Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will soon introduce moviegoers to Spider-Man 2099 (voiced by Oscar Isaac) who seems to be as much an antagonist as an ally to Miles Morales in the animated film.
But there's a lot more to Spider-Man 2099, who debuted in comics just over 30 years ago, and some of that depth will be explored in writer Alex Segura's upcoming Spider-Verse-centric prose novel Araña and Spider-Man 2099: Dark Tomorrow.
Before the novel's May 2 release, Newsarama spoke with Segura about what it's like to pair two classic spider-heroes in a new context, the differences between writing for comics and for prose, and more.
Newsarama: Alex, you're entering the Spider-Verse with Araña and Spider-Man 2099: Dark Tomorrow. How did you land on those two as the protagonists for this story?
Alex Segura: It happened really organically. I was talking to Marvel and the team at Marvel Press about possibly doing a YA novel with them, since we had some success working together on my Poe Dameron book from a few years back. I love Spider-Man, always have, particularly Miguel O'Hara. And it felt like a good fit, especially with the Spider-Verse film coming.
But I also wanted to see what might happen when you paired Miguel with Araña. To my knowledge, they'd never teamed up for an extended period, just them, and it felt like there was a lot of story potential there - about an older, jaded hero learning from a new, energetic one and vice versa. So that felt like really fertile ground.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the story of Dark Tomorrow?
Segura: Dark Tomorrow begins in Brooklyn, New York - where we meet high schooler Anya Corazon, a sharp, strong-willed, and passionate teenager with a secret: she's gained Spider-like powers under mysterious circumstances. We also discover that she's lost her mentor, a man who was guiding her through the early days of her heroic career.
So, Anya is feeling unmoored and unsure if she's on the right path - when she finds herself on the wrong end of a mystical device that seems to not only negate her powers, but shunt her into the future, into the 2099 era. With her powers on the fritz and worried about how the power of the device will be misused, Anya does the only think she can think of: call Spider-Man.
But the Spider-Man of 2099 is very different from our own, and he's basically hung up the webs. Can A teen Spider-Hero who isn't sure she has what it takes to be one convince a retired, grouchy ex-hero to take the mantle on again - in time to save the entire timestream? That's where we start off.
Nrama: Spider-Man 2099 seems to be more of an antagonist in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. What is it about him that makes it easy for him to fill either role?
Segura: Miguel doesn't mince words - he isn't one for polite society. One of the coolest things Peter David and Rick Leonardi did was flip the script with Miguel, where the joking, sharp-tongued exterior IS Miguel/the secret identity, and the quiet, brooding part is the hero, which is the opposite of the original Spidey.
Miguel also isn't afraid to cross lines and push the envelope to get what he needs, which sometimes bumps against Pete's stricter moral code. But at his heart, at least in my view, Miguel is a good man trying to protect his city - and he wears the mantle of Spider-Man with pride.
Nrama: Araña is not as well known as some other spider-heroes. What do you want readers to know about her going in?
Segura: She's really cool! I had a wonderful time exploring her story and having her interact with Miguel, who is arguably more established. She's got a strong sense of justice, isn't afraid to speak her mind, and wants to be better. There's a fun mentor/mentee dynamic between the heroes that gets inverted in interesting ways that I hope will keep fans turning the pages of the novel.
Nrama: Can you tease us on any other Spider-characters we may run into in Dark Tomorrow?
Segura: Oh, for sure - the Easter Eggs were a big part of the fun. There's one major cameo toward the end of the book that I'll keep under my hat, but we see plenty of interesting villains - some very unexpected ones, too, once the big bad is revealed - and a few deep cuts.
Heck, the book starts with Anya taking Stegron down. It's that kind of Spidey read. If you love Spider-Man and the mythos, you'll have a blast, but if you're coming into it without that deep knowledge, you'll be okay, too.
Nrama: You've worked in both prose and comics. In prose, you're almost counting on the audience to take on the role of the story's artist in their minds, to fill in the visual. What are the challenges of creating a prose story based on characters originating in a visual medium?
Segura: That's an interesting question. Whenever I write prose, I try to give the reader enough to paint a picture in their mind, so I don't spend a ton of time on extensive descriptions. That's what the reader's imagination is for.
In a situation like this, I have to strike the balance - of presenting enough information for someone who, say, doesn't know what Demogoblin looks like and not overdoing it so much that a veteran comic fan is turned off. It's a fun challenge, though, and I think all in all we succeeded with that in the book.
Nrama: What do you hope readers take away from Araña and Spider-Man 2099: Dark Tomorrow?
Segura: Dark Tomorrow is a story about heart - and learning at any age. It's about found family and discovering friendship in unexpected places. I feel like my biggest addition to the canon is the relationship between Anya and Miguel by book's end.
The journey they go on takes them to the brink and leaves them in a different place. If fans are excited for the Spider-Verse movie and want more time-hopping Spider-adventures, this book will fill that need.
Stay up to date on all the new Spider-Man comics Marvel has planned.