a figment of Miguel's addled mind.  When it's revealed on the last page that the demon has been controlling Strange from the start, this moment becomes all the cooler.

2) Moreover, the revelation that it was a demon controlling Strange answers all sots of questions.  It explains why she knew where the time platform was and how she knew so much about its workings, since she was really just walking Miguel through the plan.  But, it's not like Miguel doesn't have his suspicions; David makes it clear that he's either too injured or, later, too desperate to save his future to be paying particularly close attention.

The Unknown
1) Was "Strange" right that Maestro just stopped accessing the Banner part of his brain, meaning that he was no longer able to fix the time platform?  Or, did he need Miguel to fix it for another reason?  If so, I really can't think of what would prevent him from working on it.

2) Why did Maestro collude with the demon in the first place?  I get that he had to trick Miguel to fix the platform (assuming that he himself couldn't fix it and that Miguel was unlikely to do it if Maestro asked nicely).  But, why was a demon necessary?  What skin does the demon have in the game?

3) Moreover, why Strange?  My guess is that she's the only one left from Miguel's timeline, so they had to use her as bait since he'd recognize her.  But, we don't have confirmation of that.  Also, it seems possible that it really isn't Miguel's timeline, that they plucked her from their timeline since they needed someone that Miguel would trust in Maestro's timeline.

4) In fact, we really don't have confirmation of what timeline it is.  Is the canonical Maestro timeline really an alternate or future version of Miguel's time?  Or, are we dealing with an alternate timeline different from the canonical Maestro timeline?  The latter possibility would make more sense to me.  Otherwise, it's weird to think that the canonical Maestro timeline is based on Spidey 2099's timeline suddenly becoming corrupted by a "new" event in the past.  In other words, if the Maestro's timeline really is a corruption of Miguel's timeline, it means that someone from a different time specifically screwed up something in 2015.  Otherwise, the timeline would've unfolded the way that it originally did, leading to Miguel's timeline.  (Ugh, time travel.)

5) What does Maestro hope to accomplish in the past?  He just says that he's bored of his present.  Why is time travel necessary to alleviate that boredom?

6) This last one isn't a question specifically dealing with this issue, but Strange mentions the catastrophe from the early 21st century, an event frequently mentioned in the original "Spider-Man 2099" run.  It's interesting that David has kept that part canonical, since so much of that run is still in question.

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