Marvel's Spider-Man 2: the comic history of Harry Osborn, Peter Parker's Best Worst Frenemy

Harry Osborn in Marvel's Spider-Man 2 key art
(Image credit: Sony Entertainment)

It's looking a lot like Harry Osborn is going to be a key character in the upcoming Marvel's Spider-Man 2 PlayStation game. Whether or not he winds up being the game's new Venom host as many have speculated, it looks like Harry will have an important role to play in the story.

Harry Osborn has appeared in all kinds of Spider-Man media, including two different portrayals as a villain in two separate Spider-Man movie franchises.

Though Harry's descent into villainy is a core part of his comic history, it's not the whole thing. In fact, some of the biggest moments in Peter Parker's life as Spider-Man have revolved around Harry Osborn as both friend and foe.

Harry Osborn in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Harold Theopolis 'Harry' Osborn first appeared in 1965's Amazing Spider-Man #31 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as Peter Parker's new classmate at Empire State University, eventually growing to be a close friend of Peter. But just a short time after Harry's introduction, Harry's wealthy but cold and domineering father Norman Osborn is introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #37 - and revealed as the secret identity of Spider-Man's long running archenemy the Green Goblin.

Norman's villainy and mistreatment would eventually lead Harry to become addicted to psychedelic drugs in a story by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru that was published without the approval of the Comics Code Authority, the organization that decided what kinds of content were allowed in comics at the time - a rarity in the Silver Age of the '60s and early '70s.

Harry's troubled youth would follow him into adulthood after his father died fighting Spider-Man as the Green Goblin. Much like in the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, Harry hides his father's secret identity to preserve his legacy and swears vengeance on Spider-Man, attacking him as the second Green Goblin.

Sadly, this turn as the second Green Goblin would haunt Harry Osborn even through his marriage to longtime Amazing Spider-Man supporting character Liz Allen and the birth of their son Norman 'Normie' Osborn, named after Harry's late father.

This eventually culminated in Harry's death in Peter's arms after he ingests an experimental version of the Goblin Serum that gave Norman Osborn super strength, succumbing to its deadly side effects. 

Harry Osborn in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Harry's death haunted Spider-Man for years - until, as with nearly all comic book deaths, it was reversed through mysterious means. In the controversial story 'One More Day,' Peter Parker trades his marriage to Mary Jane Watson to Mephisto in exchange for the life of his dying Aunt May.

The resulting wrinkle in Marvel's timeline had several effects beyond ending the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, including seemingly resurrecting Harry Osborn as a reformed, non-Goblin civilian who was once again Peter Parker's best pal.

Even this change wasn't to last however, as Harry Osborn once again retreated into villainy, taking up the mysterious identity of Kindred, a manipulative schemer whose true identity was hidden until the culmination of his story, years after his first appearance (an Osborn family tradition).

It's… complicated… to try and explain everything about Kindred, but the TL:DR is that the returned Harry was actually a clone, created and abandoned by his father after the original Harry's death, combined with a demonic entity. This demonic clone Harry became Kindred, swearing final revenge on Spider-Man and his father Norman Osborn, eventually dying in his quest for vengeance.

This chain of events also led to the end of Mephisto's curse on Peter Parker and Mary Jane's marriage, resulting in an all-too-brief reunion that has once again ended in their separation as a couple.

Harry Osborn in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As for Harry, he's remained dead since the end of the Kindred story in 2021. But his son, Normie Osborn, has actually inherited a somewhat different Goblin legacy, starring in his own current ongoing title as the Red Goblin, bonded with a symbiote akin to Venom and Carnage.

Will Harry himself come full circle as the new Venom in Marvel's Spider-Man 2? That remains to be seen when the game releases in October - but it certainly seems that he's being set up to play a key role in the game one way or another.

Harry's father Norman Osborn makes the list of the best Spider-Man villains ever and the best Avengers villains ever.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)