Reviews: Marvel 2099

Ravage 2099: Sadly unrealized potential

Of all the Marvel 2099 books, Ravage 2099 always caught my interest. It was the only one not based on an existing character, the only book written by Stan Lee, and seemed to set out for a very different tone from the rest of the franchise. Paul-Philip Ravage is the CEO of an environmental control company, who learns that his subordinates are labeling corporate enemies as "polluters" and killing them. Ravage is nearly killed, and decides to strike back at Alchemax (the 2099 line's Big Bad Mega Corp).

Then he gets irradiated, turns into a shapeshifting man-beast, and heads up his family's own corporation to fight back. For the first twenty issues, it really is Better Than It Sounds.

The big problem with Ravage is a lack of consistency. He goes through more power changes in thirty-two issues than Hank Pym does over his entire career. He starts as a principled man who tried to avoid killing enemies, sought to protect the environment, and cared for his friends and assistant, Tiana. Lee's run ended with Ravage having the power to shoot radiation through his hands. This was overpowered, so they mutated him into a man-beast; nonetheless, he still had his own morals. He was still clearly a hero. Unfortunately, Issue 21 and 22 killed the series dead. Ravage suddenly got sick of humanity, became a full-on monster, and set out with a giant mutant bat to find a promised land. I wish I was kidding. He then mutates AGAIN, becoming something out of Liefeld's worst nightmares.

Along the way, his entire supporting cast is dumped, the whole focus on Alchemax is exchanged for ludicrous green aesops, and the finale is simply a big battle with a villain from the very first few issues, one that had been totally forgotten by that point. Ravage is now a growling, snarling beast, a parody of his original incarnation. And to reiterate, this is not Character Development; he shifts focus within two issues, with no provocation. Even the letter columns (which normally kiss Marvel's ass) were openly condemnatory of this move.

Oh, and it ends with the ENTIRE CAST getting killed off by Doom.

In the end, Ravage was a lot of unrealized potential. The early issues were awesome, and even the mid-range ranged from decent to good. It might have been another Doom 2099; instead, it's on the level of Fantastic Four 2099. *shudder*