Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #28
Aleksei Sytsevich was once a poor Russian immigrant, desperate to find the money to buy his family into the country. When agents from Eastern Bloc offered him a vast wealth in exchange for volunteering in an untested experiment he was quick to accept. This battering with chemicals and radioactive treatments left him with immense strength, durability and speed. With this he became the assassin for hire: The Rhino.
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #28 (Story 4)
Summary: Rhino, No Spider-Man
The final story is again based in Manhattan – this time in a city housing project. Aleksei Sytsevich has just brought his mother and niece back to their home, only to find the apartment has been broken into and vandalized. Aleksei broods on how hard he has worked to make the cramped housing and unpleasant area seem like home, when his mother interrupts his train of thought by saying how she wished she had never agreed to immigrate without her husband. He attempts to reassure her that although he didn't have the money to ship the whole family over at once, in just a few more jobs he'll be able to afford it. His niece is distraught to discover the locket her mother gave to her has been stolen and begs to go back home. Aleksei tells her not to worry – promising that he will find her locket.
Later that day and clad in his costume, The Rhino storms one of the shadier local bars to find a lead on the burglars. Cutting in on one of the customers regaling on how he beat the cash out of a client, Rhino asks about the missing jewelry, much to the mirth of one man – who is promptly hurled out of the window. Rhino asks again and the barman tells him he'll forget the whole thing ever happened if he just leaves, but Rhino is persists, calling out on anyone who knew of the break-in. one of the guys says he saw the bartender serving a guy flashing a fancy necklace not to long ago, and with this Rhino hauls the barman over the counter-top and threatens he'll rip the man's head off if he doesn't start talking – he talks.
Rhino tracks the man to a pool hall, smashing through the outer wall and asking where he can find Sammy the Looper, not stopping as he gets his answer and stampedes through the club and into Sammy's office. He grabs Sam but the head and gives him one change to get smart with him before he gets his head crushed into jam.
A short while later and Aleksei presents his niece with her locket – when his mother asks how he did it he simply replies "I have a way with people". As his niece goes to her room to write to her mother about everything that happened, Aleksei tells his mother how he had demanded compensation from the robbers and gives her a bag full of money with which she can buy in the rest of the family. However she isn't as grateful as he had hoped, instead she calls him a no-good thief and refuses to take his blood money. She shoves him out the door screaming God-knows what will become of him if he continues like this. As he stands alone in the corridor, all he can think is that he was just trying to help.
"No Son of Mine" is another touching episode that explores the way minor league characters react to every day problems – akin to "Fatal Instinct" in some respects. The Rhino had been kicking around for some time by 1994 and despite it being known that his criminal origins were love fueled and with intent, there had been too few occasions to explore his personal life. I liked this story immensely purely because it was good to see a minor villain getting a bit a depth added to them. We see a tender and devoted family man descend into the deepest acts of violence to maintain his family's wellbeing and happiness, which helps give the muscle bound juggernaut humanity and makes me more interested in his future dealings – especially as his mother recently passed away. The final scene of Aleksei standing alone in the hallway after everything he did just to make his mother happy is particularly moving, as we can all identify with having done something similar just to please, only to have it end so badly. All The Rhino knows now is crime and is unable to distinguish when his actions cross the line when it comes to the family. It's touching and saddening on the same level. Once again I'll give this one top marks for great exploration of a C list character and a heart filled story that is beautifully drawn.
Touching, to the point and well illustrated. This heart-felt piece ends the annual on a high.