Chapman Spins Body Horror in ‘Separation Anxiety,’ Spencer Crafts a Solid Sequel to ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’

The first thing I want to say is, don’t panic, Spider-fans!

Oh, I know yesterday was a tough one, with the news that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige will no longer be producing Spider-Man movies with Sony, leaving the wallcrawler’s MCU status as a giant question mark. I feel your pain, and was bummed out myself when word came down. But I don’t know if I believe this story is finished and yet, even if it is, I’m going to have faith that director Jon Watts and Tom Holland will still give us some stellar Spidey stories, even without being blatantly integrated into Phase 4.

It’s going to be ok because, hell, there are some seriously solid Spider-Man and Spider-inspired tales being told in the pages of actual comics, which is what brought us to the dance in the first place, isn’t it?

Last week I talked about the first issue of Absolute Carnage, a mega-crossover that’s making its way through a ton of Marvel books, including a strong tie-in that starts with a symbiote-possessed stray dog.

Separation Anxiety.jpgAbsolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1
Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artist: Brian Level

Keeping in line with the fairly horrific storytelling Donny Cates introduced in Absolute Carnage #1, Separation Anxiety finds a family overtaken by sadistic symbiotes Riot, Phage, Agony, and Lasher. I’ve never read any of Chapman’s writing before, but this issue seriously impressed me, with its breakneck pacing and genuinely gruesome resolution. I didn’t expect this from a Marvel comic, and it’s nice to see this event series willing to go to some dark places to tell the larger story. Fans of John Carpenter’s The Thing or, really, any fans of body horror will definitely find a lot to love here. I’ll be following this series and Clay McLeod Chapman’s work, which is probably the biggest compliment I can give the first issue of any book.

Hunted.jpgAmazing Spider-Man: Hunted
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist(s): Humberto Ramos, Gerardo Sandoval, Ryan Ottley

Also new last week was Amazing Spider-Man: Hunted, which compiles 12 issues of Nick Spencer’s current ASM run that finds Spidey and his rogue’s gallery of animal-inspired villains being hunted down in Central Park. And if Spider-Man’s being hunted, you can be sure that Kraven the Hunter is involved.

Hunted serves as a(nother) sequel to the classic J.M. DeMatteis/Mike Zeck storyline Kraven’s Last Hunt, written some thirty-plus years ago, but a tale that’s lost none of its power in the ensuing decades. There are many throwbacks to the story in Hunted, both visually and narratively, and it all works. Credit to Nick Spencer, one of today’s great comic book writers. He first got on my radar with his outstanding Image book Morning Glories (don’t ask him or artist Joe Eisma when that series is coming back; they never have an answer), and he wrote the controversially excellent Captain America: Secret Empire storyline that he caught way too much flack for. Spencer’s hits the right notes in Hunted, with a story that, while tipping its hat to its inspiration, also manages to feel contemporary. Along with the main story, Spencer also wrote a few break issues that contributed backstory to characters that appear throughout the main series. Put them all together, and Hunted is well worth reading for anyone that loved Kraven’s Last Hunt.

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