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By Kiel Phegley
Stormy weather waits on the horizon for the inhabitants of the Marvel Universe in every time period.
On April 6, Marvel's classic characters clash with the fan favorite futuristic heroes of 2099 in Brian Reed and Eric Battle's TIMESTORM: 2009/2099 limited series. While nearly a decade has passed since the 2099 line of comics ended its run, Reed professes that this new take will reinvigorate the corporation-battling characters for older fans while also serving up a new beginning for readers who missed the first go round.
"The marching orders out of the gate were 'We want to have the present day guys meet the 2099 guys. Whatever you want to do after that is up to you,'" Reed recalls. "My big thing is always that I want to be sure that the guy who just walked in off the street to the comic shop and picked up his first comic book is able to play along. And if I'm just going in and getting into 90's continuity minutia, for every three guys I make happy there will be 300 who go 'I don't get it' and won't come back for issue #2.
"Once I got it all together, I approached [editor] Bill Rosemann with the idea of 'Let's approach this the way NEWUNIVERSAL did, and let's use the characters but [re-launch] the universe and breath new life into it.' We're taking the page from NEWUNIVERSAL and the first issues of the Ultimate books [in terms of] finding that thing that fandom is
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expecting to see and giving both audiences a pat on the back. We're rebooting the universe, but if you're a 2099 fan, I'm doing everything I can to say, 'I know what you want. I'm here to give it to you.'"
The writer came to the project having little direct background with 2099, but in assembling the stars of his story, Reed hit the books for a look into what lies ahead at the cusp of the 22nd century.
"When [this assignment] came up, the first thing I wanted to do was go back and read as much of it as I could, so I found almost the entirety of the 2099 stuff," the writer says. "I started at the beginning of each series and got [a ways] in before I started picking out characters we knew we wanted. Clearly, you want Spider-Man no matter what. And everybody else had a lot of cherry picking going on. 'Wow. This is a really solid character that hasn't had the chance to be used.'"
Carried along from the original line will be the cyberpunk-themed idea that massive corporations control the fate of humanity 90 years down the line.
"We kept a lot of the corporate stuff," Reed explains, noting that the science fiction hook stands equally relevant to modern times. "We live in that world now—that's something that's going to get even bigger and grow more as we move ahead. That's a nugget worth keeping, that evil corporation vibe. But at the same time, the idea that cropped up between the original 2099 line and now was our privacy in the modern world. So much of that
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we give up voluntarily; companies are already mining our data on those things. You take that nugget of a corporation that rules all, and now they're getting all the information on you? That's where our 2099 starts.
"In the future [of 2099], there's a thing called the Public Web, and what it does is keeps track of all of us. It announces when you've gone to the grocery store. It tells everybody when you're going to the bathroom. It watches what you're doing at all times, and the way it's been sold to the public is 'If there are no secrets, there's no danger.' And as people start getting powers and becoming super heroes, they decide to take back these identities and make them the good things they know they used to be."
In specific story terms, TIMESTORM starts with one of the 2099's more morally ambiguous icons crashing into 2009 in a major way.
"We open in the present and Punisher 2099 is here.," Reed reveals. "We don't know why, but he's hunting Spider-Man. And as far as Punisher 2099 is concerned, he's just killed Spider-Man, when Spider-Man suddenly wakes up, and he's in 2099. As we go forward, we'll explain the physics of that and why it all happened and what it means to everybody. But Punisher 2099's attempting to murder Spider-Man has started the Timestorm."
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Readers waiting to find how the crossover shakes out won't have to wait long for the merging of both worlds, and Reed promises that at its core, the connection between 2099 and the present will reveal to comic fans of all backgrounds why both universes still serve up a major amount of shock and awe:
"I wrote a scene with a big team-up between the two Spider-Men the other day, and it was fantastic because all of the sudden, Peter was the teacher. He was the guy going, 'Kid, don't do this.' It was funny because Peter was giving the speech that was the opposite of his 'With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.' It was, 'You need to sit down or people are going to get hurt.' Watching Peter wrestle with that idea was most of the fun for that issue—getting in there and putting these guys in situations that they're not supposed to be in necessarily."
Check out TIMESTORM: 2009/2099 #1, in stores this week! You can also read the first two issues of SPIDER-MAN 2099 right now on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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