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Kraven and his Trophy collection

"I am Kraven—I am a man of many names. The beast. The hunter. Kravinov. I am none of these now. Now I am just—the ghost...Now—everything is compromised. I have been returned to a world I do not belong in, cursed to road endlessly through its decaying paths...I yearn for death. A death that this time cannot be undone. Only the spider can kill me, the curse said. So I will find a way. There will be peace. But not yet."
— Issue #16, Opening captions.

Hunted is a 2019 Spider-Man storyline. It is the first major storyline event for The Amazing Spider-Man (2018). Beginning in #16 of The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 5 and building up on issues prepared from #14 and #15, it eventually concluded in Issue #23.

Sergei Kravinoff, Kraven the Hunter, is a man who seeks one thing: a final peace. Revived at the hands of his family during the events of Grim Hunt, Kraven has sought to return to the death he brought himself to in Kraven's Last Hunt. Having created a son thanks to the High Evolutionary, Kraven sought out to collect numerous animal-themed supervillains to teach them to respect the animals they garb themselves as. Teaming up with Arcade, the creator of Death Traps, and Black Ant and Taskmaster who are dispatched to collect the animal-themed rogues from across the Marvel menagerie, well known-and-obscure, all to trigger the greatest hunt ever. And with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man stuck in the middle, it's now hunt or be... Hunted, all the while Peter's sicker than he's been for a long time.

The Spiritual Successor to the mega-popular Kraven's Last Hunt/Fearful Symmetry storyline, Hunted will feature tie-in issues, also written by Spencer, with the distinct .HU suffixed to issue numbering, many of them focusing on one-shot characters and showing events outside Spider-Man's POV. #16.HU focuses on the Black Cat, #18.HU focuses on the Gibbon, #19.HU focuses on the Lizard and #20.HU on the Vulture.

Hunted showcases examples of these tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: In issue #18.HU the hunter couple who wind up killing Gibbon actually did it as a Mercy Killing. Gibbon would later pass on while in Peter's arm.
  • Animal Motifs: As Taskmaster, Black Ant, and Spider-Man keep Lampshading, it's not hard to see the theme in the rogues being kidnapped on Kraven's orders:
    • Kraven wants to make the many animal themed villains live up to the totem they are claiming to represent. Amusingly, Taskmaster and Black Ant note that they considered whether Hammerhead counted on account of having the name of the shark species but they decided he hadn't really committed to the theme the way others did.
    • Taskmaster also notes gloatingly, that Black Ant never cottoned on to the fact that an ant is an animal too when he betrays him. Later when Vulture whines to Arcade about Kraven trying to kill Vulture despite both being card-carrying founders of the Sinister Six, Arcade pointed out that a dude in a vulture outfit should have seen it coming from a guy who sees himself as the greatest hunter of all.
  • Another Side, Another Story:
    • #16.HU shows Black Cat's POV showing the events, and the backstory behind the Spider-Tracer Peter finds at the end of ASM #15.
    • #18.HU follows Gibbon's POV following Vulture's betrayal of him at the end of issue #18. It gives a new perspective on his backstory and follows his attempts to survive the hunt.
    • #19.HU follows the Lizard who is trying to find his son Billy who is trapped inside the dome over Central Park.
    • #20.HU follows the Vulture and shows his story behind the scenes after he betrayed the Gibbon and then rallied the rest of the animal rogues under his makeshift leadership. A short back-up comic also shows the Vermin's POV.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: When he learns that his son slaughtered his 86 brothers, Kraven calls him a monster, an abomination and a beast...before kissing him on the forehead and proudly declaring him a worthy heir.
  • Badass in Distress: Spidey and a whole bunch of villains are in this situation.
  • Batman Gambit: Arcade tells Vulture that the only way to break the force field keeping the villains trapped is to kill more hunter drones and gives him a device to do it, telling Vulture that his best chance is to amass an army and use them as cannon fodder. As it turns out, Arcade was ordered by Kraven to do this in order to lure Vulture into a trap.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Lizard comes to Billy's and Black Cat's aid just when they are about to be killed by Kraven's son.
  • Big "NO!": The Last Son of Kraven gives this when he realizes that the "Spider-Man" he killed is actually his father.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Spidey, the Black Cat, Billy and the remaining villains and hunters are finally freed from Kraven's trap. However, Curt Conners runs away after scaring his son upon saving him and Black Cat. As well, Kraven finally got his desired wish, but at the hands of his last remaining son after realizing what kind of monster he's become. Also, the Vulture managed to spin the apparent destruction of the all the drones as something he did to the other villains, earning their praise, Kraven's son accepts his father's final wish to take up the mantle, and the Vermin clones are out there preying on an unsuspecting public.
  • Blank White Eyes: Kraven's eyes turn into these when capturing Spider-man. In a rage, Kraven demands the web-crawler to the get up after Peter took a vicious beating from a pack of Vermins.
  • Blatant Lies: The Vulture spins a tale to the other prisoners about how the Gibbon went down fighting against the hunter robots while the Vulture took one of them apart to figure out their weakness. Both Spider-Man and the audience know that the Gibbon died begging for his life after the Vulture abandoned him to save his own skin.
  • Character Witness: In the buildup to the arc Spider-Man reluctantly abandoned Rhino to be captured by Taskmaster and Black Ant to save Aunt May who was trapped under some rubble during a fight. The Rhino later calls him out on this when the hero tries to warn the villains against trusting the Vulture.
  • C-List Fodder: Since a lot of the villains here are of this category, a few of them do bite the big one, such as Iguana, Bison, Mad-Dog and Gazelle.
  • Co-Dragons: Kraven Arcade, who developed all of his tech and is manipulating the other villains towards Kraven's goals and his son who sits most of the story out but is sent to kill Black Cat and Billy as part of Kraven's final scheme.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: In issue #21, Curt Conners calls Spidey out on this how, while he does his little speeches on Power and Responsibility all the time, he doesn't have a kid, so he doesn't know the sort of thing from a parent's point of view, which is why he's willing to turn into the Lizard and lose control, just so he can rescue his son.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Kraven delivers it to Conners, since with the inhibitor chip still attached, the latter is virtually unable to fight back.
    • After the inhibitor chip is removed, Lizard catches Kraven's son by surprise and defeats him quickly and brutally in pretty one-sided battle. He would have killed him if not for Billy.
  • A Death in the Limelight: #18.HU features Gibbon as he attempts to escape the hunters and features him remembering the events that led him to this place. The issue ends with him dying in Spider-Man’s arms.
  • Dedication: Epilogue ends with a dedication to the creators of Kraven's Last Hunt — writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck, while also featuring a promo advertising a TPB reprint of the classic comic.
  • Domed Hometown: Kraven commissions Arcade to build a force field that would cover Central Park under a dome, trapping his "prey" in a life-size hunting reserve.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: In issue #17, Spidey gets a strange vision of MJ being supposedly struck down by something or someone. Issue #23 reveals that MJ slipped on Peter's clothes and put her arm through a window.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One of the hunter operators behind a Kraven drone is totally willing to kill Black Cat but he balks at Billy who is twelve years old, claiming that he thought he was there to hunt down supervillains, not children. The hunter-operator gets killed by other villains as Black Ant points out the drones are connected to the brain functions of the drone operators remotely and whatever happens to the drones happens to the people behind them.
    • The centipede-like villain chides Peter (who isn't even aware of their existence) for thinking that it would allow some tragedy to befall Mary Jane while he was away. After all, as the demon notes, the greatest threat to anyone associated with Peter Parker is Peter Parker himself.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After being betrayed by Taskmaster, Black Ant comes and turns to Spider-Man's aid after all his attempts to get the villains to work with him have fallen to deaf ears. Black Ant offers to tell Spider-Man the entire reason and idea behind the hunt and what it's all about. Spider-Man however is not entirely willing to forgive him especially since he kidnapped a child, a crime he keeps downplaying.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: For largely self-serving reasons admittedly, but the Vulture lionizes that the Gibbon went out like a champ, and died in a noble and tragic fashion, to perform a Heroic Sacrifice for the Vulture, even if Vulture actually left him to die. As issue #20.HU shows, he also makes himself one. Turns out he didn't kill a Kraven Robot, he's been in cahoots with Arcade who gave him a device to get through the robot's devices.
  • Human Head on the Wall: How the arc image frames Kraven and the coming great hunt.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: What Kraven considers the great hunt to be, unleashing all of the animal themed rogues and miscellaneous beings in New York's concrete jungle and declaring open season on them, to be hunted down by drones controlled remotely by wealthy rich jerks.
  • Karma Houdini: The Vulture cut a deal with Arcade behind the other villains' backs so he could look like he was leading them to victory after leaving Gibbon to die. He also leads other villains to die and justifies it as them being cannon fodder. When Kraven and Arcade's plan is foiled, he's the one who comes out on top because he made it look like he was the one who did it to the other villains.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Vulture convinces Gibbon to work together with him rather than Spider-Man to survive the hunt, on the basis that Spider-Man is likely to have him arrested once it is all over. When Gibbon takes him up on his offer, Vulture promptly uses him as bait to lure the hunters away from himself.
    • Rhino getting captured by Black Ant and Taskmaster is a halfway example; he may have been a supervillain, but he was on decent terms with Spider-Man beforehand and the fact Spidey apparently just leaves him to his fate leaves him feeling genuinely betrayed.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch:
    • During the prelude to the Hunt, Spider-Man witnesses Rhino getting captured by Taskmaster and Black Ant and explicitly ignores his cries for help because he wanted to prioritize saving other victims.
    • From Kraven's point of view, the Great Hunt is this to both the supervillains and the fat cat rich hunters who are all down with killing humans for sport. The only exceptions to that are Spider-Man and Billy.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While Arcade acknowledges Vermin as a "crucial part of the Kraven Spider-Man mythos", he refuses to accept him into the game because they are overcrowded and feels bringing in a guest star this late into the story would be a problem.
  • Legacy Character: Kraven's son takes up his father's mantle.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Kraven gets his final death. The rules state that either the Hunter had to kill the Spider or the Spider had to kill the Hunter. So Kraven becomes the Spider once more and pulls a Suicide by Cop to get his son to murder him.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Taskmaster comes in to save Black Ant when the latter is cornered by villains who want revenge. We get this exchange as the duo escapes.
    Black Ant: Tasky! You came back for me! After betraying me!
    Taskmaster: Had to, little buddy. I know you woulda done the same for me.
    Black Ant: Wait—do you mean the betrayal part or the rescue part?
    Taskmaster: Yeah.
  • Mythology Gag: As befitting a Spiritual Sequel to Kraven's Last Hunt
    • Issue #17
      • The Cold Open has a naked Kraven snarling at a stuffed leopard before approaching an empty casket.
      • Spider-Man swings through New York with a feeling of dread, thinking about the death of Ned Leeds' clone.
      • When Spidey is captured, he's put into his old black costume, which he was wearing during that time.
    • In issue #18 MJ refers to the rat she killed in that comic albeit this time she spares a caterpillar.
    • Issue #19.HU features Vermin who is still scrounging in the sewers when the Lizard and Taskmaster capture him. Arcade even hangs a Lampshade and calls him an important part of the "Kraven-Spider-Man mythos".
    • Issue #22, when Kraven tells Spidey to leave and save Mary Jane, the webslinger points out that the last time he did this, Kraven died.
    • In issue issue #18.HU, Gibbon's last memory is of the time he was sent into the Marvel Apes universe.
    • Kraven reminiscing that he once tried to be something better is accompanied by a panel showing him and a squirrel.
    • At the end, Kraven once again contemplates in front of an open casket with a loaded rifle inside (in all likelihood, the same rifle as before) and ends on a photo on the casket of Kraven with his family, though this time it's of him and his cloned sons.
    • The final reunion between Peter and MJ as they kiss and make out and the camera pans over alludes to the famous reunion moment in the comic where the two have what is implied to be Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In issue 22, Kraven realizes he's been the monster the entire time and that he had a family he loved and he let them die. The realization is played out in narration rather than dialogue.
    • In Lizard's case, it's more a case of What Did I Almost Do. He defeats Kraven's son and is about to finish him off, but the sight of frightened Billy makes Conners come back to his senses and refrain himself from doing so.
  • No Honor Among Thieves:
    • Despite the two working together to capture the animal-themed villains for Kraven, Taskmaster betrays Black Ant and turns him over to Kraven to be used as one of the hunted.
      • This gets zig-zagged when Taskmaster comes back to save Black Ant anyway and even admits that he'd expect Black Ant to betray and save him as well.
    • Vulture is shocked that Kraven would capture him for his hunt given the two were founding members of the Sinister Six.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Vermin, used as a pawn in Lizard's scheme to infiltrate the dome, proves to be more mindful than he lets on and tells Arcade that the Lizard and Taskmaster duped him and Kraven. This alerts Arcade who tells his goons to find Taskmaster.
  • Oh, Crap!: Arcade's look once the barrier goes down and Captain Marvel drops in. Of course, that thing would be a sore spot for her.
  • Papa Wolf: Curt Connors is shown to be quite ruthless in his desire to save his son. He goes as far as poisoning Taskmaster to blackmail the mercenary into helping him and even deactivates the inhibitor chip he implanted in himself to keep the Lizard at bay.
  • Pet the Dog: There was one animal-themed villain Kraven spared from the hunt: his half-brother, the Chameleon. Chameleon expresses his gratitude in front of Kraven's grave, apologizing for helping to resurrect Kraven in the first place and saying the least he can do is keep anybody from disturbing his brother's rest again.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Kraven seems to want to instill this on both the rich hunters he's recruited and the supervillains he's captured. And probably Spider-Man as well. At the end of the story, Spidey deconstructs the hell out of this trope.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Last Son of Kraven confronts Curt Connors in the latter's Lizard form, he observes that Connors is not acting like the vicious predator he had heard tales of. When Connors tells him about the chip that keeps the Lizard docile, the Last Son goes on a tirade which seems to be directed at the scientist as much as it is directed towards Kraven.
    You pathetic fool! You have the power of a god inside you. A totem made of flesh—and what do you do with it? Lock it away—use your corrupt science to cage your true animal self? Choose to be this? A weak whimpering man of "science" instead? Unable to protect his own family? What kind of man are you? What kind of father are you?
  • Retcon:
    • For years, fans had believed Kraven's temporary death at the hands of Kaine Parker counted as removing the former's immortality. Issue #17 reveals that it had not.
    • Issue #19.HU retcons the events of Shed with Dr. Connors claiming that he lost control and murdered his family when the comic claimed that Dr. Connors had gone postal for real and was conscious about what he did, only losing consciousness at the end.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Spider-Man's closing argument to Kraven about his social darwinist crap. His entire plot and idea is to cater and enable people's worst impulses so as to convince Spider-Man to give in and break bad, but Spider-Man instead shows that even in the worst situations people like Dr. Connors, Black Cat, and others can rise above and prove their innate goodness. Kraven ultimately agrees and out of horror and disgust at his monstrous crimes he arranges for his murder at the hands of his cloned son.
  • The Scapegoat: Some villains presume that Spider-Man is responsible for their abduction by known mercenaries just because he happens to be trapped with them.
  • Shout-Out: MJ is listening to and dancing to Maggie Rogers' "Burning" in issue #18 as a way to beat the stress of worrying about Peter.
  • So Proud of You: Kraven leaves a last message and note on the wall mantle featuring the same gun he used to kill himself, presumably anticipating that his son would react negatively when his father forced him in a murder suicide. Kraven tells his son that he is now Kraven the Hunter, and gives him his costume and motif, with his son designing his appearance to looking like a dead ringer like Ditko's Kraven from his first appearance.
  • The Stinger: A missing animal-themed villain reappears - the Chameleon, having hidden in plain sight.
  • Synchronisation: Turns out Arcade had rigged the hunters' drones so that if the drones end up getting hurt or killed, so do the hunters themselves. Kraven deliberately had this in order to give the hunters a sense of knowing how it feels for the hunter to become the hunted.
  • Taking the Bullet: Black Cat takes a shot from a laser cannon intended for Billy. She survives.
  • Teach Him Anger: Kraven's end game hinges around this towards Spider-Man. He intended to have Billy captured so as to lure in Curt Connors, then stuck Connors and Peter in a cell to helplessly watch Kraven's clone kill Billy and Black Cat. The only way out of the cell is for Peter to unleash the Lizard by forcibly removing the inhibitor chip from Connors' spine (at his request), which nearly costs Curt his life. The point of it all is to get Spidey to embrace violence and instinct to do what must be done and make him "worthy" of a true duel to the death.
  • That Man Is Dead: Billy believes, despite Dr. Strange telling Curt that he's pretty much Billy, he's not the real Billy.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The centipede-like villain notes this about Mary Jane, after she releases a caterpillar which she scoops up and lets out of the window. The narration by the scary centipede-like villain notes that MJ represents the best in humanity, the ones who are most at risk and suffer most while the rest of society collapses into chaos. The demon also says that it will look after her while Peter is busy.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kraven's reputation having increased several bounds by Kraven's Last Hunt, now has him, post-resurrection, ascend to the Spider-Man rogues' pantheon as a mastermind and planner, and big-event villain filling the vacuum of Dr. Octopus (currently reformed), Venom (ditto) and Green Goblin (currently decommissioned).
  • Trojan Prisoner: The Lizard convinces Taskmaster to capture him and bring him underneath the dome so he can save his son.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After being beaten unconscious by Kraven's cloned son, Peter wakes up to find himself in Central Park and wearing the cloth version of his black costume (Kraven is intentionally trying to recreate the events of Kraven's Last Hunt, where Spider-Man used his black costume).
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Vulture in issue #19,
    • First he claims that Gibbon died performing a Heroic Sacrifice all so that Vulture could find a way to take out a Kraven Drone and find a way to rework it. Spider-Man calls the Vulture out for it and leaving the Gibbon to die, but it's subverted when it turns out that the Vulture does have the head of a Kraven drone, proving that at least some part of his story about taking out that drone was true.
    • Of course even that part turns out to be total crap. Issue #20.HU reveals that Arcade hailed him as a "lucky contestant" and made him a dupe to trigger the second part of Kraven's scheme. Vulture was handed a device that allowed him to cheat and behead a Kraven drone, and then assigned to lead a hit squad of supervillains to kill as many of those drones as possible, while unknown to him, allowing Kraven and Arcade to plot a culling that wipes out the rest of these totemic rogues.
  • Verbed Title
  • Villainous Legacy: Kraven leaves a note for his cloned son stating that their hunt is finished, and bequeathes his name and title to him. Thus Kraven Jr. accepts his birthright and becomes the new Kraven.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Spider-Man and Curt are locked in a cell together and watching a live feed of the Last Son of Kraven attacking Black Cat and Billy Connors. Connors begs Spider-Man to remove the inhibitor chip in his spine which will either kill Connors or make him lose control of the Lizard, neither of which is an option Spider-Man is comfortable with. Ultimately, Spider-Man removes the chip and the Lizard seemingly kills Kraven's guards as he heads out into the park to save his son. However, it turns out that Kraven killed them himself as part of his plan to break Spider-Man's spirit and make him a killer.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Some of the targets include the White Rabbit, Lady Octopus, the female Beetle, and the Black Cat.
  • Would Hurt a Child: One of the animal-themed people is young Billy Connors, who was captured by pure luck due to his desire to live a normal life.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: One of the hunters expresses shock when one of the targets was Billy Conners, and quickly wanted out of the hunt. Unfortunately, Kraven and Arcade have other plans.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The hunter drones are operated via virtual reality visor worn by the user. While the operators are initially led to believe they are safe as long as they aren't actually near the villains, issue #20 reveals that the visors are wired directly into their brains. In other words, if the drones are destroyed their operators die.