Amazing Spider-Man #617

Joe Kelly won me over with Peter's narration to set up this issue, as he reflects on the approaching New Year's celebration while swinging through freezing rain (how does Spider-Man always find so much rain to swing through?). Kelly understands the Parker luck, as well as the Parker monologue. Kelly also understands how to make any character a character worthy of sympathy. He accomplishes this with the Rhino, Alexsei Sytsevich.

This issue continues "The Gauntlet" storyline with another peek behind the curtain to see who is tugging on the webs surrounding Spider-Man and his crowd. What would a reunion of Spidey's rogue gallery be without an appearance by the Rhino?

Fiumara's art is reminiscent of Bret Blevins, from the "New Mutants" series of the 1980s. At other times, tinges of Alex Maleev seem to shine through, but throughout the first story, the art fits the story to near perfection. D'Auria colors Fiumara's work with a style that is quite painterly, akin to watercolors in some spots. The color choices for the main story seem quite garish, but fitting, as a great deal of the story takes place at a casino.

Javier Pulido brings some solid Romita-like chops to the back-up tale that features the secret origin of the straight and narrow path Alexsei Sytsevich appears to be on. Hollingsworth colors Pulido's work with a flatness that fits the story, giving it a look as though it is a reprint from the Marvel archives. It's not a reprint, but the effect works well for this tale.

This is the story I expected in the "Web of Spider-Man" issue I reviewed a month back. This is a tale of redemption for the Rhino and it makes him a character worthy of note as he struggles to stay on his redemptive path. How the new Rhino factors into the overall "Gauntlet" storyline is yet to be told, but given the identity of his "mysterious benefactor," there is little doubt that we'll be seeing robo-Rhino again. Marvel, and more specifically, Team Spider-Man, continues to deliver quality, fun Spider-Man comics. The fact that the classic Spidey foes are getting significant screen time only adds to the enjoyment of these stories.

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