Comics : American Son #2

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This review was first published on: Aug 2010.

Background...

Harry is trying to carry on with a normal life after the events of Amazing Spider-Man #595-59, in which be became the superhero American Son, and the recent events of Siege which has seen his father, Norman Osborn, imprisoned for his actions and stripped of his powerful role as head of HAMMER.

During Amazing Spider-Man #595-599, reporter Norah Winters witnessed Norman’s violence and chose to hold back a story implicating him in human experiments.

American Son has returned but no-one is sure who is wearing the armour…

Harry’s normal life is interrupted by Gabriel Stacy, Norman’s other son he had with Gwen Stacy, who comes in to The Coffee Bean and shoots Harry!

In Detail...

"The Other Son"
American Son #2
Aug 2010 : SM Spin-Off
Summary: Harry investigates the identity of his attacker!
Editor:  Tom Brennan
Writer:  Brian Reed
Pencils:  Patrick Olliffe, Phillipe Briones
Cover Art:  Marko Djurdjevic
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Issue
Review
Articles: Gabriel Stacy, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Winters, Norah

Harry Osborn has been shot! Gabriel Stacy is about to finish him off when American Son crashes in through the window, beats Gabriel off and flies Harry to a hospital where he makes sure he’s got the medical attention he needs!

The following morning, with the shooting all over the news, Harry finds himself under armed guard in the hospital. Norah Winters, eager for a story, disguises herself as a nurse and squirms her way in to see Harry. Rather than being her normal self, and pressuring for a story, she confesses to Harry that Norman threatened her life when she found out about the American Son Project. Harry tells her to come with him and they leave the hospital, even though Harry is still injured.

They go to The Raft to visit Norman. When they give up the contents of their pockets, Norah notices that Harry’s prescription pills are dated before Harry was shot… They confront Norman for the first time since Siege and Harry asks him about Gabriel. Norman thinks it is funny that Gabriel shot him and, when Harry tells him he no longer has any power, Norman becomes agitated. He yells that Gabriel is his son and that he’s glad he’s got more Osborn in him than Harry!

Gabriel returns to his secret warehouse and yells at the empty American Son armour!

That night, Norah presents Ben Urich with a story for Front Line: Norman Osborn has another son. Norah is supported by a very reliable witness… Harry is willing to speak out to the press.

In General...

The scene where Harry meets Norman, the first Norman appearance since Siege, the crux of this issue, plays out poorly. There’s very little tension and Brian Reed doesn’t really deliver a scene with a point. Once they’re in front of one another, the conversation runs a little too quickly with not enough manipulation from Norman’s side. This deserves to be a slow, deeply emotional confrontation and it simply isn’t. Visually, however, this is Phillippe Briones’ best sequence. The excellent one-page reflection, the montage of Norman trying to lose it and Harry’s dark complexion watching him all make for mixed memorable pages.

Where Patrick Olliffe is called for, to presumably mop up and finish the issue on time, delivers his usual standard when under time constraints. The story is told perfectly, the emotion is clear and there’s a good variety of perspectives and panels. But the detail is lacking. Empty spaces and simply-lined characters mean that, once again, Olliffe isn’t allowed to produce his best. I wish someone would give this guy the time he deserves.

Reed’s concentration on Harry and Norah gives us some character interaction we’ve not seen before. This is refreshing but there’s not a great deal of “voice”. This isn’t the Norah we know or like.

The final straw is the problems with two of the characters: Gabriel Stacy and American Son. There is not enough investment in American Son because he’s a suit of armour that we’ve seen for about an issue (in Amazing #599) and Gabriel’s page time is low which annoys me if he’s the villain of this piece. For more reader engagement, there needs to be a great deal more character.

Overall Rating...

Driven by a question of identity, “Who Is American Son?”, the series itself is running dry on originality and motivation for the reader to continue.