January 17, 2010

Marvel Tales #153 [1983]

The reprints of the original Spider-Man comics that ran in MARVEL TALES from #137 to #177 (1982-1985) get up to THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #15 [1964] this issue, with the 22-page story "Kraven The Hunter" drawn by Steve Ditko.  As you'd guess from the title, this introduces the last of the classic villains who would make up the Sinister Six in the landmark THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 [1964] soon after (but oddly reprinted in this run a few months earlier, in #150).  That's quite a few classic designs in a short amount of time (including non-members of the Six, the Lizard, the Green Goblin and the Chameleon), and there were still a few left, though none quite as notable as the ones introduced in the first 15 issues.

Anyway, the story opens with Spider-Man breaking up a gang planning a robbery.  One of the members is able to get away, and it turns out to be one of Spider-Man's earliest foes, the Chameleon from back in #1. Tired of Spider-Man's interference, but realizing he's out-matched by our hero, he decides to bring in an old friend, Kraven the Hunter, who is up for the challenge.  After all, don't all hunters eventually decide to go after the most dangerous game, man?

Kraven arrives in New York to great fanfare, easily re-capturing some snakes and gorillas who conveniently get loose on his arrival, and then first observes and then confronts Spider-Man, leading to their confrontation in the park.  Meanwhile, Peter Parker's life keeps getting more complicated, with Betty Brant getting jealous of Liz Allen paying attention to him and his Aunt trying to set him up with the niece of a neighbour.  That'll never go anywhere...

A great little issue from the heart of the classic run.  Kraven is pretty much a text-book Ditko design, with distinctive elements on all parts of his body to that he's easy to recognize in any pose, and his shtick makes him a good foil for Spider-Man, matching him in acrobatic ability.  The Parker elements of the story are a nice balance to the super-heroics, and help to make it more than just a standard slugfest.

The original Ditko cover is also reprinted on this issue, although as usual with some modifications (removing the blurb and headshot about the Chameleon and a big UPC box over Spider-man's foot, although at least in the direct market edition that gives them a place to credit the creators).

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