Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Longbox Junk - Doom 2099 #1

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!

We're continuing my journey into the dark future world of Marvel 2099.  So far, it's been a nice little trip.  It seems that Marvel learned some lessons from the failed New Universe and created a more cohesive and exciting world for the future versions of their superheroes to inhabit.  

This time out, I'm going to take a look at the final Marvel 2099 launch title, Doom 2099.  It's generally regarded as one of the best 2099 series, and was popular enough that it was the ramp that Marvel used to launch a 2099-wide crossover from. . .One Nation Under Doom, where Doctor Doom took control of the United States and caused massive, lasting changes in EVERY 2099 title (including some deaths that ended under-performing titles like Ravage 2099).  Not bad for a comic that has. . .well, really no collector value at all.

BUT. . .

If there's one thing I've learned writing these Longbox Junk reviews, it's that just because a comic is in the bargain bin (which is where you can find Doom 2099 these days), that doesn't mean it's bad.  After all, Doom 2099 wasn't your average superhero comic.

What we have here is a series that (taken as a whole) is only one of two that actually delivered on the cyberpunk promise of Marvel 2099 (the other was Ghost Rider 2099, one of the last series to come out, and one I've already reviewed).  Where most of the other 2099 titles focused on the superheroics, Doom 2099 dived deep into the science fiction aspects of the future world.  

Yeah. . .there's superheroes to be found here, but overall, Doom 2099 was much more character and world-focused than your Spider-Man or X-Men 2099 (for example) were.  Many of the issues are dark and introspective and feature little action compared to other 2099 comics.  The stories were dense at times, and asked some pretty heavy questions as the series went on. . .

Is ruthlessness a necessary attribute for a good ruler? Do the responsibilities of absolute leadership permit a ruler to bypass the common sense morals and ethics that govern other (and in Doom's mind, lesser) men?  Is the security of a sovereign kingdom. . .a nation of Doom's native people. . .worth sacrificing the principles of justice and individual freedom?

Like I said. . .not your average superhero comic.  And as you can probably tell, I'm a fan of the darker, heavier storytelling of Doom 2099.  But I'm getting ahead of myself and starting to review this comic right here in the introduction before I even summarize the story!  So enough of that. 

Ready?  Let's do it!

DOOM 2099 #1
Marvel 2099 (1993)

COVER: Pat Broderick


SCRIPT:  John Francis Moore
PENCILS:  Pat Broderick
INKS: Pat Broderick


So I finally figured out the secret to posting decent pics of these foil border covers.  Instead of scanning them like I usually do, I take a picture with a camera and crop it.  It's not perfect, but it works.  I think maybe the brighter silver (and gold with Ravage 2099) might also make a difference.  I guess I'll find out with X-Men 2099's blue border coming up next.  BUT ENOUGH OF THAT! 

I absolutely LOVE this cover!  That silver foil border makes a perfect frame for a stunning character shot of Doom in his new 2099 blue and silver color scheme surrounded by massive flashes of lightning.  This cover is bold and powerful and one of the best Marvel 2099 had to offer.  THIS is the kind of cover that makes me want to pick up a comic.  It's a real eye-catcher.  Let's get inside!


We begin our tale in Antikva Vilago, Latveria, the year 2099.  The village has fallen on hard times and is now mostly a seedy black market exchange.  We are introduced to Wire (a Gypsy computer hacker) and his girlfriend, Xandra, as a deal goes bad and they are forced to run from a heavily-armed security patrol. . .

During their escape, the pair are amazed to see a strange armored figure appear from nowhere in the middle of a crackling ball of light and energy!  The Gypsies take advantage of the distraction to help their escape from the patrol as they confront the mysterious figure, who seems confused.   

When threatened by the patrol, the figure loudly proclaims himself to be called Doom and destroys the patrol vehicle with a blast of energy.

Doom stops the Gypsies, asking them for information.  He learns that his castle is in ruins, Latveria is now being ruled by someone called Tiger Wylde (Welcome to the 90s!), and that the year is 2099.  Having learned the situation, Doom decides to immediately take action to remind Latveria who its TRUE ruler is. . .

We shift scene to the nearby capital of Latveria, Gojradia.  A modern industrial city.  Among the glittering high-rise buildings, we enter the office of Latveria's ruler, Tiger Wylde.  He is confronting an Alchemax executive by video, accusing Alchemax Corporation of sending an assassin (who has failed).  Alchemax, of course, denies any knowledge.

Ending the call, Wylde turns to his spiritual advisor, a Gypsy called Fortune, to read his cards regarding the situation.  Fortune tells Wylde that change is in the air. . .a shift in power.

They are interrupted by Doom, blasting his way past the guards and into the office, demanding to see Wylde.  Wylde and his bodyguard, Zone, are amused. . .assuming that they are encountering yet another uninformed Doombot that has activated.  Doom proclaims that he is no robot!

Intrigued and believing that THIS Doom is no robot, Wylde mocks Doom.  Telling him that even if he IS somehow Victor Von Doom, his day is long past, and that HE saved Latveria after Doom's disappearance long before. . .building it into a modern and independent nation, not run by the megacorporations that swallowed so many other countries. 

Enraged by being dismissed, Doom attacks Tiger Wylde!  Unfortunately, Doom quickly learns that his outdated armor and weapons are no match for the cybernetic Wylde's advanced technology.  He is easily defeated.

Helpless, Doom is unmasked by Tiger Wylde.  The face of a young man, unscarred is revealed even as he proclaims himself to be Doom and vows vengeance.  Wylde mocks him, knowing that the man is much too young and doesn't bear the scars of the REAL Victor Von Doom.  

Adding further humiliation to the easy defeat of Doom, Wylde burns his face before leaving him for dead and ordering the body of the imposter taken to the Neurotechs to salvage his body parts.

 Wylde's advisor, Fortune, sees an opportunity and secretly takes the strange man calling himself Doom to her home, where she helps him recover from his wounds over the course of the next several days.

Doom awakens in a Gypsy camp, alive, but humiliated and now hideously scarred.  Fortune tells him that she saved him because the cards told her that he would be the one to free Latveria from Tiger Wylde.  Doom learns that they are of the ancient Zefiro clan of Gypsies. . .the same clan that Doom was born into.  By the bond of blood they share, Fortune and the Zefiro pledge themselves to Doom's cause.

Doom and his new allies travel to a remote mountain range, where he uses a medallion Fortune wears to unlock a hidden facility that contains a stealth aircraft. . .the highest technology of Doom's time, hidden for an emergency escape craft almost a century ago.

Enlisting the aid of the Gypsy hacker, Wire, Doom has learned the location of materials and a scientist that can help him better prepare to take back Latveria from Tiger Wylde.  

Doom and his new companions fly the cloaked aircraft to an island off the Peruvian coast, a secret research facility owned by the Pixel Corporation in search of one Doctor Celia Quinones.  

Doom and his Gypsy companions make their way through the research facility, fighting their way past guards and automated defenses, finally breaking into the main laboratory itself, where Doom offers Dr. Quinones her freedom from the Corporation that has enslaved her in exchange for her services.  Quinones agrees.

Later, Doom allows Quinones to operate on him.  Using the secret advanced Pixel Corp. technology, Doom has nanoids fused to his nervous system, creating a cyber-neural interface that greatly enhances his motor and neural responses.  But the technology is experimental and highly dangerous.  

The restructuring of Doom's neural pathways leads to intense pain and hallucinations of the past. . .nearly driving him to madness as the operation proceeds.  But through sheer strength of will, Doom prevails!

As Doom recovers, he is garbed in a new suit of armor. . .a cutting edge design made of an Adamantium Lanaxide alloy and configured to the nanotech now fused to Doom's nervous system.  The technology is untested, but Doom has no time for tests!  He has been reborn and every moment counts now.

Doctor Doom is dead. . .LONG LIVE DOOM!

The End. . .To Be Continued.


Okay then. . .Doom 2099, issue one.  Let's break it on down!

As you can probably tell from the introduction to this review, Doom 2099 was one of my favorite 2099 series.  It stood out among the rest by not only focusing on a villain as protagonist, but with a darker story infused with the cyberpunk themes missing from other 2099 titles.

Doom is an almost Shakespearian character that is consumed by fulfilling his own destiny of greatness, no matter what the cost.  The issue ends with a quote from Henry V, so it's pretty clear the neo-Shakespeare direction of the story is entirely intentional.  It definitely adds a sort of gravitas that isn't present in other 2099 titles.  I can see, even from this first issue, that the writer wanted THIS story to be something different.  

Making a villain the "hero" of the story gives Doom 2099 layers of grey that make it stand apart from the superheroics of other 2099 titles, but John Francis Moore was a writer definitely suited to a cyberpunk anti-hero tale with shades of grey.  I didn't realize it until I did a bit of research for this  review that Moore was a collaborator with Howard Chaykin on the second volume of one of my favorite bargain bin indie comics that ALSO takes place in a dystopian science fiction world. . .First Comics' American Flagg.

Knowing that NOW, I can definitely see shades of Moore and Chaykin's creation here in the high-tech, but spiritually empty, consumerist world in which Corporations have come to replace governments.  But here, that premise is taken down a different path with the Machiavellian Doom and his  unceasing push toward fulfilling his destiny.

On the art side of things, prolific comic veteran Pat Broderick gives Doom 2099 the dark, dramatic style that this tale stepping outside the bounds of your average superhero comic needs!  His moody, hard-edged art perfectly compliments this story of a man brought to nothing and trying to force his way back into greatness through sheer will.  Marvel definitely put the right team on THIS series!

Looking at Doom 2099 as a first issue, I ask the same two questions of ANY first issue I review:

Does it present the characters and the situation in a new reader-friendly way?  Yes.  Even for readers who have NO idea of who Doctor Doom is, there's enough exposition sprinkled through the story that ANY fan of dark science fiction will be able to enjoy this issue.   It's a testament to Moore's writing that he can make such a well-known character feel brand new!

Does it make me want to read more? Again, yes.  With Doom humiliated and brought to nothing, but still declaring that it is his destiny to rule, I can't help but want to jump right into the next issue to see what happens!  THIS is a comic that grabs you and doesn't let go.  


I'm pretty sure you can tell by now that I'm a fan of Doom 2099.  As far as I'm concerned, it was one of the best mainstream comics of the 90s, and one that I can point at when people moan about how crappy 90s comics were.  

If you're a fan of dark science fiction/cyberpunk stories, then I heartily recommend Doom 2099, if you haven't read it yet.  The entire series is a great read!  When Moore leaves the title to write X-Men 2099, we get some early work from Warren Ellis that REALLY cements this title as one of the best 2099 had to offer.  

Where Moore based the overarching narrative of Doom 2099 on Henry V, under Ellis, the story took on the darker, more personal, and more tragic tones of Macbeth, with Doom playing the role of the monarch who, consumed by ambition (Taking over the United States of America), sacrifices his friends and the rule of law in the pursuit of power.  A dark, compelling story!

But there I go again, moving past THIS issue to sing the praises of the series as a whole.

Overall, Doom 2099 #1 is a great introduction to the series that new readers can get right into and will make them want to immediately get into the next issue. . .and the next. . .and the next.  

There IS a massive 400+ page collection of the series on Amazon that will set you back close to 300 bucks, as well as digital collections to be had. . .but the issues aren't hard to find in the bargain bins at all, except a few toward the end when Marvel was reducing print run as 2099 slowly ground to a halt.

No matter HOW you get your hands on Doom 2099, I urge anyone reading this who wants a dark cyberpunk tale with some superhero seasoning sprinkled in to find a way to read this series!  It's a bargain bin staple, and pretty much worthless to collectors, but in MY humble opinion it's pure Longbox Junk gold.

Up Next. . .

That's right, MORE Marvel 2099!

We're moving past the original launch titles and into the second wave with X-Men 2099.

Be there or be square!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Longbox Junk - Ravage 2099 #1

Welcome to Longbox Junk! If you want comic reviews nobody ever asked for, you're in the right place!

As I continue on my Longbox Junk journey into the future world of Marvel 2099, I've come to a comic that definitely gives me some mixed feelings. . .

On the one hand, Ravage 2099 was the last ongoing series that Stan Lee wrote.  That sentence alone SHOULD indicate a bit of respect associated with this comic.  I mean, it's the final regular writing job that the late, great Smilin' Stan worked on, right? RIGHT?

BUT. . .

On the OTHER hand, Ravage 2099 is generally regarded as the worst of the 2099 line. 

It was the second launch title of Marvel 2099, coming in hot on the heels of Spider-Man 2099 with high expectations.  Sales were initially great, based on Stan Lee's involvement, as well as that of artist Paul Ryan (who was the regular artist on Fantastic Four at the time and a fan favorite).  But the decline in sales not long after launch wasn't just steep. . .it was almost vertical.  By the end of 1993, Ravage wasn't even in the Top 300 comics for sales.  

Ravage 2099 is a VERY common find in the bargain bin.  It's a series that seems to have been kicked to the curb and kicked HARD.  I've never seen any issues of Ravage 2099 in the regular (basically cover price) back issue bins, it's been kicked that hard.  Ravage is bargain bin ONLY. If you have any of these in your collection, don't plan on selling them.  Nobody wants these comics. 

 A short story, if you'll indulge me for a moment. 

I had a flea market stand for the past couple of summers, trying to sell some comics cheap to make space in my storage area.  I was selling them for a dollar.  Everything a dollar.  I couldn't sell any Ravage comics.  I put them into a box where I was giving comics away for FREE to kids.  I couldn't even GIVE these away!

In other words, this series is the very DEFINITION of Longbox Junk.
So what gives? Why are these comics so unloved? Let's find out.

Ready, folks? This might get messy, but. . .I'M GOIN' IN!

RAVAGE 2099 #1
Marvel 2099 (1992)

COVER: Paul Ryan


SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS: Paul Ryan
INKS: Keith Williams & Steve Alexandrov


Finally! A decent cover shot showing off the awesome detail on the foil border of these 2099 comics!
Instead of scanning it (which came out just as crappy as the other two I've done) I took a picture with a digital camera and then cropped it.  The lighter gold border on Ravage might have also helped.  In any case. . .I'm quite pleased, except where the flash was too much up on the top.  I guess nothing's perfect.


The cover itself is very well done.  A great action shot pushing past the border for a nice 3-D effect. I like the colors on this one quite a bit.  The different shades of green on Ravage's costume contrast nicely with that gold foil frame.  I really like the Ravage logo, too! It's actually one of the best logos in the whole bunch, in my humble opinion.

But, like the Punisher 2099 cover, Ravage 2099 is DEFINITELY 90s-tastic.  From the pouches, pads, and straps of Ravage's costume, to the gritted teeth and weird, oversized gun, this one checks most of the boxes for a stereotypical 90s "Grim-n-Gritty" cover.   It's not QUITE as over the top as the Punisher 2099 cover, but you can most certainly tell what decade this comic came out without even checking the indica.

Let's get inside!


We begin our tale following a man desperately trying to elude a pursuing "ECO Patrol".  They manage to corner their quarry in the sewers beneath the city.  The terrified man is no match for the heavily-armed ECO troops, who brutally murder him.

We shift scenes to a luxurious corporate office high above the city.  It's the ECO Central office of Paul-Phillip Ravage, chief of the Alchemax Corporation's division in charge of punishing ecological criminals. . .a sort of pollution-focused private police force.  

Ravage is angry that his ECO patrols have yet to bring in a live "polluter" (loosely-organized eco-terrorists)  so that they can be interrogated and their leadership found.  He suspects that the terrorist leaders are corrupt officials within Alchemax itself.

We also meet Ravage's assistant (and love interest), Tiana.  She's concerned that Ravage's obsession with finding the leadership of the terrorists will lead him down a dangerous path.  

Her own father tried to expose corruption in Alchemax and was exiled to Hellrock, a deadly island of pollution and mutated humans known as Mutroids (I guess Marvel wasn't QUITE ready to bring mutants into the 2099 line yet, so they had to be called something else until X-Men 2099 came on the scene later, BUT I DIGRESS).

Later, Paul-Phillip encounters a young man named Dack, who claims that his father (the man killed in the introduction) was no terrorist, but had discovered a connection between the Polluters and Alchemax and was killed trying to get the information to Ravage.  

Ravage decides to go straight to the top and confront the Director-General of Alchemax,  Anderthorp Henton.   He presents Henton with his suspicions and his belief that Dack is telling the truth. . .there's a high-level coverup of Alchemax's involvement with eco-terrorists.  

The Director-General promises to immediately begin an investigation into the claims.

Unfortunately for Ravage, the corruption goes higher than he thought.  After Ravage and Dack leave, the Director-General calls a meeting of high level Alchemax executives and it is decided that Ravage is no longer a useful pawn in their plans.  His suspicions and investigation have now marked him for death!

Unknown to Henton and the other Alchemax executives, Ravage's assistant, Tiana, has been listening in on their conversation.  She's horrified by the discovery that Ravage's suspicions are true and that he's been targeted for assassination!  She hurries to warn him.

In the meantime, a clandestine ship delivers a mysterious passenger to the docks.  It's a deadly mutroid from Hellrock!  We follow the mutated human as it moves toward Ravage's office. . .where Tiana has found Paul-Phillip and is frantically trying to warn him of the assassination plot against him.  

Ravage refuses to believe Tiana at first, having full confidence in the Director-General.  But THEN the hulking mutroid bursts into the office!  As Ravage calls for backup and tries to protect Tiana, the mutroid doesn't attack.  Instead, it calmly offers Ravage "payment" for betraying Alchemax as one of the terrorist leaders.

Security bursts in, guns drawn and demanding that Ravage surrender himself as a traitor and terrorist!

Ravage realizes that Tiana was right and he'd been set up by his own superiors as a terrorist leader, with a mutroid offering payment on security camera.  He desperately fights his way through security with Tiana, but before they can escape, Director-General Henton sets off a hidden bomb in Ravage's office, destroying both him and the mutroid, along with any evidence of Ravage's innocence. . .OR SO HE THINKS!

Ravage and Tiana have survived the explosion by sheer luck.  The two of them make their way to Dack's inner city apartment, where Ravage leaves Tiana in safety before leaving on a mysterious errand. . .

At a nearby ECO Central junkyard, Paul-Phillip strips away the last traces of his former identity, garbing himself with armor and weapons made of junk.  At that moment, Paul-Phillip is dead. . .and there is now only RAVAGE!

The End.

Wait.  There's more?  It SEEMS like that was where this comic should have ended, but okay. . .

As the newly-born vigilante Ravage commandeers an old garbage truck to set out on his path of revenge against those who betrayed him and left him for dead, we shift scene to Hellrock Island. . .

In a forbidding castle looming over the toxic wasteland of Hellrock, we are introduced to the ruler of the mutroids. . .a demonic entity known as DETHSTRYK (Welcome to the 90s)!  

His most trusted servitor, known as Seeress, informs her master that she has had a vision of a man dead and reborn again, named Ravage.  She has seen that he will become Dethstryk's greatest foe.  

Dethstryk vows to destroy Ravage, for none shall stand in the way of his plans to CRUSH THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE!  Dun-Dun-DUNNNNNNN!!

NOW The End.  To be continued. . .


Allrighty then.  The first issue of Ravage 2099.  Let's break it on down!

Unfortunately, I can see why Ravage 2099 is considered the weak link in the 2099 launch titles. So what went wrong? Let's get THIS straight before I go on. . .Stan Lee is a legend in the comic world and I have no business trying to knock him down from the well-deserved pedestal he stands on.

 BUT. . .

You can definitely tell Stan was past his prime here.  The writing is honestly not very good.  It's not AWFUL, mind you.  It's just that it's a weird mashup of the bombastic Silver/Bronze Age and the grim-n-gritty 90s that just doesn't work well.  It's a little schizophrenic, to be honest.  

For example. . .In the early parts of the story, Ravage speaks in clipped, precise tones.  By the end of the story, he's a trash talkin' tough guy.  Another example. . .in the early parts of the story, the focus is on corporate corruption.  By the end of the story, we have a demonic creature named Dethstryk.

There are more examples, but let's not beat it into the ground.  This issue reads like two separate stories and Stan Lee was obviously struggling to fit his signature style into a grim-n-gritty comic world that had passed that style by.


I did find it interesting that Lee was trying to create an entirely new, environmentally-focused hero.  Ravage was actually the ONLY 2099 comic that didn't build on an existing hero (or heroes) in some way.  I'll give credit where it's due, Stan Lee was TRYING to create something new and unique here.  Unfortunately, it didn't quite pay off.  

Another good point about Ravage 2099 is the art.  Paul Ryan does a great job bringing the future world of Marvel 2099 to life!  From the bright and sterile corporate offices Ravage inhabits at the start of the story to the dark and grimy junkyard where Ravage throws off his identity at the end of it, Ryan's art is crisp and interesting.  And again, that cover. . .very nice!

So let's look at this from the point of view of it being a first issue and the TWO things I judge a first issue on. . .

Does it introduce characters and their situation in a new reader-friendly way? 
It does.  The world of Marvel 2099 was a pretty remarkable framework and Ravage fits into it neatly.

 Does it make me want to
Well. . .not really.  

Putting aside the weak writing, Ravage fails to capture my attention in another way.  It tries to do what other Marvel 2099 comics do better, even when held up against JUST the two series I've reviewed already.  Spider-Man 2099 tells a better tale of corporate corruption leading to the creation of a new hero.  Punisher 2099 tells a better tale of a grim-n-gritty street vigilante out for justice.  Simply put, there's nothing here that can't be found elsewhere.  Ravage feels kind of. . .unnecessary.


I WANTED to like Ravage 2099.  I WANTED to give it some sort of redemption from the stigma of being one of the worst series of the 2099 line.  I WANTED to give Stan Lee some respect for getting back into the saddle one last time and bringing the comic world something new and original.

Unfortunately, I really can't do any of those things, except maybe some respect for Stan Lee's attempt to create 2099's only original hero.  It's a damn shame that I have to say that I can't really recommend Ravage 2099 except as a curiosity.

Marvel made a mistake by bringing in Stan Lee as the writer on this one.  Yeah, it pumped sales at first, but that didn't last long once the reality set in that Lee couldn't really mash the Silver/Bronze age and the grim-n-gritty 90s together.  

So instead of a fan favorite epilogue to Smilin' Stan's writing career, going out on a high note of gritty science fiction superheroics,  the world got a comic that was disliked and unnecessary enough to the overall 2099 narrative that it's now ONLY to be found in the bargain bin, and nobody even really wants it then.  Honestly, it makes me a little sad to write those words, because I can tell that Stan Lee WAS making what he thought was a good effort.

All that said, I didn't find Ravage 2099 to be a BAD comic.  Just very disappointing.  If you're curious enough to take a look, you won't have trouble finding individual issues in just about any bargain bin.  It's never been collected, except for some crossover issues in collections of other 2099 series.

Up Next. . .

MORE Marvel 2099!  
Join me as I take a look at the final 2099 launch series DOOM 2099!

Be there or be square.