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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked (Death is Not the End) – So Is Europe Just a Codeword for “Limbo” for Osborns?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This is the third of a series of special Abadoned an’ Forsaked editions specifically spotlighting notable overturned comic book deaths. I call it “Death is Not the End.” This week we look at Harry Osborn’s death and return and explore the strange connection Europe has to Osborns and death.

In 1993, Harry Osborn died in Spectacular Spider-Man #200 by J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema…

Harry was pretty darn dead. There were even post-death traps sprung in the event of his death, stuff like that. And when his father, Norman Osborn, returned alive Norman sure talked like his son was dead.

In 2007’s Amazing Spider-Man #545 (by Joe Quesada and Danny Miki), though, Peter Parker attends a surprise party for…Harry Osborn!?!?

As you might recall from the recent Abandoned an’ Forsaked on Norman Osborn, Norman explained HIS absence by stating that he was in Europe the whole time. Now we see that Harry was ALSO in Europe…

It would be roughly a year until they revealed what happened to Harry (and how Norman Osborn could be shown acting like Harry was dead) in Amazing Spider-Man #581 (by Dan Slott, Mike McKone and Andy Lanning)…

And that, as they say, is that.

If you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature, e-mail me at e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com


That was a good death for Harry. A shame Quesada wanted his teen years with Harry and Peter together back (not that he’s the only one to use that as a standard of what should be canon).
I knew Harry came back but I assumed that in the Brand New Day he simply hadn’t died. Which in fact would make more sense. Why would Norman make it look like Harry died when he knows he’s going to turn up again eventually–just saying “He had some medical issues and he’s traveling for his health” would have been more practical.
But it was Brand New Day, what do I expect?

Brand New Days wasn’t a reboot. There was no way to bring Harry just because.
I find funny the part where Norman says he doesn’t have time for names, but he throws a line that will take like 10 seconds to say.

OMD / BND worst ever reason to reboot spider man continuity

but good enough reason to stop reading the book ..with fond memories of stories past

interesting to learn that norman had mysterio help fake harrys death when i kind of thought given that the goblin formula was suppose to include a healing factor that harry would sooner or later once it kicked in wake up and be alive again guess marvel nixed that idea as too lame.

Bernard the Poet

January 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

@ Carlos

If BND means that Spider-man never married Mary Jane, then that would have impacted on his life in all sorts of ways (if a butterfly flaps its wings in Germany, then there’s a earthquake in China, etc, etc). It is perfectly reasonable that in this alternative history, Harry Osbourne never died. It is certainly a hundred times better than Norman Osbourne decided – for no identifiable reason – to fake his son’s death.

The only story that never happened is One More Day, actually. One Moment In Time replaces those events.

I never knew about Harry acknowledging his death after Brand New Day. Good too see that DeMatteis’ run on Spectacular is still canon.

Harry is a good supporting character who’s been put through the wringer over the years. I still prefer Len Wein’s happy ending to his troubled years best of all. (ASM #180)

As the old saying by Thomas Godl Appleton goes, when good Americans die they go to Paris (and I think Oscar Wilde added that when bad Americans die they go to America).
That gives a whole new spin to ethics in Marvel comics.

Sometimes I’m not sure why some of the people here praise Sal Buscema, as he’s not an artist I’m all that familiar with.

And then I read those pages up top, and damn, that is some powerful storytelling.

You guys are right.

The reason Harry could not just ‘come back’ is that OMD/BND changed Spider-Man’s history so that there was never a marriage, but the rest of his history/stories remained intact (except for OMD (kinda) as mentioned above).

Peter and MJ still took their honeymoon trip, still moved in together, split up, and moved back in together.

So the story where Harry died still happened, and for him to come back, his ‘death’ still had to be dealt with.

I can read Sal Buscema’s Spectacular Spider-Man all day, love that run by DeMatteis.

Actually, after OMD, they were never married. So they never took a honeymoon trip, etc.

“After his Aunt May has been shot, Spider-Man seeks help to save her life. He encounters the demon Mephisto, who offers to save her life if Spider-Man gives him his marriage. Spider-Man and his wife Mary Jane Watson agree, and this part of their history is erased so that, effectively, they have never been married.”

I get that kdu, but I think it’s a clunky way to go about it. Once the marriage is rebooted, nitpicking over the rest of the continuity seems kind of silly.

Good lord that explanation is terribly written.

They’ll never apologize for this stuff and everything related to it, despite the fact that it ruined the credibility of the book. Sad.

@Xnonymous The credibility of the book? Really?

They used a magic demon to bring an old lady back to life and make 15 years worth of comics where the word “wife” was written simply now mean “girlfriend.” That’s it. Eveything else is still canon, they still lived in the Bedford Towers, they still were harassed by Jonathan Caesar, she still smoked and almost cheated on him, Harry still “died,” as we see above. They were just dating instead of married when it happened. [The only things that may not have happened were Spectacular annual 7 and possibly the pregnancy during the clone saga. And those two things have never been addressed and hopefully never will.] In my eyes that’s still way more credible than DC’s “let’s reboot the whole thing back to square one every ten years” thing that they do.

So BND: Let’s pretend one word of dialogue is different and replace one story, “Back in Black.”.
DC: Let’s pretend the last 80 years never happened and start over again.

That’s why I stick w/ Spidey.

Like I said, Jeff, it would have made more sense if they had juggled continuity a little more.

Just par for the course for Spider-Man. A character dies, a whole big scene is made of their death, and then it turns out that the body was a clone/fake/whatever.

Green Goblin: Gets impaled with his glider, but he got better.

Aunt May: Poor girl died of old age – no wait, it was an actress.

Peter’s parents: They didn’t die in the line of duty…oops. They were actually robots!

Kraven: Blows his brains out, now he’s OK!

Mysterio: Also blew his brains out, but he’s totally alright too!

Peter’s clone: He was dead, now he’s not.

Jackal: Ditto

Kaine: Double ditto.

Mary Jane: OMG the plane she was on blew up….uh, never mind….

Even though Spider-man was my favourite comic-book hero growing up I can’t bring myself to read anything past 1986. I’ve tried. What FuryOfFirestorm wrote explains a lot of why i long ago decided to stay away from the character.

I thought it was a little much when they brought back Uncle Ben as that new villain, The Great Responsibully.

But let’s please all just pretend that Gwen’s death was the last we heard of her. Can we do that, please?

That whole storyline was in my mind Sal Buscema’s finest hour as a storyteller. The wordless panels were very effective at carrying the emotion of the scene. I think if his relation to John Buscema wasn’t known to the public, he’d be much more respected as an artist.

Personaly I loved DeMatteis’ run on Spectacular, it’s one of my favorites on the character and super hero in general. I stopped reading for a while after OMD. Slott is doing a good job, however I could never digest the whole thing. As much as I loved Harry as a character I though that his role was great, and him being dead was an even better reminder of the tragedy around Spider-Man than Norman. Who fuckin cares, anyway I didn’t see Harry do much after BND so I guess they did not have much stories for him.

Had I known that the end result of OMD was limited to what Jeff outlines above, I probably would have stayed with the Spidey books. But at the time my impression was that not only was the marriage gone, but they were making a whole bunch of other continuity destroying changes (Harry’s back, secret identity back in place) and not even bothering to explain them. And I’m glad they got around to it, but apparently it did take 36 issues to explain Harry and almost 100 to get to the ID.

With Harry, they wanted to re-establish him as Peter’s best friend before dropping all the Green Goblin stuff in there (Harry had been convinced that his Green Goblin misadventures were drug-induced hallucinations, so he didn’t bring them up). With the identity, they dropped hints occasionally.

Again, do note that the book was shipping three books a month at the time, so 36 issues was only a year’s worth of comics.

I never quite understood why “eliminating the marriage” without eliminating all those years of continuity made any sense at all. If the point was to “de-age” Peter, how does several years of having been with MJ still being canon help that? And since they’ve brought her back into the book, the notion of “will they or won’t they” is in play, so that can’t be the reason for eliminating the marriage — they could have just divorced, then.

Wild speculation — it was a metaphor. The years with MJ were now a “marriage” without calling it that.

Or in other words, the only thing that our gay friends were able to have for a while (and in most states, still).

That’s right, the whole “Spidey can’t be married” was a subtle, veiled protest against gay marriage not being legal. So subtle and veiled that no one else saw it until I pulled this out of my ass.

It totally makes sense to me! ;)

I think it’s only now sinking in what people are saying. I assumed when they eliminated the marriage they really eliminated the marriage, not eliminated the word marriage … damn, it was worse than I imagined.
Travis, I think you’ve got it. I’m quite sure the voice in my breakfast cereal said when DOMA gets overturned, Quesada will restore the marriage to continuity. Only now, of course, she’ll be sleeping with Doc Ock.


Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 7 they go on their Honeymoon to France. In Amazing Spider-Man 639, which is part of the story that replaces the wedding issue, Mary Jane says she will stay with Peter and never leave him (page 21 panels 1 and 3), and then asks if he wants to go to Paris (panel 5).

In the Annual they go to Cassis, France, which is some distance from Paris, but in either case, they do take a trip to France.

As fraser posted above, only the word “marriage” was eliminated. The rest of the stories and continuity remained.

Man with No Face

February 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Is this story supposed to be taking place in the 1960s? Or is having the Rat Pack listed on the marquee in panel 2 of the #545 excerpt just a joke?

It’s a documented fact that Nick Fury was a huge Sinatra fan and shared the Infinity formula with the Rat Pack.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Avengers 1959 was about. God knows it has to have been about something.

I’m trying for a Nick Fury/Sammy Davis Jr eyeball joke, and I just can’t come up with one. ah, me.

interesting to learn that norman had mysterio help fake harrys death when i kind of thought given that the goblin formula was suppose to include a healing factor that harry would sooner or later once it kicked in wake up and be alive again guess marvel nixed that idea as too lame.

Harry had modified the formula and the standard explanation given when Norman returned was that because the formula itself was the killer it couldn’t revive the son the way it had revived the father.

Did they ever address the scene in Legacy of Evil where Harry’s corpse was exhumed and checked to make sure he was actually dead?

Both Osborn resurrections really hurt ahat were beautiful stories. Abd for what? One was to end an era of crap that made no sense, the other because Joe Quesada wanted HIS status quo back. Awful stuff.

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