Spectacular Spider-Man #200
Marvel Comics (May, 1993; as reprinted in Amazing Spider-Man Family #3)
“Best Of Enemies”
WRITER: J.M. DeMatteis
ARTIST: Sal Buscema
COLORIST: Bob Sharen
LETTERER: Joe Rosen
EDITOR: Rob Tokar
GROUP EDITOR: Danny Fingeroth
Harry has been using his Goblin costume and his knowledge of Spider-Man’s identity to torment Peter but takes Mary Jane to the top of the same bridge his father tossed Gwen from to assure her that she and Aunt May would not be targeted. He also plans to blow up all the people who he believes laughed behind Norman’s back at a gala celebration. Liz is in denial and little Normie is showing signs of his own rage against Spider-Man. MJ finally confronts Harry as Spider-Man tries looking for proof that he’s still nuts and a threat to his family. This leads Spider-Man to the same building Harry has rigged to blow the building up and in his insanity plans to blow them both up before remembering MJ and Normie are in the building. With Spider-Man drugged Harry has to rescue the two and at MJ’s insistence rescues Peter as well before the building explodes. However, the experimental formula proves too much for Harry’s body and he dies before the ambulance even leaves.
What they got right: I’m only mildly aware of Harry’s character development at this point in the story and I still felt the passion of the story. DeMatteis does a good job delivering a story that focuses on Harry’s collapsing sanity between the formula and his unresolved issues with his (supposedly) late father as well as the reaction of people around him. The art team also helps sell Harry’s mental state and Liz’s denial as well as Normie’s own issues. Then there’s Peter, not knowing how to help his friend while wanting to protect his family. The fight between Spider-Man and Green Goblin Jr. is well-done.
What they got wrong: When Harry is talking about exposing Peter’s identity, why does nobody bring up the fact that leaving Peter to his enemies could also put Mary Jane and Aunt May in danger?
Other notes: Maybe the story naturally progresses this way, but hear me out a moment. What if Harry survived this, and this actually leads to him finally getting the help he needs? Longtime readers of the site may know that I’m a supporter of the “hero support network”, a group of family (especially spouses) and friends who serve as a bridge between the hero’s super and normal lives by sharing the identity and potentially having resources that can benefit the hero. Imagine Harry actively (possibly secretly) helping Spider-Man and how interesting it would be when they did the stupid move years later of having Norman not dead. I’m against the tragic death (though I would love to know what hoops One More Day went through to make him alive) but there is this other potential route that sticks in my mind.
Recommendation: This is a really good story even if you weren’t following the title at the time but the more history you know about the Parkers and Osborns the better this story becomes. It’s most definitely worth a read.