Published on June 20th, 2012 | by Mike Harding0
Marvel Graphic Novel Collection Issue 13 Review
Spider-Man recurring foe, Kraven, The Hunter, feels his life is nearing its end — physically and, more to the point, spiritually. Before he can shake off his mortal coil, though, he figures he’s got something to prove to the world and, more importantly, to himself: that he can beat Spider-Man.
That rather flippant synopsis doesn’t really do justice to this weeks offering from the Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection. This time around we are given the epic that is Kraven’s Last Hunt. Without doubt one of the most atmospheric, and critically regarded Spider-Man stories in, well, Spidey’s history, it brought to an end the menace of Kraven. Originally published over two months back in 1987 , as a story crossing over into all the Spider-Man titles then being published, Kraven’s Last Hunt is possiblyone of the darkest, brooding, intense sagas ever produce by Marvel. Written by J M DeMatteis, with artwork and colouring provided by Mike Zeck, this book holds a special place in the hearts of most of the web-slingers hearts.
The book begins with a surprise shock, when Kraven captures Spider-Man, and buries him alive, in order that he may adopt Spider-Man’s identity. Caught up in between the two old foes is Mary Jane, Spidey’s wife, left wondering why Spidey doesn’t come home, and the both pathetic and horrific sewer-dwelling killer, Vermin.
There’s barely a quip or a wisecrack in sight, with the story being heavily character driven, the scenes filtered through minds of Karven, Spidey, Mary Jane and Vermin. It’s also minimalist, as there are only four characters in this drama (five if you include one scene involving Joe Robertson). The story takes place over two weeks, but the rain never stops, and almost all the scenes take place at night. The result is a sense that this all happens during one endless night.
This story is much more than just a super-villain-seeks-revenge story, that you can probably read in almost every second comic you pick up, in any given month. Whilst there’s plenty of action scenes, this is much more a psychological study of both Kraven and Spider-Man.
The story also deals heavily with the notion of mortality, with both Kraven and Spider-Man separately ruminating on death. As the piece evolves, though, it becomes more about fear. Kraven doesn’t fear Spider-Man, he fears “The Spider”, the embodiment of a world that frightens him. In conquering Spider-Man, Kraven hopes to conquer this personal fear. Likewise, Vermin is both a source of terror to his victims, and a victim of terror, frightened, of the world above. Spider-Man, meanwhile, fears death, fears losing Mary Jane.
Interestingly, originally DeMatteis wanted to do this story with Wonder man and his brother the Grim Reaper, that was turned down, he then suggested it as a Batman story for DC, but again it was turned down. It was only his return to Marvel allowed him to use his story for Spider-man, a character he hadn’t considered using it for. My only problem with this story is that Marvel have re-introduced Kraven back into the Marvel Universe, and whilst it does not cheapen this book, it does frustrate me, as it was so well done, it deserved to be the final work on the subject.
So the collection info is this, Kraven’s Last Hunt is book 10 in the collection, giving us another three in a row. Price-wise, this seems a good deal with only the paperback editions being close to the price of this book. However, this is such a good book, I don’t think price really comes into it.
Extras include a piece on Mike Zeck, an interview with J M DeMatteis about the writing of the story. There is an artists gallery of various versions of Kraven, and the Kravinoff family tree (look it up kids, all sorts of craziness in there).
Suggested reads include New Defenders (DeMatteis), Amazing Spider-man: The Grim Hunt, and our peaks into the future (and an already released book). We have Book 21 The Amazing Spider-man: Coming Home (as revealed in the very first review), Book 9 Amazing Spider-man: Birth Of Venom (already released), and finally Books 6 & 7 Marvel Super Heroes Secret War (I can’t wait for these two always wanted that story).
The next book to be released (next week) will be Captain America: The New Deal, by John Ney Rieber, with artwork provided by Astonishing X-men’s John Cassaday. I’ve never read it, but, I have heard some mixed reviews about it, so should be an interesting week.
So with this book added that leaves the list now looking like this….
*Titles in BOLD have already been released*
Book 01: Iron Man: Demon in a bottle
Book 02: Uncanny X-men: Dark Phoenix
Book 03: Captain Britain: A Crooked World
Book 04: Wolverine
Book 05: The Mighty Thor: The Last Viking
Book 06: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars part 1
Book 07: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars part 2
Book 09: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Birth of Venom
Book 10: Spider-man: Kraven’s Last Hunt
Book 11: The Incredible Hulk: Silent Screams
Book 12: Wolverine: Weapon X
Book 13: Marvels
Book 14: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part one
Book 15: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part two
Book 16: The Mighty Thor: In Search of Gods
Book 21: Spider-man: Coming Home
Book 22: Spider-man: Revelations
Book 25: Spider-man: Blue
Book 26: Wolverine: Origins
Book 27: Captain America: The New Deal
Book 28: The Ultimates: Super-Human
Book 29: The Ultimates: Homeland Security
Book 36: Astonishing X-men: Gifted
Book 37: Astonishing X-men: Dangerous
Book 40: House of M
Book 43: Iron Man: Extremis
Book 44: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Book 45: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 1
Book 46: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 2
Book 47: Fantastic Four: The End
Book 50: Civil War
Book 51: Fallen Son: Death of Captain America
Book 52: Thor: Reborn
Book 53: The Eternals
Book 55: World War Hulk
Book 56: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters
Book 57: Wolverine: Old Man Logan
Book 59: Captain Britain & MI13:Vampire State
Book 60: Siege