Hunting Through my Comics Collection to Revive Some Childhood Memories

With yesterday’s release of Amazing Spider-Man No. 634, Dallas artist Michael Lark begins a four-issue stint drawing Marvel Comics’ flagship title. The arc he’s illustrating, “The Grim Hunt,” is a sequel to “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” a seminal Spidey story from 1987.

When I interviewed Lark for the July issue of the print product, I asked him if he remembers reading that six-part epic back in the day. To my surprise, he said he never did. I guess we know who’s the bigger nerd here. Not only do I fondly remember reading those comics, I still own them.

“Kraven’s Last Hunt” was an “event,” in that it was told in two issues each of Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, and Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man. If you were a faithful reader of only one of those titles, Marvel was forcing you to buy the other two to get the whole story.

Their nefarious marketing scheme worked on this 12-year-old consumer. How could I pass up such a seemingly “important” storyline, especially since it was drawn by Mike Zeck, who illustrated one of Marvel’s first blockbuster series, Secret Wars?

The story focuses on Kraven, one of the enduring members of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, and features the rat-man Vermin as a secondary villain. Kraven defeats Spider-Man, sedates him, and buries him in a coma-like state. He then registers a moral victory by assuming Spidey’s identity and capturing Vermin, something the wall-crawler was not able to do on his own.

I remember being awed by this story as a kid. Understandably, it didn’t have the same effect when I revisited it last week. J.M. DeMatteis’ plot is interesting enough, but his script is so dreary, seemingly aspiring to reach the level of poetry: “How long have I seen through the spider’s eyes? Done the spider’s bidding? Weaved the spider’s web?” When one considers that DeMatteis began writing one of the funniest superhero comics ever published that very same year, it’s even more of a downer.


Incredible Hulk: Son of Banner: Michael Lark isn’t the only local talent working for Marvel. For the past few years, the Hulk’s adventures have been written by Hillcrest High School graduate Greg Pak.

The Joker’s Asylum: Mad Hatter: I may pick this up solely because it features art by Bill Sienkiewicz, a completely unique illustrator who has fascinated me since I was a kid.

President Evil: I Have a Scream: Can we count on a first-term senator from Illinois to rid Washington of zombies? Yes, we can. The four-issue President Evil series has been collected just in time for Sasha and Malia to buy it as a Father’s Day gift.

The Book of Mr. Natural: This hardcover collection includes more than 120 pages featuring R. Crumb’s bearded bald freak.

Avengers: The Contest: I love this bit of promo copy: “Featuring every Earth hero, circa 1982!” Who could resist that?

Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham: Speaking of irresistible things from the early ’80s …