Miguel O’Hara is Spider-Man 2099. Much like Peter Parker he got his spider-powers from a lab accident (although in a slightly more complicated fashion). He works for a mega-corp called Alchemax, and hates his boss Tyler Stone. He is constantly being harassed by the neo-fascist police for of the 21st century known as the Public Eye.
Miguel and his friend Anne are on a lunch date in the Alchemax commissary. While they eat, Miguel asks her about her sick sister, Carrie. Eventually they decide to go visit her together later that night.
Cut to the origin of Mutagen, our villain du jour. His real name is Gerald Bernardsson, and he was once a preeminent genetic scientist. That is, until his daughter became ill due to a latent genetic disorder. The fact that he couldn’t save her (and that she inherited the anomaly through him) sent the good doctor over the edge. He became obsessed with eliminating biological irregularities of all kinds from human evolution. His research led to an experiment which he tried on himself. It was supposed to erase any genetic aberrations from his DNA, but instead he was granted the power of hyper-adaptation. Since then, he has decided to go out in the world and kill anyone with genetic abnormalities so they can’t pass their imperfections onto the next generation.
Whew. That’s quite a bit of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo for one measly origin!
Flash forward to Miguel’s hospital visit. They meets Carrie in her room (which looks like it has a 100 foot ceiling) and they flirt a bit. Of course, this hospital just happens to be the one Mutagen decides to strike at this exact moment. He easily takes out the guards, but makes a lot of noise. This alerts Miguel to trouble and he makes a quick excuse to leave and switches into his battle togs.
Spidey busts in just as Mutagen is going to kill a random patient. First, he gives the villain a good ol’ right hook to the jaw. Mutagen reacts to that by growing spikes on his chin. Then Spidey punches him a few times in the guts. Mutagen reacts to that by transforming his skin into a diamond-hard exoskeleton. Exasperated, Spidey tries his trusty webbing. Mutagen reacts to that by growing extra-sharp claws and cutting it open. Nothing our hero has thrown at him seems to stop him.
Just when Spidey is running out of options, he gets thrown right into Carrie’s room. Mutagen stops in the middle of the fight to read Carrie’s chart. Seeing that she has a genetic disorder he decides to ignore Spidey and goes to kill her. Spidey tries one last gambit. He knocks Mutagen into a convenient pool of water and then kicks over some convenient electrical equipment. The electric shock knocks Mutagen out. But while Spidey goes to check on Carrie and Anne Mutagen wakes up and escapes by jumping out the window.
Let’s see… grim heroes, crosshatching galore, outlandish villains with little to no motivation, and panel layouts that don’t make a lick of sense. Yep, we’re in the nineties alright.
That being said, I think Mutagen is a pretty neat villain. I just wish his motivation was better than the standard “insane killer” type. I mean, he’s already a famous genetic scientist… couldn’t he found a more productive way to cure people of their genetic disorders instead of murdering them?
The threat of Mutagen isn’t over quite yet. He next appears in 2099 Unlimited #3 for a rematch.
And hey, this issue also happens to feature the first appearance and origin of Hulk 2099. But that’s a review for another website…