By: The Grim Hunt, Joe Kelly (writer), Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors) & Joe Caramanga (letters)

Hunting the Hunter, Part One (backup story), J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Max Fiumara (art), Fabio D’Auria (colors), Joe Caramanga (letters)

Back-up Number Two, Stan Lee (writer) & Marcos Martin (art)

The Story: The Grim Hunt finally gets off the ground after ~30 issues of build-up and countless in-comic teases.  The Kravinoffs have a sinister plan in mind for the webslinger and his colleagues!

What’s good: I LOVE comic stories that have lots of build-up.  Sure….many of those stories don’t turn out to be anything hot, but cracking open the first issue of a story that has been building for a long time is a little like Christmas morning: It’s finally here!!!

In this case, the Spider-Man team has been building this story since issue #600 last summer.  When we saw Madame Web get abducted by the Kravinoffs.  Then, the Kravinoffs kept showing up throughout the Gauntlet story line (including hiring Deadpool to distract Spidey so they could kidnap Mattie Franklin).  They weren’t around all the time, but they were around enough to make it clear that they were pulling some of the strings behind this stream of baddies who were giving Spidey such a hard time.  Before getting into this issue, let’s give an editorial tip of the cap to the Spider-Man team.  It can’t be easy to keep a story tight across 30 plus issue and multiple creative teams.  Bravo!

So, with all the build-up, would this issue be an anti-climax?  Not at all!  Right away we see that the Kravinoffs have been beating up on Kane and are trying to catch Arachne.  I’ll admit that it was always a little unclear why the Kravinoffs were nabbing spider-themed characters since it isn’t as if they work as a team or anything.  We do learn the Kravinoff’s plan at the end of the issue.  I won’t reveal it here, but it doesn’t have much to do with vengeance and it has dire consequences for Mattie in a grim, bloody and creepy scene that also explains what the Kravinoffs were doing running around with folks like Electro and Diablo.

The art in this issue is a big change from Chris Bachalo.  I don’t love this muddier artistic style quite as much, but you really cannot fault their storytelling.  There is an 8 page fight between the Kravinoffs and Spidey/Arachne where the art is tight and you have zero trouble telling what is going on.

We also get one excellent back-up story to remind audiences of what a cool character Kraven the Hunter was.  This is advertised as an “untold story” of Kraven.  The story is fun and the art is really nice stuff from Max Fiumara!  The art on the second back-up is great as well.  ASM is just an embarrassment of riches in art.  Why can’t one of them come play with the X-Men?

What’s Not So Good: Not a whole lot.  I should probably start with the SECOND back-up story.  It is a little hard to complain when you get a second back-up, but this short cutsie piece by Stan Lee just really doesn’t fit the dark, grim tone of the rest of the book.  Supposedly this is going to be featured 2 pages at a time for 12 issues.  Why not just do a “Stan Lee returns to Amazing Spider-Man for a special issue!!!!!!” and sell the hell out it?

Also, if the Kravinoffs are hunting spider-themed characters, why can’t they go kill Ben Reilly? He’s just annoying!

Conclusion: No anti-climax here.  This much anticipated story is off to a very strong start.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell