Peter Parker the Amazing Spider-Man has vanquished his deadliest foe to date, but still cannot find a workable balance between his work life, university, his relationship with Mary Jane Watson and the ill-timed persistent advances of Felicia Hardy, and his alternate life as a masked hero.
Peter is on his way to an interview with the esteemed Dr. Mariah Crawford at the Hardy Foundation Research Centre, however he arrives to find her fending off Sergei Kravenoff (aka Kraven the Hunter) who claims to have come to take her back where she belongs. While Kravens’ attention is diverted keeping Peter barricaded outside Mariah slips out the fire exit and runs for the roof - Kraven in pursuit. Peter changes into his costume as he slips through a window unnoticed. Mariah is pinned with no escape on a ledge as Kraven advances; all the while reassuring her that he won’t hurt her. Mariah slips but Spider-Man is there to catch her, returning her to the roof and confronting Kraven. Attempts at diffusing the situation with humour fail; as far as Kraven is concerned this is a personal matter so Spider-Man has no right to interfere. Eventually he is forced to take the offensive, effortlessly outmanoeuvring the volley of web-lines and pinning Spider-Man. Breaking free, Spidey inadvertently hurls Kraven from the roof. However when he and Mariah run to investigate he has disappeared. Mariah is adamant that Kraven has not given up and will continue to pursue until he achieves his aims.
Spidey swings away with Mariah, oblivious that they are being stalked by Kraven, and is told that she met Sergei Kravenoff during an African expedition to find a work colleague lost within the jungle, during which time the two fell in love. Months later they found the lost colleague who had discovered and synthesised a medicine that could heal all wounds and ailments with repercussion of him becoming a feral creature barely able to retain his humanity. Giving her the last vial of his serum the man departed into the heart of the jungle where he could be of no threat to anyone, yet Mariah refused to let him give up so easily and tried to follow him, bringing her into a hyena den. Sergei came to her aid but was grievously injured. With no other option left she gave him the serum which miraculously healed him in addition to increasing his senses and strength, but over time caused his mind to degenerate into a primal, animalistic state; he became Kraven the Hunter. Mariah immigrated back to America in the hope of finding a cure. Spider-Man leaves despite her insistence that she continue her work, warning that even ten blocks away Kravens’ animal senses will lead him to her. Down town Kraven has gotton hold of a web sample left by Spider-Man which gives him what he needs to successfully continue his hunt. First however he tracks Mariah to the apartment Spider-Man left her at. Spooked by someone at the door, she leaves through another door as Robbie Robertson enters, failing to notice she has dropped her invitation to the Hardy Foundation fund-raiser in her panic. Kraven breaks down the door, accusing the nonplus Robbie of romantically involved with Mariah - the invitation addressed to her on the floor confirming his suspicions and inciting his fury.
The night of the fund-raiser Kraven crashes the gala, mistakenly assumed by the attendees to be another one of the elaborately dressed models – Mary Jane Watson among their number -, his animal senses alerting him that Spider-Man is also inside. Peter is approached by Felicia Hardy who is so pleasantly surprised to see him she propositions him to be her date for the after-party – Peters’ lamely tries to tell her he already has a date with Mary Jane goes unheeded, and his attempt to untangle this potential disaster is interrupted when he notices Kraven tracking him. Mary Jane and Felicia infuriately watch Peter slip out a side door despite his commitments to them. Taking to the stage, Kraven calls Spider-Man out, still assumed to be part of the entertainment. Spider-Man lures him to the upper balcony outside. A brief fight sees Kraven dangling one-armed from the ledge but not beaten; handing Spider-Man Robbies’ driving licence with the threat that should he die then he will not find his friend alive. Left no other choice, Spider-Man helps Kraven who gives him six hours to bring him Mariah before disappearing into the night to prepare his trap.
Spider-Man checks Robbies’ house for clues although nothing appears new aside from an angry message from Jameson about his poor timekeeping. While he ponders how to save another friend from the parade of villains in his life, Mariah is running blood tests at her lab which could provide a cure for Kravens’ condition. She calls Dr. Connors in order to use his lab. Unable to find her at her home or lab, Spidey decides it’s time to stop letting Kraven dictate events and hunt the hunter. An advert on a bus triggers a memory of something Kraven said during their first confrontation; he’ll be in a jungle environment such as the city zoo. All the while Mariah runs her tests, eventually providing desirable results.
Within moments of entering the zoos’ African exhibit Spider-Man fall haplessly into Kravens string of traps that have him hurled into the rhino enclosure and dodging falling trees, eventually pitting the two men against each other as Robbie dangles over the alligator pen. Mariah enters the exhibit but accidentally springs one of the booby traps that knocks her into a cage of lions and dropping Robbie into the water. While Kraven wrestles the lions Spider-Man saves Robbie, proceeding to Kravens’ aide by webbing the lions back inside their enclosure. Kraven is badly injured from his fight giving Mariah time to feed him her antidote.
Human once more, Kraven sets back home to Africa with Mariah at his side. Spider-Man is not quite as lucky; Mary Jane hasn’t forgiven him; his failure to escort Felicia to the dance will only sour their relationship; and his costume smells like a wildlife preserve.
Spider-Man is introduced to Sergei Kravenoff, aka Kraven the Hunter; a man lost to the savage beast within. With the help of Sergei’s wife Dr. Mariah Crawford, Spider-Man is able to subdue Kraven and restore his lost humanity, reuniting the torn lovers.
A well paced story that, although entertaining enough, lacks the punch of the previous ones. Were it earlier in the season perhaps it’d work more favourably, but as it stands it is nothing more than light entertainment with no great character development or significance to the overall story other than to introduce Mariah Crawford who provides to be a key figure during the Man-Spider arch in a later series. Maybe it’s because I was never especially taken with Kraven, but after Giant robots, alien monsters, bipedal lizards and octopod mad-scientists, a man with the heightened animal senses and a penchant for laying snare traps comes off as underwhelming. Given that he doesn’t even join the ranks of the Sinister Six (renamed Insidious Six for television) in later episodes, Kraven adds nothing to the story at any point over the span of the series, and even his ability to track Spider-Man is undermined by Venom doing a similar thing in the previous episode (The Alien Costume, Part Three) to a far more menacing effect. Adding to the underwhelming aspect of this episode, Spider-Man doesn’t use his smarts to outwit Kraven, as he had to with the Spider Slayers, Doc Ock or Venom, resorting to a series of brawls that seem lacking after building up his ability to ultimately outwit his adversaries.
Also, Peters’ relationship troubles flagged during the fund-raiser are never resolved onscreen or in later episodes, so it is left to the viewers digression how exactly these get worked out. A minor quibble, but it feels unnecessary to have introduced it at all if it serves no further purpose.
Not a bad episode, merely underwhelming given the quality of those that preceded it.