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Quote1 But it's not the same thing! All these years--I've done my best to make up for that! I've wore this suit--gone out there and put my life on the line again and again! But no matter how hard I try-- --people-- --die! Quote2
-- Spider-Man

Appearing in "Soul of the Hunter"

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Synopsis for "Soul of the Hunter"

See now the tombstone of Kraven the Hunter. It reads "He Died With Honor".

In the middle of a winter snowstorm, Peter and his wife Mary Jane attend the funeral for Roger Hochberg's mother.[Continuity 1] During the showing, Peter is having trouble dealing with the situation as it not only reminds him of the death of his Uncle Ben, but also the time Kraven the Hunter buried him alive.[Continuity 2] Eventually, it becomes too much and Peter has to excuse himself for a moment. When Mary Jane goes to see if her husband is okay, he brushes it off as a touch of the flu. However, Mary Jane knows better, as something has been bothering Peter for weeks. He assures her that he is fine, but Mary Jane presses the issue. Getting annoyed with the situation, Peter tells her that he is going out to get some fresh air.

Changing into Spider-Man, Peter swings across the city, unable to get his mind off the fact that Kraven has buried him alive for two weeks, usurping and usurping his identity, before ultimately committing suicide. He suddenly spots some teens hanging out at a construction site where a boy has fallen into a sinkhole. When Spider-Man swings down to help the boy, he has a brief flashback to when he was buried alive and begins to panic. He scrambles back up the side of the hole with the boy in arm in a panic. As soon as the boy is safe, Spider-Man swings away. Getting back his composure, Peter returns to the funeral in time for the eulogy. The Rabbi's words really hit home to Peter. Later, back at his apartment, Peter is lost in through as Mary Jane tries to cheer him up with a story about a recent incident on set. Peter is focused on a line the rabbi said during his eulogy about death being like throwing away an old coat. When he asks Mary Jane if she thinks it's true. Mary Jane relates to a time when she witnessed her friend's father drop dead in the middle of dinner. Having witnessed a human life suddenly end, she can't help but agree that death does kind of seem like throwing out an old coat. However, she hopes in her heart that there is such a thing for a human soul.

After a moment of romance, Peter goes to sleep and begins having a nightmare. In it, he is wearing his old black-and-white costume in the middle of a cemetery. Suspended over a cliff if the grave of Kraven the Hunter. Peter is furious at Kraven for burying him alive and leaving him for dead. Peter insists that Kraven faked his death and that he will find him and defeat him once and for all so this haunting will come to an end. As he starts pounding into the grave site. Suddenly, a decaying arm bursts out of the ground and grabs him by the throat. Peter suddenly wakes up, and unable to sleep he goes to sit in the living room. He once again wonders if Kraven somehow faked his death, as so many of his foes have done this before. Part of his mind thinks that Kraven is somewhere close by, that he can almost feel it. Suddenly, Peter is shocked by the sudden appearance of Kraven's spirit. Peter can't believe what he is seeing and thinks that this is some kind of trick. When he leaps away from the spirit, he suddenly finds himself in a snow-covered cemetery. All Kraven can do is point at his grave and say that it is a lie. Realizing that Kraven is in torment, Peter asks him what he wants. That's when another figure appears. It's a black figure with glowing red eyes.[Continuity 3] The entity explains that Kraven is seeking release and only Peter Parker can give it to him.

When Peter asks who the creature is, but the entity states that it is not important. What matters is that there is a bond between Spider-Man and Kraven and that only he can save Kraven's soul. Peter doesn't understand how he can save the soul of a dead man. The being directs Peter's attention upwards where thousands of souls swirl in the sky in torment. The entity explains that these are the souls of those who commit suicide. That those who take their lives are cursed to spend eternity living in agony in a point between life and death. It goes on to say that the only way there can be release is through a link in the living world helping them escape this purgatory. Peter Parker is just such a link with Kraven the Hunter. Hearing how he is Kraven the Hunter's only salvation, Peter refuses to do anything to help. This is a disappointment to Kraven, but the entity insists that they must abide by Peter's decision. Suddenly, the graveyard is replaced by the Parker's living room and Mary Jane has gotten up to see what Peter is doing up so late. Peter tells his wife that he saw Kraven's ghost. However, he immediately dismisses this as crazy. Mary Jane doesn't think so and brings her husband back to bed and tells him that he needs to come to terms with what Kraven did to him. She insists that deep down Peter feels guilty for Kraven, even though his foe killed himself. This prompts Peter to put on his costume and go out into the night, telling Mary Jane that there is only one way to see this through.

Spider-Man soon arrives in the grave yard where Kraven the Hunter was buried. There he sees that Kraven's tombstone has fallen over. Suddenly, the entity returns, surprised that Spider-Man has returned. The wall-crawler asks the strange being what he needs to do. Suddenly, the tormented spirits appear above them again and the entity calls down the soul of Kraven the Hunter. The trial that Spider-Man must face is a battle against the corpse of Kraven the Hinter, which emerges from his grave. Against his better instincts, Spider-Man charges at the ghoulish remains of Kraven. However, the corpse moves out of the way and Spider-Man almost falls into the open grave. He begins to panic but fights back. He argues that it isn't his fault that Kraven is dead that he, just one man, can't save a soul. Had he known that Kraven was planning on killing himself, Spider-Man would have tried to do something to stop it. As the wall-crawler falters begins to falter, he begins to think of all the people who have died because of him.[Continuity 4] As the corpse of Kraven drags Spider-Man back toward the open grave he sees that it now reads "Here lies Spider-Man, Slain by the Hunter". Peter wishes he could have saved everyone, but he is just one person. Most importantly of all, he doesn't want to die himself. As Kraven tries to push him into the open grave and into the dark abyss below, the wall-crawler fights back. This pitches them both over the edge. Suddenly, Spider-Man realizes that just because he couldn't save the lives of those he loved, he can't give up on the most precious thing of all: life. He then begins to struggle out of the pit, pulling the corpse of Kraven out with him. Spider-Man tells the entity that he chooses life and fights off the ghoulish creature before him. As soon as Spider-Man embraces life, the corpse of Kraven the Hunter suddenly disappears. With Spider-Man finally free of his guilt, the entity tells the wall-crawler that Kraven is almost free. In thanks, Kraven holds his arms out to his foe, and surprisingly, Spider-Man accepts his embrace. Suddenly, Kraven's spirit disappears. As does everything else is gone, the tortured spirits, the entity that was standing judge, all of them. Spider-Man picks up Kraven's tombstone and tells his old foe to rest in peace.

The following morning, Peter tells Mary Jane about the whole thing. She chalks it up as something his mind comes up with to process the guilt. Peter doesn't think it was all in his mind but doesn't feel he can talk about it just yet. They soon arrive at the home of Roger Hochberg to see how he is doing. He tells the Parkers that his mother became an atheist and abandoned her faith after learning about the atrocities of World War II.[Continuity 5] However, Roger isn't so easy to dismiss the religious beliefs of his people and actually finds some comfort in them. When people come and talk to him about his mother, he can feel her spirit there with him. When he asks Peter if that sounds crazy, Peter doesn't think it's crazy at all. At that moment, Kraven's tombstone now reads "Free at Last".

Notes

Continuity Notes

  1. Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife. However, years later, their marriage is erased from existence by the demon Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple here.
  2. Peter's Uncle Ben was killed by a burglar in Amazing Fantasy #15. At the time of this story, Peter was recently buried alive by Kraven the Hunter as seen during the Kraven's Last Hunt storyline.
    Kraven's Last Hunt
    Web of Spider-Man #31 Amazing Spider-Man #293 Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #131 Web of Spider-Man #32 Amazing Spider-Man #294 Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #132

    .

  3. The identity of this entity is unknown. The profile for Kraven the Hunter in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #6 does not specify who the entity is. One obvious possibility is Death, however, review of Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3, which has an entry on Death, does not make mention of this instance either.
  4. Of those people Spider-Man specifically identifies George Stacy (Amazing Spider-Man #90), his daughter Gwen (Amazing Spider-Man #121) and Ned Leeds (Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1).
  5. Roger implies that his mother was a Holocaust survivor. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.

See Also

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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