Spider-Man's Most Bloodthirsty Villain Is Back - But How?

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #79, on sale now from Marvel Comics.

While Ben Reilly has been Marvel's Spider-Man previously, his latest claiming of the mantle from Peter Parker has been more turbulent than anyone expected. From being treated as little more than a guinea pig by his benefactors, the Beyond Corporation, to becoming prey for an uncontrollably ravenous Morbius, Ben has inherited Peter's trademark bad luck as he defends New York City. While out on patrol keeping the streets of Manhattan safe, Ben is targeted by a different kind of bloodthirsty supervillain when Kraven the Hunter sets the webslinger directly in his sights.

Originally a big game hunter that became obsessed with tracking down and defeating Spider-Man, Kraven turned the streets of New York into an urban jungle for his longstanding vendetta against the wall-crawler. This grudge culminated in J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck's classic 1987 story "Kraven's Last Hunt," which saw the hunter finally defeat Spider-Man and bury him alive before committing suicide. Years later, the villainous hunter was resurrected by his family in the 2009 story "Grim Hunt" (by Joe Kelly and Michael Lark), although the resurrection was incomplete, with Kraven's disturbed soul unable to find peace as long as his nemesis lived. Now, in Amazing Spider-Man #79 (by Cody Ziglar, Michael Dowling, Jesus Aburtov and VC's Joe Caramagna), Kraven sets a new, lethal trap for the newest version of the hero.

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Spider-Man learns that one of the executives on Beyond's board of directors has reported a break-in at his penthouse Manhattan apartment, making this priority number one for Ben, not just as part of his superhero responsibilities but to appease his corporate overlords. Investigating the incident, Spider-Man finds the executive in question murdered before realizing that he has just walked headfirst into a trap set by Kraven. The hunter has taken the time to arm the penthouse with weaponry and boobytraps, and Ben can barely stay one step ahead of his opponent before being shot multiple times with a hallucinogenic cocktail that leaves him at the supervillain's mercy.

It is important to note that Kraven seems to be unaware that it isn't Peter Parker that he's facing, a mistake echoed by his family during "Grim Hunt." In the 2009 storyline, Peter's more violent clone Kaine took his place and impersonated the web-slinger only to sacrifice his life during the resurrection ceremony. It was this use of a clone in the ritual that led to Kraven's resurrection becoming flawed in the first place, and he doesn't seem to realize that he is facing another clone now.

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With Kraven dead and buried when Ben Reilly was previously Spider-Man, this is the first time he has had to go up against the hunter instead of one of his children. Additionally, with Sony actively developing a Kraven the Hunter solo film, the supervillain is sure to become an even bigger deal in the wider Marvel Universe to capitalize on this prominence.

As long as Peter Parker remains comatose, it's up to Ben to defend New York from Kraven's obsessive lengths to trap him...and the hunter has already drawn first blood against his spider-powered prey.

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Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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