Cover Price: $.30
Value: $22 (Near Mint-)
"Kraven Is The Hunter!" - 17 Pages
In the debut issue of Peter Parker: The
Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey battled to a stalemate with the Tarantula.
Spidey couldn't prevent the villain from kidnapping Edward Lansky, the
vice-chancellor of Empire State University, but he did prevent the Tarantula
from murdering the mayor of New York City. He - and the readers - don't yet know
why the Tarantula is targeting high-level city officials nor do we know the true
identity of his employer. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2
continues this three-part story arc by introducing a new player to the game:
long-time Spider-Man foe Kraven the Hunter. Kraven first appeared all the way
back in the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko issue
Amazing Spider-Man #15. Spider-Man last saw Kraven in
Amazing Spider-Man #111, when Kraven and the Gibbon teamed up to tackle
the Web-Slinger. Interestingly, Kraven the Hunter began "branching-out" into
other comic titles between his meetings with Spider-Man. He also appeared in
Daredevil #104 and #105, Marvel Chillers #4, and in the
Man-Wolf featured series
Creatures On The Loose #32 and
The story opens with Spider-Man hitching a ride on a tugboat. He's worn out from battling the Kingpin from Amazing Spider-Man #164. On the way home, he touches base with Dr. Curt Conners, whose scientific expertise helped Spider-Man thwart the Kingpin. Dr. Conners appears tired and flushed - and we all know what that means. Sure enough, the Lizard returns in Amazing Spider-Man #165. A nice bit of cross-title continuity there. Around the same time, Kraven arrives in New York for a meeting with a new employer - the same mystery man who has hired Tarantula. The two villains briefly square off before their angry benefactor breaks up the scuffle. He informs them that their next target is school chancellor Richard Gorman "and you must take him dead or alive!" The squabbling villains put their differences aside long enough to kidnap the rotund Gorman, whom they truss up in a net like a turkey. Kraven's pet tigers hold off the security guards while he and the Tarantula make their escape. The interplay between the Tarantula and Kraven is priceless: Kraven: "I've had my fill of your taunts, dancer! What Kraven does, he does because it suits his purpose. I have plans which would confound your feeble brain." Tarantula: "You must be a master at fleeing - si, you do it so very well."
After hearing of Gorman's kidnapping, Spider-Man catches up with Kraven in Central Park (don't all Spider-Man-Kraven encounters take place in Central Park? It's kind of tough being a jungle-themed villain of an urban super-hero!). Spider-Man subdues Kraven's tigers and lures the hunter out of the park and onto the lighted marquee of a nearby movie theater. Spidey is still fatigued from his epic struggle with the Kingpin, so he's nowhere near being 100 percent. Kraven knocks Spider-Man down and pulls out a long knife. The two struggle and when Spider-Man rolls out of the way, Kraven plunges his knife into a light bulb on the marquee. The electrical jolt knocks out the deadly hunter. In the meantime, the plot over the mystery benefactor deepens. The Tarantula brings Gorman to the mystery man and collects his pay. However, the roll of bills were booby trapped with knockout gas. "My apologies, 'amigo'," the shadowy mastermind says. "But as you no doubt were aware...you simply know too much!" Hmmm...sounds like a story to be continued in the following issue: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #3.
We also get a heaping helping of Spider-Man's great supporting cast. Peter stops by to visit his Aunt May, who makes him some chocolate chip cookies. I guess she was out of wheat cakes that day. Anna Watson stops by and Peter mentions that he and Anna's niece, the lovely Mary Jane Watson, aren't seeing eye-to-eye much these days. Later, Peter takes his neighbor, Gloria Grant, by the Daily Bugle office for a job interview as J. Jonah Jameson's new secretary. To the surprise of everyone, Jonah actually likes Gloria and hires her on the spot. "I don't believe it. Jonah...acting like a human being," Peter says. "Either he's ill - or we are!" adds Joe Robertson.
This three-part storyline started off a little slow, but it picks up steam with this issue. Adding Kraven to the mix was a good move - the Tarantula has never been a particularly noteworthy Spider-Man foe, but Kraven the Hunter sure qualifies. Kraven the Hunter next appears in Marvel Team-Up #67, where Spider-Man teams up with Tigra.
Next issue: The mystery is resolved, the storyline is resolved and a new villain is introduced - the deadly Lightmaster!
Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.
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