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Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven's Hunt Is Heating Up


The hunt grows more treacherous.

While “Hunted” has proven disappointing so far, the problems with this latest Spider-Man crossover are mostly in the execution, not the premise. Writer Nick Spencer and artist Humberto Ramos have all the right ingredients for another classic Kraven vs. Spider-man tale. The hitch has come in the form of the agonizingly slow pace and the fact that most of the best material has been shoved over to the tie-in issues. Fortunately, that finally seems to be changing with Amazing Spider-m=Man #20. This issue gives the series a much-needed momentum boost and shows that the strong character work doesn’t need to take place in ancillary books.

The general sense of pacing is much tighter in this new chapter. Spencer finally pushes the conflict beyond its initial starting place, revealing more layers to Kraven’s plot that go beyond simply turning the world’s richest hunters on captured supervillains like fish in a barrel. That, combined with Spider-Man’s growing frustration over his own inability to stop the hunt and new complications surrounding characters like Black Ant and the Lizard, serves to give “Hunted” the richness and energy it had been lacking.


But even more important than the deeper, more exciting plot is the fact that this issue features the strong character moments previous chapters lacked. Spencer casts a wide net in issue #20. Black Ant receives some much-needed character growth, evolving beyond the wisecracking henchman he’s been written as throughout the series and regaining some of the heroic streak he’s worked so hard to keep buried these past few years. Issue #20 picks up right where issue #19.HU left off in terms of Lizard’s arc. Curt Connors may well turn out to be the MVP of this whole story when all is said and done, as Spencer is building a compelling story about a man fighting a losing battle to keep his inner beast caged. This issue also serves as a huge boon for Black Cat. She’s a character who’s languished since her big status quo upheaval in Superior Spider-Man. One of the highlights of this relaunched series has been seeing Felicia Hardy get back to basics and learn to shine again.

This is also the first chapter of the series since issue #16 to really take advantage of the dynamic between Kraven and his sole surviving son. If anything, the lack of forward progress plays into their interaction here, with father maintaining his stoic reserve and son growing disillusioned with the man he once idolized. Spencer and Ramos are able to communicate much about their relationship while giving Kraven himself surprisingly little dialogue.

In all of this, Spider-Man himself continues to feel like a glorified bit player in his own comic. That’s been the trend with this series of late – that Spidey often takes a back seat to his enemies and allies alike. Fortunately, the ending suggests “Hunted” will soon make Peter a priority again, even as it revisits some of the key moments from “Kraven’s Last Hunt.”

Ramos is back in full force with this issue, in the process delivering what is easily his strongest chapter of the current series to date. Ramos’ exaggerated anatomy may frustrate from time to time, but this story also plays very naturally to his strengths as an artist. With invaluable assistance from inker Victor Olazaba and colorist Edgar Delgado, Ramos captures the oppressive tone of the story and that clash between man and inhuman beasts. His take on the Lizard is especially impressive, rivaling even that of Chris Bachalo in Amazing Spider-Man #19.HU. The biggest visual hurdle this issue faces is that Ramos doesn’t draw enough distinction between Kraven and his son. Apart from their dress, they look practically identical to one another in a way that wasn’t the case with Ryan Ottley’s art in issue #16.

The Verdict

After an overly sluggish and underwhelming first half, “Hunted” is finally living up to its potential. This issue brings new twists and an overall greater sense of momentum to the story. It also features some of the strong character work that had previously been relegated to the tie-in chapters. Hopefully this trend can continue as this latest Spider-Man/Kraven showdown reaches its climax.

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