August 16, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #15 (August, 1964)

Spider-Man faces off for the first time against Kraven the Hunter!

So, this issue was the first appearance of Kraven the Hunter, and there’s this part of me that basically wonders how much the big game hunter character type changed between 1964 and today.  I know there were big game hunter hero characters around for the longest time, but they aren’t really in vogue today for a wide variety of reasons even though there are still plenty of people who want to show off the big animal they killed, mostly rich folks who can afford to fly to Africa to do that sort of thing.

But bad guys?  Hey, that’s fair game apparently.

Issue:  The Amazing Spider-Man #15, August 1964

Writer:  Stan Lee

Artist:  Steve Ditko

The Plot:  The Chameleon summons his old friend and countryman Kraven the Hunter to bring down Spider-Man!

Commentary:  It occurs to me as I type this, given the notice at the top of the review, that the Ultimate Spider-Man take on Kraven originally had him as an Australian reality TV host that, when he finally confronted Spider-Man, was knocked out rather easily because, as Peter put it, he was just a guy.  He got powers later, but in his first appearance there, he was basically an evil version of the late Steve Irwin.

Here?  He’s…Russian?  I don’t recall the issue saying, but I know it becomes cannon later that he and the Chameleon are Russians, or Soviet citizens given the time period.  The Chameleon is back in America after having been deported, and since he could not do anything to mess with Spider-Man and possibly continue to fly under the radar, he calls his friend Kraven, a celebrity of some sort, to come to America to hunt Spider-Man.  J. Jonah Jameson is all for it as long as it isn’t anything that will break the law.  Oddly enough, I would think hunting another human being by itself is against the law, and I have no idea what Jameson is trying to do here.  He does know Kraven is a hunter, so why is he offering him a reward to hunt Spider-Man so long as it is legal?  By issue’s end, the Chameleon is gladly ratting Kraven out as someone hunting a human being, so it isn’t like it’s perfectly OK to hunt people in the Marvel Universe.

Regardless, Kraven puts up a decent enough fight with help from various jungle concoctions he carries on his person plus some specialized gadgets.  He even tries to move the fight to somewhere that theoretically gives him an advantage in the form of a public park while getting the Chameleon to wear a Kraven disguise to confuse Spider-Man.  However, Spidey has his spider-sense, to say nothing of the proportionate strength and agility of a spider, to the point where Kraven realized his own chemically-enhanced muscles were no match for Spider-Man’s strength.

Too bad the authorities didn’t learn anything from the last time they caught the Chameleon because they decided to deport him again.  Kraven too, but the first appearance of the Sinister Six is coming up really soon, so that won’t last long.

However, I do want to take a minute to talk about Peter Parker’s love life.  Yes, I still think Betty is too old for him, and her jealousy of someone Peter’s age is rather annoying.  But this issue features the first reference to “Mrs. Watson’s niece,” AKA Mary-Jane.  I know Ditko never got the chance to draw her as her first appearance on-panel comes from John Romita Sr., but this issue sure does have a lot of Peter’s dating woes going on.  He set up with this unseen girl by Aunt May, and Peter figures that can’t be good.  By issue’s end, both Betty and Liz Allen are busy, so he’s home alone, possibly the most benign example of “Parker Luck” I have ever seen.  You know, since he’s home alone most nights anyway as near as I can make out.

But the line that most caught my eye was Aunt May’s reasoning for setting Peter up in the first place.  She says Peter’s getting to be a man soon, and he’ll need someone…to be a housewife for him.

Mary-Jane?  A housewife?

That line is so old-fashioned on one level, so weird considering who that character turns out to be, and not just because she and Peter do get married eventually (and should have stayed that way), and just…wow.  Aunt May just outright said Peter needs a housewife.

Anyway, it looks like the next issue is a first time meeting between Spider-Man and another hero that becomes a longtime friend and ally to him.

Grade:  A

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