Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) Annual 2000

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

This annual contains two stories. The first and longer story deals with Spidey's attempt to rescue little Normie Osborn from a faction of the Scriers. The second story involves a battle pitting the Sandman against Silver Sable and the Wild Pack.

In Detail...

"Old Acquaintances"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) Annual 2000 (Story 1)
Year 2000 : SM Title
Summary: Holographic Harry
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Gregory Wright, Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Andy Kuhn, Klaus Janson
Inker:  Harry Candelario, Klaus Janson
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Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn) (FB), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Osborn, Jr., Norman (Normie), The Rebel Scrier (1st), Sandman, Silver Sable

Spider-Man is sitting on a tower in the city when he hears a scream coming from the apartment of Liz Osborn and her son Normie (Liz of course being the wife of the deceased Harry Osborn and Normie being Harry's son and the grandson of Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin). Spidey proceeds to trash the hoodlums in the apartment. He recognizes them as members of the Scrier the "deity-worshipping international crime cabal" which was headed by Norman Osborn. Spidey finally locates a frightened Liz and Normie only to find the main villain of the story, a "rebel Scrier" who, on a more basic level, is a tall guy with gray skin, no shirt, a red insignia on his chest, a pony-tail down to his lower legs, and power gauntlets on his wrists. The Scrier proceeds to trash Spidey and then take away Normie promising to protect him from the likes of Spider-Man who Normie both fears and hates.

As Spidey pursues them he encounters what appears to be Harry Osborn standing among the rooftops. This Harry Osborn though is like a transparent ghost. Meanwhile Normie is in the Scrier's hideout cutting up Spider-Man dolls. Spider-Man arrives and battles with the Scrier. Harry shows up and we learn that a faction of the Scriers created a holograph of Harry Osborn using "every scrap of information they could about the life of Harry Osborn." The holograph has now developed into some kind of real life form because, as the new Harry says, "once you gave me all Harry's memories.once you brought them back to life. they assimilated-they congealed." The new Harry helps Spider-Man defeat the Scrier by informing Spidey that the source of the Scrier's power is his arm gauntlets, so if the gauntlets touch they will explode. Before the new Harry disappears, he explains to Normie the curse of the Osborn family and that Spider-Man did not kill the original Harry.

It is not over yet, because the Scrier emerges to grab Normie. He wants to kill Normie as the first stage in his plan to destroy Norman Osborn. A mysterious person in the shadows finally defeats the Scrier before Normie comes to any harm. We never find out whom the person is because when Spider-Man asks Normie who it was he simply says, "Can you take me to Mommy now? I'm tired.

In General...

I was inspired to pick up a copy of a Spider book (other than Spider-Girl) for two reasons. First, I was persuaded that it was possible I was being too negative about the current trend in the Spider books by the recent plea in PPP that we as fans just need to relax and try and enjoy the stories we have. Second, and on a more basic level, I like Klaus Janson's art and was willing to read something that John Byrne be not involved in.

However, after reading the book, I am very disappointed by numerous things in the two stories. I still like Janson's art, and it was nice too see it mentioned that Spidey is a pretty skinny and small looking guy for a superhero, but did Spider-Man really have to dramatically crash a window four times in one story? In fact, the whole story has a chaotic Spidey-is-flying-all-over-the-place kind of feel to it. Also, did we really need another story dealing with the Scriers? I thought the whole Norman Osborn/Scrier story was a bad memory before the re-numbering of the books. If not, then why re-number the books? The whole theme of the curse of the Osborn family that will not go away is also getting really tired in my opinion. Most shocking is that the comic has a glaring inattention to its own history when Peter says, "Harry Osborn. He and I were friends through high school.By the time we got to college he and Liz Allen were a regular item." That is just plain wrong! Peter and Harry did not meet until college, and Harry only dated Liz way into college.

I also think it is a huge mistake to bring another character back from the dead even if Harry is just a holograph. Harry does say goodbye and disappear at the end of the story and it seems like it's for good, but I don 't understand if that is the end of the holograph or not. So I guess Harry' s kinda back, not Aunt May back, but Harry could return at any time that a bad plot device is needed. This is a very bad development in my opinion.

Evidently Norman Osborn is the man in the shadows at the end of the story who rescues Normie, but we never find out. At the end of the story as Spidey is walking away with Normie he thinks to himself, "And then I'll wonder who was really behind what happened tonight-and what it all means." I'm sure he and the readers will never find out, and if we do it will make little to no sense.

Al Sjoerdsma has a good analysis of this story. Al writes: "As far as I can tell, the entire intent of this tale was to END the cycle of crazy Osborns. Little Normie was clearly on that track (as seen in Spider-Girl). Now, I think they've tied that off, they've ended it. I assume the reasoning was.the only person who could tell Normie that his grandpa was a rat and that Spidey was A-OK would be his father. With Harry dead, they could have chosen to resurrect him. But they didn't. They came up with a gimmick to allow Harry to appear and set his son straight without bringing the character back to life. Yeah, it was, in some ways, "a bad development" (and the idea was filled with holes anyway, I thought), but it served a good purpose. So, my stance on this issue was much like yours except I'm also sick to death of scenes of Little Normie strangling and decapitating Spider-Man dolls. If this story has ended all of that, then I think it was worth telling. (But if Little Normie reverts, I take back all that I said here!)."

Overall Rating...

One web on the hope that Al may be correct that this is the end of the curse of the Osborn theme.