Comics : Web of Spider-Man #31

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This story is part of an Arc: "Kraven's Last Hunt"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Henrique Investigates

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Ned Leeds died not too long before this story, and Peter and MJ married right before it. Two major milestones in Peter Parker's life. This story depicts the third. Way back, since Amazing Spider-Man #15 (vol.1), Kraven the Hunter entered the list of Spider-Man's enemies. Since then, he suffered numerous defeats, and after each one he became more obssessed in catching his ultimate prey. Spidey never considered him much of a danger, cause he was always defeated mostly without any effort.

In this story, however, Kraven succeds in killing Spider-Man, buries him and takes his place, beating a foe Spidey could barely beat with Captain America's help.

By the way, this is a story where Pete still uses the black costume.

In Detail...

"The Coffin"
Web of Spider-Man #31
Oct 1987 : SMURF 292.900 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Kraven's Last Hunt"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Mike Zeck
Inker:  Bob McLeod
Cover Art:  Mike Zeck
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility #5
Articles: Kraven The Hunter

A naked Kraven is training with his embalmed trophies, throwing a panther and beheading a gorilla. Meanwhile, in his garden, a servant digs a grave. Inside the Mansion, Kraven reminisces... he recalls his coming to America and the downfall of his homeland as he enters the Mansion's chapel. He realizes that no matter how good the elixirs he took are, he's an old man. And his spirit is also dying. He surrends to the inevitable: he'll die soon. He approaches an open coffin and with tears in his eyes, he picks up a Spider-Man costume inside the coffin: "But not yet", he thinks.

The rain is pouring down, and the thunders echo in the night. Jimmy's Corner, a bar who usually doesn't welcome honest people, today isn't welcoming anyone. It's closed, and the only people inside are grieving. "Joey Face is dead", thinks Spider-Man. He was one of the innumerous guys who was either sent to jail by the wall-crawler, or was source of information. Why should Peter care with the death of guys like this, he asks himself.

The owner of the bar talks about Joey. No money, no family, those thugs and himself were everyone he had, and the best they could do was this. This and a collection for "a decent box an' a piece of ground", in an ashtray near the body. He sees Spider-Man hanging from the ceiling, but he can't say his name. Instead, they all run for the door. Spidey webs the door, and tells them not to run as he "just came to say goodbye". Putting on a costume doesn't change the man underneath, he thinks. "I'm just... Peter Parker. And I guess I do care." Spidey pulls out some money and drops it in the ashtray: "A decent box and a piece of ground", he says, and leaps away.

Meanwhile, Kraven's servant keeps digging...

Peter swings home, and thinks about death: Ned, Gwen, Cap. Stacy, Uncle Ben, Joey Face, they're all dead. Someday it'll be MJ's turn. Or Aunt May's. Or Pete's. He realizes he's going to die, "but not yet", he thinks as he goes to sleep.

In a room full of spiders, at his Mansion, Kraven is eating and squashing them. Peter awakes from a nightmare with spiders, and goes for a swing to cool down, while Kraven repeats "Tonight".

Spider-Man is swinging, and Kraven drops from a helicopter in a rooftop somewhere else: the hunt begins. And the servant's still digging. Spider-sense warns but Pete reacts too slowly and is hit by a dart. He raises his head to see... Joey Face. He understands it's Kraven, but he sight alternates between the two. Knowing he's been drugged, he attacks Kraven only to be struck down by Kraven's staff and caught in a net. Currently lacking the strenght to escape, he thinks that he'll recover while Kraven takes him to "some secret hideout" and brags. His mistake. Kraven points a rifle at him, saying "Honor will be restored", and watching Spider-Man pleading him to stop... "BLAM"! Meanwhile, the servant finishes the grave.

A huge thunder is heard, as Kraven and two of his men stand by Spider-Man's coffin. The coffin is lowered to the grave, and Kraven throws in the first dirt. Then his sad face is replaced by a huge grin, and he and his men leave, while the servant covers the hole.

In General...

Well, you shouldn't really be reading this to decide whether you should buy this one or not. If you're a Spidey fan, that decision is already taken. This is an epic. No webs rating, may it be a 5, a 6 or a 20 can translate how great this story really is. It's wonderfully written, wondefully drawn, wonderfully penciled, and the result is sublime. Each time I read it, I find some new delightful detail I never noticed. By all means, READ IT. These are the stories that make being a reader worth it. Kraven's Last Hunt is indispensable for any comics fan. True masterpiece.

If you already own it, then why the heck are you reading this? Me, boring! Last Hunt, great! Go and read it.

I couldn't end this without mentioning that this story was brought to us by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod. Each of them deserves as much praise as possible.

Overall Rating...

Just for the record, 5 webs. Spidey doesn't get any better than this.