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.
This issue starts with Kraven thinking that "they" were wrong when they called his mother insane because she took her own life; her life was stolen from her by the Spider. He now understands that "Spider-Man is just that: a man." And while Spidey punches him, he doesn't react. He doesn't strike back, because he has already won. He hears the thunder and thinks "It's almost time, but not yet", only "when he understands". Then, when Spider-Man wants to hit him again, he explains: he won't resist, cause he finally won. He "killed" Spider-Man, and when he took his place, he proved himself "in all ways" his superior. He only allowed Spidey to live for Spidey to know it. He changes back to his Hunter costume, and goes to a stairwell, asking Spidey to follow him. Spidey starts to argue, but Kraven reminds him that with his spider-sense, he doesn't need to worry about a trap. Spidey hesitates and follows.
While he descends, Kraven thinks on how close he feels happiness. Closer than ever before. Soon, he'll find "peace, calm, happiness. An ending." They arrive at the basement. Spidey looks surprised to see Vermin there, inside the cage. Kraven explains the part he had on the Hunt, that Spidey and Captain America could barely beat him together, but he defeated him. Vermin is begging for freedom, grabing the cage's fence, and withstanding the electricity as long as he can. When he lets go, Kraven throws a torch inside. Vermin panicks. Spider-Man tries to help him, but the effect is even worse, cause Vermin is more afraid of him than of the fire. Spidey puts out the fire and goes for Kraven.
He grabs him by the collar and says he won't let him mess up his life and stand there grinning. Kraven Jumps on the back of an embalmed elephant, and roars for triumph. Spidey picks up the elephant and throws Kraven to the floor. Kraven gets up, and touches Pete's face. Peter shakes his arm off. Kraven looks surprised, but he knows that there's still something missing to end the game. He releases Vermin. Spider-Man refuses to fight him, and Vermin is on his knees begging not to be hurt. Kraven wants them to fight for his emancipation, so he tricks Vermin into attacking. Spidey tries to convince him to stop, but Vermin hurts him bad. Then he loses control and and starts beating Vermin. He holds himself when his foe seems defeated, and faces Kraven. Vermin jumps to his back, and trashes him. Kraven saves Spidey at the last moment, and sends Vermin away. Vermin flees, while Spidey utters that Kraven can't leave Vermin on the loose. Kraven helps him get up, and helps him up the stairs. He tells him he's free to leave. Spidey says he won't leave him alone, but Kraven reminds him that he can't leave Vermin free. Spidey is reluctant to leave, because he also can't leave Kraven free to hunt. Kraven gives him his word that he'll never hunt again. Spider-Man leaves promising to return, and enters the sewers.
Kraven meets his ending, his happiness. He lies inside a coffin, and shoots himself in the thundering night. This was an impressing scene.
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.
Just for the record, 5 webs. Spidey doesn't get any better than this.