Kraven the Hunter: when Spider-Man is the hunted

Kraven the Hunter: when Spider-Man is the hunted

Kraven the Hunter

Every great hero needs nemesis that we know how to enhance its peculiarities. A subtle game of contrasts, in which the darling of the public finds himself having to confront a villain who tests his character, giving life to a dichotomy that, depending on the capacity of the narrator on duty, can become an important turning point for the hero. If we think back to the world of comics, few characters can boast a host of witty and ruthless adversaries like Spider-Man who, in its long publishing history, has had to face nemeses like Hobgoblin, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus or Mysterio. Names that fans of the comic book Marvel Universe know well, but to which we must add a villain who, recent news, is preparing to enjoy a film dedicated to him: Kraven the Hunter.

Speaking of the Webweave and the Russian hunter, we enter one of the most loved and suffering chapters in the history of the Spider. Complicated man, animated by a personal scale of values ​​and repeatedly revised and adapted by different authors, Sergei Kravinoff, real name of Kraven, represents one of the most lethal opponents of Peter Parker, capable of showing a charisma that allows the character to confront also with other heroes of the House of Ideas.

Kraven the Hunter: from Russia to the concrete jungle of New York

Kraven the Hunter is one of the adversaries Spider-Man encountered in the early years of its publishing history, appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man # 15 of August 1964, created, once again, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the two authors who defined the first years of the adventures of the Spider. Curiously, Kraven was preceded in the comics by his half-brother, Dmtri Smerdyakov, an ex-KGB agent expert in disguises who, under the pseudonym of Chameleon, has given Webweave a run for its money since his first appearance in the first issue of The Amazing Spider. -Man (1963).

The idea of ​​introducing Kraven to the Spider-Man comics was a happy intuition, especially given the way this villain was defined. Despite presenting himself as an opponent of the New York hero, Kraven, unlike other opponents of Peter Parker, has a moral code which, although distorted by his vision of the world as a hunting ground, has led him to follow a certain course. For Kravinoff, in fact, hunting is not a violent sport but a philosophy, brutal and ruthless, but which must be carried out as a religion, in which hunter and prey must confront each other on an equal footing. In compliance with this ideal of his, Kraven the Hunter does not rely on firearms, but prefers to face his prey with his bare hands, helping himself only with the ingestion of a serum that increases his already incredible physical qualities, also extending his longevity.

Son of a Russian aristocratic family who fled their native soil after the collapse of Tsarist Russia, Sergei Kravinoff was trained by the mysterious Gregor, a superfine hunter who taught him this art, also shaping his mentality. Thanks to this training, Kraven was able to confront some of the largest predators in nature, only to then target another type of prey: metahumans. It was precisely because of his expertise and his desire to always face new challenges that Kraven accepted the proposal of the Chameleon, his half-brother, to help him eliminate Spider-Man, a prey that could only intrigue the lethal hunter, but who soon revealed an obsession of his.

After the first meeting, in fact, the rivalry between Kraven and the Arrampicamuri had numerous other occasions to reveal itself, to the point that the Hunter became a recurring character in the stories of Tessiragnatele. The obsession with Spider-Man, however, led Kraven to partially modify his guidelines, to the point that he allied himself with other lethal opponents of the hero forming the Sinister Six, a formation composed of the most bitter enemies of Peter Parker, but with which he still failed to get the better of the superhero.

However, defeating Spider-Man was a matter of honor for Kraven despite having faced other Marvel heroes as well. From Daredevil to Black Panther, without neglecting even the Hulk, challenges that led him to be considered as a potential ally by all those who wanted to get rid of the Marvelian heroes or obtain the particular trophies necessary for their plans. Under this auspices he was hired by Sinister to hunt down the X-Men, in order to obtain samples of their precious blood, which the evil scientist would later use for his experiments.

Even secret organizations have he used his incredible hunting skills and his skills as a fighter, as he did to Nick Fury in the late 1950s, when he hired Kraven the Hunter in his team of Avengers ante tempore, created to recover vials of the super soldier's serum stolen by mysterious enemies.

But one story in particular consecrated Kraven as one of Spider-Man's great opponents.

Kraven's last hunt. Kraven

Virtually impossible to talk about Kraven the Hunter without mentioning JM's cult story DeMatties, Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod. Kraven's last hunt, in fact, is a central chapter in the Spider-Man myth, during which Peter Parker is taken to the limit, broken and almost defeated by the Hunter. In fact, in the spectacular pages of this 1987 story, Kraven manages to defeat his historical enemy, at the height of an existence lived with the obsession of defeating the Webweave. A story of hard tones, characterized to perfection, in which Kraven after years of trying to defeat Spider-Man comes to work out a final plan that will deliver him the last trophy of his life.

When it came to create this central moment in the Spider's existence, DeMatteis came to Marvel with a story he had already tried to make in DC Comics with other characters, but when Marc Gruenwald received DeMatteis's proposal he accepted it, amazing the writer himself, who didn't imagined the publishing house would agree to kill such an important character for the continuity of Tessiragnatele, as the author himself confessed:

"While I was preparing to work on the story, I was sitting in my office and leafing through the Marvel Universe Hanbook and I got to the point where Kraven the Hunter was introduced. I don't know if it was due to continuity, or a choice of who wrote the book, but they mentioned Kraven's Russian origins. As a great Dostoyevsky fan, the idea that Kraven was Russian and had the same deep, tortured soul seen in all of Dostoyevsky's characters, unlocked me and I immediately understood who the character really was. I thought a lot about Kraven and what his origins were. He was a character I had never been interested in, I always thought he was one of the dumbest characters in Spider-Man, but suddenly I had a new vision of Kraven "

Indeed, the Hunter seen in The Last Kraven Hunt is a tragic character who, feeling the end now near, faces death with a final challenge with his eternal rival. The Sergei seen in this story is a desperate man, obsessed and even ready to circumvent the rules by which he lived, in order to destroy his nemesis at any cost. Only having defeated an opponent that not even Spider-Man had been able to defeat, Vermin, led him to feel superior to the hated enemy, to the point of considering his life fulfilled and choosing to commit suicide.

Death Kraven in this story was not only a central episode in the life of Spider-Man, with repercussions even later, but he delivered to the history of comics the goodbye of a villain through a violent and self-inflicted death. DeMatteis, with this narrative arc, also creates a connection between Parker and Kravinoff played entirely on the death and unhealthy rivalry of the Hunter, who after having apparently defeated his opponent wants to wear the costume, proving not only to have beaten him but also to be better than him as a hero, looking for further confirmation that he is superior to his nemesis.

The Return from the Dead

But as Stan Lee argued, the gates of the Marvel afterlife are revolving, and therefore also Kraven has had the opportunity to return from the dead. Between 2009 and 2010, with the narrative arc Grim Hunt, in fact, within the stories of Spider-Man we witness the resurrection of Sergei Kravinoff, through a ritual performed by his children, who intend to continue a bloody hunt for Spiders, making targets also characters linked to Peter, such as Arachne and Kaine Parker.

Taking up a theme dear to the figure of Kraven, that is wild magic, a plan is orchestrated by his children to allow Sergei's resurrection, through a ritual that involves the use of the blood of his enemy par excellence: Spider-Man. As readers of the Webweave know well, Peter Parker is not the only Spider-Man, but after the Clone Saga there are more men with spider powers, and the blood of one of these, Kaine Parker, is used by mistake. br>
The consequences of this Kraven's resurrection lead to a radical revolution of the character, motivated by the wrong blood used. If in Sergei's early life his role was that of an antagonist moved by a questionable moral code but capable of creating a convincing narrative tension in his clashes with the Spider, the return from the realm of the dead delivers readers a crazy Kraven, far from the his previous moral code and animated by a ferocity that also affects his family members, causing their death as well.

We no longer have a hunter moved by his desire to confront an incredible prey like Spider-Man, but a being obsessed with hunting all metahumans with animalistic traits, which led to the Hunted story arc, in which Kraven sets up a Machiavellian plan. After having cloned himself and created the Children of Kraven, the Hunter lets these beings confront each other so that his heir, the Last Son of Kraven, will emerge victorious. Having accomplished this step, Kraven starts the hunt for metahumans with animal references, obviously also involving the Spider, with whom he will have a final confrontation in which, for a moment, the original Kraven seems to appear again. From this comparison, in fact, the Hunter understands that his dark side was the enemy he always wanted to defeat, to the point that he chooses to wear Spider-Man's black symbiote costume one last time, as happened in The Last Hunt of Kraven, and give help to Peter Parker in his own way, eventually meeting death at the hands of his designated heir, who mistakes him for Spider-Man.

Kraven: Life Beyond the Comic

Kraven has had the opportunity to live beyond the comic, appearing as one of Spidey's enemies in the famous Spider-Man: The Animated Series, but now he is finally ready to be admired on the big screen. In the past it was thought to have Sergei Kravinoff debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as an opponent of T’Challa in Black Panther, but this idea of ​​Ryan Coogley, director of the film, was discarded. With the complicated management of the cinematic context of Tessiragnatele, divided between Sony and Marvel Studios, seeing the iconic Spider-Man villains at the cinema is not easy.

To date, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe only Mysterio and the Vulture, while the Sony-branded Spider-verse counterpart has boasted a greater host of Wallramp nemeses, thanks to reboots and spin-offs, such as Venom and the announced living vampire movie, Morbius. Kraven, who we recently discovered will be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, will therefore have his starring film, not included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but which could be an opportunity to bring one of the most fascinating opponents of the world to the big screen. Webweaves.

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