“The Grim Hunt, Chapter 2”

Writer: Joe Kelly

Penciler: Michael Lark

Inker: Stefano Gaudiano

Art Assist: Matt Southworth

Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth

“Hunting the Hunter, Part Two: A Prophecy”

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis

Penciler: Max Fiumara

Inker: Max Fiumara

Colorist: Fabio D’Auria

“Spidey Sunday Story Part Two”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciler: Marcos Martin

Inker: Marcos Martin

Colorist: Muntsa Vicente

Cover Art: Gabrielle Dell’Otto

Variant Cover Art: Mike Fyles

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

For those that actually care: apologies for the lateness.  I know that my concept of lateness is different than everyone else’s (I’m looking at you, Spideydude), but when I took the gig I promised to do everything humanly possible to get these up the day the comic hits the stores.  Sometimes, though, life just gets in the way.

This issue has a main story and two backups, including a brief two-pager.  I’ll focus primarily on the main feature and pepper in the backups as I go.

The Plot

After a few pages of exposition explaining the situation, the spiders go into action to save Araña from the Kravinoffs.  Arachne and Araña are incapacitated and captured, leaving only Peter and the freshly-shorn Kaine.  Ezekiel shows up to lead Spider-Man to Venom and Anti-Venom.  Unfortunately, Ezekiel turns out to be the Chameleon in disguise, and Spidey has been led into a trap.  After a short battle, Spider-Man is killed and sacrificed, resurrecting Kraven.

The Good

Once again, the art makes this issue.  Lark, Gaudiano, and Hollingsworth – with unspecified help from Matt Southworth (likely backgrounds) – turn in a virtuoso performance in another dark chapter.  There’s always been a gloominess to Lark’s work, and the inking and coloring only highlight this.  The entire book has a dark, almost washed-out palette to it, like looking out a window in a thunderstorm, and it’s a perfect match for the dreary hopelessness of this story.

As expected, Kaine plays a big part in this issue.  We get an interesting conversation between Spider-Man and his imperfect clone about family, selfishness, and heroism.  Kaine hasn’t gotten this much attention or development in a long time, and I appreciate that they’re really trying to crack his head open to find out what’s inside.  Of course, I have to mention the death of Spider-Man here – because it’s almost too obvious that it was Kaine in that Spider-Man costume (uniform?).  If that’s the case, and Kaine goes out a hero, it is an oddly fitting end for the character.  On the other hand … well, you’ll have to read the next section.

The script, though heavy-handed at times, conveys the sense of pending doom consistently and with a singularity of vision.  Madame Web’s depressing narration really sets the tone for the entire arc.  And really, the last few stories by Joe Kelly have shown a stark departure from his usual approach.  He could really find a good niche for himself between the bouncy fun and the grim darkness if he can balance them out, similar to J.M. DeMatteis in the late 90s.

Speaking of J.M. DeMatteis, the backups in this issue are excellent.  The DeMatteis/Fiumara backup is top-notch, showing off some classic Kaine and Kraven moments.  I tend to be hot and cold on the idea of retconning in stories like this, but this Kaine story works well alongside the main feature.  I also need to commend Fiumara’s artwork – although I wasn’t a fan of his work on the Rhino stories, his artwork here is really growing on me.

The other backup, the short Stan Lee bit with Marcos Martin on art, is an amusing little interlude.  In other words, it does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well.  I cracked up at the three panels of dialogue between Spidey and Mr. Fantastic, with some roughhousing happening in the background.  It’s cute and funny, and it works on every level.

Oh yeah, and the wolfman Grim Hunter uses a caveman-style axe.  You know, a thing with a wooden handle and a triangular stone “blade.”  It probably wasn’t the intention, but I found that stupidly funny.

The Bad

This issue is like a Roland Emmerich movie – it’s full of exciting moments and twists, but they fall apart once you start thinking about them.  Let’s address each one …

(1) Ezekiel is really the Chameleon in disguise (with some help from Mysterio).  I have no problem admitting that they got me with this one – I really thought that Ezekiel was back from the dead.  Kudos to Kelly and Co. for selling this one, because once he pulled off that mask I was pretty surprised.  Then I started to think about it.  How did he evade Peter’s spider-sense the whole time?  How does the Chameleon know about the entire totem history and how it relates to Spider-Man?  I guess you could say “Madame Web,” but that’s a lame cop-out.  (Then again, it makes you wonder how Ezekiel even fits into this continuity.  His character completely hinges on his knowledge of Spider-Man’s secret identity …)

(2) Spider-Man is killed, but it’s probably Kaine in Spider-Man’s costume.  Why else would Kaine get a shave and a haircut?  But seriously, this falls apart very quickly once you realize that Kaine is supposed to be about six inches taller and significantly more muscular than Peter.  I could get into this more, but I’d probably elicit cries of whining anger from Certain Bitchy Responders.  We’ll talk more about this next time!

(3) Kraven the Hunter is resurrected.  Sure, but if he was raised with the blood of Kaine, who is a damaged clone, there’s probably something wrong with Sergei.  They jury is still out on this one.

There were several minor annoyances throughout the issue.  For one thing, Kelly managed to find a way to make Ana even more annoying than she’s ever been up to this point.  She keeps spouting this obnoxious poem or song or whatever the hell it is.  Oh yeah, and stop spelling “spider” as “spyder.”  It was good for one or two uses, since it ties into the poem, but it got obnoxious very quickly.

The fight scene in the park was irritating.  Not only do Spider-Man, Arachne, Araña, and Kaine lose to two knockoff Kravens and a wolfman, but they lose in spectacular fashion, with both Arachne and Araña captured.  Arachne doesn’t even get the dignity of being taken down on-panel.  Give me a friggin’ break already!

By the way – there’s more rape and possible kid-eating in this issue.  At least it’s “only” attempted rape this time.  In the backup story, Kaine forces himself on some chick he met at a bar.  Nice.  And at the start of the main feature, Vladimir appears to be eating a large, human-like bone.  Makes you wonder what they did with Mattie Franklin’s body …

The Ugly

Sasha Kravinoff shoots “Spider-Man” with a rifle, claiming it’s the same gun Kraven used to kill himself.  First of all, the gun that Kraven killed himself with didn’t have a scope on it, so she either lied or defiled the gun by making an addition to it.  (Well, either that or it was simply a mistake by Lark that could have been prevented with five minutes of research.)

She also says that “It carries his regret.”  Regret?  He killed himself as an expression of his honor in the completion of his life’s purpose.  He seemed pretty okay with it to me.

Then again, this story blatantly ignores Soul of the Hunter anyway, so I shouldn’t even waste my time arguing about continuity.

The Bottom Line

The main feature was a big step down from the first issue.  It still is relatively well-executed, however, and if you can ignore the logical flaws it’s a pretty entertaining story.  The backups also step it up this time.  All in all, I think this easily earns a good-but-not-great 3 out of 5 webheads.

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