After months of build up we are finally here. The Kraven-led event, “Hunted,” begins with Amazing Spider-Man #17. This is a plotline that Nick Spencer has been developing since the very first issue of his run. Over the last sixteen issues we have seen the “Hunted” storyline slowly build momentum as Kraven moved his puzzle pieces in place to optimize his latest hunt. Now that everything has fallen into place Kraven is finally ready to commence his new hunt that will take place across New York City. Are Spider-Man and company ready for what is about to happen in “Hunted”? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #17.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: During a ritual Kraven thinks about all the names he has gone by in the past. He eventually walks out of the ritual room and contemplates on how he was brought back to life after having a glorious death. While he yearns for death he knows only the Spider can kill him but it won’t happen yet.
While swinging through the city, Spider-Man can’t shake the fever he has. He still powers through as he has to continue looking for Billy Connors, who has been captured by Taskmaster and Black Ant. He heads to the last location Black Cat was at since she found Billy before being ambushed by someone. He finally arrives at a shipping yard.
Elsewhere, Black Cat wakes up and discovers she is in room within the Plaza Hotel. She notices that Billy is with her and tries to calm him down as he can’t stop crying.
Kraven shows up and asks Black Cat if she likes her noble accommodations. Black Cat rejects anything about this situation being normal, pointing out the laser bars on the windows. Kraven mentions that those security measures are his request.
Kraven then reveals that Black Cat’s role in his new hunt is to lure Spider-Man out since she is one of his weakness. Black Cat takes great offense to Kraven treating her as a damsel in distress and promises to kill him if Spider-Man doesn’t do it first. Kraven laughs and says that he is not the one hunting Spider-Man this time.
Inside a warehouse Spider-Man can’t find Black Cat or Billy. As he continues his search his fever continues to affect him and he begins to feel as though something terrible will happen to MJ.
Suddenly a green smoke starts covering the room Spider-Man is in. He eventually collapses as the smoke is making his fever worse.
Spider-Man quickly comes to when his spider sense alerts him to danger. He turns around and notices the last surviving Kraven-Clone. The Kraven-Clone immediately attacks Spider-Man. Spider-Man is unable to defend himself. As the goes on the Kraven-Clone reveals that the smoke is affecting them both and the only difference between them is that he was born in the darkness.
Elsewhere Arcade is making fun of Man-Bull, who like other animal-inspired villains is sleeping inside a cryogenic tube. Kraven shows up and asks if they are all ready for the hunt. Arcade says everyone made it alive within their cryogenic tube and the shield is ready to go. Arcade asks Kraven if they can now let their hunters loose. Kraven says that they must wait for one last trophy to be collected.
Back at the warehouse Spider-Man continues to be thrown around by the Kraven-Clone. Spider-Man is able to finally fight back. But as he turns things around he suddenly sees flashes of MJ in trouble. The Kraven-Clone reveals that the smoke’s effect is not to cause its victim to hallucinate but rather see visions of the terrible fates that will befall them. Spider-Man stands in shock as he has another vision of MJ on the floor bleeding out.
The Kraven-Clone takes this opening to knock Spider-Man around. The beating continues until Spider-Man is knocked unconscious.
Sometime later Spider-Man, Black Cat and Billy Connors are placed inside Central Park while Black Ant and Taskmaster look on.
At a ballroom Kraven declares that the hunt has begun.
Within Central Park Spider-Man wakes up screaming “MJ.” Spider-Man is shocked that someone changed his costume out with his black suit.
Scorpion shows up out of nowhere and declares he is going to kill Spider-Man. The Owl, Tarantula and other villains suddenly appear and surround Spider-Man.
Scorpion immediately attacks Spider-Man as all he cares about is killing him. The other villains look on and are barely able to hold back their desire to kill Spider-Man. Spider-Man tries to reason with everyone that they are all just part of Kraven’s plan.
Suddenly an explosion sends Scorpion and Spider-Man flying. All of the villains scatter as the hunters that are part of Kraven’s hunt appear. End of issue.
The Good: With all the set-up out of the way Amazing Spider-Man #17 is able to begin the “Hunted” story arc sprinting out of the gate. In the process Nick Spencer is able to create a sense of danger around every scene we see Spider-Man and other characters involved in. That made for a strong start to what could be one of the more intense Spider-Man stories filled with intriguing character arcs.
Establishing right away what Kraven’s motivations are in this latest hunt he is conducting got Amazing Spider-Man #17 off to the right note. Whether the reader knew his history or not, it was important to put over how Kraven feels like he was cheated out of having the perfect death in his mind. Being brought back to life was never what Kraven wanted after what he did that led to his death. But now that he is back he must create a situation that could give him an even greater death than the one he previously had. And with how he views Spider-Man as the one to give him the ultimate death he desires he wants to make sure it is all on his terms and not someone else, like how he was brought back to life.
With that in mind, while Spider-Man is obviously be the protagonist of this story Kraven is the one that will be moving all the chess pieces for the majority of “Hunted.” At this moment everyone is playing his game until they can figure out how to turn the situation around to their advantage. That is something Spencer did a great job in establishing throughout Amazing Spider-Man #17.
Working off how Kraven is presented, it was interesting to see how everything is against Spider-Man. On top of not knowing what Kraven has planned we see Spider-Man is fighting through a fever. This puts him at a further disadvantage in this hunt as he is not even at half his normal strength. Taking this into account, how Spider-Man is able to fight off Kraven’s hunters, villains that absolutely hate him and a running fever creates a lot of interest in how he is going to get out of this alive.
Having Spider-Man against the wall to start the “Hunted” story puts a lot of things into question with the different things Spencer establishes. For one, Spider-Man still needs to find and protect Billy Connors. He then also has these new visions of MJ being in danger to sort out if they were a true look into the future. That is all on top of trying to fight off his fever as he looks to survive this hunt and being in the middle of a place filled with villains looking to kill him. By placing Spider-Man in such a predicament Spencer was able to draw up a lot of interest in how this story will end.
All these things that Spider-Man is up against made for a good explanation for how the Kraven-Clone was able to easily defeat him. Spider-Man’s fever and not knowing anything that is going on protected him from looking weak in the beating he took. At the same time, this allowed Spencer to put the Kraven-Clone over as a dangerous player in “Hunted.” So it was all a win-win in this case.
Black Cat also being placed within Central Park will at least give Spider-Man an ally he can rely on. Given the situation at hand it will be extremely valuable for Spider-Man and Black Cat to watch each other’s back when they finally meet up. Adding a personal motivation to this for Black Cat, as she has been greatly offended by how Kraven is using her as a damsel in distress, was a great thing to see. Spencer played the damsel in distress trope well to show that is not who Black Cat is and will be an important player in defeating Kraven and his crew.
Billy Connors is an interesting wild card in all of this. Right now he is just a kid that is completely out of place but that could be quickly changed. Given how Spencer has built Billy as being such an unknown we could see him possibly show off his true powers down the line. Even if that is not the case, Billy’s predicament gives his father, the Lizard, added motivation to be an active participant in taking Kraven down.
Through all of this another great thing that Spencer did with Amazing Spider-Man #17 is reestablish a number of villains. Throughout the build up to this event we have seen Scorpion, Rhino and other villains be brought back into their more well known roles as Spider-Man villains. As this story progresses it’ll be very interesting to see how Spencer plays with how all these villains are also motivated to kill Spider-Man while trying to survive this hunt.
Amazing Spider-Man #17 was also the first time that Arcade was an entertaining villain. Up until now the Arcade was just an annoying sidekick. After writing him for several issues now Spencer seems to have a good grasp of how to write Arcade. He was annoying enough that you want to see Spider-Man or another character punch him in the face, but did not outstay his welcome to make the reader wish he wasn’t part of this story.
Humberto Ramos delivered high quality artwork throughout Amazing Spider-Man #17. As a long time Spider-Man artist his experience with the character shined through. The sense of motion that he has with every panel help keep the story Spencer crafted moving forward. There was impact to the fight between Spider-Man and the Krave-Clone, with the latter’s punches looking like they hurt. It was also great to see how Ramos made Spider-Man being back in his black costume feel like a big moment. The costume definitely has an iconic look that fits appropriately into this story involving Kraven.
The Bad: The only thing that brought this issue down a bit is that we a lot of the set-up for Black Cat was done in a tie-in issue that before this was not pointed as being important. Amazing Spider-Man #16.HU, based on the title alone, was made to look like just a side story. But now it is looking like all the .HU issues will tell sub-plots that Spencer can’t work into this story. That makes for some odd story beats since it forces Spencer dedicate time to recapping what happened in the .HU issues, taking valuable page count for away from the “Hunted” story. That was something that was definitely the case when Spider-Man thought about what happened to Black Cat, as it all came off as Spencer catching the reader up.
Also I’m not sure if this was the case with the physical release of Amazing Spider-Man #17 but with the digital version there was one page that was just a black page. There was nothing to this page at all. I understand this was to put over that Spider-Man was knocked out but for an entire page to be just a blank page was an odd break. At first I thought I turned off my iPad by mistake. Instead it just ate up a page that could have been used to give more time to Black Cat, Kraven or the captured villains.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #17 was a strong start to the “Hunted” story arc. Nick Spencer properly built up the hunt that Kraven the Hunter has set up for Spider-Man, Black Cat and others to be extremely dangerous. Having Humberto Ramos on board helped add to how big this story felt. Hopefully every chapter that follows can continue the momentum created by Amazing Spider-Man #17. If they can “Hunted” could very well go down as one of the best modern Spider-Man stories.
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