Warning: SPOILERS for Amazing Spider-Man #23
He may be the deadliest villain that Spider-Man ever faced, but Kraven the Hunter is dead--again. And this time, it wasn't some savage beast that bested him while on an epic hunt... it was the clone he called "Son."
To be more specific, the clone that he personally dubbed "The last Son of Kraven," who has now taken up the mantle of his 'father' for a new age of Spider-Man villainy. While some may be shocked by this death, Kraven himself will not be among them. He had been planning his own death not only since the beginning of this story, but since his resurrection years earlier. But what was the point? To answer that question, you need to understand the Kraven that was... and the new one taking his place.
Who is the Last Son of Kraven?
"I have called you son. And for a time, that was true. But now it is time to become something else. You were forged in fire, born in blood. My spirit made flesh. More than my child -- you are me, and I am you. One and the same now."
In the prelude to "The Hunted" story line, Kraven makes a deal with the High Evolutionary to have 87 clones created, and aged to adulthood at an accelerated pace. Kraven then sent them out into the world to hunt--to prove themselves worthy of his name. But when they were all set to return, only one came back. The last son of Kraven delivered a bag of skulls... 86 to be exact.
Kraven called his last son a monster, an abomination, a beast... and couldn't have been prouder. He took his last son under his wing, and brought him in on his last plan, the Grand Hunt. What he didn't tell his final heir was that it was all a plan to create a worthy successor to carry on his name. Why? Because he wanted to die.
Kraven didn't have a grand change of heart, he didn't see the world in a new light , or want to change his ways. If anything, the opposite happened: Kraven believed fully in what he was doing... he was just tired. Since being resurrected by his wife and children using the blood of Spider-Man, Kraven had been cursed: only the Spider could kill him. During the final chapter of The Hunt, Kraven torments Spider-Man to the breaking point, but once again Spider-Man proves the hero and refuses. So Kraven donned the famous black Spider-Man suit one last time, confronts his clone, and deceives him into strangling his own 'father.'
The Clone Becomes The New Kraven the Hunter
Grief stricken with the knowledge that he killed his idolized father, the Kraven Clone wanders around the Kravinoff mansion drunk. When he takes a rifle off the wall (strikingly similar to the rifle Kraven used to commit suicide years ago) he finds a note. The note is from Kraven, explaining that his plan had always ended with his death. As he saw it, the method of his death didn't matter, and that he had achieved his goal. The true son of Kraven had achieved what he wanted. So with a new fire lit inside him to claim his birthright, the Clone wipes away his war paint, cuts his hair, and takes his late father's clothes. Takes the name, too: he is now Sergei Kravinoff. The Beast. The Superior Kraven the Hunter.
So, what was the point? Replacing Kraven with his clone is a way to make a new Kraven--the same as the old, yet the new Hunter is a younger, more fierce version of his father. And as the story comes to a close, the hunt has only begun.
Amazing Spider-Man #23 is available now from Marvel Comics.