The Red Goblin is holding the comic market hostage these months, and his grip isn’t going to loosen anytime soon.
With all the Goblin talk, I’ll change things up a bit and go back to one of my favorite, under-appreciated Spider-Man villains, Kraven the Hunter.
The rumor was that director Ryan Coogler wanted Kraven as the main villain in Black Panther, and while that would have made for an interesting foe for T’Challa, longtime Kraven fans will agree that he belongs in the Spider-Man world.
Today, let us delve into two legendary Kraven stories that gave us his first appearance and his death.
Back in 1964, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gave Spider-Man a villain who saw the web slinger as wild game rather than a superhero. In that regard, Kraven didn’t see himself as a supervillain so much as he viewed himself as the world’s greatest hunter seeking to challenge himself.
Considering the age of the comic, a high-grade copy is going to be fairly rare and very expensive. For this article, I’m going to focus on a mid-grade 5.0, which is much more common and affordable for the average collector.
There has been a lot of fluctuation here, as ASM #15 at a CGC 5.0 has sold for as much as $454 since 2017 all the way down to $250. Since we’ve already seen most of Spider-Man’s original lineup of villains in one movie franchise or another (after all, we are in the midst of the third installment of Spidey films), it’s a matter of time before Kraven makes his silver screen debut. That means that now is a great time to get a copy ahead of the hype inflation.
KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT
The original incarnation of Kraven saw his demise in the late 1980s with what is one of the best Spider-Man stories to date: Kraven’s Last Hunt. It was by-far the best Kraven story ever written (with beautiful artwork by Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod) and what should have been his last story.
In this story, Kraven hatched the ultimate plan to defeat Spider-Man and establish himself superior in every way. He captured and shot Spider-Man with a tranquilizer dart, although the audience at the time was left to believe that Kraven had actually killed the hero. Kraven then buried Spider-Man, and – since seemingly killing him wasn’t enough – he donned a Spider-Man costume of his own and set out to prove himself as a better hero than his adversary. What transpired is the predecessor to Venom: Lethal Protector as Kraven fights crime with sheer brutality and savagery. As a little insult to injury, Kraven single handedly defeated Vermin, something Spider-Man could not do.
When Spider-Man made his return, Kraven was satisfied that he finally defeated his foe on every possible front. He refused to fight Spider-Man, since he felt he already won. In the final pages, Kraven killed himself, bringing an end to his hunting.
What’s great here is that you can get a truly remarkable Spider-Man story for a relatively low price. You can find high-end copies of the six-issue event all for anywhere from $20-$60 an issue. If you opt for raw, ungraded issues, then you can get out even cheaper. Spectacular Spider-Man #132, in which Kraven died, has averaged around $40 for near-mint grades. Web of Spider-Man #32 is the most expensive of the set mostly because of its iconic Zeck cover art of Spider-Man crawling out of his grave. That one is still reasonable at a $60 averaged over the past two years for a graded 9.6.