Tiberius Stone is settling scores with the people who've crossed him. Top of his hit list at present are the Horizon Gang, and Stone has already managed to get Max Modell arrested and the Labs bought out by Allan Chemical. Otto Octavius, who’s taken over Peter Parker’s life, isn't willing to overlook this, especially after Stone gloated that Allan Chemical now has property rights in all of Otto’s inventions, including Spider-Man’s web fluid. Otto went to settle Stone’s hash, but was interrupted by Miguel ‘Spider-Man 2099’ O'Hara, who’s traveled back in time to protect a timeline in flux. Specifically, Miguel has to keep Stone safe, because Miguel knows that Stone happens to be Miguel’s future grandfather.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Assistant Editor:||Ellie Pyle|
Otto isn't pleased by Miguel’s intervention in his contretemps with Stone, not least because it’s clear that Miguel has the advantage of him: Miguel knows that it’s Peter Parker under the mask, but Otto doesn't have the faintest clue who Miguel is. Former super-villain that he is, Otto reacts violently to this turn of events, and the two Spider-Men prepare to throw down.
The two trade blows, and sneers at the other’s costume. Miguel’s threads can’t be cut or damaged, but Otto’s sprout four mechanical arms (!), so there’s that. Man, Otto’s getting cocky if he thinks he can get away with an outfit like that and have people not make a connection to Doctor Octopus. Anyhow, Stone, knowing which side he’s got to take, busts out a mini-spider-jammer, which takes Otto out of the fight. It also results in the car that Otto was carrying falling onto little Normie, but Miguel is able to rescue him before the kid is reduced to jelly. Naturally, this doesn't mollify Liz Allan, who’s furious at both Spider-Men for their recklessness, but neither sticks around to hear just how she plans to express that anger.
Otto is determined to take control of the situation. Finding Miguel is now his top priority, especially as he thinks that it was Miguel who was able to “weaponize [his] spider-sense and turn it against [him]”. The fact that Miguel also knows that physically Otto is Peter Parker makes him a target of concern as well. Contacting Spider-Island, he orders his gang of minions to find this other Spider-Man.
“Gotcha. So stop looking for Hobgoblin and--”
“No, you addle-brained imbecile! Do both!”
Otto is cut off mid-rant by a phone call from his girlfriend, Anna Maria, who wants to know if he’d like some help on his thesis. This reminds Otto that, as per Stone’s threat last issue, everything at Horizon is about to come the property of Allan Chemical, including Otto’s thesis. Otto’s ego is such that dealing with the threat of losing control of his intellectual property immediately becomes his top priority.
Cut to Miguel, who’s on a rooftop with Stone, whom he abducted from the scene of his fight with Otto. Miguel is trying to figure out what the right thing to do is: keep Stone alive and preserve the 2099 status quo? But is that a status quo worth preserving? Unfortunately for Miguel, he does too much of this thinking out loud, and Stone - no idiot - is able to work out that preserving Stone’s life is mission-critical to Miguel. Stone aims to prove his hypothesis by leaping off the building; Miguel is forced to save him, but immediately webs him to a wall. Deciding he can’t trust his comlink to Stone-of-the-future, Miguel phones a friend, someone named Lyla who appears to have been important in the 2099 book. The two begin conferring on how to resolve the Horizon Labs-Alchemax situation.
Speaking of Horizon Labs, over there Grady is using the time door to take photos of Stone’s sabotage of Peter Parker’s alpha-particle experiment back in ASM #692. Meanwhile, Otto is removing all of his tech from the premises. Caught in the act by Hector and Max, Otto takes his usual high-handed tone, even interrupting Max to take a call from his spider-minions, who've spotted the Hobgoblin (actually the Green Goblin in disguise, but let’s not quibble). Otto makes to leave to track down his foe, and Max, furious at Otto’s overall deportment in recent weeks, warns him that if leaves Horizon now, he needn't bother coming back. Otto, unfazed, departs.
Max, seething, enters the lab to find out what his other scientists have been up to, and discovers the place flooded with chronotons! Grady, emerging from the past, makes an incoherent explanation: “They’re not just from the door, Max, and they’re not just chronotons. There’s alpha energy and… it’s all connected, man! This was always going to happen!”
What was always going to happen? Enter Spider-Man 2099, a webbed-up Stone under his arm, to explain. This event, he explains, didn't start with his arrival. “It started way before! Now shut up… I’m from the future. 2099. And I have foreknowledge. This place is about to blow! But if you listen to me and do everything I say, we’ll all make it out of this alive…”
Outside, Otto is making a hasty costume change in an alley, reflecting on how terrible his life is right now. “I've lost my job! My discoveries might get stolen? And I've barely worked on my thesis! And now my spider-sense is unreliable! My spider-bots are failing me! My minions are useless! And another Hobgoblin shows up! What else could go wrong?”
Mary Jane picked a really bad time to call. As soon as Otto finds out who it is, he spits “Not now, woman! I’ll deal with you later!” Frustrated past his capacity to handle, and realizing that Spidey 2099 is at Horizon, Otto - desperate for something to hit? - swings over to the labs and socks Miguel in the jaw just as he’s about to explain how to save everyone’s lives.
“What?” he asks, as the next issue caption box helpfully points out that there will be a Temporal Event in T-16 minutes!
I rarely read other people’s reviews of the titles I review, as I want my perspective to be fresh. For this issue, I made an exception because I was seeking out background info on the 2099 books. And in the process of the search, I discovered that most critics find SSM #18 to be busy and overstuffed.
Well, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. For my part, I wish all issues of SSM were as busy as this one is.
Is there a lot going on here? There sure is! We’re paying off all of the outstanding Horizon Labs plot threads in this arc, including Stone’s meddling, Otto’s relationships with his co-workers, and even the alpha-particle and time-door experiments, which I hadn't realized still had payoffs to deliver. We’re bringing in the supporting cast - it’s been a while since we've seen Mary Jane - as well as Anna Maria and the entire Horizon Gang, plus the visitors from the 2099 continuity. We’re laying down pipe for a future arc with the Green Goblin. And Otto is feeling the good old Parker luck, with his personal, professional, and extracurricular lives all applying pressure at once… and Otto’s blather about being superior is exposed as nonsense, because it’s obvious he can’t handle it.
I’m enjoying all of this immensely. Keep up the great work, Slott!
I love it when plots develop in rapid-fire fashion like this. It’s the middle of an arc, so I’ll limit myself to four webs, but this arc is on its way to earning a five-star rating from me.
Why doesn't Otto buy that Miguel is from the ‘future’? It’s common knowledge in the superheroic community, if not the world itself, that Dr. Doom and Kang the Conquerer, to name but two, have time machines. And as an Avenger, surely Otto’s aware of the erstwhile Age of Ultron, and how the Avengers abused time travel to prevent it. Finally, Otto’s a time traveler himself, or so it was implied by the events of ASM #658, where he got up to mischief in the year 3,141,592,653 in order to distract Reed Richards.