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Author Alex Segura’s latest book weaves a web all the way to the year 2099.
Araña and Spider-Man 2099: Dark Tomorrow, centers on Brooklyn teenager Anya Corazon (aka Araña) who gains Spider-like powers, as well as a mentor to help her hone them. After she loses her mentor, just like she lost her mother, Anya finds herself stranded in the year 2099, home to billionaire Miguel O’Hara (also known as Spider-Man 2099). There, she must team with Miguel to find a way home, but the duo find that when they band together, they must save more than themselves.
The book, due out May 2 from Marvel Press, comes ahead of another Spider-crossover this summer. Spider-Man 2099 will get his big screen closeup this summer in Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, where he is voiced by Oscar Isaac.
Veteran comic book writer Segura has already played in popular sandboxes before, as the author of the novel Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall. He is also the author of original tales such as the 1970s noir Secret Identity, published last year, and the Pete Fernandez Mystery series.
Read on for an excerpt from Araña and Spider-Man 2099: Dark Tomorrow.
“Wait—you’re kidding, right?”
Araña landed hard in front of the creature—half man, half dinosaur. She straightened the large goggles that covered her eyes and braced as the man-monster turned to face her. She stole a glance at the group of kids clustered in the far corner of the exhibit—a class of middle schoolers on a late-afternoon field trip. They probably hadn’t expected to see their educational adventure derailed by a low-rent Lizard wannabe.
“Your name is . . . Stegron?” Araña said with a tilt of her head, trying her best to keep one eye on the kids behind the villain. “What does that even mean?”
The creature seemed to lurch forward, with deceptive speed. Araña barely managed to sidestep Stegron’s arm—feeling a slight breeze as it sped past her legs.
“My name . . . is Stegron!” the monster howled, frustrated at missing Araña. “Where is Spider-Man? Why is he sending his sidekicks to do his work?”
Araña leapt back, her feet landing atop a giant Brontosaurus skeleton. She felt her weight disrupt the balance of the bony structure. This would not last long. “C’mon, Spidey can’t be everywhere, dino-grouch,” Araña said. The words tumbled out fast, her nerves propelling the banter more than a desire to quip with a scaly terror that made her nightmares seem tame. “You’re stuck with me—Araña, seventh most important Spider-Person in New York City. Them’s the breaks, eh?”
Araña pushed down on the skeleton’s head with her foot; a low, creaking sound grew louder as she put more pressure on. The dinosaur-man’s eyes bulged as he realized what she was doing. While he watched the soon-to-be-dismantled exhibit, she made a slight movement with her head, motioning for the dozen or so kids to dart toward the bright red Exit sign.
“No, no, what are you doing?” Stegron moaned. He seemed hesitant now, scared. Araña had done her homework before arriving at the Museum of Natural History. “Get off . . . No! You’ll destroy that precious creature . . . Stop that!”
But then he paused, spinning his reptilian head around to spot one of the kids making a break for the exit. With frightening speed, Stegron shot his tail out, knocking the kid backward. Araña winced at the thud the kid’s head made as it hit the linoleum floor. She’d made a mistake, she realized. He’d picked up on her hint, and now these poor kids might pay the ultimate price.
“Hey, lay off those sprouts, dino-bust,” Araña said, watching as Stegron turned back to face her, his mouth baring his sharp teeth. “I know it’s me you want, not some schoolchildren.”
“You overestimate your value, Spider-Girl,” Stegron spat. “I want Spider-Man, not some dime-store knock-off. I also want what’s rightfully mine—behind those doors.”
Araña knew exactly what Stegron was talking about. The museum had just unveiled a new exhibit—one that was linked to one of the most advanced dinosaur research labs in the world. Stegron wasn’t interested in animatronic dinos or fossils. He wanted the lab—he wanted access to the DNA samples the press had been harping on in the lead-up to the exhibit’s launch. He wanted to upgrade himself, basically. Though, if you asked Araña, when it came to upgrading, Stegron had nowhere to go but up.
Vincent Stegron was a dino expert, she knew. Had studied them his entire life. To, like, a scary degree. It wasn’t just a calling; it was a damn obsession. Guy loved these extinct creatures so much he injected their DNA into himself, trying to replicate what happened to scientist Curt Connors. Y’know, the guy that also turned into a giant scaly monster? The Spider-Man villain known as the Lizard? Yeah. Weird role model. The experiment stuck, though, for better or worse— Vincent Stegron basically became a dinosaur. The transfusion turned his skin scaly and hard, and gave him strength and speed and the somewhat pointless power of controlling any nearby dinosaurs. Sadly, the power didn’t seem to work on fossils. Araña smiled slightly as she watched the fallen kid pull himself up. All she had to do, she knew, was give the kids time to escape. Give them a chance to survive. Then she could handle this Savage Land flunky. But first, she’d need to distract him.
As she leapt from the giant fossilized creature, a thought crossed her mind. She was so new to this. Being a hero. Fighting villains. It felt so surreal. The way it all came together, too. One day, she was your average New York teen, wandering through her day-to-day. Now she was something else. Something more important.
She landed a few feet away from Stegron, blocking his path to the next hall and the lab that had what he craved.
She yelled, loud and clear. The time for subtlety was gone. “Hey, kids . . . run!”
Stegron hesitated for a moment as he watched his baker’s dozen of hostages escape. She could almost read his mind as the thoughts whirred past. He knew what he wanted. But Araña got what she wanted, too. The kids were almost out of danger, and that would make this a win, no matter what.
As Stegron charged her, Araña jumped over him, sending a swift kick into his face. She watched his head snap back as she landed behind him. She stole a glance at the exit and saw the last kid had made it through, and they’d be in the safe hands of the police cordon outside. She let out a quick sigh of relief. Then Stegron’s tail slammed into her midsection.
There was no instruction manual for super heroes. No handbook that walked you through your rogues’ gallery or gave you Spider-Man’s cell-phone number. She’d been on her own since she started. Well, almost.
Since her teacher died.
She pushed the thought to the back of her mind as she sidestepped another swing of Stegron’s giant dino- saur tail. She instinctively grabbed it, tugging—hard. Stegron flipped backward, crashing into a nearby dinosaur egg exhibit. Araña watched as the faux dino eggs rolled down the museum’s expansive halls and into another section of the building, near the lab. She couldn’t hear much under the laundry list of profanities the disgruntled Stegron was spouting. As hard as this stuff was, Araña realized, she felt good. She was making a difference. Saving lives and protecting people who would’ve been helpless without her here to save them.
“Y’gotta watch that tail, Steggy—may I call you Steggy?” Araña said as she shot a strand of webbing up and watched it connect to the museum’s high ceiling. “It’s prone to making a mess in here.”
She swung back toward the giant fossil Brontosaurus and felt a sharp pang as she crashed into it. She completed the arc of her swing and watched as the pieces crumbled down on Stegron, burying and immobilizing the cold-blooded villain, who was well into his twelfth stanza of insults or colorful phrases.
She landed on a nearby perch and watched as the dinosaur-man surrendered to the pile of fossils locking him in place. She let out a long sigh, the exhale pushing a strand of her brown hair back. She was tired. “This gets easier, right?” she said, knowing she was talking to herself but wishing she was talking to someone else. Someone who knew what they were doing. Someone who could teach her the ropes and save her some of the pain and heartache that had become all too commonplace in her life.
But no one answered.
She pulled her goggles off and rubbed her eyes, secure in the knowledge that Stegron couldn’t see her face from what seemed like a million miles below. She was doing okay, Araña told herself—even without help. She was holding her own against a real Spider-Man villain, she thought. She was saving people. She was a hero.
So what if he wasn’t Sandman or the Green Goblin? Someone’s gotta take them down, right? She felt a smile form across her face. She was doing it.
She stood up and looked down at the defeated baddie. She’d done something good. On her own. And she’d had fun doing it.
She swung on a strand of webbing, landing near the edge of the dinosaur exhibit. She heard sirens in the background. NYPD could take it from here, Araña thought as she made her way to the exit. She let herself feel good. Why not? This whole experience had been the definition of “crash course”—painful, shocking, disturbing. But she’d kept at it.
She felt a sharp New York breeze slap her face as she stepped out into the moonlight. In a series of scary, haunting, and danger-filled nights, tonight had been a good one.
Araña shot another strand of webbing toward the Manhattan skyline and pulled herself up, letting the winds and a New York evening propel her home to Brooklyn. She let the good feeling coat her, pull her in close—but she couldn’t shake something else. Something deeper. A feeling that this wasn’t a sign of good things to come—but the last good thing she would find for a while. Before things got really dark.
What if you hadn’t been there to help, Araña?
Araña closed her eyes, wincing slightly, trying to will the thought away.
She was almost successful.
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