So the infamous Spider-Man story Sins Past is about to be retconned, according to some leaks that have just come out about the end of Nick Spencer’s Spider-Man run. I’m… not looking forward to it. (You’re bound to hear all about it on harryosborn.net.) For a start I suspect it’s not going to deal with the actual sin.
In the years after Sins Past came out there was so much complaining about how the story “ruined” or “tainted” Gwen. But let’s look at what she actually does in the story, shall we? Not much, because the story doesn’t seem nearly as interested in her as it is in her uterus, but-
Gwen finds herself attracted to Norman after he (during one of his spates of non-villainy) helps rescue her and her dad. Okay, fair enough. Gwen actually wasn’t technically Peter’s girlfriend at the time, and even when she was it didn’t seem completely exclusive, since Harry and MJ were in the mix there too. So she was really free to pursue whoever she wanted. Norman is, uh, an odd choice but his design was based on Tommy Lee Jones around this time and I’m sure Tommy Lee Jones had his share of female admirers, so whatever.
Now let’s look at what Norman does in the story!
He has a girl young enough to be his daughter turn up at his house and fawn over him. Norman must have known Gwen as a teenager at least a little, surely, since she and Harry were close friends since high school. He must have some idea of her personality, that her mother was dead and she was devoted to her father. And then…
What exactly passed between them to make them instantly fall into bed together? We don’t know, but we do know that it’s heavily implied this is the first time Gwen had sex with anyone–
-that Norman wielded quite a lot of power and influence at the time, even without bringing his superhero alter-ego into things-
-and that, this is rather crucial I always thought, they didn’t use protection! That’s where the twins came from!
Does any of this sound like a regular “affair”? No! You know what a decent man does if a girl so much younger makes a pass at him? He SAYS NO!
But that’s not what happened. Gwen soon found out what sort of man Norman was and found herself pregnant. (You’ve got to wonder if she considered getting an abortion, but the story isn’t interested in that.) She gave birth to the twins and then Norman murdered her. The Death of Gwen Stacy was written long before Sins Past came out but one thing SP didn’t retcon was that Gwen meant less than nothing to Norman.
Oh, and eventually he then proceeded to creepily hit on her alternate self too.
….Where there was an even bigger age gap, I’m assuming.
Long story short, Norman is a misogynist who took advantage of a younger woman, and Sins Past justnever really acknowledges it. The Gwen/Norman encounter is treated like a regular affair, albeit one where superpowered sperm is involved (ugh) but it wasn’t. Yes it wasbetween two consenting adults, but oh god the power dynamics. It’s a story that plays out time and time again in real life and yep, always ends badly for the woman.
Gwen was Norman’s victim in all of this but was treated like his collaborator. That’s the real sin of Sins Past.
Okay you gotta see this, even if you’re not a Spider-Man fan. Someone remade the No Way Home trailer using only footage from the 90s cartoon and it’s… I’m in awe of this person’s editing skills, okay? And the fact that they did it within DAYS of the actual trailer coming out!
It’s here! I wonder if the leak forced Disney’s hand.
I’ve wondered ever since Molina was announced to be appearing, how the hell are they gonna pull off this multiverse stuff considering he’s meant to be dead in his own universe. That’s not even getting started on the Goblin laugh and pumpkin bomb in there. My kind-of hope is that all the multiverse characters (including TobeySpidey and AndrewSpidey if they do appear) are quick cameos, but that probably won’t be the case. I just don’t want Disney messing with my beloved Raimiverse. :/
Doctor Strange performing a dangerous spell and messing with the multiverse seems rather out of character for him (well, the sufficiently character-developed him) but I’ll wait to see that in context I guess.
Today the teaser trailer dropped for Spider-Man Lotus, a fan film project! It looks really good.
I’m absolutely OVERJOYED to finally have a live-action Harry who looks like his comic book counterpart! Love the shot of him standing in Times Square, which is one of my favourite places in the world. Love that MJ’s smoking, her counterpart in the mainstream films never got to do that. Love the suit! Love EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS in fact.
You can follow the creators on YouTube and Twitter if you wanna support them! I actually contributed a bit of money at the beginning and I think I made a good choice…
Hey, remember how I was making an archive of all Harry Osborn’s appearances in comics complete with annotations and general ramblings? Turns out that’s the sort of project which kinda needs its own blog-
-and a few weeks ago I noted that the domain name harryosborn.net has NOT, in fact, been snapped up by Disney/Marvel/whoever. (the .com version was apparently claimed in 2006) So……. It’s now mine! WELL…
…I don’t know what happens next, because I never actually expected to get that far. Here’s harryosborn.net!
Harry and Peter chat 60s-style, except of course thanks to the sliding timeline none of this ever happened in the 60s! So we’ll have to imagine what era-appropriate sex symbol Harry “really” referenced at this point.
Ah this is all so sad to read fifty years on, knowing what will be changed and retconned.
Harry and Peter flirt with Gwen, Harry somewhat more successfully than Peter.
Oh here’s Kraven! (He was introduced in ASM #15 if I remember correctly so readers of the time would’ve already known him.) But more importantly: romantic entanglements! I still don’t know what the relationship between Harry and Gwen really was at this point because dating just seemed to be different in the 60s? I think these days we’d call it like, a non-exclusive casual relationship I guess.
Whether or not they ever hooked up hooked up is up to you really but honestly I imagine they probably did.
In these panels! Harry reminds us he’s rich, the boys are awestruck by the girls dressed up, Gwen looks jealous of MJ in the background there and wow there used to be a time where women could hang out wearing short skirts in the middle of the street and not get sexually harassed so much they went back inside?
Uh, one way in which the early Marvelverse differs from ours I guess.
MJ and Gwen participate in a dance-off which the boys, ur, appreciate. Then in bursts a man wearing a dead animal and he wants Harry!
Flash attempts, with endearing bravado, to save Harry. Harry gets in a few punches but to no avail.
Ah, the days before Harry’s hatred for Spider-Man set in. Also awww, that panel of Gwen and Flash helping Harry is sweet. The Flash-Harry friendship is almost completely forgotten about these days but it was a nice one.
Huh Norman sure got there quickly.
Ahh if only Peter had tried that same technique with Gwen. (Too soon?)
Annnd there ya go, back in the days where Marvel could tell a story in one issue instead of six.
I have a feeling this story was given a retelling of sorts at some point in a much later comic, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.
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.
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.
Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man threequel has an official title. Our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler will return in Spider-Man No Way Home The third Spider-Man film finally has a title – SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. The official announcement comes just hours after Tom Holland and his castmates threw us all into chaos after revealing a series of fake…
Aggggges ago I watched the first season and a half of Ultimate Spider-Man. I generally liked it, I made a buncha cute gifs like this –
-but I zoned out of it because it was quite obviously for kids, lots of silliness and gross-out humour and stuff and I wasn’t a kid. (Far from it.) Then recently I started watching it again, got past the first season and a half and…it was really good from more or less that point on? Still very much for kids but a bit more mature, I guess. Niceeee.
Also a good antidote to the terribleness of the current comics! And I shall attempt to distract myself from them further by writing about this show instead. Since it’s partly about a superhero school let’s bring out a grading system!
Peter/Spider-Man: A terribly frustrating take on the character at first, it’s as if someone responded to the movie versions of Spidey not quipping enough by making every second thing that comes out of this Peter’s mouth a quip. No matter how inappropriate or OOC it is, gotta get those quips in there! Luckily this was less of an issue past season two or so. And I appreciate they kept Uncle Ben part of his story which is more than the bloody MCU managed. B-
Mary Jane: This Mary Jane isn’t too far away from her comic counterpart I guess, but it annoys me how adaptations never have her want to be an actress anymore. Here she wants to be a journalist which is cool and makes for some interesting episodes but… eh, performing is such an intrinsic part of her character and it bugs me a little how it’s appreciated I guess? B
Harry: Ah my precious son. This is a pretty good Harry but he has most of the edges rubbed off him, fair enough I guess since it would be really hard to make his issues family-friendly. My other main quibble is that he’s much too good-looking and Harry really isn’t supposed to be all that good-looking, despite the actors who’ve played him over the years. Anyway I’m giving him a high grade partly to get the taste of the aforementioned recent comics outta my mouth, so sue me A
Aunt May: Okay honestly I judge pretty much all Spider-Man adaptations by how they do Aunt May. If she’s not the most important person in Peter’s life, if she isn’t constantly either there or being mentioned, you have done a Bad Spider-Man Adaptation. But this one achieved all that and made her funny and cool while still being (gasp) old so A+
Nick Fury: This Nick Fury locks people up without trial, employs what are basically child soldiers and spies on said child soldiers without their permission, which is yikes a- F
Miles: Oh this Miles is so adorable and I just want him safe with his mother. Please stop calling him “Kid Arachnid” though. A
Flash: Wow after season one they ramped up Flash’s character development and made him actually really engaging! Funny too. Yes that’s how you do it. A
Spider-Man’s various other amazing friends: Gosh there were so many. I loved the Scarlet Spider arc even though I’m not in the least bit familiar with him. Really loved the Spider-Man Noir stuff, man I gotta read those comics? A
Doc Ock: I’m impressed that they managed to have Doc Ock change appearance like 4 times and eventually end up looking like the version everyone remembers. I kinda liked the creepy watery look he had at the beginning though? Also his heel-face-turn right in the very final episode was a bit silly but that sort of thing is what Spider-Man’s all about so I can’t fault it. B
Norman: Honestly the comics have never been particularly consistent with Norman so you can do pretty much whatever with him in adaptations as long as you include “corrupt businessman/bad father/Green Goblin” in there. This one’s a bit too nice (post Goblin cure) for me but hey he’s hardly gonna be going around murdering girlfriends in this. B
Voice acting: I didn’t know some of these until I looked up the full cast list but this show had [deep breath] Mark Hamill, Tom Kenny, Ashley Eckstein, Donald Glover, Seth Green, Terry Crews, George Takei, Milo Ventimiglia and MANY MORE in it, which is pretty awesome, A+
Jokes: Honestly I watched this one particular episode during the first go-through but to this very day I can’t hear the words “booby traps” without mentally hearing Deadpool pipe up with “Haha! You said ‘traps’!” so A
Puns: They did a whole episode with Howard the Duck and a sea monster and no-one, NO-ONE said “Release the quacken.” B-