Monday, June 11, 2007

Let's Fall In Love (Marvel comics)
Spider-man: Blue #2 When: August 2002
Why: Jeph Loeb How: Tim Sale

The story so far...
Bitten by a radio active spider; gawky high school nerd, Peter Parker, finds himself with the unlikely proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider. With this new-found power, and his own inventive brilliance, Parker sets out to take on the ultimate responsibility of a vigilante!

As Spider-man, Peter comes into conflict with many others with rare and unique gifts. Men who would do great good, and great evil in this world. Men who would use their abilities to pursue him in personal grudges. Men who would hunt him like a rare and unique animal.

Men like the Rhino who, while being held under gas induced sedation, finds himself free to seek revenge on Spider-man after a mysterious enemy sets him free. Rampaging through the city, Rhino looks for payback, and the web-slinger is all too happy to oblige, but does he have it in him to defeat the Rhino again? Or will the mystery man step out of the shadows to capitalize? Stay tuned!

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#1): Overcome odds against Man-Ape, Tombstone, Scorpion, Carnage & Grey Gargoyle.
Rhino (#232): Comprehensively beaten by a well equiped Punisher.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Rhino 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Rhino 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Spider-man 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Spider-man 2 (Projectiles)

Geez, there have been so many Spider-man entries, I'm really starting to wonder what the point of this section is! The guy is sitting tight on only two losses from twenty-four battles, and really, like the song says, he's a Spider-man.
I don't know what the historical figures are, but for Spider-man to not come out the ultimate victor in any confrontation seems highly unlikely. Sure, he's a good hero.

Spider-man takes his lumps like any dramatic hero. He has defeats from which he can come back from to triumph over adversity. But the point I'm making is, even after taking a whipping from Sandman, or Green Goblin, or Rhino, when do you ever see Spider-man not wind up victorious?

One of the early conceits of the website - among the many motivations - was to test the theory that Batman is unstoppable. After 2007 it seemed very likely he was, but as we roll on through this year, maybe we start to see there's another ever present character who's beating everybody across multiple titles.

Rhino is a fairly one-trick pony: He's a muscle guy.
What works for Rhino is that, generally speaking, he's a pretty good muscle guy. Not the sharpest henchman in the drawer, and that's usually his downfall, but certainly worth throwing up against a Hulk or a Juggernaut or whoever you have lying around.

Spidey is a versatile character bringing speed, agility, smarts, strength and all of those fun powers to the table -- which means by the Haseloff system tape, he's a much better better bet than Rhino. But a simple truth remains. Rhino is a big deal. Spider-man should never have an easy time with him, and maybe should suffer more defeats than he perhaps has over the years.

I think we all know to expect Spider-man to win this one, but don't let the sun go down on the Rhino without giving him his props. Because he is worthy!

The Math: Spider-man (Meta Class)
The Pick: Spider-man (Sigh...)

What went down...
As the mysterious-manipulator plotting against Spider-man watches from the shadows, the Rhino stands amongst the rubble of buildings destroy with a bellowing demand, "I WANT SPIDER-MAN!"

Spider-man, like any good hero, is happy to oblige where lives would be threatened, swinging in with a devestating kick to the Rhino's neck!

He puts his agility to work as the Rhino charges within the confined space of the rubbled building alley, keeping it tight enough to allow Spidey to get another lick in. It isn't long, however, before Rhino gets a stiff shot in, nailing Spider-man with a big right hand!

Spidey lands on his ass and spews out a huge spray of webbing directly at Rhino's face, blinding him in mid-charge to allow Spidey to turn the tables. Vaulting over the blinded Rhino, Spider-man leaves Rhino to a fate his own:

Rhino charges into an already damaged brick wall, bringing the house down atop his horned head! The bricks tumble down with a rumble, leaving Spidey on a web to receive the compliments of the watching police.

With a tiny piece from Rhino's super-durable hide, Spider-man warns the police to hold tight while he disappears, fully aware that Rhino is down - but not out!

A quick stop to Dr. Curt Conners' lab later, and Spider-man becomes intimately aware of the inner workings of Rhino's leathery hide - composed of self-replicating genetics similar to actual rhino DNA composed with something similar to kevlar or adamantium [just in case you were wondering!].
With that, Spidey and Conners devise a means to disrupt the polymer!

Spidey returns to the scene with Rhino again roaring for revenge, while the police do their best to put him down with ineffective gunfire. Fortunately for all, Spidey has something a little more permanent up his sleeves - literally!

Rhino gets a face full of gooey webbing again, this time a special new orange blend from the fine people at Conners and Parker!

Unphased by the goop, Rhino charges at Spidey, who gives it both barrels, spraying away with the goopy orange liquid whilst using his proportionate spider-agility to leap over the rampaging Rhino!

Giving it both barrels, Spidey well and truly webs his adversary in the special webbing fluid, granting the luxury to slip down for a hilarious quip.

The webbing isn't strong enough to hold the Rhino, though, and he throws his arms up, tossing Spider-man over his head!

Though blinded by the webbing, Rhino's wild haymakers connect, first with a right, and then a left that sends Spider-man flying into a fire hydrant!
The busted hydrant leaves Spidey with a bump to remember, but it provides a convenient twist of fate. The catalytic webbing hadn't done the trick, but by introducing water to the compound it begins to take effect on the Rhino's hide!

The webbed areas of the Rhino's invulnerable costume begin to fall off in massive chunks, leaving him vulnerable - and naked - in the middle of the street! Not that that stops Spidey putting the finishing touches on the job in what he feels is a case of an overgrown bully getting his due!

A good one-two uppercut to finish, and the Rhino is out like a light, and freed of the costume that makes him so difficult to contain.

The hammer...
The hammer comes down once again in favour of Spider-man, with the victory by knock-out! Hard luck for the Rhino!

We get a lot of traffic from the uninitiated, and that's a good thing.
Secret Wars on Infinite Earths by no means represents an encyclopedia, but I like to think we can provide some interesting points of reference and informative tidbits.

New readers are drawn to the site for a number of reasons, and some of those are the major forces penetrating the mainstream consciousness. Things like the major motion picture adaptations [like Spider-man], or in other cases less direct connectors, like TV's Heroes.

Heroes seems to have quickly surpassed Lost as TV's number one action-based drama, featuring all the things we as comic fans know and love. Interesting characters, exciting scenarios, fantastic powers, and developing plotlines.

Interestingly enough both Heroes and Lost have had something in common - Jeph Loeb. Jeph Loeb is a writer who whose work has ranged from Arnold Schwarzenegger's militia vehicle Commando, to TV's Smallville, to comic works like Batman: The Long Halloween, which influenced director Christopher Nolan's work, along with writer David Goyer, on the feature film Batman Begins.

One of the characters on Heroes possesses the ability to paint the future, and this is where we reviewing Spider-man: Blue come full circle, because the artwork for that particular character [Isaac Mendez; played by Santiago Cabrera] was provided by none other than Tim Sale - artist extraordinaire on Spider-man: Blue (and The Long Halloween, for that matter).

Spider-man: Blue is one of three mini-series with the writer/artist team of Loeb and Sale, the others being Daredevil: Yellow and Hulk: Gray, each referring to colours featured in the characters unique looks, as well as emotions and events within the books.

Each story recounts events from the character's early careers in the sixties, with Spider-man: Blue retelling events that fall somewhere in the 40's of issues of Amazing Spider-man, written originally by Stan Lee.
The series puts it's own unique stamp on the events, including a new spin that supposes Kraven the Hunter is actually the master manipulator behind a string of reapparances of classic Spidey villains, before his triumphant appearance in Amazing Spiderman #47.

If you have the first Spider-man movie DVD with the extras disc, and spin-on you can actually see Loeb and Sale at Sale's drawing board, where if you look closely, you'll note that he is pencilling one of the pages from this very issue!
Particularly visible is the scene where Spider-man leaps over the Rhino, while spraying the (once coloured) orange webbing all over him from above.

So, there you have it! A little bit more of an informative Hammer to end this entry! As always I'm churning ahead to try to catch up, particularly if we're to do some of the exciting things I'd like to in July! Until then, cheers!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 5.5
NEXT WEEK: Marvel Ultimate Alliance Asgard sub-bosses: The Wrecking Crew!

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