“The Grim Hunt, Chapter 3”

Writer: Joe Kelly and Zeb Wells

Penciler: Marco Checchetto and Michael Lark

Inker: Marco Checchetto and Stefano Gaudiano

Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth

“Hunting the Hunter, Part Three: War”

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis

Penciler: Emma Rios and Max Fiumara

Inker: Emma Rios and Max Fiumara

Colorist: Fabio D’Auria

“Spidey Sunday Story Part Three”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciler: Marcos Martin

Inker: Marcos Martin

Colorist: Muntsa Vicente

Cover Art: Mike Fyles

Variant Cover Art: Esad Ribic

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

Like the previous two, 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

The newly-resurrected Kraven meets his family and learns that he’s some kind of immortal zombie.  The “Spider-Man” they killed last issue is revealed to have been Kaine.  Kraven wants Spidey to hunt him (in the black suit).

The Good

This issue is drawn primarily by Marco Checchetto instead of Michael Lark.  The reason this paragraph appears here is that I actually like Checchetto’s work a lot, much more than Lark’s.  It’s hard to describe, but his work has a jagged smoothness to it.  The guys look like they were carved out of marble, the women are sexy and move with fluidity and grace, the light and shadow are well-balenced … in short, this guy is the perfect artist for a Spider-Man book.  It blows my mind that we don’t see him more often in the rotation, because I’ve loved all of his work on the title so far, as sparingly as he has been used.

The backup story by DeMatteis is very good.  The man clearly has a good grasp of both Kraven and Kaine, and he turns what would be an ordinary fight story into a character study.  He gets a lot of flak sometimes for delving into psychobabble, but I like the approach here.  We even get to see Kaine put his burning touch to an interesting use.

The Bad

I liked the first two issues of this arc, but this third installment drops the ball.  Badly.

The main issue here is that the entire main story is filler.  Kraven meets his family again, he mopes around a little, they discover that he has been given the “unlife” (which I assume to be some sort of zombie-like immortality), and they find out that Kaine was actually the man in the Spider-suit.  Not only did they take 22 pages to detail events that could have been done in at least half that space, but they take 22 pages to detail events that could have been done in at least half that space and were plainly obvious to anybody that read the last issue.  (Go ahead and read last issue’s review.  I called all of these things.)

Now that we know for certain that Kaine is the one in the suit, let’s revisit that idea.  According to my handy copy of Marvel Encyclopedia Volume 4: Spider-Man, Peter Parker is 5’10”/165 lbs.  Kaine goes 6’4”/250 lbs.  How could a roomful of people that have all fought Spider-Man before possibly mistake Kaine for Spider-Man?  That’s like hunting for Tobey Maguire in a Spider-Man suit and coming across Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Spider-Man suit – anybody with functioning eyeballs would be able to tell the difference, let alone a bunch of people that should easily recognize an opponent that they have all encountered multiple times.  It’s a critical flaw with the plot of this arc that sends the entire thing crashing down to the ground, like a house of cards built on a table with Jenga towers for legs.

Another thing that really pissed me off was the overwrought scene at the end, in which Peter bursts out of the grave screaming.  Clearly, it was included as an homage to a similar scene from Kraven’s Last Hunt.  As shown in the flashback, Kaine took Peter’s costume after Peter had fallen into the open grave.  Kaine knocked Peter out and ran off to his ultimate demise.  Now, let’s backtrack.  Peter burst out of a grave that was full of dirt.  Who buried him?  It wasn’t Kaine, because that wouldn’t make any sense.  Besides, Kaine didn’t have the time for that.  That means that somebody dumped six feet of dirt onto a guy that was clearly alive.  Then, that same person didn’t bother to tell anybody that they buried a dude in his underwear laying unconscious in an open grave.  Say what?

And really, Kaine’s death bothers me.  What did he die for?  “He died to save Peter’s life,” says the audience.  True, except that his death resurrected the villain.  So Peter could still be hunted, with the strong possibility of getting his ass handed to him again.  Kaine’s death has no meaning to it, because it’s a pointless sacrifice.  If Kaine really wanted to help, he would have carried Peter to safety instead of essentially helping to resurrect the bad guy.  That contradicts the entire premise of his death.

I continue to be against the idea of Kraven being resurrected.  What’s the point?  He got a very fitting sendoff in the criminally-under-read Soul of the Hunter.  That brings me to another point … this arc seems to continue to ignore Soul of the Hunter to the point that it makes me wonder if the Webheads are even aware of its existence.  (A few readers were a little confused when I referenced this fantastic book last month, so allow me a moment to briefly explain the plot.  Peter and Mary Jane attend the funeral of their friend Roger’s mother, and Peter has several chilling flashbacks to his own time in the coffin from Kraven’s Last Hunt.  He walks out of the viewing and into a lobby, where he’s confronted by Mary Jane.  Angrily, he storms off and changes into Spider-Man, but that only leads to more flashbacks before he returns to the funeral.  That night, Peter is distracted by these events, and Mary Jane comforts him – which, by the way, is the kind of great scene that reminds us why a married Spider-Man works.  It’s my favorite scene from a book chock full of good scenes, so I fired up the scanner to share it with you below, if you don’t mind a few small ink splotches from my artwork stuck to the scanner bed.  Anyway, during the night, Peter has a strange vision of Kraven’s ghost, which is stuck in a state of limbo because he committed suicide.  The rest of the story involves Spider-Man’s quest to help free Kraven’s soul from this transitional state while also coming to grips with his own near-death experience.  It’s a great, powerful, emotional story of life and love by the team of DeMatteis, Zeck, and McLeod, and I highly recommend it to everyone.)  The main point of Soul of the Hunter was to give closure to both Kraven and Spider-Man.  The fact that Spider-Man saved Kraven’s soul should be a pretty good reason why Kraven would call off the hunt … except that he doesn’t.  In fact, he escalates it.  I really have no words to explain how infuriating that is.

Oh yeah … and why didn’t Kaine degenerate like all the other clones?

The Ugly

Fill-ins.  This issue is a fill-in-a-palooza, with a co-writer, a co-artist, and even a co-artist for the backup.  Wasn’t the point of using multiple writers and multiple artists in rotation to give arcs a sense of continuity?  I really have to wonder what’s going on behind-the-scenes given the increasing regularity of these fill-ins …

The Bottom Line

I liked the first two issues of this arc, in spite of their flaws, but this issue was a disappointment.  All of the momentum built up by the first two installments is gone.  It’s inexcusable for a $3.99 issue to feel this empty and unfulfilling.  1.5 out of 5 webheads.

As promised, here are two pages of a book that is actually GOOD …

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