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Review Group Amazing Spider-Man #617

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, January 19 2010 and posted in Reviews
Daringd had the pick for new comics shipping January 13th and he selected Amazing Spider-Man #617 by Joe Kelly, Max Fiumara and Javier Pulido.


The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

We've reviewed a lot of Joe Kelly books over the last couple of years.  In fact we've reviewed Joe Kelly books 5 out of the last 80 weeks, the most of any creator during that span.  Kelly's been doing some great work at Image (so much so that it garnered him Outhouse Awards nominations for Best Indie Writer and Best Graphic Novel for I Kill Giants) and his Amazing Spider-Man stuff hasn't been half bad either.  Can his latest collaboration with his Four Eyes co-creator, Max Fiumara, live up to expectations?  Can it exceed them?  Let's find out...

Review by thefourthman


"Joe Kelly does his normal fantastic writing job here, he gets inside the head of every character he can. In the back up, you see how Aleksei becomes a changed man, and why. Remarkably, it comes off as more believable than the similar storyline given to Fisk in Daredevil. The scribe here manages to do in one short story, what Brubaker could not in a storyline... he makes the rehabilitation of the character believable. It is a monumental task that is handled with grace. Just as skillfully, Kelly brings the quips and insecurities of the title character that longtime fans love, all while progressing the storyline that has been in play since JMS left the title.

Fiumara is an unbelievable talent. While there are certainly readers who would prefer to see more of the dark and fantastic Depression era of the creative team’s Four Eyes rather than the adventures of one of my favorite superheroes, seeing the two work together is still a joy. Fiumara tones down his style ever so slightly, taking on more common designs for the characters - so there is no doubt who is who. All the while, he keeps the action moving, crisp and clear.

Pulido does an even more interesting job on his short than the remarkable pencils he gave Van Lente’s Sandman arc immediately preceding this done in one chapter of "The Gauntlet." In the Sandman story, he walked the edge of a more common Spidey look (maybe even classic) and the Phillips-esque noir of Azaceta’s pencils before it. Here, the short story about Rhino’s post Civil War life looks like it could have been from the seventies or eighties. Hollingsworth even gives it that four color palette as opposed to the 24-bit true color of D’Auria’s coloring in the main story."

Read the rest of the review here:

Main Story 10
Art 10
Back Up Story 9
Art 8
Awesome cover thing 10
Overall 9.9

Review by Frag It

Joe Kelly is awesome.

Love the new Rhino. Loved the old Rhino. Loved Spidey looking for a "win."

And normally characters like Norah and Michelle would annoy me, but they are both awesome characters.

Solid 9.5

Review by Starlord

Nice story, hate the art with a capital H. Honestly I haven't been thrilled with a lot of these new "old" character concepts. I'm pretty sure this is a very old theme that Marvel tries every ten years or so. The Vulture comes to mind off the bat.

Anyway, this works for me only because it is nice to see the original Rhino actually get a chance at happiness. The new Rhino, could care less. He didn't grab me at all.

The art is nothing I can enjoy in any kind of superhero story. I actually think I would even dislike as intensely if I were blind. The panel where Norah places chips and we see her arm looking like something from Plastic Man is a perfect example. Flip to the next page and we see a very Asian Peter Parker.

I have nothing against Asian's... but Peter has never been one. Unless somehow I missed the memo that there is now ANOTHER brand new day where Peter is now living in Tokyo.

Still not a huge fan of anything Spidey 616 at this point, but the original Rhino's part of the story was very enjoyable.

Story: 7
Art: .5
My Score: 5.75

Review by Old Man

Okay, I don't usually review right away, preferring to let my thoughts cogitate for a few days, but here it is. 2 stories, 2 reviews.

Story 1: Remember that last week I said a comic book story was a melding of words and art. This story fails in that regard. Psycho Michelle with a shotgun in Peter Parker's bedroom, hoping to get shagged by him on New Year's Eve. NuRhino is all emo cuz he didn't get to fight Old Man Rhino. Woman held captive at the end of the story not identified. I'm guessing Madame Web?

This was offered as a Stand alone story, yet it has the feel of being part of a much bigger story. Perhaps this is the Dreaded Deadline Doom fill-in story. In this case, several 'stand alone' issues that will be spread across many different months in order to keep Amazing Spider-Man thrice weekly, filling in when a 'regular creative team' can't keep up.

The words weren't so bad, but the art isn't very good. It was so bad I started comparing it with the art in ads that were in the book. (That 'crazy/berserk/savage Wolverine wasn't very good, either.) The stylistic offering left me cold, and the storytelling of the art is pretty weak. But I guess when you are doing a fill-in story, the art doesn't matter.

Story 2: Now this is a comic book story. Old Man Rhino turns himself in, goes to prison, gets out, tries to find a job, scares a young woman, runs into her at a cafe, asks her to dinner, and they live happily ever after. YAYZZZZZ! I love a good love story. (p.s., all that story in just a few pages, not 6 issues; take that, Bendis!)

The art here is much better. It's still not the best, but it surely tells the story in conjunction with the words. I see a couple figures that look like Steve Rude, some things that remind me of Ditko and Kirby, and a whole bunch of JRjr from when he was still very good. I guess if you are going to have influences, those are/were some of the best.

Story 1 gets a 5...I don't care to see this pairing again.
Story 2 gets a 9...I know that will surprise some people.

Final score is a big, fat, horny 7.
I'm guessing the second story is also new. I looked for a separate copyright date, but didn't see it. As it is the custom to include a reprint with a new story to 'justify' the higher price, I almost didn't read the second story. Glad I did.
Looking at the indicia, I see that this book was printed in Glasgow, Kentucky. How long has this been going on? I haven't looked at an indicia in months, so as far as I know, it is new, but could have been happening for a year or two.

Review by Kerny

Joe Kelly rocks. He's consistently been the best ASM writer and he should be on this book when it goes back to monthly. Unfortunately they'll probably give it to Slott, who is the epitome of meh

Anyways, Kelly does the impossible and makes me care about the Rhino. Yeah. They've given him a new purpose and direction and I dig it. If people need their Rhino vs Spidey fix, there's a new guy in town and he's pretty cool too. Norah continues to be cool and Michelle continues to annoy. Spidey actually getting a victory of some sorts was hella cool as well

There's also the back-up story showing us how the old Rhino got to this point. I found it kinda poignant actually.

The art is fantastic. Never seen Fimura's art before (Whets this about a Four Eyes? Confused Razz ) some of my favorite art on ASM in some time. Pulido also does a nice job in his story, but his faces annoy me.

Story 8.5
Art 9
Overall 8.5

Review by fieldy snuts

My 2 cents:

I've felt Kelly's ASM issues have all been solid ever since his Hammerhead arc. His over-the-top tone on scenes have always made reading his stories a treat. He brings so much to the new supporting cast in the moments we see feels like quirky Bendis type banter only it doesn’t go on for pages in little one word sentence like that one sometimes goes. Basically it has a tighter feel and keeps the story flowing nicely. Norah is definitely a good addition to the cast and he even makes Michelle tolerable.

The Rhino in this issue was not what I expected, I knew there would be a new Rhino popping up thanks to future solicits but I didn’t expect this take on the old version where Alexy seems to be trying to get his life back on track after busting through banks with a horn on his head for a living. Even refusing to be baited into a fight by the new Rhino (who I'm still on the fence about till I see him/her/it fleshed out a bit more).

Part of the over-the-top stuff I mentioned above also became part of the scene where new Rhino grabs a horse and beats Alexy over the head with it hard enough to make the thing splatter resulting in a panel of blood. Not many writers can pull that off without it being corny, in this case it worked.

The epilogue with Spidey giving Alexy life-pointers to not throw his new life with his wife (debut in this issue) away was also moving and showed that despite Peter Parker's personal life being in the dumps due to his shitty luck and attempting to juggle heroics and personal life together he does at least know whets up in that department...though obviously his feeling that Spider-Man is needed for the greater good obviously takes precedence and he chooses to sacrifice so much to help people has been one of the big factors in BND Spidey.

The Backup story was a great little addition that showed how Alexy came to his current choice in lifestyle, his motivations and how he came to be married. Genuinely a truly touching story that did a great job of conveying the back-story on Alexy prior to this issue. Though this happy story doesn’t seem like it'll last given that in a while he'll put on the horn again.

Art was great, loved it and it was a great change from the retro style that was prevalent over the last few months. Not really familiar with Fimura but I was happy with it.

Overall top notch work in a standalone story that is a bit of a rarity these days. My verdict:


Minor nitpick: Like I said in my post prior to this review, the thing that throws me about the Rhino is writers either writing him full-blown Russian or American-Russian. Fraction’s Punisher had him decidedly American, the Rhino story in some Defalco short story in (I think ASM #600) had him talking in badly broken English, the way the words were structured in this issue I got the off-the-boat immigrant dialect. Before this from what little I remember it was always a kinda American accent from the slang and speech mannerisms. Was it always like this?

Review by Jubilee

I thought this was a fun done in one issue.

I really like how the registration act was mentioned, and I really like how they tied it into the Rhino. The story all made sense and it's glad to see some of Spider-mans old villains realising it's time to move on. Seriously how many years of getting beat up are these guys going to take.

The new Rhino seemed interesting. Liked that page of him spearing the douchebag racist. Not sure what's going on with the Kraven family, of Madame Web either. You'd think Spider-man would check up on her once in a while making sure she's not being tortured Laughing

Still the main drawback of this issue is it's done in one nature, some things could do with being expanded a bit more. I like JJJ being family with Peter though, that's very cool.

Overall a solid 7. Good art, good story, good back up story and a solid plot and dialogue.

Review by Daringd

I loved this issue, it really brings out what is so good about Spider-Man. The dialogue was crisp and the art was spectacular.


Review by MistaT

That was fucking BEAUTIFUL!!! Shocked!

This was the single best issue of any comic I have read in a long time!! I almost cried at the end of Spidey's "I want you to win" speech, and by the end of the backup story, the tear finally dropped!!

Wow, I can't believe I'm gushing over a comic, but it was that DAMN good.

I think I'm gonna retract that second statement and say...

This was the best single issue comic I have EVER read.

I still got the rest of my stack to read, (I had picked this one up first) and I don't know if I feel like reading them because they will pale in comparison!

Review by Punchy

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 its 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.

Review by GHERU

Even though I really enjoyed what Simone did with the Rhino in her Deadpool and Agent X runs, I never really cared about him. He was just a throwaway bad guy that was used when one needed an easy villain to defeat in order to move a story forward.

Until now. Joe Kelly did a great job at something that I feel is missing in comics, redemption. Yes we have the Sandaman as a good guy (sometimes), Emma, and the Riddler, but even in those cases, the good guys continue to mistrust their motives. It was nice to see Spider-Man trust that The Rhino had reformed and wanted to help.

I know that I am usually in the minority when we see character growth / change in established characters, but the journey we take with the ride as the Rhino matures and decides to make more of his life.

This book was one in the win column my only complaint is that I was not the world's biggest fan of the art, in either story. But the writing more than made up for it


Review by 48THRiLLS

Since Spider-Man went thrice monthly I pretty much stopped reading, aside from one or two issues we have reviewed here. I was a little lost with some of the characters, like Michelle his roommate, Nora the reporter girl, and the Asian villain who was selling the new Rhino's services... but this was really good and those would be my only quibbles with this issue. I loved the opening monologue and the back and forth between Nora and Peter. I also found what Kelly is doing with Rhino pretty cool, except for the guy that wants to be the new Rhino, c'mon really? Who the hell dreams of being a b list villain, aim high yo. Despite a few characters I didn't know this was a very well written comic, you really do root for Rhino and sympathize with Peter about him wanting one in the win column. I have a bad feeling that Rhino will unfortunately lose all he has and go back to being a bad guy but I would like to see him stay as he is here for a while. This was also one of the best drawn comics I have reviewed here in a while, I have no recollection on seeing Max Fiumara's work anywhere but wow.

ART - 10

Review by Chris

This was one of the better Spider-Man issues of the past year. I don't really think enough was done to make me care about the original Rhino, though.

Despite Pete's little speech, I was just very "meh" about him finally 'getting a win'

The art was nothing special. The only times I really liked it were when the new Rhino was on the page. I don't like how the guy draws human characters.


Review by doombug

Joe Kelly does it again! Kelly is easily one of my favorite writers in the industry and here he showed why that is. He gives us strong character moments, an understanding of all the characters involved and a strong pacing to all of his work.

The art was really great here as well from the fight scenes to the small character moments. Ever since Fraction used the classic version of the rhino in his punisher war journal, I've really started to enjoy the character and here was absolutely no different.

I will be really curious to see where things go from here with the new rhino trying to be a "hero" and Peter officially working full time at front line. Not to mention the fact that Carly reminds me of a friend of mine which is never a bad thing.

Grade: 9

Review by MrBlack

While I like the character in a team context, I have never been a fan of the Spider-Man comic. I have never cared about the Rhino in any way, shape, or form. He's always seemed like a pretty generic villain for Spidey to beat on, and has lacked anything approaching depth.

Despite my biases coming into this issue, I really enjoyed it. The backup, in particular, does an excellent job of fleshing out the Rhino, and actually made me give a damn about the character. While I am not totally sold on the characterization of Spider-Man (I'm sick of depicting a veteran superhero as nothing more than a "lovable loser"), I am glad to see that he got more than a few victories in this issue, in terms of his job, his love life, and the fact that he might actually have a chance to help a former villain turn around. I am positive, however, that all of these are going to end badly. Peter Parker cannot be with anyone besides Mary Jane for long, a steady job would give too much stability to the character (at least as far as Marvel management is concerned), and it looks like the writers are setting Rhino up for a huge fall in a future issue. Since solicitations indicate the two Rhinos will go head to head down the road, I'm predicting a dead wife and a fall from grace from the original recipe Rhino. Still, taken alone, I really enjoyed the issue.

I really liked Max Fiumara's art. It is a little more stylized, but I liked the look of the characters, particularly Spider-Man and the newly designed Rhino. Fabio D'Auria also deserves praise for his color palette choices; Spidey looks fantastic here. Javier Pulido's work on the backup is quite different, but he does a great job portraying the emotions of the "skinned" Rhino and the supporting characters. Again, Matt Hollingsworth's colors are a good fit to the old school art style.

Overall, a great single issue in the midst of a broader story arc. I do not know that I want to see how this story will resolve (I am convinced it will end badly), but I liked the setup.

Story: 9
Art: 8.5
Overall: 8.5

Review by amlah6

While I managed to keep up with Amazing for a pretty good stretch after One More Day, I eventually lost interest and haven't picked up an issue since #600. I kind of wish that I had stuck with it now because this was really exceptional. I can't remember whether or not I've ever even read an issue of Spider-Man with Rhino in it before. I've seen him in various cartoons of course, but before this issue I just saw him as a random old-school Spider-Man villain which makes what Joe Kelly did here all the more umm... amazing. By the end of this comic, I had totally bought in to caring about this character to the point that the Spider-Man portions of the book seemed totally inconsequential. As a done in one Rhino story, this couldn't have gotten any better.

I really dig Max Fiumara's art and I thought his portion of this book looked gorgeous but for me his style didn't fit the type of art that I enjoy seeing in Spider-Man comics. Javier Pulido on the other hand was exactly the type of art that I love in my Spider-Man comics. I drooled over every page. More Javier Pulido, please.

Story: 9.5
Art: 9
Overall: 9.25

That gives Amazing Spider-Man #617 a group score of 8.49.  For a mainstream super-hero book, that there is a pretty damn good score.   

For more talk about just how great Joe Kelly is, join us in this week's thread ( found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review. 

The pick for January 20th was put up for a vote and overwhelmingly the winner of the poll was Joe the Barbarian #1 from Vertigo/DC Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun.

Joe the Barbarian #1

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Sean Murphy

Having an overactive imagination can get a kid through a lot, but it doesn't change the facts: Joe's still the kid in school that can't fit in. He's the victim of bullies. His dad died overseas in the Iraq war. And then there's the Type 1 diabetes he has to live with.

So is it insulin-deprived delirium or something much, much bigger that transports Joe to a land inhabited by all his toys – from ninja commandos to action robots to magical knights to star fleet captains? Is Joe really the savior of this wild fantasyland that's been held under siege by dark magic and evil forces? With the help of a samurai rodent, is he ready to take back besieged castles and win the freedom of an oppressed people? Or is he just an over imaginative boy who could die if he doesn't take his meds?

White-hot writer Grant Morrison follows up his phenomenal BATMAN AND ROBIN with an epic adventure that's Home Alone by way of Lord of the Rings accompanied with to-die-for Art by future superstar Sean Murphy (YEAR ONE: BATMAN/SCARECROW, HELLBLAZER).

Vertigo | 32pg. | Color | $1.00 US | Mature Readers

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