The Hunt Is On
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its seventy-first choice, Fearful Symmetry: Kraven’s Last Hunt, by JM DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and John Beatty published by Marvel and reviewed by Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Fearful Symmetry: Kraven’s Last Hunt
Writer: JM DeMatteis
Artists: Mike Zeck and John Beatty
Colourists: Mike Zeck and Ian Tetrault
Letters: Rick Parker
Today’s graphic novel is a modern Marvel classic. The 1980s saw a lot of different writers and artists subvert and reinvent the superhero genre. Fearful Symmetry: Kraven’s Last Hunt takes one of Spider-man’s most flamboyant foes, Sergei Kravinoff aka Kraven The Hunter, and place him in a darkly gothic tale. Kraven intends to bring down Spider-man by taking his place and sapping him of his power. He also manipulates the hero through one of his other adversaries, Vermin.
Kraven’s Last Hunt is a very powerful and visceral Spider-man tale. Writer DeMatteis takes all of the classic Spidey elements like his relationship with Mary Jane and his obsession to be New York’s saviour and ramps everything up to a new frenzied level. Zeck and Beatty offer a vintage Spider-man tale with a more modern twist visually. This is during Spider-man’s black costume period and that fits in better with this rather grim story than his bright and breezy red suit would have done. Kraven is a suitably intense counterpoint for Spidey too, a villain who has this rather skewed sense of his own honour who believes that Spider-man is a totemic figure rather than just a man in a suit, with the spider representing an archetype which led to the destruction of his own life. He entombs Parker in a graveyard, which shows the extreme lengths he is prepared to go to in the name of his demented mission. It’s fairly deep for a Spider-man comic and DeMatteis has always been a writer who has been able to tackle big issues in the pages of a four-colour adventure. He even manages to weave in a quote from William Blake’s The Tyger poem, which the title Fearful Symmetry is taken from too.
You can draw comparisons here with Daredevil: Born Again although Kraven is a less vindictive figure than The Kingpin thanks to his misguided moral code. Also, Fearful Symmetry is at its core an urban horror story.
The story ends on a redemptive note but it is quite a draining ride for the reader. Spider-man has been responsible for a number of memorable comic stories but Kraven’s Last Hunt is certainly the finest Spidey tale in the more modern era. Over thirty years old now, it has lost none of its punch and Zeck and Beatty are the perfect team to take DeMatteis’ powerful vision and bring it to life on the page.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far