Here’s some surprising news about one of the most shunned stories ever to litter the history of Spider-Man being retconned away. From Newsarama, this is what happens in the 73rd issue of the current volume, over 15 years since Joe Quesada disgracefully mandated Sins Past into pseudo-canon, and J. Michael Straczynski pretty much played along. The trouble is, it appears to do Harry Osborn some disfavors (already, he’d inexplicably returned from the grave in the late 2000s), and comes close to doing Gwen Stacy some too:
Amazing Spider-Man #73 kicks off with Peter Parker arriving at Kindred’s mausoleum, where all the other major players in Kindred’s schemes have separately gathered, including Mary Jane Watson, Mysterio, Norman Osborn, Carly Cooper, Harry Osborn, and, separately, Kindred himself … or rather themselves.
Picking up where the previous issue left off, Kindred unmasks in front of MJ, seemingly revealing that she’s actually somehow a returned Gwen Stacy. Meanwhile, Carly Cooper and an apparently non-Kindred Harry Osborn discover another Harry’s desiccated corpse still on the slab in her morgue, which is somehow magically connected to the mausoleum (more on both these pairs in a moment).
And finally, Norman Osborn is confronted by an AI program of Harry in a laboratory seemingly filled with clones in various stages of development. Appropriately, the AI explains that Kindred’s entire scheme goes all the way back to the story that immediately preceded and led to the controversial ’90s story Spider-Man: The Clone Saga.
In that story, Spider-Man: Lifetheft, Peter Parker’s long-dead parents return only to be revealed as a manipulation by the Chameleon. The Harry Osborn AI reveals that Harry helped hatch the scheme before his death, along with a parallel scheme to take revenge on his father. And it’s the return of plot points now revealed as part of Harry’s revenge plot against Norman that may make some readers’ skin crawl – along with Peter’s, MJ’s, and even Norman Osborn’s.
The Harry AI reveals that the death of his actual body was genuine, and what’s more, he never actually returned from the dead. Further still, the AI confesses that the events of the controversial, much-maligned story Spider-Man: Sins Past are all a hoax perpetrated by the AI and Harry’s still-living accomplices Mysterio and Mendel Stromm, effectively undoing one of the most hated Spider-Man stories of all time.
In ‘Sins Past,’ it’s revealed that Norman Osborn had an affair with the teen Gwen Stacy, which resulted in the birth of twin children named Gabriel and Sarah who had been born in secret before Norman killed Gwen Stacy. The twins, aged rapidly to adulthood thanks to Norman’s DNA which was altered by the Green Goblin serum, took on the shared identity of the Grey Goblin, before being defeated with their existence almost entirely ignored since.
The AI confesses that Norman Osborn, Mary Jane Watson, and others were tricked into believing the affair took place by Mysterio and Stromm using illusion, hypnotism, and false memories – and that Sarah and Gabriel were actually one of a series of clones designed to act as “vessels,” presumably for Harry’s vengeance against Norman Osborn for selling Harry’s soul to Mephisto when he was a baby. With that, it’s revealed that the “Gwen” under Kindred’s mask is actually Sarah, while the “Harry” that’s been hanging out with Carly Cooper is Kindred’s other secret identity, Gabriel. Though the full extent of what this all means hasn’t been fully explored, the issue’s denouement, in which Doctor Strange and Mephisto continue their game for the fate of Peter Parker’s soul, seems to potentially imply that Mephisto’s manipulations of Peter’s life go much deeper than Spider-Man: One More Day.
And now, with Harry Osborn’s true fate revealed along with the secret identities of Kindred, and Mephisto’s ties to the entire saga thanks to his deal with Norman Osborn and manipulation of Peter and Mary Jane, Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run has all but negated some of the most controversial aspects of ‘One More Day,’ down to officially romantically reuniting Peter and MJ.
And by that, they mean the marriage is still not re-canonized, huh? It’s good that 3 years ago, editorial finally returned MJ to her rightful place in Spidey canon, but unless the marriage is fully restored, there’s one more mistake left un-mended.
And while Harry may have gone nuts before his demise in 1993, what’s being established here is honestly tasteless, certainly the part regarding a sale of his soul to Mephisto?!? Spidey may be as much a sci-fi comic as the rest of the MCU, but this is going way too far, and sounds awfully forced and contrived. Indeed, it runs the gamut of making Mephisto too much a presence in almost any possible past storyline. Here’s also what Adventures in Poor Taste describes:
If you just found out about Nick Spencer’s run, there’s a lot to catch up on. That includes the heavy focus on Harry Osborn and how Norman Osborn may have made a deal with Mephisto. If that sounds familiar, that’s because the infamous “One More Day” storyline has tied into the events of this story arc. Spencer’s penultimate issue–it all wraps up with Amazing Spider-Man #74–has been strongly led by a character named Kindred who may or may not be Harry Osborn. It’s still tough to know exactly if it’s Harry, a shard of him, or some phantom.
In Amazing Spider-Man #73, a lot of what we learn is tied to Harry Osborn manipulating people over the last few decades to believe things that aren’t true or are false truths. From a storytelling perspective, it’s quite clear Spencer is untangling the sometimes problematic exploits of Norman and Harry Osborn, but at the cost of retconning some rather big moments in the Spider-Man mythos.
Starting with one of the bigger reveals, Amazing Spider-Man #73 reveals Gabriel and Sarah Stacy were not the product of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn! As is hinted at early on–but explained more thoroughly later in the issue–they were created by Harry Osborn in a lab. They come from the 2004 story “Sins Past” by J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Deodato.
Not only that but there were multiple versions of them that were tinkered with over time. Watch out Jackal, there’s a much more disturbing scientist doing cloning in the Spider-Man comics.
And it wasn’t Harry, but rather, Quesada and Straczynski combined. And no matter what C.B. Cebulski does now to jettison those earlier atrocities, it won’t change the fact that his predecessors dealt a serious blow to the Spidey franchise as much as the rest of the MCU by trashing the Spider-marriage and kicking Mary Jane to the curb for nearly a dozen years, during which Dan Slott turned out easily the worst, most trolling storylines ever seen in publication that make the Clone Saga look almost tame by comparison. (Except for that horrible moment when Peter assaulted Ben Reilly, and accidentally bruised MJ, after which he ran out of the lab in shame and cowardice instead of working to help her recover on the spot.)
Quesada for one has never apologized for the part he played in leading to so many years wasted with bad storytelling, nor come to think of it has the specialty press who more or less allowed everything to stand without seriously demanding it be reversed, and that Quesada be dismissed from the company payroll. Quesada’s reign as EIC produced some of the worst precedents for what was to come in later years at Marvel, not the least being their political metaphors.
And speaking of Quesada, this MSN/WCBS article reveals that he’s allegedly paying tribute to 9-11, in a new story that could risk making the same mistake as the 2001 ASM issue written by Straczynski, which debuted very quickly after the tragedy, and even interrupted the storyline following the mediocre Morlun mishmash:
An eight-page story from Marvel Entertainment, called “The Four Fives,” will feature Spider-Man and Captain America in Lower Manhattan looking upon the “Tribute In Light” memorial as the Bell of Hope, in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Chapel, rings out.
The bell rings in a pattern of “four fives,” which is a ritual signaling the death of a firefighter.
The comic was written by Joe Quesada, a native of Queens, illustrated by John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna, colored by Marte Gracia and lettered by Joe Caramagna, according to The New York Times.
Quesada told the outlet that writing the comic was difficult for him as he “didn’t want to relive” the events of that time. Though, he said he was inspired by the Bell of Hope as a way for Captain America and Spider-Man to memorialize the events of 9/11.
In the comic, the two New York-based superheroes are implied to also visit Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon for more memorials.
A most vital question about this newer story is, does it build on any scapegoating tactics against the USA, as the original story by Straczynski did? Because if it does, then it’ll only be repeating the same mistakes made 20 years earlier. It goes without saying that if any supervillains turn up and sob, as Doctor Doom did at the time, that’ll be another mistake. Is this why Quesada’s reportedly uncomfortable dealing with the subject material again? It’s certainly strange he’s saying that now, seeing as he had no qualms about approaching the subject as exploitively as he did with JMS back in the day. Not to mention that some superheroes like Thor have the strength to hold up a building in danger of collapse, one more reason why ASM 36 wound up minimizing the seriousness of the subject. And in all the years since, what’s Marvel done to prove they’re willing to address the issue of Islamic terrorism?
All they’ve done is whitewash the subject using concepts like a Muslim Ms. Marvel to cater to the very ideology that caused the tragedy in the first place. Something tells me none of the leftist ideologues running Marvel today are willing to condemn Joe Biden for the disaster he caused in Afghanistan within barely a week when he allowed the country to fall to the Taliban. And if they weren’t willing to do it before, why should we expect this new short-story by Quesada himself to be any improvement? The man is such an ideologue himself, it’s a foregone conclusion he’d never do the victims of 9-11 (not to mention US soldiers murdered in Afghanistan) any genuine favors. In fact, here’s a sugarcoated take on the subject on Newsarama:
Marvel Comics’ executive vice president/creative director Joe Quesada has written this memorable story, partnering with long-time friend John Romita Jr. The eight-page story is inked by Scott Hanna, colored by Marte Gracia, and lettered by Joe Caramagna. The story was edited by Tom Brevoort, Annalise Bissa, and Martin Biro.
‘The Four Fives’ is in some ways a spiritual sequel to December 1, 2001’s Amazing Spider-Man #36 by Romita Jr. and writer J. Michael Straczynski, a quickly-created one-off issue exploring how Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and other Marvel heroes (and a few villains) react in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Quesada was Marvel’s editor-in-chief at the time of this issue.
Few or many, how odd they don’t question whether that was a tasteful thing to do, to shoehorn in guest roles by supervillains who could have blood on their hands, making them little different in their own way from the real life jihadists who attacked the US. Let’s consider Dr. Doom was long depicted as the autocratic despot of a fictional Balkan country, Latveria, and he did only so much damage for almost any notable hero in the MCU years before, it’s absurd in the extreme to put him in a role where he’s in tears.
As for Brevoort, he’s long been a far-left ideologue and doesn’t look to be changing his stance any time soon, one more reason we shouldn’t expect this new short-story to be any improvement. If showbiz representatives aren’t willing to address meaty issues convincingly, how do they expect to make an impact for the better, or assure victims of violent offenses the world over that they’re truly concerned? The way these scriptwriters seemingly take up all sorts of serious issues by just tiptoeing about does nothing to prove they have the guts people like Jack Kirby and Joe Simon had when they launched Captain America in the Golden Age. That’s the sad situation we’ve been reduced to in this modern PC era, where famous creations are now under corporate influence, and it’s only turning them into relics of the past without a future.
Originally published here.