Welcome to 52 in 52, one man’s look at the vast world of Marvel Unlimited. I will be reading and sharing my thoughts each week regarding a different single arc or event from somewhere within the world of Marvel Unlimited, trying to find things I haven’t read that are relevant to the current comic or cinematic landscape, or completely irrelevant and just fun to read.
One year. 52 tales. One per week. Marvel Unlimited.
Let’s do this.
KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT (Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, The Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132)
Written by J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Mike Zeck
Release Date: October – November 1987
Wow. I always thought Kraven was kind of a joke character, some crazy jacked up hunter who shot big game and wore pelts and, for some strange reason, was naked a lot. Well he’s still naked a lot in this storyline, but whoa…is he not a character to laugh about. This Kraven is arguably the greatest villain Spider-Man has ever had, with an internal monologue that is haunting. DeMatteis’ choice to keep so much of the dialogue internal is a fantastic one, as the dizzying thoughts of Kraven are entrancing. The cadence and rhythm of Kraven’s internal monologue is particularly interesting, and I was shocked at how well this story stands up. This is a story that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see in a Spider-Man MAX scenario, as it is gritty, grim, violent, and has dark undertones rippling through it at all times. There is even an element of Superior Spider-Man to be found, as the black suit is worn by a man other than Peter Parker and the issues with stolen identity and legacy are prevalent. The examination of legacy, combined with the shocking ending of this tale, make it memorable to say the least and people are not lying when they say this is one of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told.
DeMatteis examines the marriage of Peter and MJ well, showing the effects on MJ as Peter is effectively dead for two weeks. The trying time is hard on her, and reaffirmed for me how much I love reading them as a married couple. My first Spider-Man comics featured them as a couple and that’s just what sits right for me. This is the duo written well as a couple, addressing the challenges their relationship would face, and MJ’s greatest fears. DeMatteis’ script is brilliant, and the emotion he pours into this arc is amazing.
Mike Zeck’s pencils are every bit as strong as DeMatteis’ words, their dark undertones suiting the script perfectly. His style stands strong today and his angles are particularly impressive. He uses shadows very well and shows the trippiness of Kraven’s drugs and herbs and voodoo like it is no challenge at all. Oh, and that cover? Yeah, iconic to say the least. Zeck and DeMatteis are a dream team on this arc, and this is some quintessential Spider-Man, both in the written word and the artwork.
I’m guessing I’m one of the last people who haven’t read this arc, but if you’re reading this and you have yet to read Kraven’s Last Hunt, I recommend you do so. This is a Spidey classic by two legendary talents at the top of their game.
Next week: FANTASTIC FOUR #67-500 (Waid & Wieringo)
Special thanks to John Ernenputsch for helping to curate this adventure.
More information on Marvel Unlimited can be found here: http://marvel.com/comics/unlimited