Since writer Nick Spencer took the reins of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, he’s been building to this very moment. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 brings about the beginning of “Hunted.” Kraven the Hunter finally sets his plan in motion, having hunted many animal-themed villains already, with one last character to catch: Spider-Man.

Needless to say, the payoff for Nick Spencer’s first 16 issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is well worth it. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 starts “Hunted” in full force. From Kraven taunting Black Cat and setting his hunters loose to Kraven’s son beating Spidey within an inch of his life, there’s a lot to enjoy.

And on top of the tense storytelling, artist Humberto Ramos returns to the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with some fairly gritty artwork. He excels in highlighting Spidey’s fight with Kraven’s son. Not to mention, Edgar Delgado’s colors help keep everything moody and dark, which is completely appropriate for this Spidey story.

The Hunt Is On in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17

The issue opens with a grim reminder of Kraven’s recent history. Ever since his resurrection during the “Grim Hunt” storyline, Kraven has yearned for death. He’s cursed with a life he doesn’t want, and the only person who can kill him is Spider-Man. Who, as we’re all aware, isn’t too fond of killing people, for any reason.

Speaking of Spidey, he’s out and about, swinging through the city trying to find Black Cat and Billy Connors. Except, for some reason, Pete’s disastrously under the weather. He’s sick, but he won’t take the time to slow down and get better — not when lives are on the line. Black Cat and Billy are being held in a hotel by Kraven, who’s looking especially dapper in a nice suit.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 page 10. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Eventually, Spidey stumbles upon the location he thought Felicia would be at. All he finds, however, is Kraven’s son. With some pesky knockout gas filling the air, Spidey’s mind is tormented with painful visions of MJ dying. Kraven’s son is able to take full advantage of this, as he’s seemingly unaffected by the gas. In a brutal, one-sided battle, Kraven’s son beats Spider-Man nearly to death.

When Spidey wakes up, he finds himself wearing a familiar black suit. Not only that, but he’s also stranded somewhere in Central Park, surrounded by the dozens of animal-themed villains Kraven’s been rounding up these past few months. Before the villains can take out Spidey, a number of armored hunters arrive, poised to take out as many targets as they can.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 Is a Pulse-Pounding Tale

For me, I wasn’t sure what to think leading up to “Hunted.” I wasn’t initially too excited about another Kraven story, despite this being the first one in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in a very long time. Kraven’s been MIA for a while. Yet, the closer and closer we got to this story, the more excited I grew. Lo and behold, Nick Spencer knows how to deliver on some serious build up.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 immediately starts strong with Kraven’s monologue. I had a feeling the story would take this route, analyzing the Hunter’s life in a grim manner (most stories involving him often do). Spencer keeps this formula fresh; Kraven’s not overly brutish or dull, but instead feels somber and tired. It’s a simultaneously familiar yet renewed light we see this character in.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 page 14. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I was instantly floored by the battle between Spidey and Kraven’s son. This was a succinct fight that packed a lot of punch(es). As if we needed further reminding of just how dangerous Kraven’s son is, we get an even better sense of his skill and strength in this brief battle. Not only that, but we also get some dark teasing at what may lie ahead. I like to think whatever Spidey saw in his visions is unrelated to “Hunted,” but who knows?

Black Cat being bait for Spidey, however, feels weird. Other than this reinforcing a dumb stereotype, it feels wrong for her character. I mean, it makes sense how she got in this position, and it actually works in getting Spider-Man captured, but it still feels weird. Other than that, though, this is some clean storytelling from Spencer.

The Hunt Never Looked So Good

Typically, I love indulging in a book featuring Humberto Ramos’ artwork because of how poppy and expressive it is. Not only that, but, coupled with Edgar Delgado’s colors, Ramos’ pages always appear lavishly vibrant. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 is a complete reversal of these guy’s usual stylings, and I love it!

Many of Ramos’ characters in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 look reserved or calm. But that’s hardly a bad thing. It works extraordinarily well in the case of Kraven. But that’s not to say the characters don’t look energetic. How could they not when Ramos is drawing them? It’s more that this issue calls for some quieter moments, which Ramos succeeds at providing.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 page 22. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 features one of Ramos’ best fight scenes. Again, though it’s a brief battle, there’s a lot of force and power in the fight between Spidey and Kraven’s son. You can feel each blow, and it twists your gut to see Spidey pummeled towards the end of the bout. Hell, any time Spidey’s on the page, you just can’t help but feel weak with him.

Seeing Pete in the black suit again was a huge eye-opener. That’s when I knew “Hunted” was going to be a serious arc.

And, again, coupling Ramos’ pages perfectly are Delgado’s colors. Delgado colors the characters and matches the lighting and tone of every scene perfectly. I was initially worried about this duo working on what could rightfully be perceived as a dark story, but now I have no doubts they’ll deliver in the following issues.

What Is Kraven’s Endgame?

Though Spencer lays many of his cards on the table in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17, there’s still tons we don’t know about. What’s most prominently picking at my mind is what exactly is Kraven’s end goal? Is he actually seeking out his death once again, or is it something darker? We’ll just have to wait and see (and hope Spidey makes it out in one piece).

Writer Nick Spencer completely delivers with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17. He’s been building to the “Hunted” arc for the past few months now, and what at first felt like it would be a weak story has quickly turned into something beautifully dark. We haven’t had an appropriately bleak Spidey story for quite a while, and Spencer seems ready to fix that with “Hunted.”

Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado surprisingly excel at delivering a grim experience in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17. Though it’s not their typical Spidey style, they manage to grip you with their more understated character depictions and tense action sequences. It’s not their cleanest work, but it’ll both surprise you and pull you right into the story, for sure.

What lies ahead for Spidey and the villains trapped in Central Park? Who the hell knows? All I know is I want more “Hunted,” now!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 by Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado, and Victor Olazaba
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Characterization
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Summary
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 proves that "Hunted" is a story no Spider-Man fan should miss. The build up was perfect, and now the arc itself looks to make good on all that hype. Nick Spencer delivers his most gripping Spidey tale yet, while Ramos, Delgado, and Olazaba pull you in with their pitch-perfect pages.
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A Pulse-Pounding Hunt!

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