BY MATT TUCK
FB@ The Comic Blog
You can pick your nose, and you can pick your friends. You can pick your friend’s nose if you ask politely. But you can’t pick your family, and the dysfunctional Kravinoffs will be front and center for the ultimate hunter’s solo movie. That is putting a bullseye on the Kraven Family keys. Take a look.
It has been a long time coming for Kraven fans. Since Bully Maguire danced his way into meme history in Spider-Man 3, there have been rumors of Kraven the Hunter coming to the big screen. When Spider-Man 4 didn’t happen, the gossip shifted towards The Amazing Spider-Man franchise. After those movies fell flat, the Kraven devotees didn’t give up hope. As soon as word spread that Wakanda Forever was on the Marvel Studios’ slate, the gossip began that Kraven would appear in the MCU.
It didn’t end there. Before Spider-Man: No Way Home broke box office records, there were rumors and theories that he would appear as the final member of the Sinister Six. It would make for the fourth time that those hunter dreams didn’t come true. Then came the news that Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played Quicksilver in Age of Ultron, would pick up the stylish lion-skin vest and ravishing mustache-goatee combination for Kraven’s very own solo movie.
At first, it seemed fairly clean cut. Fans assumed Kraven would focus on the character’s origin story, likely portraying him as either an anti-hero or a sympathetic figure who unwillingly became the villain. However, Sony has thrown a wrench into things. First Russel Crowe was cast in an unnamed role, and that was followed by news that Kraven would focus on the entire Kravinoff family. While we assume that meant Kraven’s little hunters would arrive on the silver screen, recent casting news has revealed that also includes the Chameleon.
It has added up to what could be a surprisingly good movie for Sony. Let’s face it, they need an honestly good movie. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was dismal, and those who liked either Venom movies generally agree that they are train wrecks of cliches and tropes that somehow manage to be entertaining despite being awful at the same time. If Sony avoids treating the Kravinoffs like a live-action cartoon and give us drama, Kraven could be great.
As we wait for more news on the actual plot and what characters the actors are portraying, collectors have been given a new lineup of key issues to choose from. The best part is that these have mostly gone unnoticed for years, and that keeps the prices relatively low. On that note, let’s explore the issues that are getting the most attention in light of the movie news.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #15
Easily the most popular issue for Kraven hunters is ASM #15. Anytime we’re dealing with a Silver Age ASM issue, especially one from the Steve Ditko era, the prices are automatically high. Factor in the first appearance of an iconic Spidey villain like Kraven, and it becomes even more expensive. Now that Kraven and Chameleon, who made his second appearance in this issue, are ready for their mainstream introductions, ASM #15 is heading toward the stratosphere. A lowly graded 1.8 approached the $1k mark for the second time in a year after selling for $989 on February 22.
TALES TO ASTONISH #62
Speaking of the Chameleon, his Kraven casting has made his other keys a top priority for many buyers. When your first appearance is in the holy grail ASM #1, that tends to happen. What do you do if you are looking for Chameleon keys but you’re on a budget? Shift your attention to his first full cover appearance on the front of Tales to Astonish #62. Prices are on the move, but they’re much easier to handle than those of ASM #15. On February 17, a 4.5 reached a record-high $288.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #307
As you are on the trail of those shifty Chameleon keys, don’t forget to look in the dollar bins for ASM #307. Although not a major collecting target, this issue has been a favorite among Todd McFarlane fans piecing together his legendary ASM run. These days, buyers are giving this issue a second look since it was the first time readers were treated to the Chameleon’s origin story. Later, Chameleon and Kraven were established as siblings, and that will likely be explored in Kraven, and we can assume the movie will take cues from this issue. At the moment, raw copies are selling for about $20.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #244
Who is Aaron Taylor-Johnson actually playing? We assumed he would play the lead role as Kraven, but which Kraven? In 1997, a decade after Sergei Kravinoff committed suicide at the end of his one great story, “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” his son, Alexei, took up the Hunter mantle. With Crowe playing a significant role in the movie, there is a chance that we could see him as Sergei and Taylor-Johnson as Alexei. What is great here is that raw copies are such a miniscule investment, and most have been selling for around $5-$10 as of late.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #565
It wasn’t just the boys donning the animal skins and going Spider-Man hunting. In 2008, Sergei’s daughter, Ana, would enter the family business, and she would later become the third Kraven the Hunter. Since the movie will focus on the Kravinoff family, the odds are high that we will see her in some capacity, and possibly as a version of the Hunter. Want one? A graded 9.8 sold for $300 on Saturday, but raw copies tend to stay in the $20-$25 range.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #567
Another member of the ever-expanding Kravinoff family, Sasha has caught the eye of collectors. She is Sergei’s wife and Ana’s mother, but she played a pivotal role in resurrecting the original Kraven by using Spider-Man’s blood. When you’re married to a psychopath like Kraven, things aren’t going to end well. After Spider-Man defeated the Kravinoff families, they fled to the Savage Land, where Sergei murdered Sasha.
This issue has been heating up. This week, prices jumped from $10-$20 to as much as $31 on Saturday.
ALL IN THE KRAVEN FAMILY
There are solid Kraven stories Sony can mine for material to ensure an emotionally impactful film. Whether it dips from “Kraven’s Last Hunt” or the stories of vengeance and brutality that drives the Kravinoff family, Kraven has the chance to be dramatic and based in reality. Maybe they will avoid their missteps from the past and skip the slapstick comedy and absurdity, but it’s hard to imagine that happening.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.