“Don’t fear me. Love me. For I intend to bless you. With pain.
And blood. And Sorrow. Tonight.”
I didn’t expect this to be very good because Kraven hasn't held much of an allure for me in the past. It turned out to be one of the finest Spider-Man stories I’ve ever read. Hell, it’s one of the finest comics I've ever read. J. M. DeMatteis has crafted a dark tale of personal suffering, full of symbolism and primal longings that puts many other writers to shame.
One of the reasons it works so well is because there’s very little dialogue. Often writers use dialogue to bridge the gaps between small parts, or to lengthen action scenes. There is no such trickery here. Instead, there are inner monologues to tell the story; they really get inside the head of each of the three main players: Spider-Man (obviously) and two very different antagonists.
Reading Kraven's Last Hunt feels like reading a Noir text but not any Noir I’ve ever encountered before. Neither Spade nor Marlowe could climb walls for a start.
Quite often whole pages go by with no text at all, because it’s not needed. The imagery, from Illustrator Mike Zeck, is able to deliver everything we need to follow the drama. His work oozes dynamic movement and pace. The colouring paints everything with a shadowy, other-worldly brush. The colours act like a kind of curtain, or a veil, that gets pushed aside just enough to let the person behind it act out their role. It’s a truly collaborative effort between writer, inker and colorists, and no one part would be as powerful on its own.
With a little help from William Blake and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, DeMatteis presented us with an enduring tale of men fighting for their sanity in a world that seems destined to take it away from them, piece by piece. It deserves a place on every comic fan's shelf.
The book collects together Web of Spider-Man issues 31 - 32, The Amazing Spider-Man issues 293 - 294, and Spectacular Spider-Man issues 131 - 132
5 symbolic risings from the depths out of 5