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The Kravinoffs have come head-to-head with Spider-Man. Blaming him for the death of her husband, Sergei, also known as Kraven the Hunter, Sasha Kravinoff and her son and daughter have been watching Spider-Man get beaten and worn down by the events of the last year. Over the course of “The Gauntlet” he’s been met with one defeat after the other, and in his weakened condition he’s perfect prey for the Hunters.
Unemployed, alone and suffering from the swine flu, Peter Parker was in bed and believing his life couldn’t get any worse. When Kaine, a stronger and more powerful clone of Peter Parker, arrived beaten and bloodied at his door, Peter realized how wrong he was. The day went downhill from there as he quickly found himself trying to save Arachne, a former Spider-Woman and Avenger, from the rambunctious Kravinoff children, Anna and Alyosha.
Probably the most jarring moment of the story, even more than the sacrificial murder of another Spider-Woman, was the return of Ezekiel. During his first appearance Ezekiel had suggested Peter’s powers were given to him by a spider who happened to have been irradiated, not from radiation itself. This was during J. Michael Straczynski’s long run on the title, when the character was changed greatly. Spider-Man no longer needed web-shooters, his powers were mystical and he had daggers that extruded from his arms. These were all things that were seemingly erased by “Brand New Day”.
So, forget the fact that Ezekiel was believed to be dead, wasn’t he erased along with everything else? If Ezekiel has returned, what does that mean for Spider-Man and his powers? Answers to the questions that have surrounded “Brand New Day” are to be revealed soon, among them, why does no one remember Spider-Man’s secret identity? Does Ezekiel’s return usher in a new era of clarity for the web-head or a return to a deviation from the more classic incarnation readers enjoy now.
The issue is an exciting launch to “Grim Hunt”, one that seems determined to maintain the bleak feeling of Spider-Man’s life. Unable to even escape the Kravinoffs without any help, Spidey would be vulnerable to even one villain, let alone a family of three aligned with the likes of the Chameleon and Electro. To open the book and see Peter suffering from H1N1 is reminiscent of “Nightfall”, when Batman had become ill at the same time Bane was pitting the Dark Knight against one arch-enemy after the other. It doesn’t seem likely “Grim Hunt” will end with Spider-Man having his back broken, but the associations are strong enough that it does remind the reader how frail heroes can be and that they don’t always win.
Driving home the dark tones of this story is the sorrowful narration of Madame Web, the clairvoyant aide to Spider-Man. Her visions of prosperity allowed the Kravinoffs to change the future and bring about the tragic events of “Shed”. As yet another Kravinoff son joins their pack, the resurrected and bestial mutant Vladimir, Web’s plea to Spider-Man foreshadows the horror waiting in the upcoming issues, “By all that is holy… I beg you, Spider-Man… run.”
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