Kraven’s master plan kicks into high gear as he lures Spider-Man into a huge trap in the heart of New York City. Every time we think we know the full extent of this scheme, it grows in size and scope. Even by the end of this issue, where it stands more revealed than ever, there’s still some unanswered questions. What it clear though is how epic and deadly this is. Kraven has pulled out all the stops to get his revenge on the Spider.
It’s rather chilling to see just how much Kraven knows about his prey. Sure, he doesn’t know who’s under the mask, but he knows enough about his character to pull on the right strings. In this case, that deals with the Black Cat and the Lizard’s son, Billy. Even though Peter Parker is under the weather and a big storm has just rolled in, he’s still going to suit up and go out looking for the people close to him.
We’re used to seeing Kraven decked out in his hunter gear. Amazing Spider-Man #17 shows him in a different kind of uniform with a three piece suit. He looks just as intimidating and menacing, if not more so. This comes through in how he carries himself. Kraven exudes confidence. There is not a single doubt in his mind about how this plan will play out. Artist Humberto Ramos shows us a different side to this character and it’s pretty creepy.
Kraven’s son / clone fulfills the hunter role in this issue, appearing out of the smoke like a terrifying visage of power. This happens after Spider-Man is dosed with a hallucinogenic gas so it plays with the webhead’s mind. He’s questioning what he’s seeing. Ramos creates these after-images for the younger Kravinoff, giving the appearance that we’re seeing triplicate or more.
This gas plays tricks with Spider-Man’s mind, forcing him to live out his greatest fear, which turns out to be the death of Mary Jane. This plays out in a shocking fashion and showcases the strength of this rekindled relationship. Letterer Joe Caramagna delivers Peter’s internal narration in the typical caption boxes, but it’s more stilted, coming out in drips and drabs. This gives the impression that he’s been beaten and he’s given up. He’s seen the absolute worst thing he can imagine and there’s nothing left.
Inker Victor Olazaba highlights each individual line in Kraven’s son’s intricate muscles and costume. There’s an impressive amount of detail at work here.
The one issue I had with the artwork was how absurdly skinny some people are shown, specifically Spider-Man, Black Cat, and Mary Jane. Their arms and legs often appear like sticks. A strong wind could turn them into dust. I get that the contrast between the man made of muscle in Kraven and Spider-Man’s more slender form is supposed to show the uphill battle the hero is facing, but it comes across as more awkward and uncomfortable than anything else.
Writer Nick Spencer gets right to the action with Amazing Spider-Man #17, bringing the title character into the mix and beginning the payoff that’s been building since the series relaunched. There’s some terrific pacing in this chapter, especially towards the end as Spider-Man is brought to the staging grounds in Central Park. The rain is beating down as we see the final pieces move into place without a lick of dialogue or narration. These images speak volumes.
Colorist Edgar Delgado creates an ominous mood here with the only light coming from a handful of streetlights. The night casts some long and foreboding shadows all around. It really ups the tension. This comes to a head in a great double-page spread that shows the sheer amount of animal-themed villains Kraven has had kidnapped over the past few months.
The “Hunted” storyline begins with a bang. This is an impressive debut that puts Spider-Man in a challenging position both physically and mentally. He’s about to run through a gauntlet like nothing he’s done before and that is absolutely riveting.