The Amazing Spider-Man #617 - 'Rage Of The Rhino' and 'The Walk' - Kelly, Fiumura, Pulido, D'Auria and Hollingsworth
Story - Wow, that was probably the best single-issue Spider-Man story I have ever read. And I've been reading Spidey for over 10 years. Forget all the guff about whether he should be married, or whether Gwen Stacy is a slut or whether Joe Quesada hates you personally, this issue had everything you could ever really want in a Spider-Man story, there's humour, there's soap opera, there's a fight, there's intrigue, and there's pathos. My hats off to you Joe Kelly, you've been hit and miss for me so far, but this... this was knocked out of the park.
We're in the middle of the Gauntlet basically, which is Marvel systematically relaunching and retoolong some of Spider-Man's classic villains, we've had Doctor Octopus, the Chameleon, Electro, Sandman, and now it's the turn of the Rhino. But there's a difference here, the Rhino isn't the classic Rhino, he's a new dude, with a big axe who kills people with horses. The 'real' Rhino has gone straight, and this new guy has to kill him in order to 'ascend' and really become the Rhino. It's pretty messed up. Kelly manages to weave this in and out of the ongoing Gauntlet bit, Kid Kraven and Lady Kraven are behind this new Rhino, and Doctor Trama, a sort of in-Universe evil Lady Geoff Johns, who revamps villains is here, having previously shown up revamping Hammerhead. There's a lot of interesting stuff here, who is the new Rhino? What is the old Rhino going to do? There's a sequel coming up to this issue, where the Rhinos (Rhini?) will fight, and after this, I can't wait for it. Although knowing it's coming does undermine the end of this issue a little, but only a little.
But what of Peter Parker in all this? This is the Amazing Spider-Man, not the Amazing Rhino! Spider-Man is as you'd expect here, he's got girl problems (Norah and Michele, I'd still go with Norah over any of the other girls in the current book, she's funny), he's got job problems (Should he work for Jonah, or Urich?) and he's got being hit in the face with a horse problems. But there's more than that, Spider-Man's speech to Rhino at the end of the issue about actually wanting to win one really hit me hard. Spider-Man's life has always sucked, but even more so lately, Dark Reigns, One More Days, all that, you see how it's taken it's toll, and it's an effecting moment. It's the kind of thing only Spider-Man can really do, only Spider-Man can show that kind of weakness, but also a strength in believing that Aleksei can change. Basically, every thing you want in Spider-Man is here. Forget everything else, buy this issue and it will remind you why you like Spider-Man. There's always something deeper below the jokes, and Joe Kelly grasps that, even if the jokes are damn good.
This issue has a back-up story, which shows you how the original Rhino turned straight, it's a simple story, but I liked how it used Civil War to set it up, and how it was simply love that changed him, and the very thing that makes him so dangerous (he never stops moving forwards) which allowed him to turn over a new leaf. It adds another edge to the main story.
Art - I'm not familiar with Max Fiumura, I never managed to get a copy of Four Eyes, so this (and the back-up in #600) are my first experience of his art, and I'm a fan now, his angular style is perfect for Spider-Man, it's energetic, it's fun, and it's unique, and ever since Ditko, Spidey has thrived on unique artists. I can see Bachalo there, I can see Maleev sometimes, but it's wholly his own. More please.
The back up story is illustrated by Javier Pulido, who drew the previous Sandman arc, and it's just great for Spider-Man too, Matt Hollingsworth's flat colours make the story look like it's straight from the Silver Age, and lends Pulido's art an air of the Romita Snr.
This issue is a mix of classic Spidey style and something new, and both work, it just goes to show how versatile Spider-Man is.
Best Line - 'I'd just like one in the win column, you know? Just one'
This has to be a 9/10, Spider-Man has been damn consistent for the last year, each issue hovering around 7 or 8, but ever so often there's an issue that jumps up. Dan Slott and Marcos Martin have a tough job to live up to with Mysterio next week.