SyFy Wire interview with J.M. DeMatteis

J.M. DeMatteis looks back at one of the best Spidey stories ever, Spectacular Spider-Man #200

I think a lot of people consider J.M. DeMatteis the “main” contributor to the character of Harry Osborn. Obviously the foundations were set by Stan Lee, but DeMatteis built so much on them.

…Which frankly makes it even odder that most of his Harry stories aren’t available to buy. This comes up in the interview, and DeMatteis is equally as baffled.

“One of the great mysteries of my career is the fact that the [Spectacular Spider-Man] run hasn’t been collected,” DeMatteis says. “It’s some of my best mainstream work ever, on Marvel’s flagship character, its impact is still being felt today in Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run…and yet it still hasn’t been collected? I honestly don’t get it. But I look through the solicitations every month hoping for an announcement. And I’ll keep hoping!”

If you, like me, have been reading Nick Spencer’s run with a despair that’s only recently given way to hope – that namedrop is quite interesting. I would love to know what DeMatteis thinks of the current Harry arc, especially since Spencer claims he’s a big fan of his. But maybe another time.

On SSM#200 itself, DeMatteis had this to say:

“You’ve got two best friends who truly love each other but are also mortal enemies,” he says. “If that isn’t a recipe for great drama, what is? Harry and Peter are both very complex people, which meant that while the superhero action played out there was lots of room for psychological and emotional exploration.”

“Harry was more damaged than Peter, but, as we saw in those stories, Peter was sitting on some ferocious personal demons of his own. I loved the push-pull, the emotional tug of war, between those two,” DeMatteis says. “The old cliché is that ‘the story wrote itself,’ but with two main characters like Peter and Harry, the stories really did.”

But, as SyFy Wire points out, DeMatteis has been sharing thoughts on the story on his blog for a while too, and honestly that blog is a MUST READ for Harry fans, full of not only thoughtful posts but thoughtful answers to comments as well. The post titled “Harry and Sal” has him discussing how he and Sal Buscema crafted Harry’s dialogue-less original death scene.

“Then Sal’s pages came in: It was one of his finest hours. The panel to panel flow was cinematic and crystal clear, the characters dramatic and achingly human. And those final two pages? Perfection! At first — locked into my original vision — I began writing captions and dialogue for the end-sequence, but it quickly became clear that everything I wanted to say had already been said, and better, by Sal. It was all there in the pictures. He had translated my plot so expertly that words would have capsized the sequence and destroyed the emotional power of the moment. So I shut my big mouth and let Harry Osborn die in silence, with his best friend by his side.”

Though Harry’s death is the perfect ending to DeMatteis’ story about him, it’s not the final ending. In my opinion that comes with A Matter of Trust, where Peter deals with Harry’s return to the land of the living, weighs up all the things they’ve done to each other in the name of both love and hate, and concludes “I knew to the core of my being, in a way I could never explain or deny, that this was Harry. This was my best friend.” With only a few months left on Spencer’s run and all the questions he dug up about Harry’s resurrection still unanswered, I guess it remains to be seen if he read that one…

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