The Comic Shenanigans Podcast interviewed J.M. DeMatteis recently about The Child Within. Now, as you may already know, to many people DeMatteis is the Harry Osborn writer and TCW the Harry Osborn story, so I was super excited to hear this interview and it didn’t disappoint!
JMD on the origins of The Child Within
This is already known to serious Marvel scholars, but I always found it fascinating – what became TCW was originally pitched to DC as a Batman/Two-Face story, asking the question “what did they go through as children which warped them?” The characters and the fictional universe changed, but that central question never did. And in the end the story “worked much better” with Harry and Peter.
JMD on writing Harry
DeMatteis muses in the interview that, “We’ve all gone through things in our lives that can relate to what Harry’s going through [in The Child Within.]” He explains, “You want the characters to be authentic and if someone’s going through a struggle like Harry, you want it to be psychologically and emotionally authentic. And so I had to reach into things in my own life that can connect to Harry.” Or in other words, he wrote Harry with empathy, and all the other characters in the story too.
JMD on Harry and Peter
“There’s the vulnerable Harry who loves his friend, and the other Harry who just, he needs someone to lay all this on. ‘There’s just too much pain, so if I put it on him and say it’s his fault it’s not my pain anymore,’ you know?”
The interviewer asks DeMatteis about one scene in particular, the scene where Peter suggests Harry just kills him and Harry finds out he can’t.
Asked what Peter is thinking in this scene, DeMatteis says, “I think on some level he believes that deep down Harry could never kill him.” He was right, of course.
JMD on why TCW was never reprinted
He doesn’t know! Nobody seems to know! DeMatteis says he’s “so proud” of the story and it’s one of his favourite ones he’s ever done, so he wants it published somewhere accessible too and it just…isn’t.
Do click on the link and listen to the podcast, there’s some great snippets in there about JMD’s Ben Reilly series too!