Classic Comic Cover Corner – Amazing Spider-Man #41

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Amazing Spider-Man #41 – October, 1966

Cover art by John Romita Sr.

Amazing Spider-Man #41 - October, 1966
Amazing Spider-Man #41 – October, 1966

This past Thursday we got our first glimpse of Aleksei Sytsevich (better known as “The Rhino”) in the first extensive trailer for the upcoming Spidey film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (in theaters May 2, 2014.) Good ol’ Rhiny is only seen for a couple of quick seconds, but it’s long enough to see that his signature Rhino suit, as was depicted during his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #41, has been replaced by some sort of mechanized version.

The Rhino is one of my favorite super-villains (yeah, I like ’em corny) and I’m thrilled that he’s going to be in the new Spider-Man film, and that he’s being played by one of my favorite actors (Paul Giamatti), but I’m very curious as to how the infamous suit is going to be incorporated into the movie.

Amazing Spider-Man #41 - October, 1966The thing that makes The Rhino so cool is that his goofy rhinoceros suit is permanently attached to his body. He can’t take it off and that’s a big part of what drives his rage and criminal spree (don’t ask how he uses the restroom) – not to mention that the animal-like suit of armor makes him the butt-end of countless gags for the smart-alecky web-spinner.

So I’m not sure how the movie’s mechanical exoskeleton, which is a closer match to Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe Rhino, is going to have the same tragic effect on Aleksei’s psyche. Will he be permanently encased in the metal suit? I can’t wait to find out and here’s hoping they get the back-story right.

When Stan Lee and artist John Romita (Sr.) created the Rhino back in 1966, Aleksei Sytsevich was the guinea pig of Russian scientists who were trying to create a gang of super-spies. But, as often happens in the world of comics, their experiment goes awry (Rhino’s origin is revealed in ASM #43) and the dimwitted Sytsevich turns against them and heads to the United States to kidnap J. Jonah Jameson’s astronaut son.

It’s not clear how The Rhino gets from Russia to the American southwest and then to New York City, it’s implied that he walks, but that’s a long haul and not the most direct route, even for a two legged rhinoceros. Little does he know that the Daily Bugle photographer, Peter Parker, is waiting for him in New York and ready to save the day as Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #41 - October, 1966If you haven’t seen the Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer yet (it’s at the bottom of this post), it is rife with villains, and that worries me. The Rhino, Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin, and Electro (not to mention some foreshadowing of Doc Ock and The Vulture – look closely) – I’m afraid it might be too much for a two hour movie, which was part of the problem with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.

When they try to squeeze too much into one film they lose valuable time for character development, which, in the end, is what makes the audience care about these fantasy characters and their plight, which is what makes the movies and the comics successful. The upcoming Superman Vs. Batman film is headed in this same scary direction.

Don’t get me wrong though, I loved this new trailer and I can’t wait to find out why Spidey is free-falling through the air (hopefully having just run out of web-fluid.) How is he going to save that crashing plane? Is The Rhino going to be the dumb, fun, tragic villain that he is in the comics? I was amazingly impressed with the first movie in this series, so fingers are crossed that they can pull it off again.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.