By Kiel Phegley
After a furious series of events that bounced the longstanding character from friend to villain and finally to hero, Spider-Man's pal Harry Osborn breathed his last breath in the pages of 1993's seminal SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #200...or so it seemed.
Recent events in the Marvel Universe revealed Harry alive and well and with no memory of his double life as the Green Goblin. However, one person remembers Harry's death as clear as if it happened yesterday: writer J.M. DeMatteis. The celebrated scribe crafted the tale of the young Osborn's demise over 15 years ago to much shock and acclaim.
"There was a great response, both from the fans and the folks at the office—which was incredibly gratifying," DeMatteis recalls today. "It absolutely evolved out of the story. The Harry-Peter relationship became very real to me and I just followed where the characters led me. Harry's death in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #200 remains my absolute favorite out of all the Spidey stories I've written. I think it also features some of the best work of [artist] Sal Buscema's career."
Next month, DeMatteis, along with artist Val Semeiks, returns to that relationship with a new story focusing on Harry and Peter's friendship in February 18's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #4.
When asked if he expected that Harry would ever make a return, DeMatteis admits "I didn't think about it much either way. I'm sure, in the back of my mind, I thought he'd come back eventually. Considering how impermanent death is in super hero comics, it's actually quite amazing Harry stayed dead as long as he did!"
But with Spider-Man's Brand New Day, Harry came back in full force, prompting a passionate response from fans and initially trepidation from DeMatteis.
"I think the first reaction was, 'Oh, they brought him back and ruined my story,'" the writer admits. "That reaction lasted for a little while, and then I shrugged and said, 'Hey, it's comics. This stuff happens all the time
. It's not a big deal.' Plus, no story is ever ruined. It's always there, in print, for anyone to read and enjoy. Then, when I found out the back story on Harry's return [and his time spent recuperating overseas], I realized that he'd been resurrected in a way that leaves my story perfectly in continuity and intact. So it's really the best of both worlds."
The writer straddles those worlds with his AMAZING story which "deals with the days following Harry's mysterious return from the dead; and, as Peter struggles to deal with
FAMILY #4 cover
by Barry Kitson
the ramifications of this extraordinary event, he's forced to sift through the past and reflect on his history with Harry," he says noting that once the suggestion for the story came from Spidey editor Steve Wacker, "it didn't take me long to warm up to it. As noted, I feel very connected to the Harry-Peter relationship, so the opportunity to explore it in this new context was very enticing."
And DeMatteis teases that readers will get a look on both the light and darker side of the Peter/Harry connection.
"I think this story manages to address all the conflicting, contradictory sides of Harry's nature. It was great fun revisiting these characters. It was like a reunion with old and dear friends. And Val did an absolute knock-out job on the art!"
J.M. DeMatteis returns to Harry Osborn and Peter Parker on February 18 with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #4. And for more Spider-Man by DeMatteis, head over to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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