Writer: Cody Ziglar
Artist: Michael Dowling
Color Artists: Jesus Aburtov & Erick Arciniega
Cover Artists: Arthur Adams & Alejandro Sánchez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Ben Reilly is the Amazing Spider-Man, or so he keeps telling himself. With Peter hospitalized, Ben struggles with his own identity of the mantle of Spider-Man, but he can’t ignore the call to action within him. He’s fought Morbius The Living Vampire, and now he faces Kraven The Hunter, but things take a surreal turn for Ben as Amazing Spider-Man #80 shows this is a different kind of hunt.
The comic starts strong with Ben reeling from the hallucinogens Kraven forced into his body. Cody Ziglar may be new to writing comics but this is a good first start for him. The idea of Spider-Man (Ben or Peter) having a spiritual drug-induced battle against Kraven is cool on its own, but Ziglar shows why it works best for Ben. The writing, dialogue, pacing, and visuals in this comic all come together and make an excellent 2-part comic book story to read.
It kicks off with Ben facing Kraven in his warped mindscape under the influence of the drugs, and Ben is in a very vulnerable position here. This helped by the fact that Kraven isn’t hunting Spidey like any other time. He’s trying to force him to undergo a spiritual awakening to become his worthy opponent again and turn from his Beyond corporate overlords. The art design by Michael Dowling and the color artists make each page of the surreal confrontations cool, from Kraven’s design in the hallucination as well as the symbolic imagery in Ben’s mind reflecting his imposter syndrome.
Each step of the way, we see Ben struggling to hold his mind together as much as his body as he tries to fight Kraven on two fronts. The comic does briefly switch to the Beyond staff, which is the weakest part of the comic, but it thankfully doesn’t spend too much time with them before shifting back to Ben and Kraven. As the comic goes on, Ben tries to balance himself out between the hallucinations and reality, but he manages to find a way to finally combat Kraven and get his footing in the real world again. Admittedly, it’s still silly but it serves its purpose to get to the final battle.
The final battle does have a couple of silly forced jokes here and there, but it ends up being a solid end to this Kraven hunt and leaves room for another encounter. Speaking of the ending, there’s some interesting ground to cover there and I’m surprised it’s taken this long for the Beyond storyline to cover it.
After the fight with Kraven and Ben returns to Beyond, we see Maxine Danger is finishing up a meeting where they’re preparing a “cease and desist” order for Miles Morales. Which sounds silly and ludicrous but there is a better story to tackle. Honestly, it always felt weird that during this whole time with Peter in the hospital we never see ANY of the Spider heroes check in on him, only MJ, Aunt May, and Black Cat. Nobody else. And with Ben taking over as the main Spider-Man, we should’ve already gotten some idea of what the others think about this, or if they’re even aware of the change. Hopefully the next issues tackle this aspect of things head on with not only Miles but the others too.
Amazing Spider-Man #80 delivers a fun and surreal Spider-Man story as Ben Reilly faces Kraven The Hunter. The story is well-written as Ben struggles to fight Kraven on two fronts while trying to keep a foot in reality. The art team does an amazing job with the art and colors, especially the surreal visual designs for Kraven and the imagery in Ben’s mind. It’s a fun conclusion to this two part Kraven story with Ben.