Review by: comicBOOKchris

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Avg Rating: 4.6
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WRITER: Joe Kelly
PENCILS: Max Fiumara
LETTERED BY: VC - Joe Caramagna
COVER BY: Max Fiumara

Size: 48 pages
Price: 3.99

The Rhino never felt like a character to me, but more like a prop. I know he had a name, dialog, and interactions with the rest of the cast, but in the end, he only felt like a tool to use against Spider-Man that would ultimately fail. However, with all of Spider-Man’s rogue gallery being reinvented as part of The Gauntlent, I walked into this issue a bit curious to see how the Spidey Braintrust would portray the big brainless brawler. I would have never though that I’d be walking out with more emotional attachment to Rhino than I ever had before.

This issue is testament to why Joe Kelly being one of the best writers in comics today. In one issue, he more or less re-invents Rhino’s character as a relateable and compassionate figure. He’s still as strong as ever, but now he’s tired of the crime life and running around town, smashing his head into things. Additionally, he’s found love, which has transformed him into a new man who would rather be a decent normal working man than a costumed super villan. However, there’s someone who has taken up Rhino’s old mantle, and is not only rocket powered, but dead set on defeating the old Rhino for honor. Throw Spider-Man into the middle, and there’s your basic outline for the story. It’s simple, yeah, but in this issue, it’s the character scenes that carry much more weight than the plot itself. You feel nice inside when Aleksei shares a tender moment with his wife, pity when he is confronting the rocket-powered Rhino, and compassion in a final scene with Spider-Man. You end up ultimately rooting for him as he tugs on your heartstrings. Aditionally, we get a backup feature where we see the events that lead Aleksei from his last days as Rhino to the straight and narrow life he’s living now. Also written by Kelly, this was a nice feature, as it’s refreshing to see him grow up from the empty life he was living.

Amazing Spider-Man #617 definitely takes the crown for the best Gauntlet issue so far, as I think it will be near next to impossible to top this. We get some good action and possibly the best character moments to come out of this book in a long time. Reading this book will leave you incredibly happy.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 4 - Very Good

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