Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Max Fiumara/Javier Pulido
Inker: Max Fiumara/Javier Pulido
Story Title: Rage of the Rhino/The Walk
Aleksei at home. The Rhino at work. Roommates with shotguns. No date for New Year’s. A night of gambling. The new meets the old. Spider-Man talks him down.
I have mentioned in the past that I am of the belief that Joe Kelly’s writing is very hit and miss. Not bad, mind you. I think he has a good grasp of his craft, but he has the tendency to go off in directions that, at times, leave me cold. Maybe it’s too silly or maybe I just don’t like what he has done for one reason or another. This has been a constant in my relationship with Kelly as a reader since his time on the Superman books circa ’99 to ’03. There are times, though, where I really like what he produces and find myself engrossed in the characters and the plot and the dialogue.
Amazing Spider-Man #617 was one of those times.
I liked this issue. I really did. I appreciated the one and done nature of it because I think that this sort of storytelling is becoming a dying art. At the risk of sounding like the cynical, crotchety, old comic fan that I have been accused of being (and frankly I am guilty as charged so there’s that) I think that if you pepper a series with these sorts of stories that the books feel more…whole I guess is the best way to describe it. Going from storyline to storyline to storyline can be exhaustive. I am a big believer in down time which we have gotten precious little of from either DC or Marvel over the last going on five years now. This was a good down time issue where we got not one but two stories about an old villain where we get to see some progression with him as a character and a person. I enjoyed both stories quite a bit and for the first time I actually dug the back-up more than the lead.
“Rage of the Rhino” had a number of good points. It had some bad points as well, mostly involving the much maligned Michelle who managed to look both sympathetic and bat-s*** crazy at the same time. Yeah she and Peter had a nice conversation and there was even a hint that she still had some feelings for him but her entrance (kicking the door in and brandishing a shotgun) reminded me what is wrong with her as a character. I’m sure this was supposed to be funny because I know if my roommate every came in pointing a fire arm at me I would be on the floor laughing hysterically. Or trying to hide the fact that I wet myself. It’s a fifty/fifty shot really. I feel like a broken record here but can anyone explain the appeal of this character to me? I’m serious. If there are any fans of Michelle tell me why you think she’s a great character because I ain’t seein’ it.
Norah bothered me as well, though I think Kelly did some neat things with her, especially through Peter’s thought balloons pointing out that she is still shaken by her encounter with Norman Osborn, Despite this the scene where she ran up and licked Peter kind of weirded me out. I am guessing this was supposed to show that she was free spirited and flirty and just did things on the spur of the moment which is great for a girl in her teens but Norah is an adult and while adults can have their more adolescent moments (I tend to record mine and put them out as podcasts) she is in her place of business and licking a co-worker seems like bad form at work to me. Maybe it is my experience in the retail world where such an act could potentially get you fired. Maybe Frontline is a little more laid back. Still, I have a hard time thinking that Ben Urich would respect this woman as a professional reporter with this sort of behaviour going on.
What really worked about this issue was the way Kelly re-imagined the Rhino. He took a character that was mainly a strong guy with a gimmick (and easy to beat on that Activision Playstation 1 SPIDER-MAN game) and gave him honor and dignity and respect. I really liked Aleksei. I liked that the lengths he was willing to go to protect his new life and particularly the woman he loved. The opening scene with Oksana made me smile because the relationship felt real. The confrontation with the new Rhino and the aftermath of Aleksei wanting to take the guy out because he felt that the newcomer wouldn’t stop was just awesome as was his reason for not doing it. That conversation with Spider-Man was the highlight of this story for me. It really was.
Speaking of the new Rhino and the Gauntlet in general I wasn’t too keen on either. The Neo-Rhino was interesting and I would like to see more but there just wasn’t all that much to latch on to here. As far as the Gauntlet goes I am really not feeling this as a major event yet. It is very haphazard and seems more like an excuse to connect stories that would otherwise be unconnected. I am hoping that it ramps up soon because if it doesn’t this whole idea will fall very flat.
“The Walk” was awesome from beginning to end. It was a great companion piece to the main story and had a lot of heart and character to it. I liked watching Aleksei stick to the promise he made. As with the main feature it made me connect to Aleksei and I wanted him to succeed. I am also a sucker for a good romance and the way he meets Oksana was very well written. In all honesty this story made up for the silly variant covers and was worth the price of the comics.
I liked this issue. I really did. I think the variant covers were, as mentioned, a bit silly but if it drew attention to this story then for once it was worth it. Definitely the single best issue of Amazing I have read in quite some time. Joe Kelly really knocked this one out of the park and even though the art in both stories wasn’t my usual cup of tea both Fiumara and Pulido served their respective stories well.
Seriously. This issue was awesome.
4.5 out of 5 webheads.