Writers: Chris Yost & Erik Burnham
Pencils: Baldeon, Oliffe & Green
Inks: Pallot & Olazaba
Colors: Sotomayor & Loughridge
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Stegman & Delgado
Editor: Tom Brennan
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
THE STORY: Kaine wakes up in a grave and then quickly finds himself fighting a tiger. Meanwhile Kraven the Hunter tells Aracely his origin story all the way up to his resurrection by way of Kaine. Ana Kraven attacks Kaine, but Kaine stops himself from killing her and webs her up instead. He goes to face Kraven and finds his friends – Wally, Donald, Annabelle, and Aracely – tied to poles with tigers circling them. Kraven leaps at Kaine shouting that he wants Kaine to kill him.
MY THOUGHTS: If the summary seemed short, there’s a reason for that: This issue wasn’t very heavy on story. In fact, out of 20 story pages, 3 were devoted to retreading Kraven’s life story, 1 was a full page of a tiger jumping Kaine, and 2 were a 2-page spread when Kaine met Kraven with his friends tied up (and at least there was some story there, but not enough that it needed 2 pages). That leaves 14 other pages which themselves were something of a mixed bag.
What works here is the fight between Kaine and Ana Kraven. Especially since we all still remember the sting of seeing Kaine run from her like HE was the little girl way back before The Grim Hunt, it’s nice to see this little “rivalry” finally put to rest. She’s initially unafraid of him, and in her position she’s totally justified, but Kaine finally turns the tables and wipes the floor with her. The bit of characterization for Kaine when he decides not to kill her and not to let himself be manipulated anymore is also quite nice, though a little heavy-handed in the Ben Reilly flashback area (I like being pandered to as much as the next guy, but we just had a whole issue of Ben Reilly referencing).
Sadly not much of the rest of this issue works. The 3-page Kraven rehash is really quite annoying since it should not take that long to get done. Most of it is entirely irrelevant, too – we don’t need to know all about his early days becoming a hunter and going to fight Spider-Man for the purposes of this story. A quick bit of Last Hunt and a quick bit of Grim Hunt would have gotten it done, and there’s no reason any of it should have taken longer than a page. Heck, every character with their own book has their origin recapped in a paragraph at the beginning of every issue. It takes one comic book style page to review this whole series at the beginning of the issue. Why does the audience need these 3 pages of overly drawn-out Kraven back story halfway through a 3-part arc?
And as I was reading the issue, I found myself not really engaging. I never fully got into it and I couldn’t initially figure out why. But on a second look, the reason becomes clear: Kraven won’t shut up about the hunt – AGAIN. Far too much of this issue is taken over by Kraven talking about himself and the hunt and blah blah blah. Look, I love “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” too (or “Fearful Symmetry” if you’re that particular brand of pretentious), but J.M. DeMatteis already did this. We dove into Kraven’s psyche and heard all about the hunt and it was great…and then we moved on. “The Grim Hunt” did a good job of loving and referencing “Last Hunt” without rehashing it, but this issue seems to be trying too hard to imitate. A bunch of Kraven dialogue and narration in this vein is just impossible to get into when it feels like a photocopy.
While the art wasn’t bad here, I would have to say it felt a bit disjointed. There were 3 pencilers, 2 inkers, and 2 colorists, and it really seemed like styles were just jumping around on a dime. Mostly the book looked good, I just long for a consistent look, as it gets a bit jarring and takes you out of the reading experience when the style keeps changing. But considering the recent announcement of this book’s cancellation after just 3 more issues, it’s past the time that we could look forward to one consistent art team.
And that’s really all there is to say. I feel like this is one of my shortest reviews, but there’s just not much TO review. More and more it seems like this once-great book is going out on a whimper, and I can’t think of anything sadder.
GRADE: C- Some good material, but a lot of wasted space, a lack of consistency, and imitation over inspiration really drag down the overall reading experience.