Comics
Published January 9, 2019

'Miles Morales: Spider-Man': The Evolution of Rhino

Rampagin' Rhino has changed a lot since making his 1966 debut.

That thumping you hear might just be Rhino charging from Brooklyn to wherever you currently sit. For Miles Morales, that seems to be the most likely reason for the ground shaking in MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #2, on sale now. The classic Spider-Man villain has returned and remains as destructive as ever. This time, though, he seems to have brought some henchmen. Unusual for Rhino? For sure. But it hardly comes as the first time that the Russian in the grey-horned suit has changed things up. Let’s review, shall we?

Classic

Original Rhino

The classic incarnation of Rhino remains the most recognizable. Aleksei Sytsevich first donned his complex costume back in 1966 and quickly became one of Spidey’s most reckless and destructive foes. Often labeled “dumb”—but never by us, to be clear!—Sytsevich first came to the U.S. as a Cold War soldier for the Russians. The Wallcrawler out-thought the Soviet scientists and outwitted the Rhino—with an assist from Curt Connors—and melted the artificial Rhino skin right off Sytsevich.

This “version” of Rhino would return time and again to get his bell rung by the Webslinger. Dumb or not though—and again, we say not Mr. Sytsevich sir—even he could not ignore his lousy track record.

The Team Player

Rhino Sinister Syndicate

As a result, the heretofore solo raiser of heck sought out like-minded Super Villains to combine efforts. It began informally with working with the Leader and then, later, allying himself with Moonstone, Electro, and Blackout to try and escape Project: P.E.G.A.S.U.S.

Once the Rhino got a taste for team-ups though, he couldn’t stop joining. First there were the Emissaries of Evil with the likes of Cobalt Man and Egghead. Then came the Sinister Syndicate with slightly more respectable villain muscle such as Beetle and Speed Demon. Klaw’s Army, the Sinister Six, and Legion Accursed followed before long too. Sytsevich did not really end up all that more successful with friends, but at least he did not have to fall alone.

His Life as a Genius

Rhino as a genius

Tired of the wildly unfair reputation that he had for not being smart, Sytsevich agreed to an experimental procedure to make him a genius in SPIDER-MAN’S TANGLED WEB #5-6. While untested and likely dangerous, it worked out for the villain. With his amplified intelligence, before long, he could see no reason to be a Super Villain and retired.

Later, though, Rhino realized a life breaking stuff felt like a life without fun for him. Unable to justify being a bruiser while being so smart, he decided to reverse the procedure. Being smart might have been good, but being bad turned out to just be too much fun.

A Guilty Hero’s Assistant

Rhino and Punisher

After accidentally killing a security guard, Rhino finds himself nearly murdered by the Punisher. Wracked with guilt, Sytsevich sends the widow money and a letter of apology. Then, ironically, he joins up with the Punisher to aid in the vigilante’s missions. Eventually, the tenuous team-up ends but not before the Rhino can successfully talk Punisher out of killing Stilt-Man.

A Willing Prisoner

Rhino in prison

The security guard’s death continues to hang on Rhino and, following an abduction by Kraven’s family, the villain decides to proverbially hang up his synthetic Rhino skin for good. He pleads guilty to several charges and ends up with a sentence of 25 years at Ryker’s Island. Despite being approached by the Russian mob and given an opportunity to escape, Sytsevich refuses to stray from the straight and narrow. As a result, he ends up being released from prison early on good behavior.

Happily Married

Rhino and Oksana

Back out in the world, Sytsevich continues to abstain from criminal activity. He starts dating a waitress named Oksana and find himself surprised by how quickly they fall in love with each other. Sensing her to be a once-in-a-lifetime companion, Sytsevich proposes and she accepts. They move in together in a place in Yonkers and for a time everything seems blissful.

Unfortunately, however, when Sytsevich first returned to civilian life, someone named Dr. Tramma approached him. The doctor offered the parolee a chance to return to the life of costumed crime, Sytsevich refused, and they parted ways. Unfortunately, though, Tramma did not stop his search for the next Rhino.

“New” Rhino

Rhino vs New Rhino

This new Rhino quickly tries to make a name for himself by challenging Sytsevich to a kind of “youth vs. experience” fight. Sytsevich initially agrees to the terms, but then goes into hiding with his wife Oksana. Unfortunately, living covertly proves successful only for a short time. The new Rhino finds the happy couple and attacks, killing Oksana in the initial fight. Unable to manage his rage, Sytsevich re-dons the synthetic skin and makes quick work out of his would-be usurper. Despite Spidey’s pleas for him to stop, Sytsevich kills the other Rhino.

Back to Crime

Rhino kills Silver Sable

In the wake of returning to life as Rhino, Sytsevich also soon returns to working with Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock, dying at the time, sought to bend the world to his will and Rhino joylessly joined in. Eventually, Rhino seemingly let himself die to a.) end his own pain and b.) take Silver Sable with him, thus hurting Spider-Man, whom Sytsevich partially blamed for showing him the life he could have enjoyed.

Eventually, however the Rhino resurfaced, but has been fairly inactive since. Until now…

Rhino and Miles Morales

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #2, written by Saladin Ahmed with art by Javier Garrón, is available now online and at your local comic shop!

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