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Savage Force

Spider-Man Legends
by yo go re

Apparently someone in the Hasbro planning department said "let's put as many of Spider-Man's Russian enemies out at once as we can."

Professional criminals for sale to the highest bidder, these half-brothers have made treachery a family tradition.

Yes, it's true: Kraven and the Chameleon are half-brothers. Sergei Kravinoff is the son of a Russian aristocrat who fled to the US after Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne. Yes, that was in 1917. Yes, Kraven was alive in 1917. He found some kind of mystical jungle herb potion that slows his aging - it's also what gives him his superhuman abilities, allowing him to fight mighty beasts barehanded (and also suvive brawling with Spider-Man). Considering the similarities to Black Panther's origins, it's frankly quite surprising that Kraven hasn't been shuffled over to Wakanda.

When ToyBiz made a Kraven in the Spider-Man Classic line, it had a wonderfully expressive facial sculpt by Phil Ramirez. This one... doesn't. This face is rather plain and boring, and vastly under-detailed by comparison. Sideburns and a handlebar mustache are no substitute for a personality, or else American Chopper would still be on the air.

This figure represents the same costume as the Marvel Universe toy, but don't mistake it for simply a scaled-up version of the same sculpt - this is new. It's based on Hasbro's medium body, but has new forearms, shins, hands and feet, in addition to the lion-face vest and the utility belt/loincloth combo. This looks to be the costume he wore after his resurrection in the "Grim Hunt" storyline, with dark wraps around his forearms and boots, solid brown pants (no animal print), skulls and fun on his knees, a raggedy tan loincloth, leopard-print band around his upper arms, and a necklace of animal teeth. The vest this time looks more like a real lion's face than just a pattern.

Kraven moves at the balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinged shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinged wrists, a hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge rocker ankles. His only accessory is a large spear with feathers tied to the end (possibly put there to stop blood from flowing down onto the handle, making it slippery or sticky). The spear is more than 6⅞" long, but we can't help but wish he came with more. At least a rifle.

He does come with the right leg of the new Rhino Build-A-Figure, though. It's surprisingly short - like, even Kraven's own legs are longer than the BAF's, though we know he's going to be a giant once he's assembled.

Kraven is best known for the six-part "Kraven's Last Hunt" storyline, but that wasn't the original plan. Writer JM DeMatteis had an idea for a miniseries starring Wonder Man and Grim Reaper, but his editor turned it down. He then reworked it into a pitch about what Joker would do if he ever succeeded in killing Batman. DC had other plans for Joker, so he changed the villain to Hugo Strange, but they still opted to pass on it. So then he went back to Marvel and pitched it as a story about Spider-Man and Kraven, and they finally accepted it. But the really funny thing is that a few years later, DC eventually found a spot where they could use the Joker script, so both major companies ended up publishing the same basic story by the same guy.

Below the neck, this Kraven is a lot better than the last one, but ToyBiz beats Hasbro when it comes to portraiture.

-- 10/19/15


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