Published February 28, 2019

Ranking the 4 Best Tales of Kraven the Hunter

The world’s greatest hunter is back in this week’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16!

Sergei Kravinoff is back in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16. In the prologue to “Hunted,” Kraven has enlisted the help of Taskmaster, Black Ant, and Arcade to capture the world’s animal-based Super Heroes and create the most magnificent hunting ground of all.

Throughout the years, the world’s greatest hunter has gone through many character transformations, from founding member of the Sinister Six to one of Squirrel Girl’s best friends (yep). Let’s look at some of these versions of Kraven and determine who is the best.

The Ultimate Universe

Ultimate Kraven

The Ultimate version of Kraven is a reality TV star from Australia who decides to try and expand his global audience by going after the newest, flashiest game of all: the newly introduced Spider-Man. For four issues, Kraven had readers fooled that he was this dark and mysterious character that could take down the rookie wallcrawler with ease. That was until ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #21 when good ol’ Webhead took him down with one punch.

As the Ultimate universe continued, Kraven gave himself powers by modifying his DNA, finally becoming somewhat of a threat to Spider-Man. His hubris, thinking he could take down one of the world’s greatest heroes without any help is what puts him at the bottom of the list.

Kraven’s Debut

Kraven's debut

While the Kravens of Earth-616 and the Ultimate universe had similar goals (proving their worth as a hunter by taking down Spider-Man), the Earth-616 Kraven at least put up a fight, making him an actual threat to the wallcrawler from the start. In the two-in-one issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #15, his hunt for Spider-Man was also part of a revenge plot concocted by Kraven’s half-brother, the Chameleon, Spidey’s first “super” nemesis.

Kraven went on to become a member of the Sinister Six and be a thorn in Spider-Man’s side for many years to come. Up until the mid-1980s, he was a decent villain for Spidey, but never on the same level as the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus. His station in the life of Spider-Man changed with what is considered one of – if not THE – darkest Spider-Man story ever written.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl's Friend Kraven

Kraven in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

Why is what some fans consider the silliest version of Kraven the Hunter ranked so high? Well, for one he’s pretty darn hilarious. He drives around in an air-brushed van. Two, unlike most Super Villains, this Kraven holds conversations that can diffuse situations. Squirrel Girl was able to convince him to go after monsters rather than humans (and squirrels). The fact that Kraven took this to heart proves that punching and kicking isn’t always the best way to defeat a Super Villain. (Either that, or this is an alternate universe Kraven, and no one has figured it out yet.)

Kraven’s Last Hunt

Kraven's Last Hunt

It’s hard to argue the greatness of “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” After defeating Spider-Man, Kraven buries him alive and takes over the wallcrawler’s identity. Not satisfied with capturing Spider-Man, Kraven wanted to prove that he was also a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker. Once Spider-Man can escape his prison (two weeks later), Kraven allows him to ruthlessly beat him, as Kraven believes he is already the victor. Kraven then lets the villain Vermin loose on the city, and as Spider-Man goes after him, Kraven returns to his home and commits suicide.

While this Kraven the Hunter is still part of Earth-616, he’s very different from the way he previously portrayed himself. He didn’t showcase his arrogance for all the world to see. Kraven turned it into confidence, which led to Spider-Man’s defeat. Kraven had two goals within this story: “kill” the Spider and prove that he was a better version of him. Believing he had accomplished both, he felt content with his life, leading his taking of it. As you read the story, note how Spider-Man does not quip once throughout. He barely says anything. Spider-Man's silence adds to the importance and seriousness of the subject matter. “Kraven's Last Hunt” is our number one Kraven story because not only did it redefine who Kraven was, but he was able to get Spider-Man to do something very few people can do: be quiet.

See Kraven’s return in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16, written by Nick Spencer with art by Ryan Ottley, is available now online and at your local comic shop!

Amazing Spider-Man #16 cover