Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis #1 Review

  • Written by: Steve Orlando
  • Art by: Justin Mason
  • Colors by: Jordan Boyd
  • Letters by: VC’s Cory Petit
  • Cover art by: Nick Bradshaw, Neeraj Menon
  • Cover price: $3.99
  • Release date: May 3, 2023

Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis #1 addresses the aftermath of the Black Cards’ downfall. When a former Black Card gets a hold of Carnage cells, he becomes the public face of retribution to feed his insatiable bloodlust.

Is It Good?

Well, here we are again. Marvel’s back with a new Spider-Man 2099 limited run, and Steve Orlando is here to take another crack at Miguel O’Hara.

In the interests of full disclosure, when it was announced Spider-Man 209 was returning after last year’s mini-series with Steve Orlando returning to lead the title, the reaction was… mixed. Spider-Man 2099 is a fan-favorite, and Orlando had some interesting ideas to start last year’s arc, but the promise of the premise quickly fell apart with a plot that lost all sense in a miniseries that only featured the titular character in a couple of issues, using the bulk of the minis-series to introduce a succession of 2099 variants of today’s characters such as Black Widow 2099 and Spider-Woman 2099 and Valkyrie 2099.

A good idea to start doesn’t mean much when poorly executed, and the arc is sidetracked with backdoor introductions for other characters.

So, here we are again. Does Orlando learn from the mistakes of the previous mini-series? It’s too soon to tell, but this first issue has some good points and some rough spots. In other words, it’s mixed.

We pick up in the aftermath of the previous mini-series with the Black Cards criminal organization in shambles. Middle- and lower-class citizens are not only out for justice, but they’re also out for blood, with mobs committing violence and destruction wherever former Black Card members are found.

The riots spiral out of control, and Spider-Man 2099 (with the help of Spider-Woman 2099 and Lyla) works round the clock to quell the violence. Unfortunately, a former Black Car member is the keeper of a vault with highly dangerous Alchemax materials, including cells from the Carnage symbiote. Eager to escape getting caught up in a mob lynching, he becomes a host and turns into Carnage 2099 to spread chaos and destruction on behalf of the mobs.

Orlando’s premise has merit, the pacing is good, and the mounting sense of chaos is palpable. You can feel the situation spiraling out of control, creating a challenge that seems impossible for our heroes to beat.
However, the good points are offset by the bad points. Orlando throws metaphorical gas on the mob fire by depicting crime bosses and corporations doing everything they can to make insurance too expensive and denying healthcare to citizens in need unless they can pay through the nose to get it. News organizations put a “spin” on stories to favor the government and the elite, and the only thing missing is a panel with a little girl crying in the middle of the street. Oh, wait. You get a little old grandmother crying in the middle of the street while she holds her injured grandson.

Heaviest of Hands, thy name is Orlando. This issue is a veritable laundry list of every current-day social ill and criticism of corporations, healthcare, big business, media spin, and the evils of classism you could possibly imagine. Truly, if you tried to count all the social ills Orlando crams into this single issue, you’re apt to lose count with so much overlap. It would be an impressive feat if it wasn’t so eye-rolling.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with telling a story that incorporates real-world problems to give the situation an air of authenticity, but those ills don’t make sense in this context when you have superheroes and aliens hunting down a blood-drinking symbiote tearing people to shreds. Does it even make sense that all the real-world problems we experience today are exactly the same in a story set 76 years in the future? No, it doesn’t, and that’s why Orlando’s insistence on going heavy-handed in this issue is not only painful to read, it reflects a lack of imagination.

How’s the art? It’s better than good. You could make the case Mason and Boyd’s art is above average. There’s a noticeable lack of detail in the backgrounds and wide shots, but the close-up work is relatively well done, and (new) Carnage’s design looks great.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

Follow @ComicalOpinions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Bits and Pieces

Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis #1 starts a new adventure for the hero of tomorrow when social/class strife leads to violent protests, and a new Carnage emerges to become the weapon of revenge for the people. The art is solid, and the technical aspects of the writing are good, but the story gets painfully heavy-handed with social commentary.


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