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Harry Osborn’s Comic Appearances: Amazing Spider-Man #44 – 46 (1967)

Now at the end of the last one of these I said, since Vietnam is coming into the story now let’s find out what Stan Lee actually thought about the Vietnam War. And that’s the thing, that information is kinda hard to find. There’s an extent to which Lee has sort of I guess been a bit lionized over the years and plenty people think he was labelled more of a progressive than he really was. But I think he was progressive for his era, it’s just that that doesn’t always mean, “was good.” It means… well, it means they were progressive in the original sense of the word and that’s that. So that Washington Post article linked to there, here’s the cached version which isn’t behind a paywall, it says,

In the midst of the antiestablishment riots of 1968, he convened a panel for a failed talk-show pilot in which he repeatedly denounced radicalism; asserted that Black people needed to respect the law; and said the Vietnam War may have been immoral, but had to continue for the greater good.

But we don’t have any direct quotes from this so it’s still hard to pin down his exact opinion. Now on this Marvel site I found this quote from Lee:

Now it’s important that you bear in mind that this yarn [Iron Man] was written in 1963, at a time when most of us genuinely felt that the conflict in that tortured land really was a simple matter of good versus evil and that the American military action against the Viet Cong was tantamount to St. George’s battle against the dragons. Since that time, of course, we’ve all grown up a bit, we’ve realized that life isn’t quite so simple, and we’ve been trying to extricate ourselves from the tragic entanglement in Indochina.

And these comics we’re talking about here were written in 1967. Enough time for Lee to have grown up, I guess. And in the Stan’s Soapbox columns he apparently expressed hopes the troops would come home. Do any of the characters in these issues serve as his mouthpiece re Vietnam then? Does Harry? Well, let’s find out.

Here’s issue #44, where Harry and MJ meet for the first time. This one little scene and everything within it is going to have massive ripples throughout the Spidermanverse, many of which continue to this day, for better or worse. (Usually worse, let’s be honest.)

Harry is friendly here and Flash is…Flash, as has been the case for the past 4 or so issues. But the spectre of Vietnam is hanging over all this.

On to #45. Awww, all the boys have colour-coordinated their outfits, that’s nice.

Here we begin a long, nice tradition of Harry being super generous dude frequently prone to giving out jobs and, as we’ll see in a minute, apartments. Yes this lasted into the ’00s comics which I was always glad about, it’s a very intrinsic part of his character.

Now Harry appears to be dating MJ, or at least getting close to her. The first days of the Harry/MJ romance are actually something I don’t think ever got delved into that much in later comics, despite all the potential for great character moments there. The 1963 audience didn’t know it at this point and possibly neither did Stan Lee, but both are abused and damaged children frantically putting on masks.

This one little panel here sows the seeds for so much stuff that happens later. But more on that (and more on how even to this day MJ and her percieved shallowness is blamed for Harry’s downward spiral) in the future.

Now we’re in #46 and Harry has now secured Peter a job offer and a free apartment. Nice. Their friendship is cemented by this point, as you can tell, and it took under 15 issues! God I miss the much, much faster pace of Old Comics.

The gang exchange some wonderful 60s slang and plan a going-away party for Flash. “He’s the first one of the crowd to be drafted,” Harry says. But that makes me wonder, and bearing in mind that this is an era I know very little about except what I got via cultural osmosis… Did Harry and Peter expect to get draft notices too?

So, time to cram my brain with information about the draft system. The draft lottery didn’t start til 1969, so going back from that… If you were in full-time education, as Harry and Flash and Peter all are here, you didn’t neccessarily have to serve… if you were a good enough student.

These thousands weren’t selected at random. Instead, the Selective Service System (SSS) instituted a system of academic evaluation under which local draft boards would defer students based on intellectual ability. This ability was determined by two factors: class rank, and score on a national aptitude test known as the Selective Service Qualification Test. Undergraduates with a high class rank, or a test score above a certain cutoff, were draft-exempt. Everyone else could be sent to the front.

From here

So I suppose the implication in these Spider-Man comics is that Flash wasn’t a good enough student to avoid military service. Peter as a science genius I guess probably would have been. (Remember this panel from a couple issues back?)

But Harry… was Harry a fortunate son?

“It ain’t me, I ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaires’ son…”

But Harry probably was. Norman’s exact wealth wasn’t actually stated in the early days I think, but it’s safe to assume he’s pretty dang rich. And, says the New York Times (surprisingly one of the sources of Vietnam War draft info not outright blocked or paywalled in the UK, christ I hate the modern-day Internet)-

It was no coincidence that those men who already fit the middle-class mold of domestic masculinity — those men who were college students or teachers or scientists — received deferments.

It was a very classist, racist system. I feel like writing anything more along the lines of “So how did Spider-Man and his best friend avoid the draft?” trivalizes that in a way, so we’ll be back to business in a minute.

Now comics-wise Spider-Man: Life Story tackled Vietnam quite a bit, but due to the Marvel sliding timeline Vietnam just doesn’t factor into the Spider-Man story anymore. Flash didn’t fight, Iron Man wasn’t there. And I sort of think that’s a shame, and one of the reasons I have very conflicting feelings about ongoing comics as a medium. If you’re going to tackle very real, very bad things that happened in real life you should commit to them, you know?

So back to Harry. For whatever reason you want to have in your head – his status as a student, his father’s wealth, something else (it actually feels pretty in character, at least eventually, for him to be an objector?) – he’s not going to Vietnam and neither is Peter.

But of course, even that one specific part of the story is far from done.

NHS pay: More health unions join backlash against 1% pay rise — BBC News – Home

Health staff “have literally kept the country alive for the past year”, says the British Medical Association.

NHS pay: More health unions join backlash against 1% pay rise — BBC News – Home

And yet here we are.

Wandavision episode 9

The last one! I had a lot of fun watching that but I feel it was a little too MCU-by-the-numbers for me. You know… “hero cleverly defeats villain/touching goodbye/sequel hook” bit. Not that the goodbye wasn’t touching, of course. I’m so glad they kept Vision dead (well, more or less) otherwise it negates the whole point of the show, which is that you have to move on past your grief and you can’t bring back the dead.

I’ll miss him though. I loved his weird brand of superhero-mythology philosophising.

There’s a part of me that almost feels like Agatha didn’t need to be in this show. I’m very glad she was (heh, I loved the Wizard of Oz reference, man Katherine Hahn is a shoo-in for the Wicked Witch if they really are remaking that movie isn’t she) but… I dunno, towards the end she felt a bit suplus to requirements, like Marvel realised audiences were expecting a big-budget flying battle and threw a couple of them in. I do like that Wanda did something pretty much… geniunely terrible to defeat her though. That has implications that are really interesting for the character going forward. As does the loss or maybe “loss” of the twins. Losing her children was what triggered the original comics version of House of M if I remember rightly?

God I LOVE Wanda’s Scarlet Witch costume. It was just really, really well done. And not sexualised! Look:

As a big fan of superhero costume design WandaVision might have been worth it for that alone?

Moving on… the Pietro reveal was, uh… disappointing. So no X-Men universe after all, unless something’s going to happen in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Which this last episode really felt more like a prequel to, not that that’s neccessarily a bad thing. It’s just… Weird. That was a weird choice. I’ve seen people online expressing A LOT of disappointment about that and I can’t really blame them.

Oooh I have other questions which I guess might be answered in future stories too – Was Monica’s Skrull friend the friend she made in Captain Marvel, all grown up now? And she was the aerospace engineer, right? I’m not quite sure. Is it Nick Fury who wants to see her?

Also WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BEEKEEPER?! We never found out. Justice for the beekeeper.

I might write a few more things later in other posts, but there’s a part of me that thinks, even accepting a few bits of this finale were quite disappointing… I’ve had SO MUCH FUN watching it. Not just the actual watching part either, the bit where everyone goes online afterwards and screams theories at each other and just gets excited like we’re all leaving a movie theater. Seeing as how, you know, no movie theatres and precious little human interaction right now that’s really been quite a big deal to me. So thank you, WandaVision makers.

my animal crossing villagers

I have ten of them, they’re all amazing, and even though I COULD trade them in for other, possibly even cuter villagers I… will absolutely never do that. In alphabetical order:

Cherry

Apparently Cherry is one of the most popular villagers across all the game! That’s nice. She’s like a goth-punk dog but her home is super brightly coloured which clashes with all the Halloween-themed stuff I keep giving her, ah well, you do you Cherry

Clyde

Poor Clyde on the other hand is supposed to be one of the LEAST popular villagers but I don’t care. Is it because of his eyes not having pupils? Bah. I love Clyde, he keeps running airplane-style around the island like a small child. Also he’s very adamant about not eating people, always good

Deli

Deli is obviously A monkey but I dunno what kind he is? He’s SO CUTE and honestly he’s my favourite, don’t tell the others. Look at that adorable little smile

Lucha

Lucha is a little wrestler bird with a house done up like a wrestling ring! HOW DOES HE WRESTLE WITH NO ARMS?

Nan

A goat (a nanny goat?) who wears cute dresses. She’s one of my faves too just cos she’s so sweet. Before learning you can stop villagers from leaving I did a whole photoshoot to remember her by and then she didn’t leave, hooray

O’Hare

A hare, of course, apparently one who thinks he’s a famous influencer. His house is island-themed, meaning he built an island ON an island, ICONIC

Papi

Okay Papi is another one of the favourites. Look at him, he’s ADORABLE. He’s an okapi as far as I know, which are endangered in real life, sigh

Patty

Patty is a cow! And her default dress looks like meat steaks, oh dear. VERY cute, sings a lot, and is super into a movie called Maglevs in Love. I feel I should question more why she has imitation cow skulls

Tipper

Yes I have two cows! The other one is called Tipper, presumably because of cow-tipping, which is a thing you very much shouldn’t do. She’s supposed to be a “snooty” villager but she’s not snooty to ME

Tybalt

Tybalt was one of the first villagers on the island I think! He’s very very into sports and fitness, and I am not (as proven by the fact I’ve spent an entire year playing Animal Crossing) but I love him anyway

Happy 25th birthday, Pokemon

It’s so strange to think Pokemon is younger than me. But I remain eternally grateful it exists.

Wandavision episode 8

Ah we’ve now lost the sitcom format (I miss it already) but are straight into Wandavision: The Movie. Everything you’d come to expect from an MCU is in there now: sad backstories, Tony Stark’s stuff ruining everything, top secret organizations being unbelievably dumb. (Why would you not let Wanda in right away, you know who she is, WHY would you show her her boyfriend’s mangled corpse when she could probably kill everyone in the building just waving her hands.)

This episode was at its best when doing the quiet moments. “What is grief if not love persevering” is a really beautiful line. And seeing the actual scene where Wanda’s parents die was very moving and sad. I guess Magneto really isn’t gonna be showing up here after all, eh I’ll let the comics deal with that.

Still no answers about Pietro, I’ll be really disappointed if he turns out to be nothing important after all. Also no Monica, I hope she’s okay.

Weirdly one of the things I’m most curious about in this episode is why Wanda can drive a car. Not because she can also fly, but because wouldn’t the five-year gap where she was dead have ensured she had no driving license anymore? (Am I the only one dying for a sitcom about the people dealing with all the insane bureaucracy that would’ve had to happen after the Blip?)

There is one thing that really bugs me about this episode though, and that’s the fact that HYDRA are involved and yet… it’s not mentioned whether or not Wanda and Pietro knew they were Nazis when they volunteered. And that’s kind of an important thing to need to know, since Wanda and Pietro are Jewish. Like… REALLY kind of an important thing to know, for obvious reasons. Obviously they were led into a trap but how did they end up there? That’s what I want to know. Let’s not forget the real origins of the X-Men.