KRAVEN THE HUNTER
So it’s Wednesday today, you know what that means…new comic book day. It was a pricey week for me this time around. I went up to Strange Adventures at lunch and grabbed my account. I had single issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Battle Beasts, Avengers, Dark Avengers, Sensational Spider-Man, and Tank Girl along with collected editions of Captain America, Planet of the Apes, B.P.R.D. and Ultimate Spider-Man. That haul alone is enough to put a serious hurt on my wallet. But my financial beat down didn’t stop there. Strange had also just gotten in the latest wave of Marvel Universe figures and I ended up buying all 5 of them. It’s a mixed bag of figures with a couple of real gems. On the lackluster side of things there was an Ultimate Spider-Man and a Hulk figure. There’s nothing wrong with these figures necessarily, in fact the Hulk looks incredible, it’s just that I already have multiple Hulks and Spider-Men. This particular Hulk was just far superior to any released before so I felt the need to upgrade. As for Ultimate Spider-Man he’s an entirely different character than all of my regular Peter Parker-Spider-Man figures. Under the mask Ultimate Spider-Man is Miles Morales. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. I just bought the first collected edition of his book today so I’ll review the toy after I’ve read it as I’m sure it will have a direct influence on how I feel about the figure. If I hate the book I’ll be annoyed that I bought the figure. In the middle of the pack today was the X-Men’s Beast. I quite like Beast but I’m not a big fan of the cat look that he’s been rocking the past decade or so. I prefer my Beast either human or as the blue furry man with the Wolverine wanna-be haircut that he once was. I am glad to add a Beast to my collection though no matter what he looks like. The highlights of the bunch are Beta Ray Bill and Kraven the Hunter.
I didn’t intend to review any of these figures today because I had already typed up my Morbius figure review earlier this morning. One review a day is about all I can muster these days and I especially don’t like reviewing two Marvel guys in a row. But I’m at work with a half hour to go and it’s dead here. Nobody is calling me back so my hands are tied on what work I can do. I could waste the rest of the day away on Sudoku puzzles but I figured I’ve got these new figures sitting in my bag beside me anyway so I may as well type up a review. I was gonna do Beta Ray Bill, who is a horse faced alien in a Thor outfit for those of you not familiar with him. But honestly even I could use a refresher on his origins before tackling a review and I don’t have internet here to jog my memory. So instead I’ve opted to review Kraven. Kraven the Hunter is a Spider-Man villain which is more in my wheelhouse. I don’t need no internet to be able to tell you about Kraven.
Basically Kraven was a big game hunter who had bested every animal in the jungle and he was looking to take on a new challenge. He caught wind of a spider man in New York City who had been evading authorities and avoiding capture. This sounded perfect for him so off he went to New York as somewhat of a celebrity, kinda like Steve Irwin. After his initial failure Kraven became obsessed with hunting Spider-Man. It didn’t help that the herbs he had been taking to keep himself young were slowly driving him nuts. As a little kid, before I read comics regularly, I was familiar with Kraven through the 60s cartoon series and various merchandising. He didn’t seem all that interesting to me. Compared to the Green Goblin or the Scorpion the dude in a leopard print hot pants just didn’t seem like that big a deal. Just a few months after I started collecting comic books there was a 6 part Kraven-centric storyline called “Kraven’s Last Hunt” that spanned 2 months through the 3 Spider-Man titles being released at the time, Amazing, Spectacular and Web of Spider-Man. For a kid who was only about 8 years old this was quite the introduction to comics. To this day Kraven’s Last Hunt is probably one of the darkest story lines that I’ve ever read. Kraven’s insanity was in full swing by this point. He captured Spider-Man in a net and at the end of the first chapter he shot Spidey with a rifle and buried him in the ground. The B-story of this series involved a cannibalistic rat man named Vermin running around in the sewers of New York, pulling people down and devouring them. With Spider-Man dead and buried Kraven donned the Spider-Man costume himself and set out to hunt Vermin. He eventually found him and beat him to within an inch of his life. Spider-Man was absent for a few issues until he emerged from the ground in part 4. Apparently Kraven wasn’t satisfied with simply killing Spider-Man. Instead he shot him with a drugged up dart and buried him alive knowing full well that Spidey would wake up and free himself. Kraven did this because he wanted Spider-Man to know that he could have bested him. After a strange confrontation with the now somber Kraven, Spidey tells him that he’ll return after he takes care of Vermin who has since recovered and is back in the habit of eating people. Spidey reluctantly swings off into the night and afterwards Kraven puts a gun in his mouth and blows his own brains out. Pretty heavy stuff. It’s a good thing my parents didn’t know what I was reading at the time. That 6 issue story line accomplished its goal of making Kraven a character to be respected and feared. It was fantastically written by J.M. DeMatteis and breathtakingly illustrated by Mike Zeck (All of Zecks covers on this series were iconic. I’ve included 3 of them here) The Kraven legacy lived on in the years that followed as various writers introduced 2 sons and a daughter of Kraven, all of whom followed in their father’s footsteps, meaning they were hell bent on killing Spider-Man.
The original Kraven has recently been resurrected in the comic books through same ritual performed by his kooky family. A part of me hates when they bring characters back from the dead. It diminishes the impact of the death story and it’s usually done pretty lamely as was the case with Kraven. However, he did stay dead for over 20 years which is a pretty good run and nothing beats the original so there is another part of me that’s glad to see him back.
Now onto the figure. I actually think this is the best Kraven has ever looked. I don’t believe this costume is based on any specific costume he wore in the comics but it’s more of an amalgamation of a few of them. Thank god he’s not wearing the hot pants or loin cloth. The full brown pants was definitely a good choice. the lion skin vest has a ton of detail and looks amazing. I think they did a great job sculpting his muscles, this Kraven is ripped. I love the face sculpt as well; Its got a timeless look about it. The red eyes might be a nod to the fact that he’s recently come back from the dead and now has a supernatural element about him. Whether that was their intent or not it does look cool. The spear and knife accessories are just icing on the cake. Other than a little wonkyness in his articulation, this is a brilliant Kraven the Hunter figure. 9 out of 10.