What If... Kraven the Hunter Had Killed Spider-Man?

Well, I can't say this comic is well put together much at all. Uneven art where every hero might as well be four feet tall is the least of its problems. Its structure is terrible, with an over-long epilogue filled with unmotivated happenings... Well, I'll let the comic speak for itself, I suppose.

What If vol.2 #17 (September 1990)
Based on: Web of Spider-Man #31-32
The true history: When Kraven the Hunter goes mad, he shoots Spider-Man with a tranq dart and buries him alive and takes his place, having eaten spiders and BECOME the spider. Eventually, Spider-Man escapes from his tomb while the disturbed Kraven, satisfied with his "last hunt" commits suicide.
Turning point: What if Kraven had shot Spider-Man with an actual bullet?
Story type: Slayer/New World Order
Watcher's mood: Fading in and out
Altered history: So Kraven kills Spider-Man before burying him (probably safer) as in the original story, goes out to lethally fight crime as a new Spider-Man, high on spider juice. The divergence occurs when Spider-Man is gone long enough for Mary Jane, who was about to move in with her husband, starts to panic. She assembles a crack team of super-heroes to check on the new, violent Spider-Man, letting on that her husband's disappearance in somehow connected, she just knows it.
The Torch (God rest his soul... no wait, I don't believe for a second he's dead, scratch that), Daredevil and Captain America each encounter Spider-Kraven, and they all come to the same conclusion. That's not Spider-Man! I'd even say they were a bit slow about it, especially since MJ sorta told them he was an impostor. It's been two weeks, and she's ready to spill the beans.
As in the original timeline, Vermin comes into the story and jumps J.J. Jameson. Spider-Kraven saves him by killing Vermin, though of course JJJ is sure he would have been next, if it wasn't for the interference of our three heroes. They follow Kraven to the graveyard, where the mad Hunter feels the need to eat of the spider directly!
They apprehend him before a Marvel comic would have had to show cannibalism (it was 20 years ago, we didn't realize how slippery the slope was) and find Peter Parker's body. Mary Jane cries for a page, then goes off to tell Aunt May who blows a fuse when MJ slanders her poor Peter by saying he was Spider-Man.
Then there's the quiet funeral, and you'd think that would be that. But no, it goes on. MJ and the heroes call a press conference where she reveals Peter was Spider-Man to clear his name of any of Spider-Kraven's wrong-doing. Even with Captain America RIGHT THERE, the press is all about calling the heroes' bullshit. Tabloid peddler JJJ says the real Spider-Man attacked him, so it must be true! And then of course, Jonah shows up on stage in crutches and there's a lame struggle with the Torch, which the press paints like THIS:
From there, super-heroes are investigated by Congress and public opinion turns against them. Even the Avengers and Fantastic Four quietly disband or go into hiding. Better not to fight this, says Reed Richards. ...WHAT?!? This would be completely ridiculous if not for the many real examples of this kind of behavior from the media and its consumers. Wait, it's still not over... MJ goes on to be a crusader, dedicating her life to removing the stain from her husband's name and that of all the heroes he brought down with him. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Marvel Universe is overrun with villains inside of a week.
Books canceled as a result: Only the Spider-Man titles, really, and maybe the Avengers. Everyone else can operate under the radar, affecting the Marvel Universe's "secret history", or operating in the face of public outrage. The X-Men have been doing it for years.
These things happen: Recently, Kraven was brought back from the dead for a "Grim Hunt" (which got its own What If? special) in a ceremony requiring his family to murder Kane, one of Spider-Man's clones and a dead ringer for Peter Parker. Well, they thought he was the real deal so... close enough.

Next week: What if the Fantastic Four Battled Dr. Doom Before They Got Their Powers?
My guess: Doom does not suffer the indignity of being tied up with Reed Richards' bendy torso.


Unknown said...

Get a load of Cap's dull, witless expression in the panel of him, DD and torch.

This whole story seems like a missed opportunity. Would've been far cooler to see Spider-Kraven start hunting down Spidey's rogues plus other street level heroes.

Siskoid said...

You just made me wish YOU'd written it.

ZombieLord said...

On nom nom nom..... xD


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