Anticipation and hype are slowly but surely building up in a big way for Insomniac’s superhero sequel, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. The game is expected to have a major presence on Wednesday’s PlayStation Showcase which could very well offer the best look yet at both plot and gameplay. Especially if that supposed September release date is to be believed.
Spider-Man 2 is set to feature Spidey’s most lethal adversary, Venom, and will adapt the classic ‘Black Suit’ storyline. A tantalizing prospect for any lifelong fan. But I think we’re missing something. Spider-Man 2’s secondary antagonist comes with an equally significant story in Spidey’s lore. A story which rocked Spider-Man’s world and left a brutal impact on Peter Parker. To understand the story, we have to understand the villain of the piece. We have to understand Kraven.
Big Game Hunter
Kraven the Hunter was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #15 all the way back in 1964 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In his first appearance, the character is portrayed as an egomaniac who is obsessed with the idea of overcoming “the most dangerous game” Spider-Man.
He quickly established himself as a major player in Spidey’s vast and varied hall of rogues, being considered as one of the few villains who can push the wallcrawler to his physical limits. The villain’s obsession with either defeating or capturing Spider-Man is one that’s been portrayed in other media like animation, alternate comics universes, and in games.
Kraven was a recurring side villain in the Spider-Man movie games based on Sam Raimi’s trilogy. He got a slightly more substantial role in Beenox’s tie-in to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 where he’s featured as a Ra’s Al Ghul-like mentor to Peter Parker.
While Kraven is ranked highly against other villains amongst the fandom, the same old dynamic began to wear thin. The character needed real depth. He got exactly that in the late 80s when the creative duo of J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck delivered a story that not only serves as the character’s legacy but is also considered one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time.
The Last Hunt
Kraven’s Last Hunt begins with an unusually dark and dreary night in New York. The hunter sits alone, forlorn in his vast mansion surrounded by the head mounts of game he’s conquered over the years. The once proud hunter is a husk of his former self following defeat after defeat at the hands of Spider-Man. In his madness and grief, he hatches one final dark plot to claim victory over the webslinger.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker is having a rough time. He’s reeling from the loss of his close friend and ally, Ned Leeds. After another traumatic loss, Peter is left reflecting on the consequences that come with being Spider-Man. As he swings into the night he’s attacked with renewed vigour and fury by an incensed Kraven.
Peter Parker is shot and killed.
After holding a funeral, Kraven claims the Spider suit and attempts to become a more efficient and brutal Spider-Man. The hunter stalks the streets of New York violently attacking criminals and drawing media attention through his ruthless tactics.
I lied by the way. Peter isn’t really dead.
Instead, he’s buried alive while placed in a coma-like state for two weeks. It’s during this time the reader gets a real deep dive into the psyche of Peter Parker. In his mind, he’s finally found the space of total tranquillity he’s been seeking. He’s free from responsibility. Of course, it only lasts so long. As he’s met with visions and ghosts of the past, Peter begins to steadily wrestle his demons and crawls his way to the surface, resulting in this panel.
I won’t spoil the end of Kraven’s Last Hunt as it’s absolutely worth reading, but this iconic story could in fact have a bearing on the way Spider-Man 2’s plot plays out.
A Potential Influence
It’s hard to say at this stage if Insomniac has any plans whatsoever to incorporate this story but I can’t help but feel it’d be missing a beat if it overlooked it. It’s shown that it loves to have villains with real depth as seen with Doc Ock, Mister Negative, and the Tinkerer.
A scenario which sees Kraven in his final days relentlessly hunting down Spider-Man to restore his honour before his time is up could add some much-needed nuance to the character and establish him as a true threat. The story arc could also have an impact on gameplay. Peter being out of commission after being buried alive will allow Miles his time to shine in the narrative as he once again must protect New York alone in Peter’s absence.
Insomniac has also been known to throw in a good homage to some of Spidey’s most iconic moments in film and comics. Kraven’s Last Hunt not only features one of the most striking imagery of the character’s 60-year history but also could allow the studio to lean into more psychological aspects of storytelling that they toyed with in the first game.
This story could even run concurrently with plans for the black suit. It’s not known how, or even if, Peter will come into contact with the symbiote, but there is one way to do it. Peter is lowered into the grave in his classic red and blue colours, as he lies in a coma-induced state he wrestles with his demons as he’s slowly corrupted by the symbiote. He rises from the grave in the black suit. What a moment it would be!
One thing’s for sure, Insomniac has plenty of lore to dive into with this one and the story for Spider-Man 2 is almost certain to be bigger, grander, and carry much higher stakes. I just hope that one of Spidey’s most formidable rogues gets his time to shine.
Would you like to see inspiration from Kraven’s Last Hunt incorporated into the plot of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 at all? What are you expecting from the Insomniac sequel? Let us know in the comments section below.