Peter Parker and Harry Osborn - A retrospective - Jim Beard
Imagine if your best friend in the world was secretly your worst enemy…and wanted to kill you.
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The story of Peter Parker, Spider-Man, and Harry Osborn, the Green Goblin, is one of friendship, suspicion, betrayal and ultimately death. In "Spider-Man 3," the silver screen Harry Osborn will play out a deadly game that has transpired in the comics over decades. Audiences will be witnesses to a microcosm of one of the most tragic stories in Spider-Man's long history.
Debuting in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #31, Harry was one of the truest friends Peter ever had. Coming off a bad beginning, Harry swallowed his initial dislike of Peter and after Harry's father Norman was hospitalized, the two boys became fast friends. Unfortunately, Norman Osborn was also the heinous criminal the Green Goblin and bad blood ran in the family. The young men became college roommates in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #46, and Harry started down a slippery slope of drugs and depression.
Spider-Man's struggle against the Green Goblin, secretly his friend's father, reached a fatal pinnacle in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122. Hunting down the Goblin for murdering his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man battled the insane tycoon-turned-villain and the Goblin died by his own treachery--not unlike how the Goblin met his demise in the first Spider-Man film. Sadly, Harry witnessed his father's death and forever after blamed the Wallcrawler for causing it. His heart heavy, his mind jumbled and his feelings of rivalry with Peter heightened, Harry stumbled upon his roommate's secret identity in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #135-#136. Taking up the mantle of the Green Goblin, the two former friends clashed bitterly and violently, with Spider-Man the victor. Harry's mind was no longer simply confused, but now shattered along with his memory.
Seeking psychiatric help, Harry then started down the long road to recovery. Through the treatments and therapy, he lost his knowledge of being the Goblin along with Peter's identity as Spider-Man. His friends welcomed him back into the fold and Harry began dating an old acquaintance from high school, Liz Allen. He and Liz eventually married and they settled down to begin a family. That calm was broken by the appearance of a Green Goblin-wannabe called the Hobgoblin, and Harry used original Goblin weaponry to defeat the newcomer in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #312. At that point, he began to imagine he could become New York City's newest crimefighter.
Spider-Man strongly dissuaded his old friend from a career as a costumed hero, but Harry's emotional state was once again in flux and he suffered a serious mental breakdown. Obtaining a version of his father's Green Goblin strength formula, the young Osborn submerged himself in the persona of the wicked criminal and inaugurated a campaign of fear and threats against Peter. His memory of Spider-Man's identity returned and old thoughts of jealousy and vengeance for his father's death weighed heavily on his mind, Harry trapped the Webslinger and set explosives to blow both himself and his foe to kingdom come. The sight of his and Liz's son brought Harry to lucidity and he moved everyone to safety at the last minute. Though his good nature won out in the end, the Goblin formula raged within Harry's body, and in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #200 Harry Osborn, friend of Peter Parker and son of the original Green Goblin, was dead.
Even after his death, Harry's legacy of unstable and unrequited hatred towards Peter continued. While alive and as the Goblin, he had created robots of Peter's long-dead parents to torment his former friend and even devised a plan for a duplicate of himself to kidnap his own son and expose him to the virulent Goblin formula. Spider-Man was victorious against all these attacks but still felt that there was absolutely no closure with Harry before his death. Through the odd circumstances of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #14, Peter encountered a hologram of Harry that was programmed with all of his memories and life experiences. Through that, Peter found peace with the memory of his friend.
Followers of the Spider-Man film cycle have seen the progression of Harry Osborn over two films as his thoughts of revenge towards Spider-Man mutate into dangerous actions in "Spider-Man 3." A new Goblin will swoop down upon Peter Parker, as our hero is at an important crossroads in his life, setting up an emotional challenge that will tax him to his limits. Will this cinematic feud end in tragedy as in the comics? Find out May 4 when "Spider-Man 3" swings into theaters.