We here at the Spidey FNF Network are thrilled with the positive response you Crawl Spacers & Spider-Fans have shown us, and we want you all to know that we’re committed to providing you the best of the best in Spidey fight coverage.
One thing I keep hearing is that you want to see specific hallmark fights like Spidey vs. the X-Men in Secret Wars #3, the Firelord fight or Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, which has the Webhead fighting the Avengers *and* the Hulk. Rest assured, Crawl Spacers, all those awesome fights are coming in the not-too-distant future. But what have we got this week, you ask?
Ahh, 1992. Norman Osborn was still dead – and so was Bucky. Batman Returns was hitting the big screen. Marvel’s top artists left and formed their own company to prove why they were artists and not writers.
Even better? The Clone Saga hadn’t started yet, meaning there was no Spider-Clone running around in a ridiculous hoodie. So that’s definitely a plus.
Back then the one Spider-Man title that was consistently good was The Spectacular Spider-Man. And that’s the title where we find this week’s match, courtesy of J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema, with Spidey and the Rhino in a story called ‘The Horns of a Dilemma!’ from issue #190 in July of ’92.
So kick back with us, relax and watch a truly one-sided battle between Spidey and one of his longtime foes. And when I say one-sided I most definitely do mean one-sided. Hell hath no fury like Peter Parker on a bad day!
Our story: While vacationing in Dr. Ashley Kafka’s Hospital for the Perpetually Nutty, Harry Osborn wrangles a surprise for his ol’ pal Peter Parker in the form of a stampeding pain train called the Rhino. Spider-Man’s Spider-Patience has already hit rock bottom, so when the Rhino makes a move for Peter Parker it’s Spider-Man who gets to work out a lot of his frustration.
Peter Benjamin Parker, aka ‘The Spider-Man’
Height & Weight: 5′10″ / 165 lbs.
Powers: Proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider.
Spider-Sense. Webshooters. Quick-tempered.
And in the right corner…
Aleksei Sytsevich, aka ‘The Rhino’
Height & Weight: 6’5″ / 710 lbs.
Powers: Crazy strong.
Quick for a tubby guy.
Super-duper Rhino suit. Horns.
Old school Eastern Bloc bad.
ROUND ONE – DING!
Rhino hits the streets to find the mark that Harry wants him to deliver a message to: Peter Parker. Unfortunately, some cops get in the way and, well, the Rhino just can’t be bothered with swerving. After taking out the unfortunate patrol car our villain finds his unsuspecting prey out on the streets. Spidey’s Spider-Sense stops a sneaky stampede and Peter manages to land on his feet and start acting acting like a weak, non-powered photographer.
You have to admire Spider-Man’s quick-thinking here. It’s very Br’er Rabbit. “Oh pleeease don’t throw me in the briar patch, Br’er Rhino! I’m just innocent, normal Br’er Peter Parker!”
And the Rhino’s pretty dim not to wonder how this run-of-the-mill average Joe Daily Bugle photographer just jumped right out of the way of his lethal, murderous charge.
So he carries through with roughing Peter up a bit, or so he thinks, and then it all hits the fan. And right here at the beginning of round one, folks? That’s the last time the Rhino lays a hand on Spider-Man.
Getting tossed from the field of play was, of course, exactly what Peter wanted. Exit Peter Parker, enter Spider-Man, who is not at all happy to see the Rhino. He’s mad here, dangerously mad. How mad? He’s “Dude, did you just bust up my Spider-Buggy?!” mad.
And the Rhino is completely and utterly clueless. He goes from “this will be a cake-walk” to “why did I have to get out of bed today?!” in about a nanosecond. Bringing us to the second round.
ROUND TWO – DING!
Spidey jumps out of nowhere, T.J. Hooker magic-style, and in a heartbeat he’s on the Rhino like the Blob on a chocolate cake. Note the fear in Rhino’s eyes. That’s the look of someone who just went from predator to prey at the drop of a dime. Imagine you’re a poacher in Zaire looking for mountain gorillas and then you find out they’re seen Planet of the Apes and have started riding horses, throwing nets and shooting rifles. That’s how scared Rhino is.
The bad news for him? He probably just pooped a little. Worse news? He can’t remove that suit.
We’re going to pause a minute to admire the always fantastic work of Sal Buscema. His style really makes you feel the jaw-jarring punches in this fight and a lot of that comes from how he draws the Rhino while the Rhino’s taking his lumps. Consistently through this whole fight sequence the Rhino doesn’t just look like he’s being beaten – no he looks like he’s being victimized. It’s apropos since he was setting out to victimize Peter Parker. But Buscema really gives you a good idea of what it would be like to get mauled by a rage-controlled Peter Parker. For this reason, as well as his workhorse work ethic, Sal Buscema is and will always be one of my all time favorite Marvel artists.
Back to the fight! One quick “Alley Oop!” lift from Spidey and this time it’s the Rhino’s turn to go flying through a wall. Rhino may want mercy but Spidey’s fresh out of it. But if it’s a whoopin’ you’re a’ wantin’, well he’s passing those out for free at the door tonight. But be careful, Spider-Man! Don’t get too cocky or the Rhino might find a way to turn the tables on you!
Heh – right. As if. Time for more of the same, and next round Spidey gets to pound on the Rhino from different angles!
ROUND THREE – DING!
Watch those teeth and bits of teeth fly. Feel the slobber from Rhino’s repeatedly-smashed mouth. It’s justice, Crawl Spacers, Spider-Style. And at this point, even though he was out trying to rough someone up for Harry “Going Slightly Mad” Osborn, I actually start to feel bad for our villain. I mean it’s the universe working correctly, really. You’re out trying to do something bad to someone who hasn’t done anything to you, and suddenly they turn out to be one of the most awesome superheroes of all time and they’re literally handing you your butt on a platter. It’s like trying to mug some random guy for beer money and you find out he’s Batman.
The really sick thing Crawl Spacers is that I’m not even showing you every punch from this fight. There’s a whole blessed page in between these two panels at the left and right of Spidey just beating Rhino senseless and tossing him into a ditch at a construction site.
At last, Spidey stops screaming “I’LL KILL YOU!” (and you always know it’s on like Donkey Kong when Spidey is yelling “I’LL KILL YOU!”) and takes the Rhino by the horns. He puts his onslaught on hold long enough for the bloody, beaten Rhino to at least tell his side of the story. And so we head to our final round…
ROUND FOUR – DING!
“Sure, Spidey, I was gonna maim or even cripple that Parker guy – you know, for cash – but only cause I have to help out my family. You weren’t my target, pal! You just happened to be here when I was gonna seriously hurt some other guy! No harm no foul, right?”
For a second Spidey seems oddly understanding, and the Rhino might have even thought he’d get to limp away from this folly of miscommunication. Until Spidey lays the smack down two more times and puts Rhino down for a snooze. Yeah, it’s naptime pal. Back to the zoo with you. And you know those last two hits had to be crazy-vicious cause Buscema’s can’t even show ’em to us. Just the sounds they make coming out of the ditch.
Spidey leaves his opponent dangling from a crane, looking like a sad side of beef hanging in a butcher’s freezer. Another rampage is stopped in its tracks. Just another day on the super-hero job.
Meanwhile, back at Dr. Kafka’s Summer Camp for Crazy Kids, Harry’s all bound up and cackling like Scrooge McDuck finding a stash of $2 bills.
The aftermath of this particular story? The Rhino would continue to star in many failed crimes, further cementing his loser status. And Harry would eventually get out of the asylum long enough to sacrifice his life to save Spidey from a death trap he himself laid. Cause yeah, Harry was that freaking crazy.
The fight’s over, the dust is settling and fortune seekers are swooping in to collect the Rhino’s teeth to sell them on Craigslist. What say our judges?
DECISION – SPIDER-MAN
Well duh. Like I said at the get-go, this thing was one-sided and nasty. Peter worked out a lot of his frustration on someone who could take it and it’s a night the Rhino would probably rather think back on as a bad dream. Let’s head back to the Spidey FNF studio for post-fight analysis.
With us as always is Ben Grimm. Filling in for Shang Chi, who has been sidelined with a groin injury, is the Tick. Ben, sometimes a fight is hard to watch, even when the guy you’re rooting for is laying the smack on. What lessons should the Rhino take away from this fight?
“Not to block with your face, fer one! There was absolutely no defense here whatsoever. No counter moves, no feints, no jukes… just collapsin’ into a ball on th’ ground n’ screamin’ “Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!”
I mean that’s just pathetic. This mook’s gone toe-to-toe with the Hulk before! The freakin’ Hulk! Heck, he and I have even gone at it before and lemme tell ya, he ain’t a pushover! This freak can be Grade A tough when he wants to be, not like them X-Boys last week. And he’s fought Spidey tougher than this in the past! But here he just folds like an empty grocery sack!
Speakin’ of learnin’ lessons, I got a couple he needs to keep in mind.
First – when a superhero is poundin’ on ya, ya don’t try to stop the fight by sayin’ ya wuz only tryin’ ta hurt some other schmo and not th’ hero who’s whoopin’ ya. This’d work on other villains, sure. But not on guys with a long history of, ya know, puttin’ dudes in super-jail for hurtin’ people. No foolin’, lay that line down on Batman sometime and see what happens to ya! Cause that’d go even uglier for ya then this did.
Second lesson? Stop workin’ fer the criminally insane. Especially the ones what are already incarcerated. Crazy runs through the Osborn family th’ way the Nile runs through Africa. I’ve never been able ta wrap my mind ’round people workin’ fer the sanity-challenged. I mean some certifiable wacko wants to hire ya, and ya agree to work for ‘im, what exactly does that say about you?!
Tick, you know where I’m comin’ from, right?”
At first insanity starts small, like observing Arbor Day or knowing which months have 31 days. But then its roots dig deep into the rich earth of your psyche and before too long you’re taking Oprah seriously or trying to petition Congress to remove ‘Y’ from the alphabet. And then it’s on to trying to take over the planet or developing a ray gun to erase kittens from existence.
Thankfully the good people of New York have Spider-Man to shatter insanity’s snowglobe. Sure, accuse me of bias for singing the praises of another arachnid-themed crime fighter. But justice is a mighty steam train, people, and we can all sleep better at night knowing Spider-Man’s throwing the coal on that righteous fire of its law furnace! And he doesn’t do it for the kicks, or for money, or for fame, no sir. He does it cause he doesn’t like crazy people.
So the next time you’re touring your own community and you spot insanity in one of its infinite forms – from ‘that guy’ keeping possums or ferrets as pets to the dude who drives his primer-colored van around to every trash dumpster in your parking lot looking for treasure and adventure in the wee hours – be glad you’ve got dedicated, professional costumed avengers out there who are willing, ready and able to send the nuts back up into the tree!
Keep giving evil a free ride back to the Funny Farm, Spidey!”
And that wraps it up for us tonight. Thanks for tuning in and for all of us at FNF, have a fantabulous weekend! Rest that groin and get well soon, Shang Chi!
If you have a suggestion or feedback for the ‘Spidey Friday Night Fight’ segment then drop into the Crawl Space’s ‘Spidey Friday Night Fights’ thread and let me know!