Monday, December 19, 2016

From The Depths Of Defeat!

Things haven't gone too well for Spider-Man since his last meeting with Kraven the Hunter, where Kraven scored a TKO against the wall-crawler and declared victory before leaving the scene of their battle. Since then, Spidey has searched for Kraven to no avail; unfortunately, in the meantime, he's picked up a nasty bug, and been forced to take on a new menace to the city who's as ruthless and deadly as his predecessor.

There's a new Vulture in town, and it's Blackie Drago, a former resident of the big house along with the original Vulture--a man on his deathbed, but who passed along the location of his flying suit to Drago before learning that Drago had double-crossed him. With a risky escape, Drago secured the suit and evaded pursuit--and after plunging into his new criminal career and engaging in a series of daring crimes in the city with impunity, he made sure that Spider-Man, debilitated from illness, would not survive to interfere with his plans again.

And with Spider-Man out of the way, who's left to deal with the new Vulture?


Riding high after what he considers to be a decisive victory against Spider-Man, Kraven is not at all pleased at the Vulture swooping in (so to speak) and stealing his thunder. It's unclear whether or not he believes the Vulture to be the same criminal he knew as part of the Sinister Six, though he doesn't seem to care one way or the other, does he? You have to wonder if he'd react the same if it were Electro or Doc Ock getting all this press, instead. The Six held no love for each other by the time they'd been rounded up, so it's understandable if Kraven feels their ties have been long since severed.

At any rate, he's not likely to defer to the Vulture out of any sense of group loyalty anytime soon.

Kraven actually goes a few more rounds with Rajah in this scene, but you probably get the drift in this condensed version. Suffice to say that Rajah is probably the only tiger that prefers to remain in its cage.

But what about Spider-Man? Was Drago right in thinking the web-slinger was done for? Well, it becomes clear that the medical profession has it all wrong. Apparently there's nothing like a brutal beating, a multi-story fall, and exposure to freezing cold to put someone under the weather on the road to recovery.

Drago is also feeling a lot better following the battle, resuming his life of airborne crime and believing that there's now no one to stop him, to say nothing of the rep he'll have at polishing off the likes of Spider-Man. Though Drago doesn't realize that there's someone who knows exactly how he feels in that regard--someone who plans to make sure Drago understands that this town isn't big enough for both of them.

But what about the title character of this mag? Is he just going to sit this one out? Far from it--writer Stan Lee, knowing when to shift fortunes for his characters, has orchestrated Spider-Man in back-to-back defeats by both Kraven and the Vulture, but now plans to satisfy the book's readers by shifting things back in the character's favor. And for that to happen, Peter Parker must first shake off both his illness and his injuries, faster than you can say "J. Jonah Jameson."

(Who needs a fancy video transceiver or direct line to SHIELD to alert you to trouble when you've got a transistor radio next to your bed and a frantic newscaster breaking in with "BULLETIN!"?)

As for Kraven, he has the Vulture just where he wants him--falling into a carefully laid trap in a man-made jungle exposition area that Kraven has netted over to prevent his foe from flying to safety. The Vulture will have to "wing it" in close quarters--but both men are going to have unexpected company.

It's interesting to see that Spider-Man has chosen not to wait out the fight between Kraven and the Vulture and then move in to settle up with the man left standing--instead coming on like gangbusters and taking on both of them at once. It's consistent with his from-the-hip character, particularly since he owes each of these men--and as Lee likely understands, it's bound to satisfy Spider-Man's fans who no doubt enjoy seeing the character bounce back and clean house.

So far, Spider-Man has done a good job of pivoting from one villain to the other--but it's inevitable that one of them proposes that they team up against him. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't they already battling him?) But in another delightful twist, Spidey makes use of a weapon he knows from experience that Kraven is likely to resort to.

One down, one to go--and it makes sense that Kraven is the one for Spider-Man to put down, since in this environment Kraven has the "home field" advantage. For Spider-Man to score a solid win, for himself and for his readers, he has to defeat Kraven on the Hunter's terms--and that he will do unquestionably.

There certainly won't be any, er, beating around the bush from Kraven on this one, with talk about how Spider-Man "escaped" him during their last fight. This was a clean knockout, as clean as it gets. Blackie Drago, however, can look forward to some additional payback from his suit's previous owner, who cheats death and makes clear to Drago in no uncertain terms that only the original Vulture will be seen in the skies.

As for Kraven, he's chosen to lick his wounds and salvage his pride by turning his attention to someone else--and a very natural, well-balanced clash at that.

Attaboy, Kraven! For you (to paraphrase "Green Acres"), the Savage Land is the place to be!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"A man with wings can do anything!! ANYTHING!!!"

Alas, poor Blackie, we hardly knew ye.


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