All of the time, money, and energy that Kraven has spent putting his master plan into fruition have led to this moment. He’s staring down his mortal enemy, Spider-Man, pushing the hero to make an impossible choice. With dozens of lives hanging in the balance, what will Peter Parker do? And what does Kraven have up his sleeve?
I’ve soured a bit on “Hunted” as I felt the storyline started strong and started to meander as it got too long. How does the ending look? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Kraven monologues all over the first half of Amazing Spider-Man #22 and the wall-crawler basically just stands there and takes it. The hunter hits Spidey with blow after blow and he puts up no fight whatsoever. What happened to his Spider Sense?
In any case, writer Nick Spencer offers us an interesting look into Kraven’s mind and provides some context for this elaborate plan. The hunter sees Spider-Man as a caged warrior who has not embraced the proud and powerful animal within. Instead, the webhead clings to his human side. He could be so much more. Kraven wants him to fulfill his deadly potential. This is rather intriguing as it seems like Kraven doesn’t see Spider-Man as an enemy, per say. It’s more of a comrade who can do so much more.
This certainly doesn’t excuse his actions. Kraven is still very much a lunatic. It does, however, give us a unique perspective into his tortured mind and what he wants most in life. He feels like he deserves a noble death at the hands of a worthy foe and that is not easy to come by. He’s the best hunter in the world so there’s no one else who can take him down.
With all the dialogue and exposition Kraven lays down, you’d think it would be overwhelming to sift through. It’s very much the opposite. Letterer Joe Caramagna keeps the word balloons and caption boxes flowing so they never look daunting. Kraven’s internal narration is shown in distinctive orange boxes with a typewriter-like font that reveals the character’s intelligence and dignity.
While this peek into Kraven’s inner workings has its moments, the big takeaways for “Hunted” come in the supporting characters. Vulture is set up to essentially be a mob boss of the animal-themed villains. The opportunistic coward is suddenly in a position of power so I’m looking forward to see how that plays out. Similarly, Black Cat is put into a unique position as a guardian for Lizard’s son, Billy. Her maternal instincts kick in which is something she’s not entirely used to or comfortable with. Finally, the Lizard is given a newfound appreciation for his family, albeit at the cost of his control over violence.
The uneven quality of Amazing Spider-Man #22 is matched with Humberto Ramos‘ artwork. I’ve pointed this out in earlier reviews for this storyline, but the same problems arise here with very awkward-looking characters that just appear unnatural. Spider-Man is depicted as little more than a skeleton in a black suit. I know he’s not the most muscular hero in the Marvel Universe, but he’s not just skin and bones.
This wouldn’t be that bad if it was every so often, but it’s in nearly every panel. This took me right out of the reading experience because Spider-Man looks more monstrous than his enemies. He’s like a sickly ghost. Inker Victor Olazaba provides some nice texture, but I’m not sure if that helps or hurts this.
One effect that does work well though is the way flashbacks are handled. Colorists Edgar Delgado & Erick Arciniega give these a faded pastel look, like we’re getting a glimpse into a memory. They really stand out against the images from the present. The colorists also control the tone of Amazing Spider-Man #22, keeping things subdued in the night with cool blues and greys, then ratcheting up the action with bright reds to coincide with bloodshed.
“Hunted” had a lot of moving pieces over its extended run. While they didn’t all come together perfectly, there were a number of nice elements that look like they’ll have a lasting effect. Kraven cut to the heart of what makes Spider-Man a hero and even forcing the wall-crawler to doubt himself. That hurts more than any punch to the face.