THE HUNT IS ON! Featuring Kraven, Rhino, the Lizard, Jackal, the Owl, and others!
MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN (VOLUME 2), ISSUE #4
“99 Problems” Part Four
Written By: Matt Kindt
Pencils By: Marco Rudy
Colors By: Val Staples
PLOT: Spider-Man escapes Nitro’s explosion, only to be blown through the water by the shockwaves. He is carried all the way to an island, and immediately collapses into unconsciousness. Spidey wakes up in a fancy hotel, and soon realizes that the doorman is Kraven the Hunter. Kraven is excited for Spider-Man to join the hunt, and many of Spidey’s animal-themed villains (Rhino, Jackal, Scorpion, and I think that’s supposed to be the Lizard) burst through the glass wall. Spider-Man decides to just run, and when Kraven shoots the Lizard in the head, Spider-Man realizes that Kraven is hunting everyone on the island. Spidey uses the last of his web fluid to get away, and falls asleep in a tree. When he wakes up, he realizes the Owl has been watching him sleep for hours. The Owl doesn’t want to be a pawn in this game, so he tries to help Spider-Man escape. He informs Peter that they are on an island off the coast of Malta, but before he can divulge any more information, he is shot down by Kraven. Spidey falls through the forest, and treks to the shore finding a small boat. But then Kraven attacks shirtless. Spider-Man uses some pressurized air left over in his web shooters to spray sand on Kraven and escapes on the little boat. Reaching the coast of Malta, Peter finds everything surprisingly vacant, when he is suddenly shot in the back of the head.
THOUGHTS: This series is understandably polarizing for the Spider-Man fanbase, and I haven’t quite figured out what to make of it as a whole. I thought the first issue was interesting setup with an interesting style of artwork, however the last two issues have been somewhat of an incomprehensible mess. Many may disagree with me, but I feel that this issue was a nice improvement over the last two instalments. Was it great? No not really, but it was nice to have an issue that felt more like a story rather than a dungeon-style video game with no payoff to anything. That’s not exactly high praise but it’s progress, and in that same style I’ll say this: It was nice to have an actual interaction between characters. The scene between Spidey and the Owl was brief yet refreshing. Also this: The art was actually sequential events, characters being represented, action was actually not difficult to follow. I don’t know when these issues were worked on, but perhaps Marco Rudy or the editors read some opinions online because the “stylized” nature of this issue was turned down several notches, which worked wonders for the look of the book. I found myself really enjoying the art and the colors, some of the visuals I looked at a couple of times, it’s just really pretty stuff.
The writing, on the other hand, is still largely a mess. While certainly better than the last two issues, Spider-Man’s thoughts are still not believable and very annoying, the situations are ridiculous as ever, and so many villains are thrown in just to be there. Something you all should know if you’re not still reading this is that this issue definitely confirms that this series is set entirely out of continuity. You Crawlspacers had several theories for where this takes place in Peter Parker’s timeline, but this issue blows that all completely away. First, Peter states that Mary Jane has broken up with him recently. Then, there are completely new designs (I believe) for both the Scorpion and the Owl. And the Jackal is present, which makes things even more tricky.
Just like Venom and Carnage last issue (BRAAIIIIINNNNSSSS), Kraven, who seems to be the main villain of this issue despite the fact that he loses to a faceful of sand, is written in the most stereotypical way you can imagine. All he really says are things like, “The hunt! The hunt has begun! You are now a part of the hunt! You are the most dangerous game!” Which, by the way, is the title of a famous short story by Richard Connell in which a hunter turns his eyes toward humans as his hunting prize. It’s really good, Google it if you get a chance. Anyway, Kraven is just annoying, and we still don’t get much closer to find out what the point of all of this crap is. None of these characters have any motivation or purpose for being here. I was especially puzzled seeing the Jackal. Why on Earth would he be a part of this? Not that it matters, it’s not like he actually talks. And the Lizard and the Owl are presumably dead, so I guess that’s something. Now, that ending, that was interesting. I legitimately was not expecting Spider-Man to get shot in the head. Obviously he’s not dead, but that was a great cliffhanger in my opinion. I’m actually curious what lies in Malta and who could have organized something of this scale, I have some interest in the final part of this story which is much more than I had during the past two issues. That’s an accomplishment. Kindt brought my interest back a bit. Or maybe it was Rudy, I really did enjoy the art.
That said, there is a style in comics writing that I have begun to notice in series like Scott Snyder’s Batman and many others that is beginning to grate on me. The main character who is narrating narrates a story in his thoughts that seems to have nothing to do with the comic’s story, but ends up being loosely related. This seems to be a trick that is used to make the writing seem deeper than it really is, and while I think Scott Snyder often uses it to great effect, this series does it every single issue and it bugs the crap out of me. An example is how this issue starts with: “I remember reading some science report when I was in school about time dilation.” (Time Dilation Accelerator. Heh heh 90’s show. Anybody?) We soon realize that Peter is saying this to describe how he felt when Nitro exploded, and it’s not that it’s used badly, but it’s a trick I’m tired of seeing. However, Kindt uses it again later in the issue when Peter talks about his one camping trip with Uncle Ben, and I actually rather enjoyed that. He talks about having to use his own ingenuity to find the pocket knife that Uncle Ben got him, and while this isn’t a story we would expect to hear about a little Peter Parker, it totally makes sense to me because Peter has always been able to use his wits in the middle of stressful situations. That’s one of the great strengths of his character.
PROS: Much, MUCH clearer and more appealing art, some great layouts and lovely coloring, the writing is a small step up, good cliffhanger.
CONS: Still no reason to this story, no motivations, not much story progress, Peter’s thoughts are ridiculous, stereotypical character treatment.
GRADE: Flat C. This was a large step up from the previous two issues, but does that make it a good comic? Not necessarily, but it was okay. And with the way this series has been going, I will definitely accept okay. I’m interested in the finale. Thanks for reading my thoughts, and what did you guys think? Let me know below!