These two issues are the best ASM story in months. (With releases coming at least 3 issues a month!) On the left, with the white background, is ASM #617 and on the right, with the yellow background, is ASM #625. I wholeheartedly give each 5 stars.
The storyline is about The Rhino, which is cool because he’s one of the “classic” Marvel characters. Readers haven’t actually seen a lot of Rhino in recent history. There is a bit of backstory that wold help the reader make more sense of this storyline. (Kraven and Gauntlet, etc.) However, there is no necessity to go back too far into the ASM issues to get a handle on the story. And I suppose saying that these issues are about The Rhino is incorrect, because they are actually about Aleksei Sytsevich – the alter ego of The Rhino. #617 sets up the story for #625.
The story is by writer Joe Kelly… the art is good… but I think the writing is what makes this story perfect. I love Marko Djur….’s artwork, and #625 cover art is his.
I like that these stories are more humanistic than we would expect from flat, villainous characters. For so long, baddies in the comic world have been one-dimensional. Here we are given a story about a villain who is definitely fleshed-out and human. Real. While The Rhino was never blessed with extreme intelligence, in this story we can see that he was gifted an emotional personality. He made a life-changing decision and was comfortable with sticking with it. And as surprised as Spidey was, he supports Aleksei’s choice. The story is so unique that for years Rhino has been a clear villain, but reading these two issues, its harder to peg him under that category.
But what happens in #625 undermines all of this in a very heart-gripping way. #625 is told from the perspective of Norah Winters (journalist at Front Line newspaper). And while she is usually sarcastic, arrogant, and audacious, this time she is honest and fair. She, basically, tells the story of what she witnesses. Spidey is in the comic, but he serves to develop the Rhino’s part instead of the other (typical) way around. There is one scene in particular that is memorable: when Spidey is trying to halt Rhino
and is being dragged across/through the pavement of the street. Bloody feet…. but Spidey doesn’t “let go.”
Must read issues in the ASM canon.