Saturday, April 28, 2018

Reader's Diary #1807- Various writers and artists: Kraven's Last Hunt

First off, I should note up front that this "Epic Collection" from Marvel isn't just the "Kraven's Last Hunt" arc which was written by J. M. Dematteis and illustrated by Mike Zeck. In fact Kraven doesn't even appear until after 300 pages or so. Prior to that we get other important Spider-Man storylines including the death of Peter Parker's good friend Ned Leeds and Peter's marriage to Mary Jane Watson. So, while the title is a bit problematic, it's hard to complain that you get much more bang for your buck with this collection. Also included at the end are essays from some of the contributors, including a piece from Stan Lee who is happy that now that Peter is married he won't have to do his own laundry anymore (sigh), cheesy photos from a publicity stunt wedding with actors in bad Marvel costumes in the 80s, the Mary Jane Watson paper-doll wedding dress, and a selection of Stan Lee's Spider-Man newspaper strips.

The death of Ned and the marriage aren't as well done the later Kraven story and I'd forgotten how "aw shucks" the Spider-Man character is sometimes portrayed. When he's depicted as a teen this is less problematic than when he's an adult, as he was here.

Which brings me to another thought about the dilemma that both DC and Marvel have had over the years, resulting in reboots, new versions of the characters, but a lack of disappearance of the old characters. It seems like they were always stuck between Peanuts and For Better or For Worse. Do they age their characters or not? They seem to want it both ways and this has caused more problems than either approach would have if they just stuck with it. (Personally, I'd prefer if they just aged them and let replacements eventually take over.)

The art is especially garish in that 80s sort of way, which I admit I'm starting to appreciate. There are sometimes bizarre colour choices and very little shading outside of line work. Plus, Peter Parker has a bad perm, and having been there myself, this amused me to no end. Mike Zeck's art in the Kraven storyline is more artistic in terms of angles, close-ups, etc.

Plus, Dematteis' story is darker, more adult and artistic, and feels more inline with the acclaimed Watchmen and Batman stories from around the same period. Plus, he has to get props for somehow making the loin clad Kraven a less ridiculous, more compelling villain.

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