Last issue, Miguel O'Hara went with his grandfather and Alchemax boss, Tiberius Stone, to Trans-Sabal, a country in the Middle East. Stone planned on selling Spider-Slayers to the country's government to end an insurgency, but the dealing was disrupted by a group of the rebels. They kidnapped Stone and planned on forcing him to end the Spider-Slayer deal. Miguel, as Spider-Man 2099, was about to retrieve his boss when the Scorpion, who was hired by Alchemax, arrived on the scene. When Spidey and the villain began to battle, Stone was knocked out. As a cliffhanger, it was revealed that the Scorpion entered the fight with back-up--that is, tons of Spider-Slayers!
Also, Spider-Man (under the control of Doctor Octopus) broke Mac Gargan's jaw in ASM #700. The Scorpion, like any good ignorant villain, believes Spider-Man 2099 is the regular Spider-Man and plans on getting revenge!
The story opens up with Spider-Man 2099 battling the Scorpion inside the rebel base of Trans-Sabal. Miguel attempts to convince the villain that they’re on the same side: they both want to save Tiberius Stone, after all. “I don’t even care if you’re right! As long as I get to take you apart, I don’t care whose side you’re on!” The villain yells. Gargan explains that Alchemax hired him to accompany the Spider-Slayers shipment because he knows enough about spiders and robots. They busted him out of jail, rebuild him, and made him strong enough to kill Spider-Man! Miguel decides that it’s useless to explain that villain is attempting to kill the wrong Spidey.
After being hit through a window by Scorpion’s tail, Spider-Man 2099 lands on the ground outside, surrounded by Spider-Slayers. But Gargan, smashing through the base’s side, orders the slayers to only contain Spidey; he plans on killing him, having “earned” it. Spider-Man attempts to fly away, but he’s caught by a Spider Slayer’s wire and is slammed into the ground. The fight between Gargan and Miguel resumes, and he thinks, “History always depicted the Scorpion as a minor annoyance for Spider-Man at best. My guess is that no historians ever found themselves in pitched battle with him.”
Meanwhile, inside the rebel base, Tiberius Stone awakes from unconsciousness on the floor. Mussaret, the rebel leader, is telling Stone to get out of the building when the ceiling begins to cave in. She throws herself onto Stone to prevent his injury. The other rebels decide to leave Stone and Mussaret on their own and race out of the building. Stone claws his way out of the debris and discovers Mussaret was impaled in the head by a nail in the ceiling. After a moment of silence, he walks out of the building.
Outside, Spider-Man punches Scorpion, then the roles reverse and Scorpion punches him. “[Your] new costume isn’t doing you much good,” Gargan belittles. “My new costume, on the other hand… It’s pretty impressive.” His new tail has a laser on it and he fires it at the hero. Miguel decides it’s time to leave and the Spider-Slayers begin firing lasers at him too. Deciding his costume cannot “handle straight-on blasts,” our hero figures he must disguise himself in ordinary clothes and leave. He orders Lyla to create a hologram of a regular outfit and he slips behind a building.
Although Miguel’s plan to get away succeeds, Scorpion decides to reward his “coward” behavior by threatening civilians. He orders the Spider-Slayers to target innocents and gives Spider-Man thirty seconds to reveal himself. Gargan reasons that he can slay people without guilt, but Miguel must save him because he’s the hero. He has doubts of this, though, because the Spider-Man he knows has been acting oddly lately (Superior Spider-Man).
After considering his options, Miguel comes up with a solution and explains it to Lyla. Scorpion is about to end his countdown when our hero webs a device containing Lyla’s hologram to his back. Gargan’s tail is prepared to kill a civilian, but he halts when the Spider-Slayers set their aims on him. He is confused why, but little does he know Lyla dressed him as Spider-Man! As the villain fights the robots, Spider-Man 2099 rescues the civilians. When he looks at his hand, Scorpion discovers he looks like Spider-Man. He orders the Spider-Slayers to halt fire, but they ignore him.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man sets a kid he rescued on the floor and orders him to “move it” when he hugs him. He is about to enter the building to save Stone when he spots him walking on the street. Miguel decides to vanish before his boss learns his identity. When he sees the Spider-Slayers attacking Scorpion, Tiberius states the deactivation phrase: “He was born with laughter on his lips and a sense that the world was mad!” Under a ton of robot shells, Stone finds the villain barely conscious. Quickly, Spider-Man 2099 grabs his hologram device from Gargan’s body. He tells Lyla to call Jalfaha Dahn, the Trans-Sabal dictator, and give him Stone’s coordinates so he can send a pickup crew. Miguel thinks, “Now let’s see if we can work some magic with Tiberius.”
Later in Jalfaha Dahn’s mansion, the dictator offers Stone and Miguel an apology for the situation. He offers Stone food, but he says, “I’m not terribly hungry.” Dahn explains that the rebels who kidnapped him will be brought to justice, but Stone tells him, “That won’t be necessary. They have already been dealt with.” The dictator gets down to business: because Gargan destroyed many of the slayers, he doesn’t plan on paying for them and expects replacements. He intently waits for Stone’s rely, but the Alchemax supervisor reveals that he’s changed his mind and won’t resupply the robots. Dahn is appalled, and the Stone explains his money will be returned and their business is done.
“Do you think you can just up and leave?” the dictator angrily asks. Stone believes he can, and he has an army of Spider-Slayers outside to protect him. He tells Dahn to leave the area in an hour or the slayers will hunt him down. “Have a nice day,” the Alchemax official ends the conversation. Miguel and Stone enter a limousine and a beat-up Gargan waits inside for him. Gargan is convinced he’s met Miguel before, but our hero rejects the notion. Miguel is about to congratulate Stone for having a heart, but he snaps, “If the next words out of your mouth are that you’re proud of me, you’re fired.” Mac Gargan is still convinced he knows Miguel as the limousine drives away.
After spending the entire last issue building up to this one, I must say I was totally disappointed by Spider-Man 2099 #4. The largest problem with this issue is the fact that Peter David fails to make it interesting. Following the last issue, every reader could have guessed that Spider-Man would defeat Scorpion and Stone would end the deal with the Trans-Sabal government. And that's exactly what David writes. There are no exciting twists. The reader never gets involved in the plot because they already know what will happen next.
Even more upsetting is the fact that David fails to develop the Stone/O'Hara relationship he brilliantly worked on last issue. Stone's decision to not resupply Dahn with Spider-Slayers is obvious before it even happens. The largest problem with it, though, is that Stone's decision fails to add to the dynamic between him and O'Hara. The characters don't have a great interaction following the plot point; they just get in a limo and drive away. It's extremely disappointing.
All in all, the battle between Spider-Man 2099, Scorpion, and the Spider-Slayers was the most solid aspect of the story. Peter David is still good at writing action, as the conflict flows smoothly. David implements Miguel's advantage of coming from the future well; our hero uses his futuristic technology to turn the slayers against Gargan. It was also funny how Miguel reflects on how the historians of 2099 depicted Scorpion as a D-list villain.
Of course, Scorpion's involvement in this story carries many major plot holes. I figured, when Gargan appeared at the end of last issue, David would explain everything here. Sadly, we only get an insufficient sentence-long clarification from the villain. The reader are left wondering questions such as: "How did Alchemax fix Garan's broken jaw?" "How did they get him out of jail?" "Why would an already shady corporation hire an even shadier villain as an employee? Aren't they aware of their PR? Couldn't a regular joe have performed Gargan’s job just as well?”
Will Sliney’s artwork, luckily, remains very consistent. Scorpion's new suit is pretty cool and his battle with Spider-Man 2099 is depicted well. Sliney really tries to capture the emotions of the scene where Stone finds Mussaret is dead, despite the weak script. My only complaint with Sliney’s work is that some of the lines he draws are too thin. For example, on page four, the Spider-Slayers lack solid lines and look weak. (I find that this happens often with artists who use digital enhancement.)
Weak, predictable script. Peter David can do better!