Joe Kelly wraps up his contributions to Gauntlet so far by bringing the Rhino story to a further close than I feel it really needed. I'm glad, I guess, that status quo is upheld and old Rhino is back to being Rhino, but I don't see the reason why outside of retaining status quo. I was fine with a new Rhino as much as I was fine that old Rhino was completely emasculated by his wife. So, instead, readers get a rather predictable story where Old Rhino's wife dies because of new Rhino and Old Rhino becomes Rhino again because he can't properly channel the tragedy of death towards positive improvement. Also, the story is narrated by what seems to be a teenage girl, and Peter Parker gets kinda emo.
One of the better things that I am noticing in these books is that writers haven't dwelled on Peter's emotional state, most of the time. Specifically, the reader knows Peter's having a rough time, but I am not reading the thoughts Pity Party Peter Parker. Kelly gives us a helpful helping of that, though.
Look, on the whole, it is not a bad story. However, as part of the genre of graphic serialized ficition this chapter highlights what a lot of people complain about regarding the medium and what some fans complain about Spider-Man. We had a good character progression moment for old Rhino and perhaps some potential for stories about the new Rhino before he shuffled off this mortal coil. Instead those possabilities for new stories were taken off the table for a plot that has been told enough in just Spider-Man books themselves. Additionally, one of the harder things to do in comics is probably making Spider-Man entertaining without the character of Peter Parker being a whiny shell of a man the whole book. I always figure one of the defining traits of the character was his ability to continue to bounce back from adversity and in this installment, it seems more like he's letting adversity defeat him. That's not a character I want to read about.
Being an ex-teacher, the events between Michele and Lucas make me think of too many bad memories from emtionally investing myself in the wrong kids from that time in my life. So, on a personal level, Fred van Lente grabs me and hooks me into this story, which I'm sure is something all writers want to have happen to their readers.
High level of engagement aside, FVL tells a great Spider-man story that has the tale of Michele and Lucas as one of many threads running through it. What's most important is that it is a Spider-man story and not a tale that also features Spider-Man, which I could say is very different than what I read in 625. This is a story that forces Peter to have to use his resourcefulness instead of his spider powers, which was an enjoyment to read given Peter's humility and pragmatacism. The reader gets a self deprecating Spider-Man without me getting the impression he was going to have to cut himself once he got home.
I, sadly, did not read World War Hulk. I have no prior knowledge of who the new Scorpion is. I suppose I wish for more conflict between her and Spider-Man, but c'est la vie. I'll take a Tombstone appearance, though. Now, if only the comics could build him up the way the Spectacular Spider-Man TV show did.