Spiderman’s most cerebral and visceral villain, Kraven the Hunter, returns to the Spider-verse in The Amazing Spider-Man #17 and immediately proves why he is Spider-Man’s most challenging foe.
Picking up where the previous issue left off, Kraven is teaming with fellow Spidey-Villain, Arcade, in designing the ultimate hunting ground and is filling the arena with every animal themed villain in the Spider-Verse. Enlisting the help of mercenaries like Black-Ant and The Taskmaster, Kraven has captured Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture, and every other villain possible. In the process, he also kidnaps Curt Conners’ (AKA Lizard) son Billy and the Black Cat and is using them as bait to lure Spider-Man into the fight so that Kraven can ultimately kill his most desired prey.
Writer Nick Spencer has been laying the ground work for this event since the relaunch of this title, and the slow burn of the buildup has paid off perfectly. By dedicating The Amazing Spider-Man #16 solely as to the backstory of Kraven and how he lays the groundwork for his evil plot, ASM #17’s story unfolds at a quick pace, giving readers the same frantic and frenetic feelings that Spider-Man is feeling. Luckily, Marvel has broken down the previous events into a clear, concise recap on the first page, so that new readers and those who missed last issue could quickly catch up and dive right into the issue. Once again, this is something that I wish DC Comics would add to their issues, as it is allows any reader to become quickly invested in the story arc without trying feeling lost.
The highlight of this issue was the incredible artwork by Humberto Ramos, as well as the inking and coloring work by Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado. Ramos is the perfect artist to convey the cramped, claustrophobic setting of Kraven’s makeshift prison on a private containership. However, it’s his work on the fight scene between Spider-Man and a surprise combatant that serves as the focal point of the issue. Ramos recalls the brutal violence that resonates with every Spider-Man/Kraven battle, and adds his own stylistic flair in showing readers just how much damage Spider-Man is absorbing in this fight. His costume is torn and his body contorts and crumples with each blow. In conjunction, Olazaba’s inking and shadows give readers the sense that Spider-Man is deep within the bowels of the container ship with no way to escape. Likewise, Delgado’s vivid colorwork on the characters in this fight scene contrasts the dark shadowy room that they are trapped in, as well as differentiates this scene from the rest of the issue’s muted, somber hues.
Undoubtedly, The Amazing Spider-Man #17 is a vital issue in this upcoming story arc, and serves as a litmus test as what to expect in future issues, as this current Hunted storyline looks poised to be Marvel’s premier event this year.