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The Return of Kraven is the fourth episode of season four. Spider-Man and Black Cat must fight a creature called the Stalker that Kraven the Hunter claims he created.

Plot

May Parker is going to stay at Anna Watson's over the weekend to keep her company. May mentions that Anna has been so lonely since Mary Jane disappeared. As she leaves May tells Peter Parker to take care of her plants. Peter tells Aunt May not to worry. Later, Peter, as Spider-Man, web slings through New York City. Spider-Man thinks to himself that May is the kindest person he knows. Spider-Man says that he wishes he could feel the same way but he is angry at the world because of what happened to Mary Jane.

A few minutes later Peter gets to the Hardy Foundation and changes out of his costume. Peter has a meeting with Anastasia Hardy and Felicia Hardy who want to discuss with him the budget for the Hardy Foundation's Youth Science Program. During their meeting someone breaks into the Hardy Foundation laboratory and trips the alarm. As security rushes to the lab, Peter, Felicia and Anastasia look at a security monitor and Peter sees that the intruder is Kraven the Hunter. Peter tells Felicia and Anastasia to stay where it is safe while he goes to see if he can help and runs off. Peter quickly changes into his Spider-Man costume and goes into the laboratory and fights Kraven. Kraven knocks over heavy metal barrels to crush Spider-Man. Spider-Man jumps out of the way but the barrels nearly hit Anastasia as she walks into the lab. Felicia wants to capture Kraven for nearly killing her mother and changes into her Black Cat costume.

Spider-Man follows Kraven to a rooftop. However, Kraven blinds Spider-Man with a gas. Since Spider-Man can't see he accidentally falls off the side of the building. However, Black Cat swings by and grabs Spider-Man. This gives Kraven enough time to escape. Spider-Man and Black Cat return to the lab and look around. Spider-Man discovers a cabinet door that Kraven pried open and asks Anastasia what was inside. Anastasia answers that the cabinet contained a serum that was created by Mariah Crawford. Spider-Man wonders if this was the same formula that turned Sergei Kravinoff into Kraven the Hunter. Spider-Man asks Anastasia if Mariah Crawford is still in town. Anastasia Answers that the last she heard, Mariah was still in Africa fighting the plague. Spider-Man begins to fear that Sergei took the serum again and turned himself into that monster, Kraven the Hunter.

Spider-Man and Black Cat are both swinging together through New York City. Spider-Man asks Black Cat why she wants to fight crime. Black Cat answers that because she has been given great power she wants to use it to help others. Spider-Man, who has become very bitter and angry over the loss of Mary Jane, tells Black Cat that the superhero life isn't worth the pain it causes and she should just quit. As Spider-Man and Black Cat argue they hear a man scream. Spider-Man goes to a construction site where the shouting was coming from and is attacked by Kraven the Hunter. Spider-Man and Black Cat are able to subdue Kraven. Black Cat tells Spider-Man that they should work together more. However, Spider-Man replies that he can't risk her getting hurt. While Spider-Man and Black Cat are distracted Kraven gets free and tries to kill them by running them over with a forklift. Spider-Man and Black Cat jump out of the way, but Kraven drives toward a stray cat. Black Cat runs toward the cat and grabs it. Black Cat is nearly hit by the forklift but Spider-Man pushes her out of the way. Kraven then uses the forklift to pin Spider-Man against the wall. Kraven threatens to kill Spider-Man if he ever tries to stop him again and runs off. Black Cat moves the forklift away from Spider-Man. Spider-Man yells at Black Cat for almost getting them killed by saving the stray cat. However, Black Cat replies that she couldn't let an innocent creature die and asks Spider-Man if he cares about anybody anymore. Spider-Man answers that he doesn't think he does and web slings away.

In his bedroom, Peter prepares to go after Kraven. However, Peter feels guilty for having to do this since Kraven helped him when he had mutated into the Man-Spider. Peter puts on his Spider-Man costume and goes outside. Spider-Man sees someone watching the Watson house and realizes that it is Harry Osborn. Spider-Man sees that Harry looks depressed and realizes that he is taking the disappearance of Mary Jane just as hard as he is. Spider-Man says to himself that he should talk to Harry but he has nothing to offer him. Spider-Man realizes that Black Cat was right and now he doesn't care for anyone but himself.

Meanwhile, all across New York City people are being terrorized by a creature the Daily Bugle has dubbed the Stalker. Debra Whitman wants to investigate and learn about the Stalker so her and Flash Thompson go into the subway were one of the attacks occurred. Debra looks around and finds some animal fur which she says supports her theory that the Stalker is some kind of strange creature.

As Spider-Man web slings through New York, he thinks of how he can track down Kraven. Spider-Man remembers that last time he fought Kraven the Hunter he tracked him to the Central Park Zoo. At that moment Debra and Flash sneak into the Central Park Zoo to find more evidence on the Stalker. Debra says that she needs more evidence to prove the Stalker is real so she can get more funding for her research. At that moment Flash realizes that Debra is using him so she can find a way to return Michael Morbius back into a normal human. Flash gets angry at Debra. However, they are attacked by the Stalker. Spider-Man is nearby and hears Debra's screams. Spider-Man believes that the Stalker is Kraven and rushes into the zoo and kicks the Stalker into some bushes. However, Kraven runs out of the pushes and throws sleeping powder in Spider-Man's face which causes him to pass out. Kraven nearly throws Spider-Man into the lion exhibit but he is saved by Black Cat who arrives just in time. Spider-Man asks Kraven why he's been attacking people. Kraven shouts that this hunt is his "tragedy" and escapes into the night. Black Cat offers to help Spider-Man find Kraven, but Spider-Man gets angry at Black Cat again and tells her to stay out of his way and leaves. Black Cat turns to Debra and Flash and asks what they are doing in the zoo. Debra answers that she has a scientific interest in the Stalker and that she tracked it to its lair in the park. Hoping that Debra can help her find the Stalker, Black Cat talks to Debra.

Spider-Man decides to check other zoos to try and find Kraven. Spider-Man heads to East River Park where the police are talking to a man that was attacked by the Stalker. The man tells the police which way the Stalker ran and Spider-Man goes in that direction. Spider-Man deduces that Kraven is headed to the botanical garden and zoo at Prospect Park.

Debra calls Curt Connors and tells him that she saw the Stalker. Connors tells Debra there he will meet her in a moment.

As soon as Spider-Man arrives at Prospect Park's zoo, he is attacked by Kraven. However, Spider-Man is quickly able to trap Kraven in his webbing and demands that Kraven tell him what his connection to the Stalker is. Kraven tells Spider-Man that he created the creature that has been terrorizing New York City. To Spider-Man's horror Kraven says that after he created the Stalker it killed Mariah Crawford. Spider-Man is about to beat Kraven for letting the Stalker kill Mariah. However, Black Cat arrives and stops him. Black Cat tells Spider-Man that Debra Whitman analyzed the creature's hair that she found and found out that the Stalker is female. Black Cat explains that when Kraven spoke of tragedy he said it with passion in his voice and that the Stalker is probably someone he loves. Kraven tells Spider-Man and Black Cat that Mariah went to Africa to help the victims of a virus but she contracted the disease herself. The doctors told Kraven that there was nothing they could do to save Mariah. With no other choice, Kraven gave Mariah the same formula that she had given him. The formula completely healed Mariah and she and Kraven returned to New York City. However, the formula had a stranger effect on Mariah than it did on Kraven. The serum transformed Mariah into a humanoid ferla cat creature. Kraven tried to stop Mariah but she was too strong and escaped. Knowing that he could only stop Mariah with his uper human strength, Kraven broke into the Hardy Foundation and stole the remaining sample of serum. Kraven only wanted to capture Mariah so he could cure her. Spider-Man says he wants to help Kraven but he doesn't know how. However, Black Cat tells Spider-Man that when Debra Whitman found Mariah's she went to Curt Connors for help since he was familiar with Mariah's work. Black Cat pulls out a vial of a serum and tells him that it might not be a complete cure but it should reverse at least some of Mariah's transformation.

While still webbed up Kraven picks up Mariah's scent and knows that she has arrived at the zoo. Black Cat cuts Kraven free from the webbing. As the Stalker is about to pounce on a kangaroo, Kraven leaps out and grabs her from behind. Spider-Man and Black Cat run up and Spider-Man pours the serum down Mariah's throat. The serum works and returns Mariah to normal back into a human but she still has animal senses and instincts. Kraven asks if there is a way Mariah can become 100% human again. However, Mariah says that she does not want to go back to being a normal human and tells Kraven that they are truly kindred spirits now. Kraven says that they will go where they can be free and run off into the night. Spider-Man says that he feels like they lost this battle. Black Cat replies that at least Kraven and Mariah still have their love for each other. However, Spider-Man believes that they won't have a good life living as wild animals. Black Cat asks Spider-Man if he still believes in love. spider-Man answers that someday maybe he will again and web slings away. A short time later Peter goes to Harry's apartment and asks if he still needs a roommate and says that right now he thinks they need each other.

Cast

Actor Role
Christopher Daniel Barnes Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Linda Gary May Parker
Jennifer Hale Black Cat / Felicia Hardy
Nita Talbot Anastasia Hardy
Patrick Labyorteaux Flash Thompson
Liz Georges Debra Whitman
Gary Imhoff Harry Osborn
Gregg Berger Kraven the Hunter / Sergei Kravinoff
Joseph Campanella Curt Connors
Susan Beaubian Mariah Crawford / Stalker
John Phillip Law John Hardesky
(Reused footage)

Cameos

Locations

  • Queens
  • Manhattan
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Jetliner

Items

Continuity

  • Mary Jane's disappearance is mentioned which happened in Turning Point.
  • Spider-Man mentions that the last time he saw Kraven, he helped him as a friend. This happened in Duel of the Hunters when Kraven had to track down and capture Spider-Man who had transformed into a Man-Spider so Mariah could administer a cure.
  • When Spider-Man learns that Kraven stole the wonder drug from the Hardy Foundation, he has a flashback to when Mariah Crawford told him of how she originally got the drug from James Reeves. This happened in Kraven the Hunter.
  • Anastasia and Kraven both mention that Mariah Crawford is still in Africa fighting a plague. Mariah Crawford fighting a plague in Africa was first mentioned by Curt Connors in Blade, the Vampire Hunter.
  • Spider-Man has a flashback to when he fought Kraven in Kraven the Hunter.
  • Black Cat has a flashback to the previous episode, The Black Cat.

Trivia

  • This is one of only five episodes not written by John Semper Jr.
  • This is the last episode where Aunt May is voiced by Linda Gary. Linda Gary passed away from brain cancer on October 5, 1995.

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  • The stray cat that Black Cat saves from being run over by Kraven is not named in the episode. However, a character model sheet reveals that the cat's name is Fogerty.
  • Black Cat says "There's nothing that beast can dish out that this beauty can't handle." This is a reference to the 1756 French fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast.
  • Spider-Man calls Kraven, Tarzan once during the episode. Tarzan is a fictional jungle hero that was raised by Mangani great apes in Africa and fell in love with an English woman named Jane Porter. Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and first appeared in the story Tarzan of the Apes which was published in 1912.
  • When Black Cat asks what Calypso means Spider-Man tells her Calypso was a goddess that gave life to Odysseus. This is actually not true. In Greek mythology Calypso was a nymph (not a goddess) that held Odyssues captive to make him her immortal husband.
  • In the comics, Calypso Ezili was a Voodoo priestess from Haiti. After meeting Kraven they formed a love-hate relationship, and Calypso enjoyed driving Kraven into fits of rage and furthering his hatred of Spider-Man. When Calypso was introduced in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, she was heavily altered. Instead of being a Voodoo Priestess, Calypso was turned into a scientist named Mariah Crawford with "Calypso" being Kraven’s nickname for her. Mariah’s cat-like transformation in this episode resembles the look of her comic book counterpart.

Episode review

A review by Amazing Spidey from Marvel Animation Age

The episode was somewhat unwelcome, but proved to be an enjoyable one. Kraven's return wasn't really needed considering he had already had 2 perfectly send off's, a 3rd one wasn't required. Kraven worked better as a hero in this series, rather than a villain. As a villain, he came off as a little corny, not exactly a threatening adversary for the wall crawler.

The best part of this episode is Spidey's characterization. Still suffering from the loss of Mary Jane, he's now a bitter, broken man who is annoyed at Black Cat's constant harassment of him, as she wishes to be a crime fighter like him. The episode is also pretty dark for this cartoon. Spidey's genuine lack of concern for the cat was surprise. Not how our hero usually acts.

The episode does do a nice job of moving a lot of the relationships on, however. Flash and Debra, Spidey and Black Cat, even Kraven and Mariah. It's actually one of the best episodes of season 4. Not a difficult task, granted, but still, it does a great job with Spidey. The final scene with him and Black Cat was executed perfectly, especially the music. I love that theme they played. It's the same one from the end of Attack of the Octobot.

The ending was a nice turnaround, with Peter moving back in with Harry. Not everything is so bitter after all. While it was only a small scene, a bigger story became of it later.

Quotes

Spider-Man: "Dear Aunt May. She's never given up her faith in the value of helping others. I wish I could feel the same. But after what happened to Mary Jane, I'm angry at the world. Question is, can I be this angry and still live up to my responsibilities as Spider-Man ?"

Anastasia Hardy: "Who is that wild man?"

Kraven the Hunter: "This does not concern any of you!"
Spider-Man: "I don't know about that. I'm a caring kinda guy."

Spider-Man: "The last time I saw Kravinoff, he helped me as a friend. Now he's acting more like his insane alter-ego, Kraven the Hunter. What's changed him?"

Black Cat: "You okay, Spider."
Spider-Man: "Yeah, must have been some chemical in that powder. It's making my head pound like a jungle drum."
Black Cat: "I'll give you a hand up."
Spider-Man: "Forget it. I'll be okay in a sec."
Black Cat: "Spider, you really do have to take care of yourself."
Spider-Man: "This is humiliating. I'm saved then chided by the Black Cat. Who does she think she is? The superhero version of Aunt May?"

Spider-Man: "Did Kraven use the serum again and turn himself back into that monster?"

Black Cat: "You don't seem to understand, Spider. I've been given this great power. I owe it to the world to give something back. Like you, I want to do good things with it."
Spider-Man: "Do yourself a favor. Forget it. My great powers have given me nothing but grief. Quit while you still can."
Black Cat: "If it's so bad, why don't you quit?"
Spider-Man: "Lady, I've been asking myself the same question every night since. . ."
(Spider-Man stops talking when he hears someone scream.)
Black Cat: "What was that? It sounded like some kind of wild animal."
Spider-Man: "Someone's being attacked."

Kraven the Hunter: "Last time, we met as friends. But make no mistake. I would sooner destroy you than suffer your interference."

Black Cat: "Is this party private or can any party animal join the hunt?"

Spider-Man: "Blast! He got away because of you! What were you thinking? You risked both are lives for this?"
Black Cat: "I couldn't let an innocent creature be destroyed. Don't you care about anybody anymore?"
Spider-Man: "That's just the problem. I don't think I do."
Black Cat: "Wait."
Spider-Man: "I don't know why you wanna be a crime fighter. But take my advice. In the end, you'll regret it big time."
(Spider-Man web slings away.)
Black Cat: "I wish I could tell him why I wanna be a crime fighter. It's not just for me, but for my father as well. I wanna make up for all the mistakes he made in his life. That's what he'd want me to do. But Spider's become so hard-hearted lately. How can I make him understand what a great companion a cat can be?"

Spider-Man: "I should feel bad about this. After all, Kraven did save my life once. Now I'm trying to bring him in. Why am I always hurting people? Especially once this mask is on? And I wonder how Aunt May's doing with Anna Watson. Maybe I ought to peek in to make sure everything's okay. Hey, who' that guy watching the house? It's Harry Osborn. Looks like he's taking Mary Jane's disappearance as hard as I am. I should talk to him. But I have nothing to offer. The Black Cat was right. I feel nothing in my heart right now for others. And that makes me a worse monster than Kraven."

(Debra stands on Flash's shoulders so she can look inside a vent.)
Debra Whitman: "Flash! This would go much easier if you would hold still."
Flash Thompson: "Debra, I never did anything like this for any of my other dates. Not even Felicia Hardy."
Debra Whitman: "Hmm. I'll consider myself a member of an elite society from here on in."

Spider-Man: "How do you hunt for the hunter in an asphalt jungle as big as New York? The last time, I tracked him down to the special jungle exhibit at the Central Park Zoo. He's at home in that kind of environment. It's where he has an advantage. I'll start there. I just wish I knew what he's after."

Spider-Man: "Come out of hiding, jungle man! I know you're here!"

Black Cat: "There's nothing that beast can dish out that this beauty can't handle."

Spider-Man: "Why do you stalk this city?"
Kraven the Hunter: "This hunt is not my passion! It is my tragedy!"

Spider-Man: "Now I'm really mad! You got my suit wet again!"

Black Cat: "Spider, wait!"
Spider-Man: "Leave me alone!"
Black Cat: "You've got to calm down. There is something here you don't understand. Something you must know about that creature."
Spider-Man: "All I need to know is that it destroyed a good friend of mine. And after I finish with this scum, I'm going to destroy it."
Black Cat: "No! Debra Whitman analyzed the hair samples in the lab. She discovered the creature's DNA. It's female."
Spider-Man: "What?"
Black Cat: "Don't you get it? When Kraven spoke of his tragedy, he said it with passion in his voice. With love. That creature is probably someone that Kraven loves. A woman."

Kraven the Hunter: "Tragedy is like strong acid. It dissolves away all but the very gold of truth. My beloved Mariah Crawford went to Africa to help the victims of a lethal virus. I was devastated when she contracted the disease herself. The doctors said she could not be saved. There was only one hope. The serum that Mariah used to save my life when I was the Hunter. She was still trying to perfect it, to make it safe. That was why we had it with us. I did not know if I had done the right thing. Her recovery was miraculous. She seemed completely healed. I brought her back to New York to recuperate. All was well at first. But the serum had an effect even stranger than the one it had on me! She became a worse feral creature than I had once become. She was too strong. I couldn't hold her. I only knew of one thing that could make me powerful enough to catch her. The remaining sample of serum that transformed me into Kraven the Hunter! I didn't want to take it, but I knew it was my only hope. As Kraven, I could hunt her with abilities far beyond those of an ordinary human. I only wanted to capture her before someone else did and cure her."

Spider-Man: "All right, let him loose. After all, I wouldn't wanna be accused of being heartless."

Kraven the Hunter: "Calypso?"
Mariah Crawford: "Kraven, my darling."

Kraven the Hunter: "Is there a cure for her? Can she be transformed all the way back to her normal human self?"
Spider-Man: "The only one who could come up with that antidote is Dr. Mariah Crawford herself."
Mariah Crawford: "No! I do not want to change. Don't you understand? You and I, we are truly kindred spirits now."
Kraven the Hunter: "I do understand."

Kraven the Hunter: "We will go where we can be free. Perhaps it is better this way. I vow to stay by her side and protect her always."

Spider-Man: "I feel like we lost this one."
Black Cat: "At least Kraven and Mariah still have their love for each other."
Spider-Man: "And what kind of life are they going to have?"
Black Cat: "I forgot you don’t believe in happily ever after these days. But don’t you still believe in love and opening your heart to others? Seems to me it’s a prerequisite for your line of work."
Spider-Man: "I don’t know. Maybe I will again, someday."

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