Trapped in Kraven's Central Park kill-derby, events continue to go from bad to worse! Black Ant (and former quasi-hero Ant-Man III) confides in Spider-Man that he really, really messed up in aiding Taskmaster in hunting down all the trapped villains. Spidey is less than sympathetic.
But Black Ant knows Kraven's biggest secret, one that begins to play out as the emboldened villains confront one of the hunters.
And while that's going on, Black Cat has a deadly encounter of her own...
And Kraven's inaction finally brings his "son's" mounting frustration to a boil.
Kraven Jr. storms out, and runs smack into none other than... THE LIZARD, desperately searching for his son!
One thing I’ve noticed as “Hunted” goes on is just how little agency Spider-Man has in what’s ostensibly his own story. After being zonked out by Kraven Jr. and his hallucination-inducing knockout gas in Part 1, Spidey has actually done very little other than running around reacting to things, hiding in the trees, and trying to talk villains out of making bad decisions (which let’s face it, they probably wouldn’t be animal-themed costumed villains if they weren’t already making poor choices of their own accord). I’m not sure if that’s by a deliberate design that will better play itself out later as the third act ramps up, or if writer Nick Spencer just has so many plate spinning right now that he’s finding it difficult to squeeze Spidey into the narrative.
At last count, there were no less than five subplots vying for screentime: a) Black Cat and Billy’s escape; b) Spidey’s premonition of MJ’s peril; c) Vulture vying for power amidst the villains in play; d) Lizard’s frantic search for his son, which in this issue dovetails with e) Kraven Jr.’s frustration with dear ol’ “dad.” And that’s all secondary to the main plot, i.e. rich jerks in robo-suits hunting down animalia villainous. That is a lot of plot points to touch on in one issue (although the MJ subplot isn’t featured in this chapter), and you’ll forgive me if I don’t fully trust Spencer’s ability to balance multiple subplots in an event-style story with a firm sense of balance after the scattershot mess that was Secret Empire. Maybe it will all work out in the end, but for now, Spider-Man feels like a supporting character in his own adventure.
Humberto Ramos’ art continues to be a mixed bag. He’s relatively more restrained this chapter than in previous ones, though his Lizard looks mildly ludicrous and his Spidey still has weird malformed sticks for legs. I realize that wild exaggeration is his style and I don’t want to judge the art too harshly just because it’s not my cup of tea – but then again, some consistency couldn’t hurt, either.
Compared to chapter three, quite a lot happens in this issue – maybe too much, as Spider-Man struggled to find any of the spotlight. But even for an overstuffed issue, ultimately it’s still pretty fun, and the twist revealed in Kraven’s master plan is downright diabolical. Is Spencer telegraphing some major plays right now, especially where the Lizard’s fate and the inevitable Kraven vs. Kraven Jr. showdown are concerned? You bet. But I’m still enjoying seeing how everybody gets there.
Although it's a bit frustrating that Spider-Man doesn't actually do more than swing around reacting and hiding in trees, "Hunted" continues to be a solid romp. By this stage of the story, though, it is beginning to sag just a hair under the weight of all its myriad subplots.
Amazing Spider-Man #20: The Hunters and the Hunted
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 5/105/10
- Color - 7/107/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10