Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Call Of The Hunt

Given his ego, it would be easy to assume that the villain known as Kraven the Hunter would undertake the hunt for Spider-Man on his own initiative. It's been a long time since he first appeared in comics, but many of us probably remember his arrival in the book as going something like this:

I think my first exposure to Kraven was as part of the Sinister Six; but later, as John Romita took over the art chores on Amazing Spider-Man, I had the impression that he'd been in New York for some time, familiar with the crime scene as well as having had dealings with Norman Osborn. Yet it seems he originally made the journey from Africa in order to undertake his hunt for Spider-Man. That's a heck of a long way to come to satisfy an urge to hunt for prey, when you live on a continent that offers so many opportunities to pit yourself against nature and hone the abilities you've gained from a witch doctor's potion. Imagine my surprise at discovering that Kraven's arrival in the states was due to someone calling in a favor--a criminal who wanted Spider-Man out of his affairs for good.

And so you can almost hear the drumbeats that herald another

Marvel Trivia Question

What villain was responsible for putting Kraven the Hunter onto Spider-Man's scent?

Even in those early Spider-Man stories, the web-slinger was quickly becoming a thorn in the sides of arch-criminals and super-villains who now had to look over their shoulder and burrow further underground to conduct their illicit activities. One such criminal had finally had enough of Spider-Man's interference when he was almost apprehended after the hero busted in on a meeting and began taking down hoodlums. Barely escaping, this criminal mastermind returns to his residence and turns his attention toward removing Spider-Man as a threat--and we discover just who turns out to be buddies with Kraven the Hunter.

Yes, the Chameleon, master of disguise, who hosts Kraven upon his arrival and plans to give him every edge in his hunt.

Spider-Man barely escapes Kraven, injected with a substance that renders him dizzy and unsteady on his feet and forcing him to withdraw from the battle. But Spidey gives a good accounting of himself, and Kraven is now eager to resume their fight.

It's a small world, as the saying goes, but at this stage of their development you can't help but be mildly curious as to what would lead the Chameleon and Kraven to cross paths in Africa and begin their association with each other. At any rate, Spider-Man discovers the Chameleon's involvement when the villain makes the mistake of disguising himself as Kraven in order to help confuse and trap the wall-crawler. Spidey eventually nabs both of them; and, as another saying goes, villains who conspire together are deported together.

And on Kraven's next trip to the states, returning to battle Spider-Man once more, it seems that in the interim he's severed ties with his old friend.

We would later discover that the Chameleon and Kraven were half-brothers, which clears up a few of the gaps in Kraven's first appearance here. It also helps to explain why the Chameleon, who began his career stealing government secrets for foreign countries, would be deported after each of his arrests--though assuming the police would have had a record of the Chameleon's identity after he was first taken into custody, it's not quite clear on how even this master of disguise would continue to be a viable threat. Yet both of these lower-tier criminals would have interesting stories to offer the comic book reader for some time to come.

No comments: