Professional game hunter and mercenary Kraven the Hunter has killed every animal known to man. But the one beast that eludes him is the web-slinging Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man.
Born to Russian aristocrats and raised in Volgograd and St. Petersburg, Sergei Kravinoff grows up with his half-brother and Sergei’s father’s illegitimate son, Dmitri Smerdyakov. Dmitri lives with the family as a servant with his mother, Sonya, unaware of his true parentage. Beaten by his alcoholic father, Sergei in turn torments Dmitri. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Kravinoffs are forced to immigrate in disgrace to the United Kingdom and later the United States. When Sergei’s father dies, his mother is remanded to an insane asylum where she ultimately commits suicide, while Sergei becomes haunted by images of the squalid, spider-infested asylum.
Orphaned, Sergei learns to survive by his wits and cunning. He starts to travel extensively, usually as a stowaway aboard cargo ships or trains, and lives one time or another in every major city in Europe and Asia by his late adolescence. In passage through equatorial Africa as a young man, Kravinoff (who anglicized his name to Kraven) discovers his natural talent for hunting. He soon departs the safari to live on his own in the African veldt.
By adulthood, his hunting skills are legendary, and he quickly becomes a wealthy big game hunter. He remains in Africa for 10 years, during which time in the Belgian Congo he steals a witch doctor’s herbal potion that enhances physical prowess. The potion’s rare, naturally occurring mutagenic chemicals heighten his speed, strength, and agility while greatly decelerating the aging process. Kraven uses his heightened abilities to hunt game more efficiently and enters a partnership with Smerdyakov to export the animal skins and ivory that he acquires.
During this time, Sergei fathers several children. While married, he fathers Vladimir whom he raises to be his successor. Disguised as the legendary “Grim Hunter,” Sergei tests Vlad as a young man, but leaves most of Vlad’s hunting training to his servant Gregor. However, born out of wedlock to a mutant mother, Sergei’s son Alyosha is sent to Africa in shame, where he’s raised deprived of the respect given to Vladimir. The circumstances of the birth and upbringing of son Nedrocci “Ned” Tannengarden and alleged daughter Ana Kravinoff are unrevealed.
Kraven possesses superhuman abilities conferred upon him via special herbal potions he periodically ingests. These abilities include enhanced strength (optimally lifting 2 tons), speed (able to sprint short distances at 60 mph), agility, stamina, and longevity. He can perform a standing broad jump of 20 feet. He can exert at peak levels for a half-hour before fatigue impaired performance. Despite his advanced years, Kraven maintains the physical age of a 30-year-old.
He employs a wide range of weapons including blowguns and darts, bolos, axes, spears, whips, gas bombs and traps/restraints including magnetic manacles and nets. He had wielded a leopard claw glove, a “jungle scent” spray to numb Spider-Man’s spider-sense, and a horn to drive animals into a rampage. Though he shuns bows or firing bullets, he has used a rifle to deliver a wide range of drug-tipped darts.
His belt houses poison-tipped teeth and tusks, while his lion’s head vest contains electronics that can stun, tranquilize, and emit a double-barreled ray (to magnetize the electrolytes in one’s musculature), an electro-burst or ultra-sonic blasters.
Kraven is a master hunter and wild animal tamer, proficient in certain exotic animal-like fighting techniques, and an expert in various jungle herbs and potions. His nerve punch attack can paralyze even Spider-Man and Tigra.
Not So Easy Prey
The web-slinging Spider-Man is Kraven’s most pursued prey. Having been haunted by the spiders in his mother’s asylum, he seeks out Spider-Man, an irresistible challenge. Though the wall-crawler often eludes him, he never gives up the hunt.
A Family Affair
While Kraven often hunts alone, things change when Spider-Man continues to evade his capture, so he joins with his half-brother Chameleon, to take down the elusive foe. Following Kraven’s demise, his children Vladimir, Alyosha, and Ana, and his wife Sasha Nikolaevich pick up his mantle, with the latter two taking his name Kraven.
After consistently being defeated by Spider-Man, he joins with a pseudo family of Super Villains, the Sinister Six, led by Dr. Otto Octavius, AKA Doctor Octopus. The team includes William Baker, AKA Sandman, Adrian Toomes, AKA Vulture, Maxwell Dillon, AKA Electro, and Quentin Beck, AKA Mysterio.
Other teams that he joins include the Legion Accursed and even the Avengers. In 1959, Kraven joins Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan’s original Avengers Initiative when Johann Shmidt, AKA Red Skull, was assembling ex-Nazis. The team includes his girlfriend Aquaria Neptunia, AKA Namora, Victor Creed, AKA Sabretooth, monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone, Duvid Fortunov, AKA Dominic Fortune, and Ernst Sablinova, AKA Silver Sable. Fury disbands the group soon after he discovers the Skull was an imposter who possessed a briefcase that contained the Super Soldier Serum and Infinity Formula.
A Hunter’s History
With the power of the jungle herbs, Sergei and Dmitri, AKA Chameleon, retained their youth through the decades. When Peter Parker first became Spider-Man, his early foes included Dmitri, now the identity-thief “the Chameleon.” Dmitri enticed Kraven to America to hunt Spider-Man. Kraven believed this hunt brought him and his family’s name honor, honestly gained, returning a measure of lost pride. He arrived with fanfare, rigging animal cages to break to make a public spectacle of his might as he subdued the wild beasts before the press.
In his first encounter with Spider-Man, Kraven was awed by his adversary’s power. Feeling both fear and rage, he saw Spider-Man as a monster, the personification of his family’s disgrace. Though Sergei continued to abuse Dmitri, the two partnered against their common enemy. Despite the trickery of the Chameleon posing as a second Kraven, Spider-Man defeated both foes, whereupon they were deported from the U.S. to Europe. The two sneaked back to shore near Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man’s munitions factory, where Iron Man and Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, captured them.
Later, Doc Ock gathered Kraven and four others to form the Sinister Six intent on defeating Spider-Man. In Flushing Meadows Park, Kraven fought Spider-Man with two leopards, but failed once again. Spider-Man bested each member of the Sinister Six until all were sent to prison. Offered a large reward by Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, to kill Spider-Man, Kraven, distracted by the Goblin’s observations, lost his advantage and allowed Spider-Man to escape the battle. Osborn, posing as the Goblin’s emissary, refused Kraven’s arrogant demands for half payment for this first failed assault. Later, Kraven returned to the U.S. from Nairobi for a rematch against the wall-crawler. Using the Chameleon’s hideout, Kraven disguised himself as Spider-Man to lure his nemesis into a fight, and accosted J. Jonah Jameson. With the news media inciting the public against the wall-crawler, Spider-Man confronted his impersonator. Though Kraven numbed Spider-Man’s spider-sense with a special “jungle-scent,” the wall-crawler overpowered him once again (along with the Nails Hogan gang). On his honor, Kraven admitted the impersonation to the police.
Kraven landed in prison for several months. Upon release, he sought payment from Osborn for his service to the Goblin, believing the Daily Bugle’s incorrect headlines proclaiming the Green Goblin had died in a fire. Kraven targeted Norman’s son, Harry, as bait, finding him at a sendoff party for Harry’s friend, Flash Thompson. As Spider-Man clashed with Kraven at the party and into a construction site, Norman arrived; however, Kraven dismissed Norman, believing Osborn’s claims of having no recollection of the Goblin. Kraven accepted a job from enigmatic mutant scientist Nathaniel Essex, AKA Mister Sinister, to obtain the DNA from each of the original five young X-Men. At the Coffee Bean café, where Peter Parker and his friends were relaxing, Kraven (teamed with the Blob) lured the X-Men and Spider-Man into a melee, where he cut each of the five mutants and fled, returning to Sinister. Sinister propositioned Kraven for his DNA as well. Later, indignant over reports that Blackie Drago, AKA the Vulture, was considered the city’s biggest menace, Kraven hunted the Vulture. Kraven snared the Vulture with a wire, pulling them through the skylight of a jungle-like exhibition hall. Despite Kraven’s advantage in the jungle setting, Spider-Man arrived and captured them both. From an abandoned New York Zoo, Kraven supplied Nino Villanova of the Maggia with a hallucinogen called ZMB, derived from the rare Zmbuku snake’s venom; his operation was halted by Johnny Storm, AKA Human Torch, and Capt. George Stacy.
Frustrated by fruitless pursuits of Spider-Man, Kraven desired to sharpen his hunting skills elsewhere. He infiltrated the X-Men’s Westchester mansion and blackmailed Hank McCoy, AKA Beast, to become his prey or be denied the antidote to a poison he administered to the winged alien Nhu’gari, Avia. Though encumbered by Kraven’s poisons, Beast overpowered Kraven in a berserk fury. Concerned about public exposure, Jean Grey, AKA Marvel Girl (now Phoenix) mind-wiped knowledge of the secretive X-Men from Kraven before releasing him. Kraven traveled to the Savage Land to capture Zabu, the rare sabretooth tiger. Zabu was rescued by Kevin Plunder, AKA Ka-Zar, battling Kraven in a New York hotel. After nursing his wounds, Kraven returned to the Savage Land determined to defeat Ka-Zar and rule as a king. There, he discovered and raised the monstrous extraterrestrial Tsiln, Gog, and captured Gwen Stacy to be his queen. Battling both Ka-Zar and Spider-Man, Kraven narrowly averted death after plunging off a cliff, while Gog seemingly drowned in quicksand.
After recovering from his injuries, Kraven returned to New York, forcing the Gibbon to serve in a failed ploy against Spider-Man. In San Francisco, he accepted a contract from Kerwin J. Broderick to defeat Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil. He almost succeeded, tossing Daredevil off a cliff, had Daredevil not been teleported away by Moondragon. Kraven then accepted a contract from Harrison Turk (extradimensional dictator Arisen Tyrk, AKA Lunatik), to capture John Jameson, AKA the Man-Wolf, for his Godstone and kill John’s father, J. Jonah Jameson, and fiancée, Kristine Saunders. Kraven gave Jonah and Kristine a rifle, pitting the two against the Man-Wolf. The police captured Kraven before he completed the contract.
Once free, he traveled to Chicago to augment his powers by kidnapping Dr. Herbert Malraux, who had devised a means to improve one’s reaction time using his experimental psycho-motor response procedure. Greer Grant Nelson, AKA Tigra, the cat-woman, failed to stop the kidnapping, but pursued Kraven to an abandoned circus arena. Regardless of Kraven’s posturing, Tigra overcame Kraven’s sonic assaults and savagely shredded the Hunter. Healed from Tigra’s vicious attack, Kraven reluctantly partnered with Anton Rodriguez, AKA the Tarantula , for another contract (at a reduced fee due to his tarnished reputation) offered by Dr. Edward Lansky, AKA Lightmaster, the vice chancellor of Empire State University (ESU), to kidnap New York City university chancellor Richard Gorman. While the Tarantula delivered Gorman, Spider-Man defeated Kraven once again, battling atop a movie marquee on which Kraven accidentally electrocuted himself.
While being transferred back to jail in Illinois, Kraven escaped custody and returned to a hideout on the Jersey City waterfront. Tigra attempted to apprehend him but was captured and given an electronic collar making her submit to Kraven’s commands. After drugging Spider-Man with poisoned darts, Kraven let Spider-Man fight for his life against Tigra. Once Spider-Man destroyed the collar, the two overpowered Kraven.
Later, Kraven retreated to the Caribbean islands in order to rethink his life and goals. There, he met and fell in love with Calypso Ezili, a powerful voodoo sorceress. Though Kraven believed his obsessive hatred for Spider-Man cost him his honor, Calypso goaded him into resuming pursuit of Spider-Man. While Kraven transported wild animals to New York City, Calypso unlocked the cages, framing Spider-Man and prompting Kraven to clash with Spider-Man at the Museum of Natural History. Both Kraven and Calypso were arrested, but the two soon escaped jail. To prove himself worthy of Calypso’s love, Kraven hunted Spider-Man again; however, when Kraven realized Calypso had drugged Spider-Man with a hallucinogenic dart, he stopped the fight out of honor. The police captured the two again. After “accidentally” shooting Ka-Zar in the head, A.I.M. agent Ramona “Courtland” Starr freed Kraven from prison to capture Ka-Zar alive. Kraven ignored Ramona and nearly succeeded in killing Ka-Zar until he, KaZar and Shanna the She-Devil fell from a skyscraper into Spider-Man’s web. Kraven, respectful of Ka-Zar’s attempt to save his life before falling, administered a pain-killing jungle drug to Ka-Zar before fleeing the scene.
In Los Angeles, Tigra interrupted Kraven’s robbery of an African-American Art Museum. Kraven left Tigra after drugging her with a poisoned tusk from his belt. Recovered, Tigra pursued Kraven to Griffith Park for a fight to the death, witnessed by a Scourge of the Underworld targeting Kraven. Though Tigra drew first blood, Kraven subdued her with a taming nerve-thrust typically used on large cats. Before he could deliver a lethal blow, Tigra was rescued by her West Coast Avengers teammates, who bound Kraven for the authorities.
Kraven was mystically freed from jail by Mephisto’s agent, Mr. Bitterhorn, and imprinted with an invisible sign mystically linking him to “Beyondersbane,” the occult engine constructed for the vastly powerful Beyonder’s destruction. Kraven was summoned along with a legion of similarly marked supervillains to attack the Beyonder, who had arrived on Earth and assumed a human form. Contact would destroy the Beyonder along with approximately a third of the universe. The supernaturally enhanced Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing, prevented the legion from reaching the Beyonder, and the Beyondersbane self-destructed. Kraven returned to jail, his arcane covenant voided.
After years of defeats from his greatest enemy, Spider-Man, Kraven decided he could only restore his honor if he could “kill” Spider-Man, become him, and defeat that which Spider-Man could not defeat. Insane with obsession, yet focused on victory, Kraven prepared himself by ritualistically consuming spiders while imbibing his jungle potions. He successfully trapped and tranquilized Spider-Man, buried him alive, and donned Spider-Man’s costume. As “Spider-Man” Kraven became a vicious vigilante, showing no mercy to a pair about to assault Spider-Man’s wife, Mary Jane Watson. While the newspapers proclaimed Spider-Man had gone berserk, Kraven shifted his attention from street crime to Edward Whelan, AKA Vermin, the rat-man, a creature Spider-Man had failed to capture without Captain America’s help. Alone, Kraven defeated Vermin. After two weeks buried alive in a state simulating death, Spider-Man climbed free from his grave and, though weak, confronted Kraven. Kraven passively accepted Spider-Man’s assault, proclaiming his established victory.
To finalize his emancipation from obsession over Spider-Man, Kraven released Vermin to attack Spider-Man, whom Vermin thought to be his assailant and captor. Kraven stopped Vermin before he killed Spider-Man and set him free. While Spider-Man pursued Vermin, Kraven took his own life with a rifle, convinced his life’s work was complete. He left behind a confession of the activities he performed while disguised as Spider-Man for the police. Despite his tombstone’s epitaph, Kraven had died dishonorably, his spirit lingered seeking release from the earthly plane. Spider-Man, still traumatized from his living burial, was taken on a metaphysical journey to Kraven’s gravesite. Choosing the path towards life and forgiveness, he released Kraven’s soul while granting his own mind some peace.
Though released from Earth, Kraven’s soul was sent to hell. There the Pitiful One offered Kraven and others a chance to spend 24 hours on Earth, where they wreaked havoc. Though they worked to find a more permanent means to remain on Earth, Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange, stopped them with Moonbeam, AKA Dead Girl, and other deceased heroes. Edie Sawyer, AKA U-Go Girl, transported Kraven and Mysterio (presumably Quentin Beck) into a deeper layer of hell for their offense.
Two of Sergei’s sons, Vladimir and Alyosha, attempted to carry on his legacy independently of each other. Ned, however, preferred the Hollywood culture as a studio executive over jungle safaris.
Vladimir, as the Grim Hunter, was ultimately murdered by Kaine, while Alyosha attempted to renounce his father’s bloodlust and make peace with Spider-Man, but a bad batch of jungle potions reverted him back to violent and insane behavior. The Chameleon, insanely obsessed with his half-brother, took on Kraven’s identity for a time while pursuing Spider-Man. While Alyosha pursued dreams of becoming a Hollywood producer, Dmitri’s antics as Kraven resulted in the accidental death of Nedrocci Tannengarden. The Chameleon appears to have since abandoned the role.
Mister Sinister successfully cloned Kraven, augmenting his creation with the mutant powers obtained from the DNA Kraven had obtained from the original five X-Men. As Sinister’s mutant hunter, he was dispatched to obtain DNA from other mutants. Though Sinister denied him a name, the clone called himself Xraven. While Xraven attacked Spider-Man and the X-Men, Cyclops allowed Xraven to investigate his mind to see how Sinister treated him as one of his “experiments.” Horrified, Xraven returned to Sinister with new DNA samples, but destroyed them and rebelled against his creator.
A young woman named Ana Kravinoff has taken on the name “Kraven” claiming to be the daughter of Sergei and brother of Vladimir. Like Sergei, she has superhuman abilities and is driven to hunt Spider-Man. After kidnapping psychic Madame Web and Mattie Franklin, the former Spider-Woman, Ana and her mother Sasha Nikolaevich assembled their family, Alyosha and Chameleon, plus they recruited several of Spider-Man’s enemies including Max Dillon, AKA Electro, and Mysterio (claiming to be Quentin Beck) to restore their family’s glory. They sacrificed Mattie to bring Vladimir back from the dead, with Vladimir returned as a twisted monster.
The Kravinoffs kidnapped more spiders, Julia Carpenter, AKA Arachne, and Anya Corazon, AKA Spider-Girl, and baited Spider-Man into their palatial New York estate. They killed the wall-crawler, successfully resurrecting Kraven, but did not realize that he was actually Spider-Man’s renegade clone, Kaine. Kraven returned, though he was disappointed in his family for doing what they did and became even more distraught when he found out that he could only die by Spider-Man’s hand. Spider-Man arrived to liberate his fellow spider-friends and kill Kraven, but Arachne showed him a grim future should he carry out his plan, powers she inherited from Madame Web. Spider-Man walked away but Kraven pleaded with Spider-Man to set him free from his “unlife”. The Kravinoffs then made their immediate escape.
Kraven with his “unlife” and his family absconded to the Savage Land. He demanded his family prove themselves worthy of his name. Though he killed his wife who refused and euthanized Vladimir, out of respect for dead. Alyosha left and Ana desired to be trained by her father if she killed her brother. While there, Kraven attacked Flash Thompson, AKA Agent Venom, who he thought was the Venom symbiote and believed could help him put an end to his curse. He tried to kill Agent Venom in a cave of giant bats, to goad him into killing him but upon learning he was disabled, he thought him unworthy. Suddenly, they were both carried away by giant bats and separated.
Kraven then tracked down the Hulk as the next potential person to help him in his quest to die. But he didn’t ask the Hulk to kill him, he asked him to be his messenger and bring Spider-Man to do it. He offered Hulk a chance to find the City of Sasquatches, a place Banner might be interested in, but Hulk didn’t care. It wasn’t until Kraven killed a sasquatch and threatened cubs that the enraged Hulk punched him so hard, sending him far away from the city.
When Kraven got word that Kaine, now the Scarlet Spider, was alive, he sought him out to help him cure his “unlife” and break the curse that prevented him from dying. He captured the Scarlet Spider’s friends with Ana’s help which led to a fight between Kraven and Kaine. Kaine paralyzed Kraven’s heart with a fatal blow, hoping that killing him would end the curse, but then struck him again to revive him. The two Kravinoffs disappeared afterward.
Kraven then contacted Herbert Wyndham, AKA the High Evolutionary, to help him create worthy heirs, that is 87 clones of himself, aged to adulthood. Ana took offense and renounced the Kravinoff name. Kraven trained his new children and then sent them off to test their mettle.
While his clones were on their respective journeys, he goes on a quest to re-establish his wealth. In an unlikely turn of friendship, Kraven becomes close to Doreen Green, AKA Squirrel Girl, who attempted to help him get at the root of his problems: Spider-Man. She suggested that he hunt more dangerous prey and set him on a path to hunt underwater monsters like Giganto, Kraken, and giant squids.
His work hunting underwater beasts required gear, so he started hunting for money to purchase said gear and worked for Shannon Sugarbaker. In their employ, he hunted Howard the Duck but ran afoul of Squirrel Girl who rescued Howard. Kraven then joined with them to take down Sugarbaker and the whole experience shifted Kraven’s perspective, changing his prey to hunters instead.
He was soon captured and imprisoned inside the prison-town Pleasant Hill by S.H.I.E.L.D. Kraven, like the other prisoners, were altered to be obedient by Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube. He became a zookeeper until freed by Baron Zemo. Unable to find Kobik, Kraven worked for Zemo alongside Peter Petruski, AKA Trapster, and Paul Ebersol, AKA Fixer, and tried to lure Kobik out. Their efforts went nowhere, and they were taken down by the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and the Avengers Unity Squad.
Joining Zemo’s Army of Evil, Kraven sought to discover Spider-Man’s identity but was stopped by Jennie Sheldon and Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman. He then began hunting down Savage Land’s dinosaur poachers, including Poachmaster General. They exchanged words and when the Poachmaster General claimed to be the greatest hunter who ever lived, Kraven punched his lights out. He was then suddenly taken away in the jaws of a giant metal menace and killer-dinosaur version of Ultron. Captured and restrained, Kraven was then approached by Squirrel Girl who had recently traveled to Savage Land on her own adventure. He told her of dinosaur Ultron’s plans to kill all life including the dinosaurs he was protecting. Squirrel Girl then liberated him, they joined with Doreen’s allies, and defeated the dinosaur Ultron.
After Kraven left the Savage Land, he ended up back in New York where he encountered a subterranean community of Dinosaur-People, and their Alchemax monitor Eddie Brock, AKA Venom. Deputized by Mayor Wilson Fisk to hunt these Dinosaur-People, Kraven enlisted the aid of the sonic-empowered Shriek, one of Venom’s foes. The pair ambush Venom in the sewers, which resulted in a cave-in. Their battle continued and Kraven was ultimately defeated and arrested alongside Shriek.
Though he escaped custody and became a fugitive on the run. Squirrel Girl then invited him to live differently and shared her civilian identity with him, but he had already figured it out. When Kraven got spotted by police and then resisted arrest, and while Doreen wanted to help show his goodness, she and her allies were also arrested. Despite Doreen learning about Kraven’s past misdeeds, she still believed in him. On trial, everyone got off except Kraven who absconded, only to encounter Spider-Man. While fighting with Spider-Man, Squirrel Girl intervened and defended Kraven. She invited him to fight crime with her, but he declined, wanting to work on himself on his own terms. They parted ways and Kraven started down a path of vigilantism as the “Unhuntable Sergei”. He then aided Squirrel Girl against her foes.
When the only clone of Kraven’s returned, Kraven learned that he had killed all the others and seeing him worthy of his name, saw him as his son. Known as the Last Son of Kraven, he and Kraven with the death-machine architect Arcade, a cadre of wealthy big-game hunters, and a freighter containing criminals kidnapped by Taskmaster and Black Ant, the Kravinoffs arrived in New York. They began to lead the grandest hunt and they targeted criminals, those who would dare associate themselves with the beasts of the world, in other words they started to kidnap animal-themed villains. With Arcade’s help, Kraven and his son enclosed Central Park in a force field and filled it with remote-controlled android hunters by amateur hunters and based on Kraven himself. These androids hunted the animal-themed villains and Spider-Man.
During the hunt, Kraven offered Spider-Man an out from the hunt, in exchange for freeing the criminals and shutting down the androids, Spider-Man would have to kill him. But Spider-Man did not give him. Inspired by the wall-crawlers ideals, Kraven called off the hunt and taking Spider-Man’s costume, he stopped his son to his peril. He finally ended the curse and left his son his name, Kraven the Hunter.