Roughly a century prior, a massive cataclysm brought about the end of the "Age of Heroes". The disaster also destroyed most of civilization, resulting in a much, much worse world than before. (And considering how bad it was before, thats saying a lot.) The world is now run by massive Mega Corps (most notably Alchemax), the only police are the privatized Public Eye, and the entire planet is little more than a toxic deathball.
In the year 2099, however, four individuals suddenly get pulled into superheroism. Miguel O'Hara, a geneticist working for Alchemax, accidentally splices Spider DNA with his own. Paul Philip Ravage, executive for an environmentalist Alchemax subdivision, discovers corruption in his employer and goes on the lam to fight it. In distant Latveria, a long-lost dictator suddenly returns, and prepares to retake his homeland. Jake Gallows, a member of the private police force, becomes a violent vigilante when the law fails to condemn his familys killer. Later, a small group of mutants gather in the Nevada desert. An amoral Hollywood producer turns on the Knights of Banner and is pelted with Gamma Rays. A hacker finds his personality trapped on the net, and is transported into a robot body to avenge his own death. Not to mention the many, many other heroes that began to crawl out of the woodwork...
Marvel 2099 was very much a product of The Dark Age of Comic Books, with Liefeldian physiques and ridiculous future slang. Nonetheless, the first four series (Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, and The Punisher 2099) sold extremely well. Spider-Man 2099 would become the most well-known series, and would be the only one to directly interact with the mainstream series. Doom 2099 featured exceptional writing, turning Doctor Doom into an Anti-Hero while still keeping him a Magnificent Bastard. Ravage was the only fully original character, and was written by Stan Lee for the first eight issues. Punisher 2099 was... well, a Dark Age comic.
2099's best strength, however, was its continuity. Editor Joey Cavalieri worked overtime to make sure every issue of the series fit, while also giving the creative staff considerable leeway in what they created. As a result, the series was akin to Marvel's Silver Age work; several comics that didn't cross over every month, but at the same time were clearly in the same universe, with events occurred concurrently. In fact, the lines only actually crossed over once, for the "Fall of the Hammer" story arc, and even that was tightly managed.
Facing declining sales, the comics culminated in the "One Nation Under Doom" event, where Doom took over the United States. It was inconceivably awesome, mostly because it was written by Warren Ellis.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of it. Marvel, due to the effects of The Great Comics Crash of 1996, decided in a desperate bid to cut costs to fire Cavalieri. Nearly every writer quit in protest. The line limped along for a while, before every surviving series was canceled at once. In their place was "2099: World of Tomorrow," which ran for eight issues before also being cancelled. Finally, Marvel closed the universe off with "2099: Manifest Destiny."
Aside from some brief revisits, the entire 2099 franchise has largely become another part of geek trivia. Spider-Man 2099 has received some new attention from being featured in 21st-century Spider-Man video games, most notably Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Oh, and he was also part of the Exiles for a while, and in the months just prior to Marvel NOW, writers tease the fans the Peter Parker's replacement in The Superior Spider-Man would be his 2099 counterpart, though this would eventually be proven false. However, he was a major player in some arcs, which led to Alchemax being created in Earth-616. Miguel starred in a new ongoing series, and took part in the Spider-Verse Bat Family Crossover. In 2015, the 2099 timeline was one of the alternate universes featured in the third season of Ultimate Spider-Man, with Miguel appearing as one of the major characters. One of the mini-series featured in Secret Wars (2015) was Secret Wars 2099, a title focusing on the 2099 version of The Avengers (featuring analogues of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye).
In 2019, in celebration of Marvel's 80th anniversary, a storyline running through Nick Spencer's Spider-Man sees Peter and Miguel teaming up to save the future as well as a series of one-shots looking into 2099 versions of various characters, even Conan the Barbarian!
Comics with their own pages:
Marvel 2099 provides examples of:
- '90s Anti-Hero: It just drips with every 1990s cliché to have ever existed. It also subverts the trope at least as many times as it plays it straight. The 2099 comics were laced with quite a bit of satirical humor, laugh-out-loud moments, and optimism. The line was largely about people finding heroes to believe in again.
- Affirmative Action Legacy:
- Spider-Man is half-Latino half-white, Ghost Rider is half-Japanese half-white, Doctor Strange is a young woman who looks at least vaguely Asian and Moon Knight is a Muslim woman.
- The subsequent revivals of the line reveal that Captain America is a Latina woman, Black Widow is an African-American woman, Iron Man suffers from dwarfism and The Vision is a woman. Two 2099 versions of Deadpool also exist, both of which are women and the original's daughters, one being a mutant and the other half demon.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: While Doctor Doom's morality has always been Depending on the Writer, this version was of the Noble Demon Pragmatic Villainy interpretation. As a man of his word who protects his subjects as long as they're loyal, he's demonstratively superior to the Corrupt Corporate Executive types who presently rule the world. He's still a absolute monarch and world-conquering tyrant but the conquered population of the United States ironically has more freedom under him than their previous oppressors.
- Bad Future: The main Marvel 2099 — Earth-928 — is one for Earth-616, where Doctor Doom rules the world as a god-emperor and corrupt mega-corporations like Alchemax oppressively run society.
- Black and Gray Morality: Spider-Man and the Hulk were both Corrupt Corporate Executives and not great people in their personal lives either, the Xavier analogue of the X-Men had a dark side in his backstory that resurfaced once or twice, and Doctor Doom is the closest thing to a Big Good. Despite that and more, the overall arc was fairly idealistic. See the Dark Age entry.
- Came Back Wrong: An attempt to revive the previous Black Panther is ruined thanks to the current Black Panther's intervention. He instead becomes a raging cyborg, dealing massive destruction to Wakanda before Doom can take him down.
- Character Development: Doom 2099 is less bombastic, doesn't go into hammy rants, cares about others and will abandon his plans and risk his life to save innocent people. In one issue, he even bows to a Wakandan princess in a gesture of respect. When he time travelled to the past and met up with present-day Doom, he was less than impressed.Doom 2099: Gad! Was I really such a boor?
- Church Militant: The Sisters of the Howling Commandments.
- Colony Drop: Attempted in the crossover storyline Fall of the Hammer by the Thorites, who tried to drop the flying city Valhalla in the ocean.
- Continuity Snarl:
- About halfway through Manifest Destiny, the Watcher has Miguel and Captain America gather all of Earth's surviving heroes for a final battle. Among them was the Punisher 2099, despite being, you know, dead for several years by that point.
- The aforementioned death happened in 2099 AD Apocalypse (see also Dropped a Bridge on Him below) which had Continuity Snarls of its own. The Punisher 2099 is suddenly back on Earth, while his own last issue (which came out the month before) had him in deep space. Hulk 2099 in turn had his appearance radically altered in his last issue, and is back to his old appearance without explanation. Fan Wank has pointed out that both of these characters had previously established doppelgangers, which might explain this.
- Manifest Destiny also explained that the Solar System was enveloped in a bubble of cosmic energy which formed a nigh indestructible barrier put there by aliens to isolate Earth from the rest of the galaxy. Conflicting with this is that several different alien species had previously shown up in various 2099 titles.
- Peter David retconned all the above after he returned to the series in 2014.
- A retro-active one; Daredevil 2099 was established to be Samuel Fisk, The Kingpin's grandson, but Fisk's only known descendant (his son Richard) is murdered in the Daredevil several years later.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: They more or less run the world in 2099.
- Corporate Samurai: Just about every company recruits super-powered or enhanced hitmen to carry out their dirty jobs. Special mention goes to Miguel O'Hara, whose job was to make these guys.
- Crapsack World: Cyberpunk is almost always grim, and this is no exception. Corporations rule the world, the air is partially breathable, most large mammals have gone extinct, the gap between the rich and the poor is larger than ever and everyone's rights depend on how much money they have, history has been forgotten, and several countries have ceased to exist. The only bright spot is that racism is now viewed as a foolish and outdated concept - hence the sheer number of Affirmative Action Legacy characters.
- Cyber Punk: Especially Ghost Rider 2099, who starts out as a stereotypical outlaw hacker pitted against a megacorporation. As the new heroes start coming out of the woodwork, it's unclear if the world is heading to Post-Cyberpunk or just a different flavor of crapsack.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Prison sentences are now considered monstrous and impractical; now, if a judge gives you forty years, they mean a chemical treatment that will age you forty years.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him:
- Ravage and the entirety of Hellrock are encased in liquid Adamantium, pulled up with a tractor beam, and hurled into space.
- 2099 AD Apocalypse is nothing more than a series of bridge drops, mostly of the minor characters that never got their own books... with two exceptions. Punisher 2099 is vaporized by a giant spider, and Hulk 2099 goes out via Suicide by Cop.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Manifest Destiny ended the line this way.
- Emphasize EVERYTHING: Ravage 2099 especially.
- The Extremist Was Right: Doom liberally skirted around the Moral Event Horizon for most of his series, but when he finally took over the United States, his reforms greatly cut down on pollution, made necessary items more available, and generally improved life for everyone. About the only thing that got him some flak was the Punisher-run SHIELD. That is, until things got worse...
- Fantastic Drug: Quite a few examples:
- Rapture was a legal designer drug developed by (and exculsive to) the Alchemax corporation that would be distributed to employees in order to keep them loyal to the company. A "very high-powered, mind-expanding hallucinogen", it causes the user to feel perfectly calm and collected... unless he tries to fight the drug's effects, in which case it causes him to hallucinate wildly, "seeing monsters everywhere." It also bonds with the user's DNA in short order, becoming so addictive "you need it the way you need air to breathe."
- A similar drug, Rhapsody, was mentioned in an issue of X-Men 2099, in which it was revealed that the Synthia corporation secretly laced its food products with the drug, so that consumers would become addicted to eating Synthia food, at the expense of their health.
- Chameleon 2099 turned out to be a drug rather than a person, which not only manipulated a user's DNA, it allowed him to shapeshift (either partially or completely) into whatever animal happened to suit the user's mindset at the time of taking the drug. Users have been seen assuming the characteristics of animals like bulls, mice, felines, and dogs. It was an Alchemax-designed drug, but "unstable even by their standards" to the point that users often die painfully from the toll it takes on their systems.
- Chain is one of the most illegal of drugs in that era. In 2099 A.D. Genesis, it was revealed that the legislation on Chain had been upgraded from a "thirty-year stretch" (being physically aged by three decades) for possession to a "death penalty" for even having it on one's person. In his only appearance in the 2099 comics, the Daredevil of that era planted a dime bag of Chain on a drug dealer just to make sure the dealer never pushes drugs again. At the time, the dealer had been peddling a drug laced with "a rider chemical" that "causes communicable sterility". In short, Daredevil signed a drug dealer's death warrant for trying to sterilize everyone in Downtown.
- Perhaps the most bizarre example was found in X-Nation #1. The main characters, a group of teenagers living at the Xavier Institute for Indigent Children, had slipped away to a bar and try a unique hallucinogen: milk. They attached diodes to their foreheads; drinking milk stimulated their brains into producing bizarre hallucinations. But as one of them insisted, "'s really good f'r your bones an' teeeeeth."
- Fling a Light into the Future: Captain America was frozen yet again in the last days of the Age of Heroes. Because he was able to give a first-person account, Miguel is able to avert another such disaster, and in the end save humanity.
- From Bad to Worse: Invoked twice. The first was when Herod and a fake Captain America overthrew Doom, killed nearly all of the remaining heroes, and wiped out everyone in Latveria. The second was when the Phalanx cause over half of the land mass to be flooded, forcing most of humanity to flee to the Savage Land and then deal with the aliens.
- Future Food Is Artificial:
- Instead of demolishing rainforests to build plantations, Synthia simply seeds clouds so that they rain some vile goop they use to make food instead. End result: the rainforests are still dying out from lack of rain, while Nueva York's populace eats slop that's both highly addictive and has virtually no nutritional value.
- In a crossover with the original Spider-Man, Miguel is impressed that the coffee is made of real beans.
- Generation Xerox: Played straight and subverted, Depending on the Writer. Some characters may share similar powers to their namesakes, but have almost entirely different personalities, personal lives, and overall goals. The villains differ even moreso from their main universe counterparts.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Doom, giving up his life to destroy the Phalanx.
- History Repeats: Twice—with the same character to boot! John Herod's Captain America clone had "being refrozen in a block of ice to be freed later again" as his cover story, though as mentioned above, this fate actually did befall the real Steve Rogers.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Punisher's grenazers. Grenazers.
- Ironic Nickname: The proposal for Daredevil 2099 had "Daredevil" be one for the main character, who was to start out as a corporate lawyer who is perfectly content to get his paycheck from handling boring but safe cases.
- Kill 'Em All: The final issue of Ravage 2099 is one of the most thorough deck-clearing exercises in comic book history. Doom shows up, douses the entire island in liquid Adamantium with Ravage and his entire supporting cast on it, then fires the lot directly into space. The end. Even the letter column is pretty matter-of-fact about this.
- Left Hanging: 2099: World of Tomorrow ends with the mutant and human survivors trying to work something out in the Savage Land, Miguel leaving to search for his brother, and D/Monix trying to claim Ghost Rider. Manifest Destiny reveals that Miguel found his brother, and that the mutants and humans managed to barely survive each other, but Ghost Riders sole appearance makes no mention of the cliffhanger. That doesnt even mention the few billion other plotlines the writers were forced to give up on.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Why get your hands dirty and ruin your company's reputation when those blood-thirsty bugs are perfectly willing to kill each other?
- Mega-Corp: Many, but the most prominent is Alchemax, which serves as the Big Bad for Spider-Man, Punisher, and Ravage. They control the police force and slip addictive drugs to their workers to keep them dependent on the company, and engage in a lot of Corporate Warfare. Other companies are Stark-Fujikawa, Synthia, D/Monix and Eco.
- Multi-Ethnic Name:
- Miguel O'Hara is Mexican and Irish.
- Kenshiro Cochrane is Japanese and Scottish/Irish.
- Noodle Incident:
- The exact events that led to the end of the Heroic Era are never actually explained. In Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man, Miguel reveals that the beginning of the end involved an experiment by Fujikawa Industries, but his own actions undid that, so we still have no clue what happened.
- For that matter, the creation of Stark-Fujikawa. While they specialise in power suits, the company is considered to be purely Japanese, which leads to the question how did Fujikawa Industries buy out Stark of all things.
- President Evil: Believe it or not, a fake, robotic Captain America of all people.
- Red Right Hand: Pretty much every villain goes by an alias. So we have Venture, the Specialist and so on and forth.
- In 2014, Peter David declared everything that happened after he left Spider-Man 2099 as an alternative universe and picked up from where he left. This includes, among others, Manifest Destiny.
- Marvel 2099 was originally treated as an alternate universe from Earth-616, designated Earth-928, until Spider-Verse referred to it as "Earth-616 circa 2099" in addition to its original designation. Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 2 and 3 reiterated that Earth-928 was part of the same timeline as Earth-616 by having Miguel travel to different Bad Futures in an attempt to restore the world he knew, ending up with a Close-Enough Timeline that was wiped from existence and mostly-replaced by a completely new iteration in the 2019 Marvel 2099 series.
- Sci-Fi Kitchen Sink: Every Cyberpunk mainstay gets played to the hilt: heroic hackers, virtual reality, evil Mega Corps with Corporate Samurai (and yes, at least one has prominent Japanese overtones), disgruntled replicants, cybernetics galore...
- Shout-Out: Ghost Rider's first name being Kenshiro.
- In the 2019 reboot, he makes a shout-out on The Twilight Zone of all things.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Averted. You'd expect for Hulk 2099 to be even worse than the original, but not only was John Eisenhart a Corrupt Corporate Executive and borderline sociopath prior to obtaining his powers, but after the event he undergoes a complete personality change and pulls an epic HeelFace Turn. At worst he's Good Is Not Nice. No split personalities here.
- Taking You with Me: Doom tricks the Phalanx into coming after him, waits until theyve got him cornered... and then orders an orbital strike, killing himself AND destroying the Phalanx fleet in one swoop.
- Title by Number: All the books have 2099 in their title.
- Toxic, Inc.: Eco in Ravage 2099. Ostensibly, their job is to keep the city clean. In practice they allow all kinds of hazardous material smuggling and dumping, and can legally execute anyone accusing them of corruption by writing them off as "polluters".
- Twofer Token Minority: Spider-Man 2099 and Ghost Rider 2099.
- Ultimate Universe: The alternate 2099 seen in Timestorm 2009-2099.
- Urban Segregation:
- The New York of 2099 is a clear example of vertical segregation. The city's affluent classes live and work "Uptown" in luxurious skyscrapers built on top of the existing real estate. At the time of the comics, "Downtown" is a dimly-lit slum only for the poor and needy and desperate; Uptown citizens venturing Downtown are warned to proceed at their own risk.
- Similarly, the main lanes of Traverse City are every driver's dream, with sparkling, white, smooth roads, but the outskirts are a dirt and poverty-ridden hellhole filled with gangs.
- Villain Protagonist: Doom and the Punisher.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Just ask Dethstryk.
- Zeerust: Swiping credit cards in 2099? When contactless cards are the norm since the 2010's? And absolutely no mention of the internet? Yep, that's the trope.
The 2019 reboot provides examples of:
- Adaptational Villainy: The Thorites were initially peaceful worshippers of Thor, and more often than not the underdog of any given situation. Now their worship includes human sacrifice, and several other disgusting crimes.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: Other than the usual, the new Venom is a teenage Ambiguously Brown girl. The comic doesn't actually draw any attention to this; it could be literally anyone in her place.
- Alternate Self: Practically everyone. Venture is now a woman who got roped by a robot into recreating the Fantastic Four, Jake Gallows is no longer the Punisher, there are two Dooms running around, and Miguel O'Hara runs into an elderly version of himself. Only Ghost Rider seems to be the same as before.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:
- Money is not used anymore. Wealth is determined by social status, which in turn is determined by productivity.
- Eating animals is considered barbaric.
- Fate Worse than Death: Venom was cut into countless tiny little pieces that were only capable of screaming for help and nothing else. And it hurt.
- Gaia's Lament: There's a brief mention that elephants have gone extinct.
- Mythology Gag: The opening of 2099 Alpha starts with some of Marvel's most iconic quotes. These include:
- Nominal Hero: Lampshaded by Venom when he wonders why all his hosts want to be heroes.
- Not Me This Time: Doom claims he had nothing to do with reality collapsing.
- Pay Evil unto Evil:
- Zero's father kills him because he became a criminal. Zero then kills his father because he crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
- Venom doesn't deny being a monster - he just targets other monsters.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: (Johnny) Blaze says that Hell took the form of Ghost Works - a digital space - because of people's new concept of it.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Whatever the hell happened between Nick Spencer's Spider-Man and this resulted in the universe crashing. Lampshaded by Miguel and Peter when the latter sees the former in the modern era.
- Wham Line: Right at the end of Venom 2099 it's revealed that the God of the Symbiotes is still alive.
- Wham Shot: Several.
- Conan hitched a ride to space.
- Dr. Doom is possessing the body of Reed Richards à la Superior Spider-Man.
- Miguel meeting an elderly version of himself.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Downplayed, but when Tyler Stone lists the life expectancy increasing to 120 years as a major achievement, Miguel angrily points out that those people can barely remember the first forty years of their lives. Which means they've forgotten their childhood, graduating, their first love, starting a family and so on and forth.