Writer Nick Spencer has been leaving a trail of breadcrumbs hinting at the grand machinations of Kraven the Hunter. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16, we finally figure out what Kraven’s been up to. Or, at least, we start to figure it out. It’s somewhat confusing, but that’s a good thing, don’t worry.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 is the prelude to the upcoming “Hunted” event. It sheds light on most of what Kraven has been doing behind the scenes since we caught wind of him back in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2. However, Nick Spencer still leaves out just enough detail to keep you guessing. This works extremely well, because it doesn’t feel like lazy writing, but instead is done deliberately to build up the mystery.

Backing up Spencer’s mysterious story is artist Ryan Ottley, with incredible pages that are commonplace at this point. While Ottley handles all the Kraven-related material, guest artist Alberto Alburquerque joins in for the latter half of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16, with mixed results.

What is Kraven up to in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16?

For a while now, we’ve known Kraven the Hunter has been working secretly in the background of Nick Spencer’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. He’s been capturing other animal-themed villains, terrorizing other hunters, and plotting something with Arcade. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 finally gives us some answers, though not even close to all of them.

After Kraven was resurrected by his family (as part of the “Grim Hunt” arc from way back when), he essentially killed them all, except for his daughter. Seeking out the High Evolutionary in the Savage Lands, Kraven had one goal in mind: create a true family for himself. He forced the High Evolutionary to create 87 younger clones of himself that essentially act as his sons. Because Marvel still hasn’t learned their lesson about clones.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 page 5. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Kraven seems to love his sons, and when they come of age, he sends them all out to hunt. Only one of them returns, having hunted and killed the rest. Kraven couldn’t be prouder. For now, I’m fairly certain this remaining son is nameless, but I’m sure that’ll change. Kraven hopes to celebrate with his son, introducing him to the entirety of his recent scheming. He has lured hundreds of opulent, false “hunters” with the incentive of hunting animal-themed, costumed criminals — and not just a few of them. Practically all of them.

Meanwhile, while Peter isn’t feeling too hot for some reason, Billy Connors gets into a world of trouble by revealing himself to the public. Before Spidey can swing in and save him, Taskmaster and Black Ant kidnap Billy. They also apparently got Black Cat. Thus, Pete’s just been roped into Kraven’s dark game.

It’s Confusing, But in All the Right Ways

At first, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 struck me as a very odd bird. Kraven the Hunter resorting to cloning technology? Dressing up all fancy and scheming in manners he’s never quite done before? It was all very confusing and off-putting for me. At a second glance, however, the scope and severity of all this hit me like a brick. Not to mention, there’s still a lot we don’t know for sure, which makes the prospect of the “Hunted” event something scary.

Leave it to Nick Spencer to find creative ways to build up to his event arc. Originally, the thought of another Kraven story just seemed cool. I was looking forward to it simply on the basis that Kraven hasn’t faced off against Spidey in a while. But with all this uncertainty now surrounding the story, everything feels more intimidating and detrimental than before.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 page 10. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I’m also fond of how Spencer slips in an environmentally-positive theme. I found myself empathetic towards Kraven’s stance on poachers and disrespectful “hunters,” in that perhaps they deserve some form of punishment for wounding nature. That’s not to say I’d go and corral them up for some death trap, but still, Kraven’s love for nature is a respectable quality. I mean, I’m not rooting for him (he’s still a psychopath in many regards), but you get where he’s coming from.

I don’t have much to say on the secondary story of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16. It’s more setup for “Hunted,” but it’s not nearly as interesting as the rest of the issue. If anything, I’m curious about what’s got Peter so sick. I don’t know if I missed something in the previous issue, but whatever’s got him looking so bad, it doesn’t bode well for him.

AMAZING SPIDRE-MAN #16 Is a Mixed Artistic Bag

You can’t really compare Ryan Ottley and Alberto Alburquerque’s artistic styles. They wildly contrast each other, considering Ottley draws blocky, sharper characters, while Alburquerque has more of a free-flowing style. Ottley certainly has stronger consistency.

I’ll elaborate. Throughout the first half of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16, Ryan Ottley hardly ever misses a beat. His characters are clean; they’re what you probably expect from the artist. His designs for the scenery of Kraven’s home are vivid and detailed, and I really enjoy the design of Kraven’s son. After all, he’s a clone of Kraven, so he should look like his father, but of course with distinct differences. All in all, Ottley delivers on every note.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 page 29. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Jumping to Alburquerque’s style feels sudden and inappropriate. And his pages are far less consistent. Character anatomy is all over the place for most pages. That’s not to say it’s all bad, though. Most of the stuff between MJ and Peter looks fine (minus one page where I wasn’t sure what the hell MJ’s foot was doing (you’ll know it when you see it)). Billy just looked weirder than he needed to.

On the other hand, to his credit, Alburquerque’s style is somewhat reminiscent of Humberto Ramos’. It’s nice, considering Ramos will be drawing all of “Hunted.” So, in part, this is a nice segue to the upcoming event, though I still would’ve preferred Ottley handling all the art on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16.

The Hunt Begins

With all the pieces in place, and just the right amount of mystery looming overhead, “Hunted” is in a perfect position to bloom as an intense Spidey event. I didn’t see too much to draw me in at first, but now I’m very excited for this story.

Since he started writing AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Nick Spencer’s inventive writing style hasn’t failed him yet, and it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 features some well-paced writing that leaves you guessing in all the right ways. This is the kind of issue that should leave you scratching your head, even if it’s only slightly.

Ryan Ottley and Alberto Alburquerque deliver a unique blend of pages in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16. Though I think Ottley could’ve handled this one on his own, Alburquerque’s style does add some flair to the issue, though it isn’t entirely necessary.

Now, in two weeks, “Hunted” begins. Let’s see who makes it out alive.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, and Alberto Albuquerque
Setting up an event story is a careful process. You can't give the reader all the details; you have to leave them guessing. Nick Spencer understands this process to a tee. And Ryan Ottley's artwork works in tandem with Spencer's storytelling to keep things moving smoothly.
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The Right Kind of Confusing

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