Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I think there’s sort of three different kinds of loved characters in comics:

There are the guys that EVERYBODY loves. Batman. The Joker. Who doesn’t love to see these two have it out in Gotham, over and over again? No question- comic books, cartoon shows, movies, video games…

And than there are the character’s that the FANS love. The fans loved Venom. They loved Carnage. Hey, they even loved Mary Jane back when Gwen Stacey was around. And sometimes- the writers give the fans what THEY want. They go "okay, okay- more Venom. People love Venom. In fact, Venom, Carnage, and Spidey- let’s just have them all go at it. Give ‘em what they want."

And then? There are those characters that the WRITERS love. Like Kraven? You even notice that?

I don’t know what it is- I don’t think most Spidey fans LOVE Kraven. Mostly because the stories with Kraven are so…dark. Serious. It takes on a sort of weird, manic, Quentin Tarantino tone with him. All this "I graft the power of animals onto my body" stuff. And that’s the thing. Sometimes it just seems like I’m not even so sure that Kraven HAS all the superpowers he has. I mean I know, okay, he drank this serum and it made him all fast, strong, and predatory, but a lot of it just seems mental. It’s just like Kraven is this pumped up whack job who spends time getting psyched over whatever animal he hunted down that afternoon and than goes on some adrenaline-infused bound around New York, fighting Spider-man.

Sometimes- you wonder- is this just ALL in this guy’s HEAD? How much is Kraven the ‘ultimate hunter’ just because he BELIEVES he is? In case you don’t get my drift of where I’m going with this, the writers LOVE Kraven. Not the fans I think- it’s the writers. I think it’s like they can’t get enough of him. The weird, bizarre psychology behind what he does and why he does it. And to be fair Kraven’s Last Hunt really is a kind of Hitchcock-like masterpiece of comic work. Written by underappreciated Spider-man scribe J.M. DeMatteis, Last Hunt details Kraven peppering Spider-man with tranquilizer darts, burying his body and than STEPPING IN as SPIDER-MAN for two weeks.

Seriously. Kraven runs around town, viciously beating up criminals in a Spider-man outfit. All in some sort of madman’s quest to prove that he is, in fact, the ultimate animal-like hunter person. Or SOMETHING. It’s hard to tell. The main theme of the story just seems to be that Kraven has lost his &*%$! His motivations are just so…different than most other villains, I think. He isn’t the Joker, by any means- it’s not just arbitrary. But why Kraven does WHAT he does is always a point of intense scrutiny. And what he does is always unexpected. And of course, I probably aren’t spoiling it for anyone by now- the story ends with a very satisfied, very insane Kraven "ending" his career. Maybe that’s all I should say, actually, keeping spoilers in mind.

And the thing is? Kraven just keeps coming back. In flashbacks, in re-tellings, in one-shots. And of course, he’s had the whole gamut of coming back himself, having someone else become the ‘new’ Kraven. But I just want to point out that whatever YOU think about Kraven it’s sort of like he’s got a special place in the writer’s heart. If only just because wow. What is the deal, you know!?