Marvel 2099 celebrates its 30th anniversary this month – and if you grew up reading comics in the mid-90s, chances are you still have fond memories of the imprint. Kicking off in September 1992 with Spider-Man 2099, the Marvel 2099 line captured the imaginations of an entire generation of readers by presenting a futuristic reimagining of the Marvel Universe and its iconic heroes and villains.
Three other launch titles followed Spider-Man 2099 – Doom 2099, Ravage 2099, and Punisher 2099 – before Marvel expanded the Marvel 2099 line to include even more characters. Indeed, by the time the imprint folded in 1999, a plethora of ongoing and limited series, one-shots, specials, and annuals had already hit the stands. So, in honour of Marvel 2099 turning the big three-o, here’s a round-up of five fascinating facts from the imprint’s behind-the-scenes history!
5. Peter David named Spider-Man 2099 after an actor
As I mentioned earlier, Spider-Man 2099 #1 was the first title Marvel published under the Marvel 2099 banner. The issue was written by Peter David and pencilled by Rick Leonardi (with inks by Al Williamson) and sported a November 1992 cover date (in keeping with the industry practice of forward-dating comics). It introduced readers to Irish-Mexican geneticist Miguel O’Hara, who becomes the 2099 universe’s incarnation of Spider-Man after unwittingly combining his DNA with that of a spider (as you do).
Now, if you’re a film or TV buff, chances are your celebrity sense is tingling at the sight of O’Hara’s first name – and with good reason. As David revealed in a 2017 blog post, he named the wall-crawler of the future after his friend the late Miguel Ferrer, a veteran character actor known for his roles in classic movies and shows like RoboCop and Twin Peaks. The combination of Ferrer’s first name and an Irish last name helped Miguel O’Hara stand out for Marvel’s largely WASPish stable of superheroes at the time, and – together with Leonardi’s terrific costume design – likely accounts for Spider-Man 2099’s enduring popularity to this day.
4. There’s a “lost” issue of Ghost Rider 2099 that went unpublished
Ghost Rider 2099 was part of the second wave of Marvel 2099 titles which also included series such as X-Men 2099 and Hulk 2099. Like those books, it was designed to capitalise on the current surge of interest surrounding the mainstream version of its titular character, as Ghost Rider was arguably at the height of his popularity during the mid-90s. You could call this creative strategy cynical, but the fact is, it worked– Ghost Rider 2099 ran for two years and 25 issues before Marvel cancelled it in 1996.
Funnily enough, though, there was actually supposed to be a Ghost Rider 2099 #26, however, Marvel axed the series before it could see print. The issue’s title was “Daddy Dearest”, and creative team Scott Andrews, Salgood Sam and Max Douglas had already finished the script, line art and lettering, which means that all the issue needed was Bernie Mireault’s colouring and it was ready to publish. Sam has since shared this entire “lost” Ghost Rider 2099 story via his online portfolio and it’s definitely worth checking out.
3. Grant Morrison and Mark Miller unsuccessfully pitched a 2099 crossover event
Fan interest (and sales figures) began to wane several years into Marvel 2099’s run, prompting Marvel to invite several creators to pitch ideas for a crossover that could reinvigorate the imprint. Superstar writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar were among those asked to participate, and they submitted a joint proposal for a story titled “Apocalypse” – and boy, did it sound cool.
Not only would “Apocalypse” have added two new titles to the Marvel 2099 line, Captain America 2099 and Iron Man 2099, but it also would’ve expanded its world and shaken up its status quo. Highlights from Morrison and Millar’s pitch included a war over the recently resurfaced Atlantis, and a massive slugfest between a newly formed team of Avengers, Galactus, and a Martian army!
Marvel ultimately passed on “Apocalypse,” going with Warren Ellis’ well-regarded “2099 A.D.” crossover – in which Doctor Doom conquers the United States – instead.
2. Ravage 2099 nearly reunited Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
It was a big deal when Marvel announced Stan Lee as the writer of Marvel 2099 launch title Ravage 2099. The co-architect of much of the Marvel Universe hadn’t penned an ongoing series in years, and now here he was, launching a series with artist Paul Ryan headlined by an all-new Marvel character. Yet Ravage 2099 could’ve made an even bigger splash back in 1992 had former Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco’s plan to reunite Lee with Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko come to fruition.
Unfortunately for fans, DeFalco’s idea of rekindling the legendary Lee/Ditko partnership fizzled out after only one meeting between the pair, during which Ditko turned the assignment down. Apparently, the artist – who was a well-known adherent of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism philosophical system – didn’t agree with some aspects of Ravage 2099’s underlying ideology. Ditko nevertheless parted ways with both Lee and Marvel on good terms and he went on to work for the publisher again before his death in 2018.
1. Mark Waid almost penned a Daredevil 2099 series
Mark Waid’s two consecutive Daredevil runs – the first with Paolo Rivera and the second with Chris Samnee – produced some of the best stories in the Man Without Fear’s five+ decade history. But did you know that Waid almost wrote his first series headlined by Daredevil 16 years earlier, in 1995? Well, he did – although I should say “headlined by a Daredevil” as this book would’ve chronicled the exploits of the 2099 version of Hornhead, and not Matt Murdock.
Like Morrison and Millar’s “Apocalypse” proposal, Waid’s Daredevil 2099 pitch has all the hallmarks of a potentially great comic book story. In a fun twist, it recasts Daredevil as an amoral corporate lawyer named Eric Nelson unlike the selfless champion of the downtrodden fans are familiar with. Of course, it’s not long before Nelson sees the error of his ways and by the end of Daredevil 2099‘s first arc, he would’ve devoted his legal expertise and newly enhanced senses to bringing Marvel 2099’s various mega-corporations to justice.
Sadly, Daredevil 2099 never happened – presumably because Marvel was already planning to downsize the 2099 line by 1995 – however, Eric Nelson did briefly show up in 2099 A.D. Genesis #1 by Warren Ellis, Dale Eaglesham, and Scott Koblish.