When I was a young man just entering into the world of superheroes in a heavy manner, I soaked up as much information as I could about them as quickly as possible. That is just how I am when it comes to the various passions that dominate my life. I can’t just be a Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball fan; I must learn all about how James Naismith (the creator of the game of basketball) was their coach and how they’ve dominated through the years. I don’t just like the Kansas City Royals; I have learned all about their glory days under the leadership of George Brett and the depth to which they have plummeted over the last 12 years. (Winning season last year though-WATCH OUT!) I am not just an anarchist; I have pored over tomes by Alexander Berkman, Noam Chomsky, Voltairne De Cleyre, Colin Ward, and the like. I also like telling everyone around me about this information, hence this blog.
So 7th grade me, being much more boisterous and devoid of tact than I am these days, could not stop blabbing on and on about how THE STAN LEE was returning to Marvel Comics on a brand new creation of his, Ravage 2099!
(Foil Covers of the 90’s were HOT COLLECTOR’S ITEMS! I bet every person reading this blog is a retired billionaire from selling their collection of foil covers!)
Marvel 2099 was a fantastic concept to me at the time, and to be honest, I am still enamored of the concept to this day. The idea of presenting a dystopian future Marvel Universe dominated by technocrats and a surveillance state completely permeated by a fascist security force fascinates me. Am I describing the 2099 universe or the goings on in our country and world today? Here’s a hint; it’s both, with Marvel 2099 being at least slightly more fun and decidedly less open to eroding your civil liberties.
All kidding aside, I was totally all in with the 2099 line. They gave us Spider-Man 2099, which holds up to this day and will be covered sometime here in the future. Punisher 2099 was a must for me, seeing as how Punisher was, is, and always be my favorite character. That title is batshit crazy in the best possible way, and I can’t wait to share my love of it with everyone. Of course, savvy readers know that Chris Sims at Comics Alliance has already delved deeply into the decidedly brain-bending adventures of Jake Gallows, but we’ll go look on him again. Doom 2099 was also released with the first wave of 2099 titles, and I would not care for it for its few issues, but it wound up being one of the best uses of a villain as a title character in superhero history. Of course, seeing as how most super-villain titles are about as enjoyable as the restroom at the Greyhound Station in Saint Louis I am unsure how high that praise is.
What excited me most about the 2099 line though was the fact that STAN LEE himself would be the awesome author! The Wonderful Wordsmith! The Scintillating Scribe of Script!!!
But he was actually just the WRONG WRITER!
(Not the first or most wrong thing Stan Lee has ever done though.)
Seriously, I could not possibly convey to you how completely overcome by the level of excitement I had for me getting to read Stan Lee original work! Finally, I would share that same sense of wonder and amazement that young men my age had gotten to feel in 1963 as they sauntered to the spinner rack at their local drug store to pick up the characters Stan Lee co-created like Fantastic Four! Spider-Man! The X-Men! I think part of me then thought that Stan Lee deserved his face not just on Mount Rushmore, but that someone should take a laser like Chippendale Chairface had in The Tick and carve Stan Lee’s visage into the moon.
Remember me prattling on during the first paragraph of my blog about things you don’t care about but I care passionately about that I am trying not to bring up again here? (ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK! Win the Tournament Guys!) Now picture me as a 7th grader who just learned that not only is Stan Lee STAN F’N LEE WHO INVENTED EVERYTHING IN MARVEL* but now he was INVENTING MORE MARVEL! I told my friends, my teachers, many parents, and our postman had to tolerate a 17-mninute soliloquy about how this was the greatest return since Jesus, and I would maintain even that would be better if Stan Lee were writing the dialogue for the Son of Man.
Rather than a long-haired messiah on the Sea of Galilee, Stan instead was scripting the adventures of a long-haired yuppie who believes so faithfully in the system that he makes Superman look like The Unabomber.
(The first true sign of a male super-hero: Ignoring her when the woman in his life is right and trying to warn him.)
As hard as this is going to be to swallow, Ravage was wrong, guys! Alchemax is chock full of bad guys! Even more shocking, his taking of the young man whose father was a “polluter” to the head of Alchemax only leads to Ravage being persecuted. Ravage confronts the Director-General, Andlethorpe Henton, who assures him that everything is on the up and up, no matter what the guy with the future hair and future shades says. Henton and the other Alchemax directors order him killed because he is “far less naïve than we thought”. So Henton puts through a call to a place called Hellrock to get a Mutroid to frame and kill Ravage! This all happens on 2 pages, and if you think that my paragraph about this seems forced and rushed, you should read the pages.
I sort of don’t blame Henton, the future’s most evil fat man, for being so upset about being interrupted by Ravage and Future-Shades, as he was about to spend some quality time with Virtual Reality Pixie SexBots. No really.
(Henton kills anyone who hears anything he does not want them to, just like the CEOs we know and love now.)
Henton spends all of his time sexing it up with Virtual Reality Pixie SexBots, Non- Virtual Reality, Non-Pixie, Not-Bot Sex Workers, and KILLING PEOPLE WITH THE DEVICE IN HIS JACKET. He kills his aide in the next panel which pushes him out the window. He later kills a whore who also hears too much. For real, this guy just likes killing people; otherwise, perhaps he’d have one of these “I AM EVIL WITH EVIL PLANS” conversations out of earshot of people. I mean, come on. Perhaps his zapper gadget costs a lot, and he wants to get his money’s worth out of it. Inflation has to be like 20930209382% by 2099. Inflation is funny to think about. In 2099, people’s grandparents will be like ours, except they will be talking about when hologram laser photon spaceships only cost a billion dollars.
But I digress! Ravage and his story await us! After this conversation, Henton calls the other Alchemax directors, and despite this being 2099 in the future of the Marvel Universe where it is basically always the future anyhow, he needs a secretary to punch this call through to the other directors. The nature of this call is about killing and framing Ravage, so Henton naturally uses Ravage’s secretary who already knows that Alchemax is up to no good to put this call through for him. She listens in on the call and learns that they are calling a place called Hellrock to get a Mutroid to frame and kill Ravage.
Why didn’t the dude just blast him out of his office window like he did his underling just for hearing of this plan? Well, then he couldn’t have sent this awesome Mutroid Leper guy after Ravage, who as he is being attacked, framed, and warned by his secretary (who is also Ravage’s girlfriend, as we just now find out on the page below), still does not understand what is happening.
(I love the guy on page one in glasses yelling about the Mutroid. He seems like a proper gent from ‘Ol Blighty 2099.)
Ravage is now just starting to get it, but in order to really understand that he is in trouble, maybe he should be injured and/or disfigured.
(I suppose if an eye was not too high of a price for Odin to pay for wisdom, it is not too high for Ravage.)
After getting shot in the Goddamn eye, Ravage has finally figured it out. Seriously, the guy goes from hardcore true believer to Rebel 2099 in about 4 panels. Now he is the best fighter ever who trained all of these guys and so he proceeds to beat them all up. I do enjoy the way he pushes the guy into the Mutroid Leper though. Sweet.
We then see Henton getting a massage as he watches this melee on monitors. At the end, he blows up the office and kills his prostitute masseuse, who first has to mention how smart he is.
(Her hair style looks like one I would see on another 90’s staple, USA Up All Night.)
That’s it for the prostitute. Are her earrings pants? I really have no clue. 2099 fashion has a lot in common with today’s fashion, in that whatever essence it is supposed to capture eludes me. Anyhow, Ravage is now fully aware that Alchemax is trying to kill him, so he has Tiana hole up at Dack’s place. Dack is the kid with the future hair, future shades, and what I presume is supposed to be some sort of future/hip-hop name. What it definitively is is awful, and it is a testament to the idea that old white men like Stan Lee should not try to concoct what they perceive to be cool street names.
Ravage is now off to garner some weapons, and he has changed from Michael Douglas in Wall Street to Mad Max in the span of a page and a half. To prove his toughness, he has changed his ENTIRE MANNER OF SPEECH to prove that he is a tough guy. This mostly consists of him now never using a G at the end of a gerund and making sure to have as many apostrophes in lieu of vowels as possible and only referring to himself by his last name only.
(What if he made that same threat but his last name was Oglethorpe? Would you take it more or less seriously? Jury’s Out.)
This guy just beat up all the guards in his department, so I am unsure why he does not just find some guns or some future laser photon killing machine like Henton has. Instead he equips himself with a vest, a sprocket, a lead pipe, and a chain. He also has a shield, and it does nothing to help him sound or look more formidable.
(Just 5 pages ago, he made that plastic junk that he is bitching about now.)
The last page introduces our villain DETHSTRYK! Yes, that is how that is spelled. When I bought this when I was young, I was convinced that since the cameo of Dethstryk would make this issue worth a bundle. Yeah, I was wrong about lots of stuff when I was young.
All in all, this is pretty awful and it is probably justifies the hate that people in the 90’s Hate Squad carry for The Unspoken Decade. I do feel like Stan Lee was trying really hard here, but the times had just changed. What he thought would be cutting edge just seemed hackneyed and played out. I think he thought the dialogue was cutting edge, and that Ravage would come across as a super bad ass, but instead, he seems like a weekend warrior.
This was Stan’s last big splash with Marvel and even at my age, I knew this wasn’t cutting it. I kept up with the title, but only because I shoplifted it. What can I say? I was EXTREME because it was the 90’s! Kids, don’t steal. We will come back to Ravage to see him get the Fantasticar in the future here at The Unspoken Decade.
Also, don’t let the fact that this is awful fool you into believing that I am not fond of this. While it certainly isn’t his best work, this was still a Stan Lee comic that I got to read hot off the stands as a teenager, which made me feel connected to comics history somehow, as though those young men who grabbed Fantastic Four off the spinner racks with dreams in their eyes and dimes no longer in their pocket and I were walking the same path and were intertwined despite our differences in age and eras. Also, I maintain that the 90’s, maybe the early 2000’s, were the last era where even the bad superhero comics were at least fun, and while I would not say that Ravage 2099#1 is good even under the duress of a Hulk having me in a headlock, no bribe would be needed to get an admission from that this is fun.
Hope you have enjoyed this first foray into The Unspoken Decade. Be here in a week when we see how the other half of Marvel’s most famous duo, Jack Kirby, fared with one of his works at Topps Comics! (Here’s a hint; it’s better than this.)