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Kraven's Klassic Krapshoot
on 4 January 2013
Kraven, a long-time Spidey villain, decides that he will hunt Spider-man as apparently Spider-man is the last creature he's been looking to defeat. But he also wants to prove that he's a better Spider-man than Spider-man - for some reason.
That's pretty much the set-up but with a title like "Kraven's Last Hunt", something decisive is likely to happen like a death of sorts and seeing as the cover has Spidey climbing out of a grave, I'm guessing it's not him who pops it.
So here follows a review with some 25 year old spoilers:
How familiar are you with Kraven? If the answer is "who?" chances are you won't be exactly impressed by his introduction in this book as J. M. DeMatteis doesn't spend much time on his character except for a brief backstory at the start where we find out he's a Russian nobleman exiled from his homeland who likes hunting a lot. Because there's very little of Spider-man in the book, this is the character we're left with who we're supposed to relate to, empathise with, etc. Except Kraven's a loony who eats spiders "to gain their strength!", is obsessed with "honour" for his family and sees him accomplishing this honour by killing a guy who dresses in a black Spider-man outfit (in this book Spidey's outfit is trés emo-black!). We're supposed to care about this guy? It's a very shallow character portrait.
After "killing" Spidey, Kraven becomes Spider-man for a while(!) by killing criminals instead of stringing them up with web fluid which in his mind makes him a better man because...? Also he doesn't have web shooters or can climb on walls so I don't see how he's Spider-man at all, he just has the outfit.
Then there's the third main character, Vermin, who's an obscure villain that's a rat/human experiment gone wrong who murders/eats women at night. In a previous story arc Spidey and Cap spent an entire book taking down this character; his inclusion in this book is simply for Kraven to defeat him as easily as he did Spidey thus making him "better" than Spider-man (what a dumb character!). But really Kraven defeats both characters far too easily to convincingly claim that he's a "better" anything, it's just plotted in this contrived fashion to give the character some validation before getting rid of him.
Spider-man's barely in this book so be prepared for a lot of boring Kraven and Vermin stuff before getting to Spidey's appearances. But when he does appear, it doesn't seem to be the real Spider-man. For instance, the first issue where Kraven defeats him? No way would Spider-man be defeated by a D-list villain so easily! And when he punches Kraven in the face? Kraven's head should've come off. How many times have we seen Spidey do incredible things because of his super-strength? Punching Kraven, an ordinary human with no powers, full force in the face like he does should've killed him.
In the end it didn't feel like a very substantial story and everything that lead Kraven to book his place on the bullet train felt very contrived. It's like wish-fulfilment for the villain before rubbing him out of the Marvel U. I was even hoping for a "and it was all a dream" kind of ending. We did see Kraven doing a load of hallucinatory drugs at the start, and it would explain how he was able to defeat Spidey and Vermin so easily. "Kraven's Last Hunt" isn't nearly as brilliant as others would suggest. It's not a very good Spider-man book and feels more like a bonkers acid trip. Definitely not something I would single out as a "classic".