Kraven has pulled out all the stops in a major attack against Spider-Man. Central Park has been turned into a hunting ground as cyborg versions of the Hunter descend upon dozens of animal-themed villains with the web-slinger caught in the middle. Kraven’s endgame is still unknown, but it’s clear this is going to be one of the worst nights in Spider-Man’s life.
What is most intriguing about Amazing Spider-Man #18 is how twisted and disturbing Kraven’s plan is. I’m so sure that he has something else up his sleeve, waiting for the right moment for the other shoe to drop. He’s gathered a bunch of the world’s wealthiest people who hunt for sport in the worst way possible. We know from previous issues that he finds these folks despicable, so he’s got to be using them.
With the help of Arcade, Kraven has put these rich people in the driver’s seat for their own personal robot Kraven, giving them the feeling of murdering another person with their own hands. Upgrades are available for an additional fee. This is like The Hunger Games with a super villain twist.
The robots attack with an emotionless quality, even though they’re controlled by humans in the background. Artist Humberto Ramos creates chaos and bloodshed as the villains run every which way looking for any hope of survival. While I recognize a number of these characters, there are some that are pretty obscure and serve as little more than cannon fodder. I mean, when was the last time anyone cared about Iguana?
Poor Iguana does have some stand out moments, helped along by letterer Joe Caramagna. He has a guttural voice shown in a rough font and jaggedly shaped word balloons. Where some of these villains are just regular guys in an animal suit, Iguana is more monster than man.
Inker Victor Olazaba fills the fight scenes with tension and terror. Shadows are used very well here, shrouding some characters or their faces in darkness as they flee for their lives.
While Ramos excels in the entropy of the battlefield, Spider-Man looks just plain weird. Nearly ever panel featuring the web-head looks awkward, with his limbs far too long and skinny for his body. This makes Spider-Man appear monstrous, especially since he’s in his black suit. If this happened once or twice, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it pops up frequently and becomes a real distraction throughout the book. Unfortunately, this also extends to some scenes with Mary Jane back in her apartment, with the same long, thin limbs.
Speaking of Mary Jane, she manages to steal the show from a comic full of explosions, robots, and a whole bunch of villains. Writer Nick Spencer provides the human element of the super hero community through MJ’s eyes. We saw a glimpse of this early on in the run when she went to a support group for loved ones of heroes. This puts it further into perspective, showing how powerless she is when the man she loves is out there risking his life and all she can do is sit and wait.
There are a few times throughout this issue where the art flashes to a different style, like we’re looking at a memory instead of the lives of these characters. Colorists Edgar Delgado & Erick Arciniega give these images a faded look, as if we’re seeing an old photograph. This helps differentiate these shots from the rest of the action.
Spider-Man has never had the best of luck and this is one evening where that definitely shows. Kraven’s plan is in full swing and the webslinger is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side is a collection of some of his greatest villains and on the other is a horde of robots based on Kraven the Hunter. No one is going to help him. There’s no place for him to hide. He’s got to dig deep and fight for his life. Fortunately, that is what Spider-Man is best at.