If there ever was a story that ranks right up there in the Spider-Man lore of great comic books, Kraven’s Last Hunt is it. The book was written by J.M. Matteis and penciled by Mike Zeck. The story ran through Web of Spider-Man #’s 31 and 32, The Amazing Spider-Man 293 and 294, and The Spectacular Spider-Man #’s 131 and 132.
How can the Hunter become the Hunted?
As Kraven’s Last Hunt begins to unfold, the reader learns that Kraven the Hunter is in search of his greatest hunt to date. Of course, while there are many Marvel Characters who could fit this bill, naturally, Kraven deems Spider-Man to be the character of choice. He chose him so as to prove to the world that he was in fact, the world’s greatest hunter. While, he had beaten him in times past, before this story, he had not bested Spider-Man to what he deemed to be unimaginable defeat.
Itsy Bitsy Spider
He pondered and thought of ways in which he could achieve victory, eventually landing on drugging and apprehending the wall-crawler. Normally, Spider-Man could fight his way out of situations such as this but unfortunately, the effects of the drugs took their toll on him. In the end, Kraven took hold of the lifeless Peter Parker and laid him to rest six feet in the ground. As a testament to his victory, not only did he bury Spider-Man in the ground, he did so underneath the estate that he lived in.
If it wasn’t enough that Kraven buried Spider-Man alive, he also took it upon himself to wear the Spider-Man costume so that he could ruin his reputation. He began his assault on New York by disposing of few thugs that roamed the streets and even saving some innocent bystanders. While this may seem like a good thing to do, know that he was also killing some of his victims. This, as you well know, isn’t something that Spider-Man would do.
Meanwhile, in another area of the city, another disturbance was taking place. Vermin, a villain that Spider-Man had been unable to defeat, had been running amuck. Kraven took it upon himself to dispose of him, thus further proving his superiority over the web-crawler.
Not dead enough…
In one of the most iconic covers in Spider-Man history, Spider-Man is seen digging through the dirt and rising up from the underground tomb he had been placed into. He was able to do so because, as opposed to killing Spider-Man, Kraven had only drugged him. Once the effects of the drugs wore off, Peter was free to work his way back to the surface. Furious as to what had transpired and with retribution on his mind, Spider-Man began looking for Kraven.
Eventually, he found him and began a relentless assault on Kraven. Not wanting to fight back (because he had already proven that he was better), Kraven issued a challenge to Spider-Man. In the challenge, he laid out an idea that would see Spider-Man attempt to finally best Vermin. Not wanting to partake in the challenge, Spider-man refused and Vermin began to attack him. Kraven immediately jumped in to help dispose of Vermin and at the conclusion of the battle, Kraven ended his own life.
If this seems confusing, understand that Kraven had proven his worth over Spider-Man. Because of this, he felt that he had achieved all he set out to do and therefore, didn’t have a need to live.
I cannot stress enough how much Kraven’s Last Hunt changed the Spider-Man character. Yes, it may seem to be over exaggerated the importance of this story and how good it was, but I assure you, it’s everything I say and more. If you only read one story arc in the next couple of weeks, read Kraven’s Last Hunt. If you’ve read it already, read it again.