American Son Conclusion and Amazing Spider-Man #600

A few weeks back I did a write up about how amazing the first four issues of the American Son storyline in Amazing Spider-Man was. I just picked up the final issue and the conclusion is everything it was led up to.

Without giving away too many spoilers (be careful from here on in) the final chapter is a knock-down, drag-out battle between the Osborns. Harry finally proves to Norman that he is exactly opposite of what Norman thought of him. Norman assumed his son to be weak, powerless, and a failure of a son. In American Son, however, Harry shoves Norman’s words up his ass. Harry uses his new-found power to beat his father into submission, only stopping when Spider-Man convinces him to kill his father. Harry takes the moral high ground by ignoring Spider-Man’s prodding, and instead casts off all relation to his father, and his heritage.

This was the blow up that has been coming for some time. Having seen Harry in the past, the reader knows that he is anything but weak. His time as the Green Goblin has proved that. But even in recent issues, as Harry has been leading a normal life, it can be seen that he is a strong person. His desire to make his own way in life and not live in his father’s shadow, for instance. Even though Norman sees this as weakness, it isn’t. It’s easy to live off the purse-strings of a parent, especially when that parent is as wealthy as Norman Osborn. But to strike off on your own and earn your way through life, as opposed to having it handed to you on a platter, is a strength that is unparalleled. Being a murderous, blood-thirsty villain is not the epitome of strength, as Norman believes.

The issue ends on a high note, in my opinion. By the end of the team-up with Spider-Man, Harry has the opportunity to discover Spider-Man’s true identity. But he does not use his chance to learn the secret that could help him in his quest to destroy him. Instead, he respects Spider-Man’s privacy and allows him to leave with his secret intact. Though this does not mean the hatchet is buried between the two, but it is a step closer to allowing Harry to forgive Spider-Man for his perceived transgressions. Perhaps, the Spider-Office has a plan to have Peter reveal his identity to his best friend, or maybe something will happen that will reignite the ire that Harry holds for the webslinger. Either way, I’m sure the creative team at Marvel will make one hell of a story out of it.

All in all, American Son is the story I have been waiting for since Brand New Day. I have been feeling like the reboot of the Spider-Man title was a bit of a cop out. The stories that followed have been less that spectacular, just reasons to create new villains for Spider-Man to face. And some of these new villains were more than a little irritating (I’m still annoyed at the whole Anti-Venom thing.) So to see a classic bad-guy like Norman Osborn rear his head again was a refreshing change of pace. Seeing Spider-Man’s mental aguish at himself for not killing Norman all those years ago is the type of story-telling that only Marvel can do. And to have him even consider the option, like he does at the end of American Son shows the set of balls that Marvel has, since Spider-Man has always been that character who will not resort to murder.

Speaking of classic villains, Amazing Spider-Man #600 hit stores this past Wednesday. With the hype that was built up around it from the folks at Marvel, it was an issue that I couldn’t wait to pick up. To celebrate the milestone, Marvel gives its fans one hundred and four pages of all new material, with no advertisements. This is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen very often in the comics industry. Not very many comic books have made it to the 600 mark, so Marvel celebrated it with style.

The main story featured the return of Doctor Octopus, with a few new changes. Doc Ock takes it upon himself to imprint his brainwaves into every machine in New York City, but his subconscious is bent on destroying Spider-Man for thwarting his plans all of these years. The city turns on Spider-Man man, forcing the wall-crawler to enlist the help of his super-powered friends, such as the New Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

Oh, and all of this happens just as Aunt May is about to marry J. Jonah Jameson Sr.

Though the main story was good, it just paled in comparison to the follow up stories. The first was a humerous look at all of the strange transformations of Spider-Man through the years, written by the creator of the Marvel comics himself, Stan Lee. The story features Spidey as his multi-armed self, in the black alien costume, as Spider-Hulk, as well as others, as he confesses his problems to a psychiatrist. Fast-paced and funny, it’s everything you would expect from Stan Lee. And Marcos Martin’s art puts a beautiful touch to the story.

I won’t go through every back-up story in the issue, but there are two others that stick out in my mind. The first was a touching admission of failure, which doesn’t feature Spider-Man in a single page. It’s about Uncle Ben and his relationship with a young Peter. It talks about how he came to be Peter’s guardian and the steps he took to raise the young boy. The story is very sentimental, but in a good way. Readers rarely get the chance to see the past from Uncle Ben’s point of view, so to do so, and see the early stages of Peter’s and Ben’s relationship is both interesting and a thankful change of pace.

The last story also does not feature Spider-Man, but instead sets the stage for the next year of storytelling in Amazing Spider-Man. Written by Joe Kelley, who also wrote American Son, the final story features Madame Web, who has some disturbing visions of the future. It is so short that anything more I say will just ruin it, so let me just say that it’s a great ploy by Marvel to whet the appetites of their fans.

I totally cannot see what 2010 has in store for The Amazing Spider-Man.

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