Eugene Patilio, a Z-list superhero who I was always quite fond of, showed up on She-Hulk last night! Well, sort of. That was #NotMyEugene, as Twitter might say. Others have pointed out that She-Hulk’s rich loser, amusing though he was, didn’t really have much in common with the Frog-Man of the comics, and was really more a composite of himself and his dad Leap-Frog. He’s called Leap-Frog in the She-Hulk episode, even. But what ya gonna do?
Well, you’re on the Harry Osborn blog, so what I’m gonna do is talk about how Eugene serves as a sort of foil to Harry, even though the two of them never met. They’re both superpowered, both motherless, both green, and both have big daddy issues that inform everything they do.
Eugene’s own Norman was Vincent, a small-time crook who was briefly a Daredevil villain, and not a good one. Years after his first appearance we catch up with Vincent in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #121–
-and he’s a terrible dad. Just like Norman.
And yet, Eugene loved his terrible dad, just like Harry once did. After all, neither violent father “meant it”…
Just like Harry, Eugene decides to use his father’s costumed identity for himself. Unlike Harry though, Eugene goes straight to using it as a force for good. It would take Harry a long while to get to that point, though he did eventually.
Eugene makes a terrible superhero, but like Harry everything he does in the field is for one main reason: to try and win his father’s love/respect.
Now interestingly, one of the most important Frog-Man stories takes place right after The Child Within, and it’s created by the same team, J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema. That’s because TCW is such a heavy, sad story and a sudden Eugene appearance brought some much-needed comic relief to proceedings.
But Peter isn’t in a good place when Eugene shows up, and some of the stuff he says to him sounds a little like the sort of thing he’s been wanting to say to Harry.
Here’s one crucial difference between Harry and Eugene (and something that was ignored in She-Hulk) – the Patilios aren’t rich. In fact, they’re on the exact opposite end of the scale from the Osborns.
“Just like Poppa, always losing your temper.” But the Patilios and the Osborns are alike in one very important way: there’s plenty of generational trauma there.
And yet despite being both pretty crappy dads-turned-supervillain, Vincent and Norman are very different men. Vincent does at least clearly love his sensitive young son while Norman never did. And he’s trying.
I am OBSESSED with this parallel, Vincent/Eugene and Norman/Harry and their respective family photo albums:
Spectacular Spider-Man #185 ends with a fight against the White Rabbit, with both Frogs joining in, and Vincent emotionally declaring how proud he is of his son. It’s very sweet.
After The Child Within and all the trauma there, it must’ve been nice for Spider-Man to witness a father and son actually overcome their issues, don’t you think?
So there you go, a tale of two green-themed father-son super-duos. I wish some of the real Vincent-Eugene story had made it into the MCU, I like it very much, but instead they took the route of combining problematic father and too-loyal son into one composite character instead. And we also saw that with the Osborns in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
I bet Harry and Eugene would have plenty to say about that if they were real! They’d probably be… wait for it… hopping mad.