Rhino

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Original cover artwork to The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #41 © 1966 Marvel Comics. COVER ART BY JOHN ROMITA, SR. AND MIKE ESPOSITO.

Rhino

(pop culture)
The thick-skinned, thick-skulled Rhino first charged into the Marvel Universe in The Amazing Spider-Man #41 (1966), by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita, Sr. This double-tusked terror unyieldingly stomps across the U.S.A. toward New York City. Cosseted from head to toe (except for his bluntnosed face) in gray garb resembling a rhinoceros hide, the Rhino shrugs off bullets fired by flabbergasted lawenforcement agents and plows through stone barricades in his path. Arriving in Manhattan, he kidnaps astronaut John Jameson, son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, to ransom him to Eastern enemies hungry for space-race dominance. Spider-Man intervenes, and after scarcely dodging the Rhino's blows, defeats the lummox by fatiguing him. As the authorities remove the unconscious miscreant from the premises, Spider- Man ponders, “How are they gonna keep the Rhino in jail after they get him there?” Not easily, as the next issue revealed when, after regaining consciousness, the Rhino smashed free of a corrections hospital—“Hah! How can anything halt the Rhino's charge?!!”—until taken down by tranquilizing gas. The Rhino was running amok again in the next month's issue #43, in which readers discovered his origin. The Rhino was originally an unnamed, dim-witted thugfor- hire goaded by foreign agents into a perverse chemical/radiation experiment. After arduous months of treatments, this human guinea pig's strength and stamina were augmented, and he was outfitted with skin-tight armor forged of a nearimpervious polymer. Envisioned by his handlers as “the perfect assassin! Brainless—obedient—invincible,” the Rhino scoffed at their plans and razed their laboratory, lumbering off as a free agent. In their rematch, Spider-Man was only able to stop the menacing man-mountain by adding an acidic compound to his web fluid that caused the Rhino's hide to melt from his body. The Rhino received new armor from the very spies who had created him in The Incredible Hulk (Hulk) vol. 2 #104 (1968), his strength enhanced by gamma radiation and his retooled hide now made acid-resistant. After unsuccessfully butting heads with the Green Goliath, the Rhino was manipulated by the Hulk's gamma-irradiated foe the Leader, through whose machinations the Rhino's uniform was permanently bonded to his skin. He was eventually separated from his rhinohide, after which time he commissioned a new suit from criminal industrialist Justin Hammer. The Rhino's limited intelligence usually steers him toward singular goals—raise money for his Eastern European family, fund the removal of his suit, or vengefully trample Spider-Man. While a regular foe of both Spidey and the Hulk, over the years he has locked horns with Iron Man, Ka-Zar, the Thunderbolts, Deadpool, the Defenders, and She- Hulk, among others. Even neo-hero Gravity had a run-in with the Rhino in the second issue of his comic book (2005). A slightly modified version of the Rhino exists in the alternate reality of Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man series. Despite his massive weight of 700 pounds, the Rhino can stampede up to nearly 100 mph and is virtually tireless. He is difficult to incarcerate— he has been kept under constant sedation, locked up in the high-security Omega Block of the supervillain prison the Vault, and miniaturized in the paranormal penitentiary the Big House. After nearly thirty years of being known simply as “the Rhino,” he was given an alter ego by writer Peter David in Hulk #435 (1995): Alex O'Hirn (his surname is an anagram of “Rhino”). The Rhino's intelligence was temporarily heightened in “Flowers for Rhino” in Spider-Man's Tangled Web #5–#6 (2001). He has fought Spider-Man in numerous animated-television and video-game appearances, with Ed McNamara, Dee Bradly Baker, and John DiMaggio among the actors portraying the Rhino; and he has been featured in numerous Spider-Man merchandising from board games to action figures.