The distant sounds of ASM #74 are still ringing in my ears, so how about we take a look at the first time Harry came back from the dead? Yep, the first time.
This almost completely unknown story showed up at the turn of the millennium in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2000. It was a strange time for Spider-Man fans. (Though isn’t it always?) At this point Mary Jane had been “killed” in a plane crash – I believe it was the outrage from fans which led to her being back before too long – but Aunt May was alive again! Oh, and Norman was too, of course.
Harry-wise, the last time we’d seen “him” was in Legacy of Evil. Except that Harry was the A.I. Harry, created by our Harry but not really anything like him, and that “Harry” tried to kidnap Normie and turn him into a new Green Goblin. Following so far? Anyway, this story, “Old Acquaintances”…
…kinda feels like a rebuttal to that one?
Peter is angsting on a water tower when he hears a scream, and he follows the sound to Liz’s apartment. Something is terribly wrong.
Upon entering, Peter encounters…
Some members of the Scrier! Now if you don’t know how these guys are, they’re a cabal Norman allied himself with after his “return from the dead.” Marvel.com has a little write-up on them here.
Out of immediate danger, Spider-Man tries to help Liz and her son, but Normie still blames Spider-Man for his father’s death.
Here’s the villain of the piece, an intimidating “Scrier Jr” who’s there to kidnap Normie. He thwacks Spidey into the ground and turns to the kid:
You might recollect Normie absolutely going to town on those dolls (does he have an endless supply of them?) back in Spectacular Spider-Man #200.
Normie, being an easily swayed kid, lets himself be kidnapped. Liz breaks down into tears.
No prizes for guessing who Liz is thinking of there.
Peter ignores Liz’s words and heads off to save Normie. But as soon as he slows down, he sees a mysterious figure watching from a rooftop.
Could it be…?
It’s Harry! Who’s mostly definitely dead! Peter is so shocked he miss-swings and plummets.
While falling, Peter has a little flashback to his past with Harry… Except it’s quite inaccurate! Harry and Peter didn’t meet until college and Liz and Harry didn’t get together til quite a while after that.
Still, despite the inaccuracy this little montage is quite lovely, it’s nice to see a take on the death scene where Peter’s mask is off and we can see his grief even more clearly.
Harry appears right in front of Peter. He’s wearing the same suit he was wearing the day the two became friends.
This Harry is a hologram, or a ghost. But this story rather vague as to how corporeal he is. If he can’t interact with physical objects how did he pull Peter off the street?
This strange scene is interrupted when the cops show up, and Peter delivers this line:
which sums up quite a lot of his relationships really.
Peter escapes to go brood in the rain, baffled by what he’s just witnessed.
But this Harry isn’t about to leave. He catches up with Peter on the rooftop.
And also, he can teleport!
You gotta wonder if Harry is talking about himself and the infamous parents plot with that “I know how this must look” line, not to mention his stumbling over the “You have every right to be angry” part.
How could he know about Mary Jane? Has he been following Peter around?
In almost all his forms, Harry always believes Peter is a hero.
These lines are so sad, dang.
This all has a lot of extra baggage attached to it after ASM #74.
Meanwhile, our old friend the Scrier keeps Normie occupied with a bunch of Spidey toys to chop up (where did he get them? A store? Did he just casually walk in and purchase them?) and explains his plot. He wants revenge against Norman, who usurped him from his position in the Scriers after the group split into different factions. So he’s decided to turn Norman’s only surviving descendant against him.
Though I’m not quite sure what he expects a child to do, in all honesty.
Peter crashes this weird party,
and drops a Buffy reference. Jeez Peter, if you’ve watched Buffy surely you know all about coming back from the dead.
Peter is furious at being manipulated with a fake Harry, but-
Here’s the man himself. In a manner of speaking.
Holo-Harry explains how he was made (and cunningly obstructs Spider-Man’s true identity). It was via a process he “cannot begin to comprehend” and more on that in a minute!
This A.I. Harry is the complete opposite of the Legacy of Evil A.I. Harry. He’s not about to let his son become any kind of weapon.
As Spider-Man fights the Scrier, Harry shouts advice from the sidelines and allows him to get the upper hand.
With the Scrier defeated, Harry approaches Normie and speaks to him, but we’re not privy to that conversation.
“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Now… and always” is one of those lines that sums up the whole Harry-Peter relationship for me.
“As close as it gets” is another interesting line here considering what happened in ASM #74. But wait, we’re back to the corporeality question again. How is Harry able to touch his son’s hair here?
The badly injured Scrier grabs Normie with the intent to kill him, but suddenly-
A pair of human hands, seemingly Harry’s, grab the Scrier and break his neck. Was it him?! The only other two suspects would be Norman or maybe Liz (though those hands look male.) If it was Harry I believe this is his only kill, ever. (Not counting whatever demony weirdness the A.I. Harry got up to.)
And that’s the end!
And, as far as I know, none of this was ever mentioned again! Holo-Harry disappears into the ether and no more is seen of him. Unless…
Well, ASM #74 left a LOT unexplained. Who cloned Harry a new body? Was it the A.I. evil version of him, controlled by Mephisto maybe? Honestly who even knows at this point. But what if… It was this Harry? Always this Harry? Yeah I have no idea of the logistics of this, but in the absence of any other explanation why not just throw out a vague one? Maybe Holo-Harry found itself a cloned body in A.I. Harry’s lab and became the post-Brand New Day Harry, losing a few memories along the way. Call me, Marvel.
Anyway, clones and deals and devils aside, this is a lovely little story which really highlights what an important character Harry is/was.