It is 1969, we’re onto issue #74 of ASM, and Harry has grown a mustache! He’s obsessed with it.
Peter is worrying about Dr Connors and far too busy to focus on a little thing like his friend’s culturally problematic facial hair. (Little history of Fu Manchu for you there.)
Harry’s reaction here is so hilariously over the top. He really doesn’t like being ignored, does he? Well, we can assume his upbringing is at least partly to blame for that.
You’d think Gwen’s friendly advice would be the end of this, but no, the Mustache Saga continues two issues later in #76!
“It drives Mary Jane maaad!” Harry says of his new face fuzz. Things seem to be going well between those two right now, but they’re not going so well between Harry and Peter, as Peter himself acknowledges. He simply doesn’t have time for friends.
In issue #78 we get another tiny glimpse into how things are going with Harry and MJ, from Harry’s side at least-
-and Peter begins to feel some jealousy creeping in.
Harry may be doing well on the romance front but Peter is definitely not in this issue. Later on, to his horror, he sees Gwen with Flash and doesn’t stick around long enough to realise it’s not what he thinks. He gets so mad he even smashes a few criminals into the wall.
Then later things intensify when Hobie Brown/the Prowler comes on the scene, and that takes us up to #80, where Peter continues to be in a very bad mood. Harry, naturally, gets dragged in to it.
Peter is brooding about Gwen’s supposed cheating when who should enter but Flash himself, along with Harry.
Peter’s first instinct is violence (it often is) despite Harry’s attempt to diffuse the situation.
But then the two boys manage to talk things out like adults… while Harry suddenly pops up in the background with three mugs of coffee. The logistics of that are endlessly amusing to me, as his thought process must have been something along the lines of, “I know what will cure a case of the toxic masculinities! Delicious hot beverages!”
Gwen makes up with Peter over the phone and Peter finally remembers to be grateful to his friends.
Come #82 we get a little glimpse into Peter’s thoughts and among the things he’s pondering is, is it fair for him to room with Harry if Harry’s paying most of the rent?
Then later Peter sees Harry, gasp, shaving off the mustache! It is no more.
“Maybe it just didn’t grab Mary Jane,” Peter wonders, an indication that perhaps Harry and MJ are not as in tune as one might think.
Mustache-less Harry later shows up at the Coffee Bean with the rest of the gang:
Alas, things are still not all well within the group. As soon as Flash makes a jokey pass at Gwen, Peter gets furious and storms off.
Harry does again make an attempt at defusing the situation, but not a terribly good one, and Peter leaves. However, Gwen does chase after him and the two have a romantic moment.
A little later in the issue, Peter remembers that Harry is on a date, presumably with MJ. (Presumably.)
And that’s it for the Mustache Saga! As of 2022 the Fu Manchu is unsurprisingly yet to make a re-appearance.
Want to read these stories? They’re collected in Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 9.
5 thoughts on “Amazing Spider-Man #74-82 (1969): The Mustache Saga!”
Great article! Harry’s mustache appearance was impressive. And in the first issue of Marvel Zombies: Return, Harry made a minor appearance with his mustache. Speaking about Harry’s feature, I think the “gotcha” sage of Harry must be very interesting too. Not many of the supervillains (as will as superheroes) have their own catchphrase, but Harry do have one beside the fact that he is largely underused as a supervillain and his superhero careers are always very short-lived. And “gotcha” is a complete Harry thing which is completely irrelevant to his father or others. So it must be very interesting to find out the history of this special catchphrase.
By the way I’m sorry to say something that has little to do with this subject, but actually I always feel sorry for Flash when I rereading those issues in his “Vietnam War period” in 60s. Because it seems that Peter (as will as other coffee bean gang members except Gwen most of the time) showed little care about the fact that Flash might lose his life at the front, while he did showed great concern to his suspicion of the romance between Flash and Gwen. Although today’s writes had made some amends about that. In fact the only time Peter had shown that kind of feeling might be the penultimate picture of issue #47. And Flash had to be the more friendly and more
tolerant one in his relationship with Peter while he was going to risk/ had ricked his life on the battlefield. I think it’s not Peter but the writers at that time who should be blamed for this.
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Thank you very much for this comment! Oh you’re right about Marvel Zombies, I forgot all about that! I’ll have to do a post about that one someday. :)
Yes that’s a good point about Flash too. Maybe it came from the writers of that era not wanting to write about Vietnam *too* much, since comics were supposed to be pure escapism? But yes, they definitely didn’t do Peter any favors.
[…] doesn’t get spared in zombie stories. In this one Harry (and his mustache) get unceremoniously eaten by Sinister Six zombies, along with Gwen and MJ and various others, […]
[…] mustache has gone, the Vietnam War is still raging, and we’re slowwwly moving towards the death of […]
[…] Join us next installment where we’ll look at what I’ve dubbed “The Mustache Saga“ […]