Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artwork: Ryan Ottley, Alberto Alburquerque, Cliff Rathburn
Colours: Laura Martin, Brian Reber and Carlos Lopez
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 27th February 2020 (available on ComiXology)
Touted in February 2019 by Marvel as being “the biggest Amazing Spider-Man story of the year”, many of the 64,197 readers perusing Nick Spencer’s narrative for issue sixteen of The Amazing Spider-Man were probably a bit surprised that Spidey himself didn’t show up in the comic’s opening nineteen pages, and was instead shoehorned into a much shorter, secondary tale at the end of the super-sized book. Indeed, even when ol’ web-head does finally make an appearance in his own publication, the storyline is frustratingly far more focused upon the angst-ridden exploits of Billy Connors and a sick Peter Parker than it is upon the super-hero swinging through the streets of Manhattan.
Thankfully though, the lack of the titular character actually seems to enhance this comic’s entertainment by allowing the two-time Cincinnati City Council candidate to predominantly pen an enthralling piece about Kraven the Hunter’s return from beyond the grave and reconciliation with an ever-evolving world; “Seeing his beloved creations die over and over, unable to withstand any more heartbreak, the High Evolutionary relented.” This spellbinding spotlight upon Kravinoff’s eighty-seven clones, and the resultant murders of all but one, really is a cracking yarn, and does a good job of showing just why an utterly disillusioned Sergei would turn to fellow villain Arcade for help.
In fact, seen through the sceptical eyes of the Soviet’s sole-surviving son, this comic goes to great lengths to explain what has changed within Kraven’s mind, and why he now sees “the same trespassers who defiled your kingdom” as paling into insignificance when compared to the “handful of criminals who have committed their own sin against nature.” Excitingly however, whether any Web-Head is convinced by this argument or not is debatably irrelevant, particularly once Spencer reveals this motivation has led to the pulse-pounding promise of having six of the New York-based publisher’s most infamous bad guys be hunted by a plethora of amateur poachers.
Adding to this “Hunted” prelude’s intriguing tale are Ryan Ottley’s pencils, which go a long way towards depicting the emotional roller-coaster of a ride Sergei goes through before enlightening his accelerated adult offspring to the big game hunter’s murderous masterplan. In contrast, the same arguably cannot be said of Alberto Alburquerque’s artistic contribution, whose work on this tome’s final pages, whilst proficient, rather jars when scrutinised alongside the cleaner line work of this book’s earlier illustrator.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]