I’ve always had a bit of weakness for the Rhino as a super-villain. I think in part that’s because the character is so damn simple. What is he, after all, but a giant guy trapped in a rubber suit with giant rocky horns on his head? There’s not a lot of complexity inherent in a character like that.
Fred Van Lente and Nick Dragotta do a wonderful job of focusing on just those attributes in the character. THOOM THOOM THOOM THOOM panel after panel we watch the Rhino rumble through the South American jungle, just destroying everything in his way, like a steamroller. “I knock into stuff. It falls down.” It’s just that simple.
I love how Dragotta composes these scenes – sometimes he embeds the images from the Rhino’s destruction in the sound effects themselves, while other times he uses small panels as emblematic of the destruction that the Rhino causes. Throughout the story, Dragotta brings energy and humor to the story that gives it a lightness and vigor that made me want to keep flipping pages.
I just wish this story was longer than 11 pages, because I had a great time reading it. Still, as I said, there’s not a lot of depth to the Rhino, so maybe this length was just right.
Next up is a story of Spider-Girl by the classic Spider-Girl team of DeFalco, Frenz and Buscema.
I’ve been a fan of Sal Buscema’s art since I was a kid reading his work on Captain America, Spectacular Spider-Man and Hulk, so there’s a certain sort of relaxing joy at seeing Buscema’s art for me. He’s just as solid and professional cartoonist as he’s ever been – no surprise there, as after 40 years in the business, I’d imagine art to be second nature to Our Pal Sal. Buscema’s inking over Ron Frenz’s very traditional pencils feels just right, like a throwback to older comics.
Which, of course, is just what Spider-Girl is all about. This story is my first real exposure to the character, and I kind of enjoyed the retro feel of the story presented here. The story’s very wordy and seems to involve lots of characters doing seemingly interesting things to each other. But like jumping in on the end of a long-running TV series, I kind of found myself lost in the middle of this story and not caring much how things would turn out.
There’s just a bit too much soap opera in the story for this Spider-Girl newbie. If you’re into the character, I’m sure this will be another fine story for you, though.
The final piece in the issue is an eight page story of Peter’s Aunt May on honeymoon with J. Jonah Jameson Sr.
I’m sure that writer J.M. DeMatteis intends this story to be a sweet little story about two people who find love late in life, but I found it to be insufferably cloying and annoying. The problem is that every scene is so over-the-top with both romance and the reactions of others to the romance that it feels like DeMatteis is just trying too hard.
The story opens with two maids standing outside the couple’s honeymoon suite, gossiping about how the couple hasn’t left their room in three days. When the gray-haired Mr. Jameson storms out of his room wearing just a towel and yells at the maids to leave them alone, the maids looked shocked. Why would such an old man be spending his whole honeymoon in a room?
I suppose we’re supposed to chuckle at the man’s energy and the couple’s romance, but I just found the whole scene kind of condescending. Who would really care about the couple’s age in real life, and why would anyone care? If we hadn’t already gotten the point, we also see a fat man on the beach also make fun of the couple’s age. Har har. It wasn’t funny at first, and it’s not funny now.
The couple goes on to take a romantic trip around the world. Apparently, Jameson wasn’t affected by the financial crisis because he spontaneously decides to take May to see the Taj Mahal: “And he’s so spontaneous!” May writes in her diary. “Just this morning, Jay announced that he bought us two tickets to New Delhi.” Ugh.
Far from making me smile at these characters, their story just made me long for the days when May Parker would stare out the window longing for her beloved Ben.
I loved the Rhino story this issue, liked the Spider-Girl yarn, and hated the honeymoon eight-pager. Kind of the definition of a mixed bag, I guess.