I started reading US comics properly back in the ’90s. I have a healthy sense of nostalgia for the time, and look back fondly on a lot of the books. Getting into comics was an overwhelming experience, which was probably why I was drawn to the new titles, the ones without decades of history behind them, and nothing leapt out at me more than Marvel’s 2099 line.
It appealed to me on several levels. There was the sci-fi element, which I loved, and the dystopian setting, which appealed to my teenage self, especially since I’d just discovered William Gibson. The greatest pull, however, was the sense of being there at the start of something new. The 2099 line could be my Marvel Universe.
That was important. I didn’t have the weight of continuity crashing down on me, or the need to know the ins and out of character relationships. It was different, and it was mine. It’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to knowing how it must have felt discovering a whole universe from the start back in the silver age.
It wasn’t perfect. Some of the books barely scraped ‘average’, if I’m honest, but I bought them all. I lost myself in a place where I really could know everything that was going on, and read some truly memorable comics. Some, such as Warren Ellis’ Doom 2099 and Peter David’s Spiderman 2099 remain amongst the finest superhero comics I’ve ever read.
Like all good things, it didn’t last. The 2099 line was also my introduction to the internal politics of comic companies, and I mourned when the line was folded into a single book, before fizzling out. I attended the wake in 2099 Manifest Destiny, and I moved on.
There have been 2099 books since, indeed there’s one now, but they’ve never felt the same. The 2099 universe was my first great love in comics, and like all first loves, the reality never lives up to the memory. Now we pass each other amongst the racks and smile, remembering the good times we once had.
Marvel 2099 helped me get into comics, and I’ll always remember the line fondly. At the same time, I don’t mind that it’s gone. I just hope that there’s something out there now that in ten, fifteen years time someone like me will look back and on and think ‘that was where it all began’.
It’s important that’s there’s always something new. Something for the next generation to call their own. Something that they can have for themselves. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to last forever. Like Marvel 2099 for me, the memory lingers, a reminder of why I love comics.