By Jim Beard
They hunt the biggest of all game: Spider-Man! Who's "they"? The Kraven Family, that's who! From big daddy Sergei all the way down the line to his precious-and deadly-little girl, Ana, the Kravens' war against the wall-crawler reaches it's most deadly point in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with the Grim Hunt storyline, kicking off in issue #634 on June 16.
Why do the Kravens do what they do? Why set their sights on everyone's favorite Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man? Grab a vine and swing alongside as we delve deep into the jungle of history and the greatest battles between Spidey and the Kravens!
When Kraven the Hunter arrived from Africa he announced his biggest hunt of all: Spider-Man! Stalking him with all the craftiness of a jungle cat, the big man gathered information on his prey from The Chameleon and then set a trap for Spidey. Though poisoned and weakened during their initial scuffle, the web-slinger stood strong, turning the tables on Kraven so that the mighty Hunter found himself the hunted!
After countless battles with his foe, Kraven finally triumphed over Spider-Man, buried him alive and took his place. Though the wall-crawler clawed his way back to the land of the living, the Hunter achieved a kind of peace with himself, believing he'd proven to be the better man. Refusing to fight Spidey, he released the feral and vicious Vermin on the world and urged his foe to go after him. Then, Kraven lay down in a coffin and ended his own life, tranquil and serene at last.
Like father, like son: Kraven's offspring Vladimir took up the family business and called himself The Grim Hunter. Trained by both his father and Sergei's servant Gregor in Russia, Vlad decided to test his mettle against Spider-Man. Their initial combat led to a win for The Grim Hunter but Spidey persevered and not even an intervention by Gregor could ultimately save Vlad from some spider-justice; he and his trainer soon found themselves stuck in the sticky web of jail.
Like father, like son, Part Two! Alyosha Kravinoff, another spawn of Sergei, learned no lessons from his father and brother and also decided to hunt down Spider-Man. Unfortunately, Sergei's old girl-pal Calypso insinuated herself into the mix and with her bewitching powers of voodoo set Spidey and the new Kraven to battle each other. The web-slinger prevailed and broke Calypso's hold, but Alyosha shocked everyone by offering to make peace with the woman. Then, he killed her. Oh, those wacky Kravens...
Speaking of wacky, could little Ana, daughter of Sergei, be the most off-kilter Kraven of all? Spider-Man began to think so when the newest Hunter kidnapped his roomie Vin Gonzales, mistakenly believing him to be the wall-crawler. In the bowels of the New York sewers, Spidey found that despite her size and youth, Ana proved nearly as deadly as her old man. Only a timely save by the grotesque Vermin pulled our hero's butt out of the fire and he couldn't help but ponder what the attack could mean. Meanwhile, Ana licked her wounds and looked to the future...
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