Previously on Spider-Tracer… We were discussing the various villains Spider-Man lent out to other heroes over the years. For this Spider-Tracer, I thought I’d discuss a villain who gave Spider-Man a lot of trouble over the years without even having to throw a punch at him (not that Spidey didn’t throw a punch at him, mind you).
From what we know of him, Jonas Harrow was a surgeon whose surgical experiments were deemed unethical, thus costing him his medical license. Seeking to save his tarnished reputation, Harrow stumbled upon a dying thug whom he resolved to save from certain death. Harrow repaired much of the mysterious thug’s skull with a special metal alloy. However, due to the traumatic nature of his injuries, the thug remembered little to nothing of his past, save for one of the last things he saw before passing out: A poster for an Al Capone movie. With this in mind, the thug, armed with his new metal plated head, embarked on a career as one of New York City’s biggest mobsters: Hammerhead! Hammerhead would go on to cause several gang wars and all kinds of trouble for our favorite Web-Head over the years.
After this initial success (though calling the ability to give patients wide, metal flat top heads a success depends on your idea of what a success really is), Harrow next set his sights on augmenting the villainous Kangaroo. Perhaps after seeing how well Hammerhead was doing for himself after the surgery, Harrow wanted to profit a little bit from his next patient. Unbeknownst to the Kangaroo, Harrow not only enhanced his leaping abilities and strength, but implanted a device in his head that would cause him intense pain should he disobey his orders, which is exactly what Frank Oliver (Kanga’s real name) did, seeking to immediately go out after Spider-Man for revenge. Had Harrow known what difficulty Kangaroo was giving Spider-Man during their fight, he may have waited to call him back to his lair, but foresight’s a jerk like that sometimes.
Harrow next ordered the Kangaroo to steal an experimental isotope, but Oliver was soon tracked down by Spider-Man. Oliver was never one of Spider-man’s brightest foes, so, against Spidey’s advice, he entered the room containing the isotope, and the onslaught of the isotope’s radiation turned the Kangaroo into… ashes. Yep, that’s right. No superpowers, just ashes. Radiation is choosey as to who it decides to empower in the Marvel Universe, I guess.
With one win and one loss under his belt, Harrow soon set his sights on Will o’ the Wisp.
Much like with the Kangaroo, Harrow pretended to help the Wisp, who had come to him for help following his accidental transformation (seeking a cure), and proceeded to implant a device in the Wisp to ensure obedience. Harrow had Wisp committing crimes which soon brought him into conflict with Spider-Man. Harrow had enough of Spider-Man’s interference, and sent Will o’ the Wisp after Spidey to finish him off.
Refusing to become a murderer, Wisp preferred to dissipate during their battle, rather than cut Spider-Man’s life short (he’d come back later, as we’ll see).
Undeterred by two failures in a row (three if you count Hammerhead being continuously foiled by Spider-Man), Harrow decided to abandon enhancing criminals and focused on technology for his next scheme. Creating a Variator Ray, a device used to control emotions (aka drive people insane), Harrow was secretly using it to affect the mind of J. Jonah Jameson, which would eventually drive Jonah to have a mental breakdown.
Satisfied with the results of his first test subject, Harrow widened the ray’s blast radius enough to affect the rest of the Daily Bugle’s staff to further his studies. This, of course, would be Harrow’s undoing, as such an act inevitably drew Spider-Man to him, landing him in jail.
Not content to be behind bars, Harrow became determined to gain his freedom in a plot involving the Grey Gargoyle, but, unfortunately for Harrow, Spider-Man was there to keep him in custody.
After this setback, Harrow went quiet for many years. Despite this, Harrow was incorrectly suspected of being the original Hobgoblin, an issue subsequently addressed and quickly dismissed in the “Hobgoblin Lives” mini-series years later.
It’s possible that it was during this down time that Harrow had empowered Dirk Leyden with the power of electricity, who later called himself Megawatt, but it was never stated in Spider-Man Unlimited #2 (1993) when exactly this took place. In fact, oddly enough, the diabolical doctor was drawn looking more like the Tinkerer in this story, and I’m not sure who exactly to chalk this mistake up to. Make of this what you will, but regardless, this was the first real mention or use of the Jonas Harrow character in the Spidey books for years.
The next time we actually see Harrow directly involved in a Spider-Man story came towards the end of the Clone Saga. Ben Reilly, who was Spider-Man at the time, uncovered a plot involving Harrow attempting to create synthetic soldiers for the Roxxon Oil Corporation. Harrow had yet again acquired Will o’ the Wisp as an unwilling participant in his schemes, but Reilly threw a wrench into Harrow’s plans by freeing the Wisp from his control. Ben was too late to stop the Wisp from breaking out Dragon Man from lock-up; Harrow had wanted the reptilian android for study, but Ben and the Wisp brought down not only his scheme, but his base as well.
Harrow and Dagon Man would later be brought in after their escape thanks to the efforts of the Thing and She-Hulk. Somehow getting free yet again, Harrow kept himself busy with minor black market weapons dealings until a heart condition put the kibosh on it. Harrow, being the slippery fellow he is, got free and joined up with the Hood’s supervillain army.
Harrow got greedy, hoping to take over the Hood’s gang for himself. The Hood, not one to forget such an insult, blew Harrow’s head off (literally) while empowered by the Norn Stones (hence the magical lights around his gun).
Thus ended the criminal career (failings?) of Jonas Harrow: Not with a whimper, but one heckuva bang (or in this case, a “Skablamm”).
Was killing Harrow off a wise decision, or would you like to see him back in the books again (I know his head was blown off, but I’ve seen characters survive worse)? Sound off in the comments section below.