Ends of the Earth: Rhino

Dan Slott discusses the evolution of Rhino and why he is the most dangerous member of the Sinister Six!

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By Ben Morse

The Sinister Six has returned like never before, and beginning with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #682—on sale March 21—they will threaten not just the wondrous wallcrawler, but the entire Marvel Universe in Ends of the Earth.

As Spider-Man prepares to face his greatest foes with the stakes raised to a whole new level, we enlisted writer Dan Slott to take us on a guided tour though this rogues gallery, outlining their powers and motivation as well as pointing to his favorite stories detailing their depravity.

Rhino spent years as a formidable but one-dimensional foe for Spider-Man and other Marvel heroes. Packed with power but short on brains, Aleksei Sytsevich sought wealth and power but would ultimately charge headlong into his own defeat.

Everything changed for Rhino when he met, fell in love with and married the innocent Oksana. He sought to turn over a new leaf and go straight, even cooperating with Spider-Man and aiding him against a new Rhino in the process. However, when Oksana became caught in the crossfire of the war between these two behemoths and the webslinger failed to save her life, it directed Sytsevich back on his familiar path, now more uninhibited than ever.

“Ever since the Rhino’s wife died, he’s been dead inside,” says Dan Slott. “This is someone with nothing to live for and nothing to lose, and that makes him the most dangerous member of the Sinister Six.

“Doctor Octopus dying, in a weird way, gives [Rhino] something to live for: this one, last master plan.”

Taking full advantage of his ally’s grief and emotional instability, the leader of the Sinister Six will not hesitate to deploy Sytsevich in any situation.

“[Rhino] is a big, brutal, rampaging beast that Doc Ock can point at any target he wants,” asserts Slott.

It is only in the recent past that Rhino has really emerged as a fully-realized character and thus more dangerous threat to Spider-Man. Slott credits the classic “Flowers for Rhino” story from SPIDER-MAN’S TANGLED WEB for kicking off this development, and a pair of issues from just a couple years ago with sealing the deal.

“I think hands down the best Rhino story ever done was Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara’s two-parter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #617 and #625,” he says. “The Rhino started off as a cold war spy, but over time was slowly turned into a big, dumb brute. But in those two issues Joe and Max rethought that and played him not as an oaf, but someone with a pure, earthy, natural, almost poetic soul. Then by showing how much he loved someone—and how much he was loved in return—they gave him a heart that was even larger. And then they broke it.

“These are two fantastic issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN; both are up on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited , and if you haven’t, you really should give ‘em a read.”

Get set for Ends of the Earth, beginning in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #682 on March 21!

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