ASM #74 Preview: The devil’s in the details

ASM #74, the conclusion to the Kindred Saga as they’re calling it, is due out shortly. The preview dropped the other day and it’s very Harry-heavy, so let’s unpick it! If nothing else this will help get the taste of the utterly nonsensical ASM #73 out of my mouth.

We begin with a flashback to Harry’s peaceful passing-

-but then he wakes up in Literal Hell.

I’m not sure I love this art, but at least this Harry looks distinctly different from Norman, unlike in some of the other issues.

Here’s Mephisto.

This is interesting because I don’t remember Harry ever being referred to as “the Goblin Prince” in the comics, but I do remember fansite The Green Goblin’s Hideout having a Harry section titled exactly that back in the day. I think, anyway? It’s definitely a nickname I’ve heard within fandom, I’m sure about that. Nope, it was a section on a website called Spidey Kicks Butt, but it seems to be lost now, that’s a shame.

Harry doesn’t plead his case overly much; one suspects he knew this was coming.

So the old robot-parents plot is I assume the “wound that never healed right” Nick Spencer was on about. Yes it’ll be interesting to see it tackled but it has been tackled before in Harry-related stories, most notably “Cycles and Circles” (a post on that is hopefully coming soon) and “A Matter of Trust.”

Now, this…

Harry is correct in saying “There wasn’t time.” There wasn’t. He was dying from a drug overdose, essentially, sure it was a drug that gave him superpowers but it killed him the same way that tragically so many people have in real life. And – this probably requires a trigger warning – dying of a overdose is to put it bluntly horrible and a person in that condition would barely be able breathe, let alone talk. SO from that perspective this feels like punishing Harry for a medical technicality, but let’s see what J.M. DeMatteis said about Harry’s original death and why he doesn’t speak during that scene.

On the final two pages, Spidey accompanies Harry into an ambulance, they drive off and Harry passes away, leaving Peter Parker to his grief and memories. When the ambulance arrives at the hospital, it falls to Spider-Man to tell Mary Jane and Norman that Harry’s gone. They react, we cut to a photo of Peter and Harry in happier days…and the story ends. The sequence was small, quiet, but, on an emotional level, it was massive.

I did everything I could to communicate the power of those last pages to Sal in the plot—along with my thoughts on how the sequence would be handled in the final script. My intention was to verbally milk the pages for all they were worth, wringing out every last drop of emotion; going big and melodramatic via captions, inner monologues from Peter or dialogue between the characters. (Another benefit of “Marvel style”: I didn’t have to decide then, I could make up my mind when the art was done.)

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.


We’ll probably never know for sure what JMD’s original dialogue was (I’d LOVE to know) but it couldn’t have been anything along the lines “Hey Peter your parents aren’t real sorry!” because that part of the plot hadn’t been written yet. So all this is retcons on top of retcons really, and while it doesn’t take away from the power of the original story the idea that Harry went straight to hell after that beautifully told death/redemption scene is never not going to sting.

“I was ashamed” does work as an explanation, but only a secondary one after, “I literally couldn’t talk, because I was ALMOST DEAD.”

That form is Norman, of course.

Say what you will about Harry but you gotta admit, he’s flawlessly polite even when dealing with the devil!

“The soul that hangs in the balance” promises many things, I just hope it delivers on them.

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