Hunted has been a story arc with many ups and down with each passing issue. Spider-Man being placed within an area where he cannot escape while being hunted by Kraven’s hunters has been fun to watch. It’s a different type of challenge that is unique to Kraven’s villainous character for Spider-Man to overcome. Now after almost dying Spider-Man seems to set himself up for his final clash with Kraven while others like Black Cat and Lizard also fight to survive this hunt. Who will make it out of “Hunted” alive? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #22.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Inkers: Victor Olazaba and Humberto Ramos
Colorists: Edgar Delgado and Erick Arciniega
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside Kraven’s Mansion Spider-Man struggles to break free from the brace that is keeping him captive.
In another part of Central Park, Kraven’s son discovers Black Cat and Billy Connors. He immediately charges to attack them.
In another part of the park the Lizard rushes to save his son from Kraven’s son.
Elsewhere Vulture and his assembled army of villains corner a bunch of Hunter robots.
Back at the mansion Spider-Man finally breaks free and thinks off how he will get everyone out of this situation.
He doesn’t get long to think as Kraven confronts Spider-Man. Spider-Man tells Kraven to stop the hunt. Kraven says that only Spider-Man can stop this. Spider-Man punches Kraven out of anger.
Kraven quickly brushes off the punch. He then tells Spider-Man that the reason for this hunt is to punish those who have made a mockery of everything he stood for by taking the names of animals.
Kraven then launches an efficient offense on Spider-Man, cutting him in non-vital areas. As he does that Kraven states that Spider-Man is the worst offender as he was given powers by a greater power but he has not lived up being the natural predator he should be.
Spider-Man struggles to get back up from the attack and other injuries he has. Kraven tells Spider-Man that he will show him why it is necessary to kill to maintain the balance of nature. Kraven says that will allow him to to rest and die.
Spider-Man tries to use Curt transforming into the Lizard to show that they don’t need to sacrifice themselves. Kraven argues that Spider-Man knew letting the Lizard loose would be dangerous.
As the room fills with green smoke Spider-Man starts to freak out. Kraven orders Arcade to show Spider-Man the truth.
Arcade shows up as a hologram and reveals that if Spider-Man kills Kraven that all the tourist would be free from the VR device, the Hunter robots would shutdown and the force field around Central Park would be deactivated.
Kraven then asks Spider-Man if he will allow all the lives in Central Park to be lost.
Spider-Man suddenly has a vision of MJ’s dead body in their apartment. Within the vision Kraven mocks Spider-Man for not being strong enough to protect MJ.
Spider-Man suddenly gets back-up from his haze. He uses his sudden burst of adrenaline to overpower Kraven and knock him out. Rather than dealing a killing blow Spider-Man uses Kraven’s face go get into the control room.
Elsewhere Kraven’s son is able to defeat an already injured Black Cat. Just as Kraven’s son turns his attention to Billy Connors the Lizard shows up. The lizard easily defeats Kraven’s son. Before killing Kraven’s son Curt regains control of the Lizard when he sees his son.
After making sure Billy is okay Lizard leaves Billy with a recovered Black Cat.
Back at the mansion Spider-Man tells Kraven that caring about others does not make people weak, rather it makes them stronger and that is the difference between them. Kraven suddenly realizes that all his sins, such as turning his own children against one another, why he can never beat Spider-Man. After laughing loudly Kraven tells Spider-Man he understands everything. He then contacts Arcade to give him the final orders.
Suddenly around Central Park all of the Hunter robots are shut down. Vulture celebrates with the other villains that he led them all to victory.
Spider-Man asks Kraven what he did. Kraven reveals he has cut the link between the hunters and people controlling them to end the hunt. Kraven then tells Spider-Man to leave. Spider-Man says he is not letting Kraven go free. Kraven says he is no longer a threat, reminding Spider-Man of his last promise to never hunt again.
Spider-Man remembers what happened last time Kraven made that promise. Kraven states that his fate is no longer his and that only the Spider can kill him. He then tells Spider-Man to leave because “she” needs him. Spider-Man rushes off.
Kraven goes to his private room with a coffin where, he puts a picture and the gun he used to commit suicide in, as he thinks to himself how he finally understands everything.
Elsewhere Kraven’s son finds Spider-Man running and tackles him. Kraven’s son then uses the surprise tackle to easily defeat Spider-Man. Kraven’s son eventually pummels Spider-Man to the ground until Spider-Man is dead.
In a flashback we see that Kraven put on the black Spider-Man suit. As he puts it on he thinks how he is taking on the Spider-Man identity to take on the merciful, kind and noble spirit of his foe.
Back in the present Kraven’s son spots the real Spider-Man swinging off in the distance. Kraven’s son takes off the mask of the Spider-Man he killed and sees that it is his father. When he confirms his father is dead Kraven’s son yells out in sorrow.
We then see that the picture Kraven left in the coffin is one he took with all his children. End of issue.
The Good: When it comes to the main struggle between Spider-Man and Kraven “Hunted” was at its best. These two eternal rivals have a chemistry that Nick Spencer makes full use of. It is when you bring in all the other players involved in “Hunted” where this storyline ends up falling flat.
Something that was always interesting from when Kraven the Hunter was brought back to life several years ago was how big of an offense it was to him. Because for Kraven he died believing he had accomplished everything he wanted. He committed suicide with having the high that he was superior to Spider-Man. When that was taken away from him by being brought back to life it completely took that pride he felt away.
That sense of pride is what Spencer has been able to tap into for Kraven’s character throughtout the build of “Hunted.” Amazing Spider-Man #22 brings all that together to make Kraven’s dialogue have a greater meaning to it. Everything Kraven tells Spider-Man comes from an honest place. In Kraven’s head his life must come at the end by Spider-Man’s hands.
Adding in that Kraven believed that Spider-Man just wasted his powers and abilities by not being the ultimate predator he should be was a great layer to add for both characters. Having the sense of responsibility that he has Spider-Man will always look for a way to save everyone. Sacrificing others or resorting to killing to save himself is not an option that ever crosses Spider-Man’s head.
Kraven coming to understand that Spider-Man will never be what he projects as the ultimate predator. That brought how Spencer had Kraven accept Spider-Man as someone who is merciful, kind and noble a real point of character development. It further showed that Kraven is a villain that stands out amongst Spider-Man’s Rogues Gallery. There is a respect that exists within Kraven for Spider-Man that he can’t escape having.
Humberto Ramos delivered highly energetic artwork throughout Amazing Spider-Man #22. There is an impact to every strike that Spider-Man, Kraven and others make contact with during the various fights. It furthers how by the end of Amazing Spider-Man #22 just about everyone involved in “Hunted” has been taken to their limits in someway. Ramos also did a good job getting over what Kraven comes to accept about Spider-Man through the facial reactions that complimented Kraven’s dialogue.
The Bad: Where Amazing Spider-Man #22 and the “Hunted” ends up falling apart is the involvement with all the other players in this storyline not named Spider-Man or Kraven. Since this is supposed to be the conclusion of “Hunted” there should be a sense of payoff for Black Cat, Lizard, Vulture and others that have been involved since the beginning. That is just not the case when Amazing Spider-Man #22. Everyone just across as pieces used to stretch this arc out to the normal six issue story arc structure of comic books.
Spencer spotlights this problem with everyone involved by revealing that Kraven created this hunt because he was offended by all the heroes and villains that use the names of various animals. This is a sub-plot that should’ve been pushed from the very beginning. It is a personal stake that would’ve given an even more personal stake to the hunt going on in Central Park. But since Spencer had Kraven be a silent third party for most of “Hunted” it made the revelation nothing more than a last second throwaway line.
It’s a shame because the victory that Vulture and his crew of villain feel they gained ended up as nothing more than a footnote in this story. It wasn’t some big moment for all of them. Instead they just sort of got lucky because Spider-Man was there to save them, even if they do not realize that happened.
Given that Amazing Spider-Man #22 had almost double the normal page count it would’ve been beneficial to give a little more focus on Vulture, his crew of villains and the people stuck controling the Hunter robots. It would’ve added to the sense of urgency in the fight between Spider-Man and Kraven. At the same time give the reader a sense of relief once the hunt was over if Spencer gave a little more spotlight on these scenes.
On an even more disappointing level was the use of Black Cat. Throughout “Hunted” Black Cat had very little to do outside of being Billy Connor’s babysitter. And when things got rough Black Cat turned out to just be used as a human shield for Billy. She never really had the opportunity to step up to be more. That was all highlighted in Amazing Spider-Man #22 as she was barely able to hold Kraven’s son off until Lizard showed up to save her and Billy. It is such a big waste of Black Cat, who should’ve played a key role in this story given how personal she took her capture and her connection with Spider-Man.
While Black Cat’s role was disappointing, Kraven’s nameless son just never got any sort of momentum to connect with the reader. For one thing, not giving Kraven’s son a name holds the character back as he never can grow past his father. He is literally just known as Kraven’s Son. That is his name. On top of that Spencer never showed Kraven’s Son as having additional layers as a person. He was just a spoiled brat who wanted to hunt in the name of his father.
Being such a one-dimensional character made the entire end with Kraven’s Son killing Kraven fall completely flat. There was no emotional attachment to this being a big moment for both characters. Instead it was just a choice Spencer made so that Kraven’s Son can stick around as the younger, blank canvas without the rich history of his father. In that sense Spencer positioned Kraven’s Son in the tough spot of just being known of a clone of Kraven.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #22 was a frustrating end to what should have been a storyline with as much potential “Hunted” had to be memorable. This issue, like the majority of “Hunted,” shined when the focus was on Spider-Man and Kraven. Unfortunately every other character involved from Black Cat to Kraven’s Son suffered from poor development and roles in the story. All those problems dragged down what should’ve been an emotional ending to Nick Spencer’s biggest Amazing Spider-Man story to date.
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