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Amazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet

Web of Spider-Man: Rhino's Roots

Fred Van Lente delves into Rhino's origin in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #3

By Marc Strom

Every Rhino's rampage has to start somewhere.

And now, with WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #3 on December 9, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Nick Dragotta plan on exploring those origins with a story chronicling the Rhino's beginnings.

The Rhino first turned to a life of crime in an effort to help support his family, but Van Lente doesn't feel that fact should necessarily paint him in an overly noble light.

"I'm not sure I can agree that helping your family is necessarily noble," reasons Van Lente. "You're expected to help your family. To a certain extent, your family is just an extension of yourself. Most people are inclined to help their families, and nobility suggests someone aspiring to higher values than most people. Making sure you and yours get ahead in the world fits perfectly into a life of super-crime, it seems to me."

Van Lente's tale will return to the villain's very first appearance, filling in some blanks in the character's story that readers might not have even noticed at the time.

"When we first see Rhino in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #41, he's actually charging across the Mexican border into the States, making his way to New York City to kidnap John Jameson," recounts the writer. "Talk about making an entrance. What was Rhino doing south of the border before then? What did the scientists who created him want him to do? Spidey fans can now sleep at night, because Nick Dragotta and I are filling in those details."

Throughout the intervening decades, Van Lente sees at least one quality in the Rhino's character that hasn't changed with time.

"[His] stupidity," remarks Van Lente. "Not all villains have been forced into lives of crime because of harsh backgrounds or abusive parents. Some people are just big, dumb, and looking to make a quick buck by running headfirst into the nearest safe. That's the Rhino."

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #3 cover by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic
The Rhino's origin story marks Ven Lente's second in a series of tales looking back at Spidey's classic rogues within the pages of WEB OF SPIDER-MAN, and according to the writer he's set out to do a number of things with each issue.

"[I want to] update them, teasing out hidden interest," Van Lente says of his goals in revisiting the villains' origin stories. "With many of the Spider-Man villains, their beauty is their simplicity. I mean, look at some of these origins. 'Guy gets hit by lightning.' 'Guy gets Rhino suit.' 'David Copperfield' this ain't.

"But by letting them be the stars of their own stories-and, to a certain extent, tell their stories-hopefully the reader will get a deeper appreciation for what makes them tick other than, you know, 'this is the guy Spider-Man is punching in the face this month.'"

Van Lente also promises a great deal of mayhem in this self-contained origin story:

"Lots of stuff gets knocked over. And gored. I think we exceed the USDA allowance for goring in a single comic book story with this one."

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