Amazing Spider-Man #617 & #625
Not all stories of romance conclude in the same way. This is especially painful when the character in question earned his happily ever after. Aleksei Sytsevich, aka the Rhino, is one such character. In a time when Spider-man’s villains keep coming out of the woodwork, Aleksei is surprisingly retired.
Tired of his station in life, Aleksei voluntarily surrendered, gave up his costume, and dutifully served his sentence. Neither gang wars nor prison breaks swayed his resolve. Eventually given early parole for extremely good behavior, he returned to the world and found himself in a diner. The waitress would joke about how every ex-convict who ate there would fall in love with her. Aleksei made no such move and declared there was no such thing as love for people like him.
Life is not easy for a super ex-con (or a normal one). After attempting and failing to re-integrate into the normal world, Alexsei is contacted once again to take up the mantle of the Rhino. While listening to the offer, he spies the waitress whom he met at his first meal outside of prison. After apologizing for breaking her streak with ex-cons, Rhino chooses to try a life with her, with Oksana, instead of returning into the criminal fold.
Aleksei let go of his past, but his past would not let go of him. A new, mechanized Rhino sought to claim his namesake by skinning the old Rhino, in a deluded attempt to “ascend.” The New Rhino found Aleksei working an honest job as a bouncer at a casino. Despite Spider-man’s failed interventions and Aleksei’s stalwart pleas that he is not the Rhino, the latter yields to the brash newcomer’s demands for combat. This time, however, Spider-man was successful in swaying the former villain from not giving up the life he had built.
That’s where Aleksei’s story should have ended. The hero won. The reformed villain reaped the rewards of an honest life and an honest love. But this is the world of Spider-man, where not even the villains escape unscathed.
The New Rhino interrupts Aleksei’s and Oksana’s oathtaking to become new US citizens.
The couple enters the Witness Protection Agency to start a new life with the support of his life-long nemesis.
This would not last as the New Rhino found the Aleksei… and rammed straight through their vehicle.
The Rhino is Dead. Long Live the Rhino! The greatest tragedies are born from the ashes of happy endings.
So which romantic (or tragically romantic) moments from geekdom are on your list? We’d love to hear your thoughts!