While reading through the Marvel Masterworks reprints of The Amazing Spider-Man, I encountered the first appearance of a lesser-known Spidey foe, the Gibbon. The Gibbon wasn’t exactly what you’d call even a B-list or C-list level of villain for Spider-Man. Beyond the hook of the Gibbon wanting to be an ally to Spider-Man (mirroring a bit Spidey’s attempts to join the Fantastic Four back in the day), I’d argue there wasn’t much memorable about the character.
So, imagine my surprise when reading this story arc, “Hunted,” when I found myself getting a lump in my throat when the Gibbon is killed off in the issue focusing on him. Somehow Nick Spencer took what was a minor villain in the Spidey-verse and not only made me connect with and care about him, but he actually made me get a bit weepy when he died.
That alone has to be worth an extra star when it comes to rating this arc in the current run of The Amazing Spider-Man.
“Hunted” is a spiritual sequel to “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” Kraven’s son (who is a clone and has killed all his fellow brother clones) assembles a large number of Spider-Man’s foes who share an affinity with animals. Trapping them and Spider-Man inside Central Park, the new Kraven and Arcade assemble a group of wealthy players who are willing to pay for the chance to go on the ultimate hunt. But there are a few twists to this game — and there’s something far more going on than just a money-making opportunity for the new Kraven and Arcade.
What unfolds is an entertaining enough story with some solid art and well-done
work on the characters. Like many other good Spider-writers, Nick Spencer understands the balance that is Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Having Spidey trapped in Central Park and fighting for his life is one thing, but giving him a reason to want to get out and get home to check on M.J. because he’s had a vision of her in danger is just the right touch and gives the drama a personal edge beyond seeing Spidey take on various villains from his rogues’ gallery.
All-in-all, I ended up enjoying this collection a bit more than I thought I would. It’s not quite up there in the ranks of classic Spidey stories, but it gives me faith that the current run is in good hands.