In the wake of the Gibbon's tragic demise (one among many), the remaining villains trapped inside Kraven's game preserve from hell continue to scatter and panic. But elsewhere, watching the melee, Kraven Jr. begins to question the wisdom of his "father's" plan...
Within the dome, Spider-Man struggles with getting a handle on what to do next. He notices some markings on trees that seem to indicate a path to take, but at its end he finds a mass of villains huddled together for safety.
Within the villainous conclave, Vulture has been saber-rattling, spinning tall tales about the Gibbon's "noble sacrifice" in an attempt to seize power within the group for himself (in fact, he's indirectly responsible for Gibbon's demise). Spidey leaps into the fray and calls B.S. on Vulture, but naturally, the group is wary of Web-Head's intentions...
The third chapter of “Hunted” (fifth if you count the interstitial .HU chapters, which clearly you’re supposed to be since the Gibbon issue is so heavily referenced throughout here… as ever, numbering things is not Marvel’s strong suit) suffers a bit from middle child syndrome. It has a job to do: act as a link between Act 1 and Act 3, but unfortunately has more in common with Iron Man 2 than Empire Strikes Back.
This issue has no real storytelling heft of its own: Spider-Man swings around and has face time with skeptical villains, which doesn’t amount to much; the Vulture seeks to rally the troops and that doesn’t amount to much. There are breadcrumbs for act three scattered throughout: Kraven Jr.’s wariness of his “father’s” ultimate plan will probably lead to his betrayal in either chapter four or five. Black Cat’s ongoing consolation of Billy Connors. Spidey’s nagging feeling that something awful is going to happen to Mary Jane because he’s trapped in a Central Park dome. That bit at the end (which I won’t spoil). And yes, Vulture’s attempts to rally the villains to him are almost certainly going to change the tide of the villains’ fortunes – in time. In other words, there’s lots of table-setting, but no meal to go with it.
And the one big development – Taskmaster making one final capture that almost certainly introduces a major x-factor into the proceedings – is meant to be shown as having a big impact, but since it actually happened between issues, the revelation falls completely flat. (Cool image for that particular splash page, though.)
Gerardo Sandoval does his level best to be similar to regular artist Humberto Ramos, and in doing so may actually be a better Ramos than Ramos. His style is achingly similar, but without the former’s unrestrained eclecticism that more often than not translates to inconsistency not only throughout a single comic but often on a lone page. I particularly like how he draws the Rhino. He’s only in a handful of panels, but he looks like a giant lump of muscle that galoomphs around haplessly smashing things.
In the end, Amazing Spider-Man #19 never quite gels as its own thing. It exists to move the "Hunted" story forward, but doesn't do enough to that end. It takes baby steps when what it needed to do was stride like a giant.
Amazing Spider-Man #19: Herd Mentality
Writing - 5/105/10
Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
Art - 6/106/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 5/105/10
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