I’m a sucker for The Most Dangerous Game. Always have been. I don’t know why. It could be because I grew up amongst a ton of bad 80s movies like Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity, The Running Man and (perhaps best of all) Deadly Prey, all of which thieved its plot. Yeah. It’s been a B-Movie favourite for a while.
Alternatively, it could just be because there’s something weirdly appealing about the idea of big-game hunters tiring of animals and moving on to human prey. The rules of their games and settings are often exotic or weird enough to add spice and, invariably, the hunted always become the hunters, the net result of which is normally a metric assload of extreme violence. Win!
So imagine my joy when Marvel decided to do their own take on it in a three issue mini-series, Claws, starring two of my favourites: Wolverine and the Black Cat. Issue One finds the two of them waking up in cages on a remote island, having the rules of the game explained to them. Turns out it’s a lose:lose situation. A group of hunters, who’ve paid for the privilege, are armed to the teeth with guns so big they’d make even Cable’s wrists go sore. If they, for some reason, fail to kill our two heroes, it doesn’t really matter, as the island is set to explode soon anyway. There’s no escape! What fiend could be responsible for such a dastardly scheme? Why, it’s Kraven The Hunter! But wait! What’s that you say? Kraven’s been dead for years!
As you can imagine, the remaining two issues flip between the ‘game’ and the mystery of Kraven’s apparent resurrection and, yeah, it’s a blast. The tone of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s script, although quite violent, is very much classic romantic adventure, with Wolverine and Black Cat trading flirtatious banter and saucy body language as they splat bad dudes. It’s the sort of naughty comedy-action romp that Kevin Smith started and should’ve finished with his failed The Evil That Men Do mini-series (as opposed to the jumbled, misogynistic angst-fest it became). Whilst not exactly challenging, there are some good laughs and even a touch of suspense.
In addition to zippy writing, the artwork is also consistently nice. I liked Joe Linsner’s interpretation of the Black Cat costume and, having seen her drawn so atrociously in recent years (come on down, Clayton Crain), Claws scores points on that front alone.
On the down side, the mini-series is maybe an issue too short and I personally felt it lost its pace a little in Issue Three with an extended (and utterly unnecessary) flashback sequence, but otherwise, Claws is a sharp little critter and well worth getting your paws on.