M-Day changed everything. I’m not sayin’ we Morlocks had it easy before. I mean, we lived in the sewers. And plenty o’ people had it in for us ‘cause we were mutants. But we had each other, y’know? We looked out for each other. And then, just like that, almost all of us lose our powers. Go from mutants to just regular folks. Ugly as most of us were, you might think that’s a good things. But the people who had it in for us…they didn’t go away.
Joe Bugs, an insect-like man with red eyes, four wings, and a stinger, flies out of a concrete canal tunnel with his depowered Morlock friend in tow. Before they get too far out of the darkness, however, a projectile bolo catches up with them and knocks them out of the air. Joe, one of the few mutants who retained his powers after M-Day, never stops looking out for his friend, even in the face of imminent death.
Joe tells his mysterious attacker to bring it on. He asks if he thinks taking down mutants is easy work. The attacker laughs. He wishes these kills weren’t so easy, but unfortunately, he knows better. He thrusts, dodges Joe Bugs’ stinger, and plunges his hunting knife into his chest. For good measure, he slices off the tip of Joe Bugs’ tail.
“That’s when he turned around. Looked at me,” the depowered Morlock says. He describes the man he saw: a tall, burly, gray-skinned hunter with a red diamond embedded in his forehead. “And I knew who he was.”
“Kraven the Hunter,” Cyclops repeats. “Are you sure?” The depowered mutant, sitting in one of the Xavier Institute’s lounges alongside Nightcrawler, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, and Cyclops, swears it was him. He recognized him from a live TV broadcast a few years earlier. He looks different know, but the man firmly believes it was Kraven. Wolverine asks the burning question: why did Kraven leave this former mutant alive? Shamefully, the man reveals Kraven let him live because of his own insignificance; he didn’t deem him worthy of dirtying his blades. Sadly, the depowered mutant almost agrees. He used to be a part of something larger. Although he never ran with a group as notable as the X-Men, he had the Morlocks, and they were a family. Now, he’s just another filthy bum who just lost his last friend.
Nightcrawler thanks the man for his help and escorts him to the cafeteria so he can get something to eat. Once they leave, Wolverine tells the X-Men he believes the man is telling the truth. Colossus doesn’t see how that could be possible; Kraven the Hunter is dead. So was Colossus, Kitty reminds him. Besides, they know next to nothing about Kraven. Cyclops agrees. Since this falls outside their realm of expertise, however, he recommends calling in a certain old friend, and asks Wolverine to contact him. “Jeez, let it go, willya? I’m not married to him…or you,” Wolverine sneers. Even so, Kitty reminds Wolverine that he knows best how to get in touch with the guy, and right now, they need Spider-Man.
The X-Men reconvene at the site of Joe Bugs’ murder in the dried-out city canal. Spider-Man sneaks up on Nightcrawler and startles him, eliciting an uncharacteristically loud response. “Oh, come on, Nightcrawler,” Spider-Man says. “The guy with fangs and a devil tail is scared of li’l old me?” Nightcrawler tells him that might not be the case had Spider-Man not attacked him the first time they met. Spider-Man moans at the mention of that particular event. He reminds Nightcrawler he was actually looking forward to a friendly reunion.
Moving on, he asks if the X-Men are sure Kraven committed this murder. As Colossus points out, Kraven was a trophy hunter, and the mutant victim’s head was removed post-mortem. Spider-Man points out the obvious: Kraven is dead – as dead as Spider-Man’s enemies get, actually, which, he admits, is not terribly reassuring. Nevertheless, before they go digging up Kraven’s grave, he suggests they look into the hunter’s family a bit. They were all crazier than Kraven; any one of them could be doing this in his name. “If I can borrow your super-mega-X-computer, I’ll find out what they’re up to,” Spider-Man says. Before they do anything, he wants to take proper care of the dead man’s body. As he wraps the corpse in a cocoon of his webbing, Cyclops mentions they can bury the homeless man in the Xavier Institute’s memorial garden. “Your school has a graveyard? And I thought P.S. 108 was tough,” Spider-Man says.
Later that night, after performing an extensive search on the Xavier Institute’s computers of Kraven’s genealogical files, Spider-Man gives up on his theory. It seems all of Kraven’s known relatives are either locked up or live nowhere near New York. He asks if there might be a chance the frightened eyewitness made a mistake. Nightcrawler supposes it’s possible, but asks why the man would mistake his attacker for someone he had never met. Why not, Spider-Man asks? There was a time when Kraven was famous, after all. He likens it to a posthumous Elvis sighting. “Hey Cyke,” Spider-Man asks, “remember the time we fought Kraven, back in the day? Him and the Blob?” Cyclops remembers, but admits it felt like forever ago. When he thinks about that era in their lives, and how young they were, and how much they didn’t know, he almost considers it a different life. “Seriously,” Spider-Man says. “Back then, I was broke, unemployed, finding new ways to take a beating every day…uh, never mind.”
Kitty interrupts their nostalgic ramblings and asks if they can focus on the bad new days instead of the good old ones. Cyclops apologizes for the digression. Besides, those days were hardly as innocent as they make them sound, he says. Spider-Man concurs. He uses the fight with Kraven as an example. At the time, they thought they defeated him, but they came to learn later he got exactly what he wanted: DNA samples from the original X-Men. Wolverine recalls how they shut down his attempt to clone the X-Men a few years later. Suddenly, Spider-Man’s heart sinks at an unpleasant thought. “Kraven… Sinister… clones… you don’t suppose,” he begins. The lights in the lab abruptly shut off. “Why do I even ask?” Spider-Man sighs.
The X-Men assume their defensive positions and look around the lab. Spider-Man asks if it might just be a power outage. Unfortunately, as Colossus informs him, the institute has its own power source and therefore does not get blackouts. Kitty Pryde looks out the window and across the plaza to the other wings of the institute. The student quarters still have power; the outage is focused on the X-Men’s current location. The mansion probably doesn’t blow fuses either, Spider-Man asks. “Don’t worry, Spider-Man,” Nightcrawler says. “Together, we are more than a match for the original Kraven. What have we to fear from a clone?”
Unbeknownst to Kurt, a laser sight from a gun materializes on his chest. Colossus notices it and jumps in the way, taking the bullet with his metallic body. Meanwhile, Spider-Man and Wolverine both look around in confusion. Their senses don’t tell them Kraven is around. What gives, they asks? In a sudden burst of red light, the Kraven clone appears out of the air and informs the X-Men they are his prey. He throws a flash-grenade at the ground and temporarily blinds the superheroes. Wolverine insists he doesn’t need sight. He lunges at the Kraven clone with his claws outstretched. He misses. The clone retaliates by stabbing Logan in the throat with its hunting knife and pinning him to the wall.
Interjecting, Colossus calls the hunter a pig as he forces him away from Logan. “You are the pig,” the Kraven clone says. “And I will carve you like one.” Colossus tells him he can vent his rage on him all he wants, but it matters not, as he cannot be hurt. The clone laughs. He feels no rage, he says, simply because rage robs the hunter of its greatest weapon: its mind. The hunter lurches forward and plunges his blade into Colossus’s shoulder, somehow penetrating his metallic form. Colossus looks at the wound in shock. The hunter gleefully explains his blade is composed of vibranium, a substance toxic to metal. He grins deviously as Piotr’s body instinctively reverts to its flesh-and-blood form.
At this point, Spider-Man regains his sight, and decides he has had enough of the Kraven clone. He begins coating him in his adhesive webbing. Kitty, meanwhile, phases Wolverine through the knife in his throat and helps him off the wall. She asks Colossus if he feels okay. He assures her he is fine, and asks her to focus on Logan. Meanwhile, Spider-Man, Cyclops and Nightcrawler take advantage of the brief respite to ascertain their enemy’s identity. Nightcrawler notes the similarity between its skin-tone and Mr. Sinister’s. Despite the fact that he’s totally hairless, he’s the mirror image of Kraven, Cyclops adds. “You were right, Spider-Man,” he says.
“I were?” Spider-Man asks. He turns to the immobilized hunter. “That your story, pal? You one of Sinister’s clones?” This question strikes a chord with the hunter. He suddenly remembers the cavernous laboratory in which he was born.
The Kraven clone emerges from its growth chamber, completely covered in a thick, red substance. Mr. Sinister asks his new creation if it knows its identity. The clone says its name aloud: Kraven. Sinister corrects him. He may have Kraven’s genes and base brain patters, but Sinister improved him by making him obedient. His life, and his purpose, is what Sinister tells him it is. Right now, Mr. Sinister wants DNA samples from all remaining mutants, and he wants his new mutant hunter to retrieve them. Perhaps if he completes this task, and Sinister feels he deserves it, he will grant him a name. For now, however, his mission is his identity.
“NO,” the Kraven clone shouts as he breaks out of the inexplicably frozen webbing. “I…AM…XRAVEN!” He breaks free before the X-Men can stop him. Nightcrawler declares he can deal with Xraven. He disappears and reappears behind the hunter’s back, grabs him by the clothes, and teleports him around the room several times, hoping to completely sap his energy. After a series of jumps, Xraven casually turns around and stabs Kurt in the shoulder.
Spider-Man and the X-Men leap to their teammate’s aid. Cyclops, on the other hand, holds back because of a shocking epiphany: Xraven has the powers of the original X-Men. Before he can do anything, Xraven freezes Wolverine, Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde in place using Iceman’s powers, and fires Colossus into the wall using the optic blasts he obtained from Cyclops. Scott is suddenly the last X-Man standing. He looks at the hunter and reveals the secret of his origin: Sinister must have cloned him with the DNA from the original X-Men. He used Iceman’s powers to freeze the webbing, and Beast’s stamina to endure the teleporting. In the end, though, Cyclops reminds Xraven he is merely a copy, while Cyclops is the real thing. He unleashes his optic blast at the villain just as Xraven does the same. Their rays collide in mid-air. Xraven breaks the stalemate by hurling his bola at Cyclops and cracking him in the head.
Kitty, after phasing her body out of the ice with Spider-Man and Wolverine in tow, darts forward and grabs hold of Xraven. There’s a nice, secure cell a few floors down with his name all over it, she says as she begins phasing him into the floor. Partway through, she stops, and the expression drains out of her face. It takes the X-Men only a moment to understand that Xraven, also in possession of Jean Grey’s telepathy, now has Kitty under mental control.
The mutant hunter pulls Kitty toward his chest and presses his knife to her throat. He applauds Cyclops on his skills of deduction. His limited telepathy is what allowed him to block Spider-Man’s and Wolverine’s senses, and it more than allows him to hold Kitty in place for as long as he needs. He promises not to kill her if the X-Men surrender. “Wow. Threatening a helpless girl,” Spider-Man says. “Sinister didn’t leave any of the original Kraven in you, did he? ‘Cause if he could see you know…I gotta tell you man, he’d throw up.” Surprisingly, Spider-Man’s insult hits Xraven rather hard. He lets his guard down long enough for Spider-Man to close the distance between them. However, he snaps to attention at the last second and fires at Spidey with an optic blast.
At this point, Wolverine gives up on talking and asks his teammates for ideas. Cyclops has one. Recalling how Ben Reilly defeated Sinister all those years ago, he invites Xraven to take a peak inside his own mind to see how Sinister has treated him over the course of his life. Xraven lets his curiosity get the better of him. He looks into Scott’s mind and sees a series of horrifying images: humans screaming from inside of containment chambers; a young boy in a ruby-quartz visor, strapped to a table, with a scalpel to his throat; Cyclops, kneeling over the dead body of his wife, Madelyne Pryor. Xraven recoils from the horror.
Taking advantage of Xraven’s inattention, Kitty solidifies her body and knees Xraven in the crotch. He smacks her away in retaliation, throws a flash bomb at the ground, and vanishes. By the time the X-Men recover their senses, Xraven is gone. Nightcrawler believes he has gone for good this time; Spider-Man and Cyclops seem to have struck a nerve. Spider-Man chalks it up to his own particular insight into clone neuroses. Regardless, he notes that the hunter has done it again. “The knife he stabbed Wolverine with his gone. Everyone else is cut,” he says. Cyclops curses; he got DNA from everyone! “Except me,” Spider-Man says, “…again, I gotta say, I’m a little insulted.”
Cyclops tells him not to worry about it. In fact, he should breathe a sigh of relief that mutants are Mr. Sinister’s primary interest. He’s relentless; once someone gets caught in his web of death, he never lets them go. As the only Arachnid-American present, Spider-Man takes offense to Scott’s web metaphor. Cyclops apologizes. He also apologizes for getting Spider-Man involved in the first place. Don’t worry about it, Spider-Man says. He’s certain he can deal with whatever Sinister throws his way. After all, despite the many times they have butted heads in the past, Spider-Man admits he and the X-Men make a decent team. They have a lot in common as well; too much, in fact, to not stick together. They’re all outsiders, and they’re all hated and feared by a world they’ve sworn to protect.
Wolverine scoffs at his choice of phrasing. “Where d’you get this stuff, romance novels?” Spider-Man cites this remark as a perfect example of what he means. He and the X-Men are still friends, even though they are often rude to one another, a habit Spider-Man suspects is born out of jealousy. After all, some of them can turn a clever phrase, while the artistic talents of others are limited to burping the national anthem. “The Canadian National Anthem,” Wolverine says, correcting him. “That takes skill.”
While Spider-Man wraps up his long monologue, Xraven returns to his creator’s laboratory with the vials of pilfered genetic material. Mr. Sinister welcomes his return with glee. He empathizes with the frustration his clone is surely feeling; it must be difficult to refrain from killing the X-Men. However, he reminds Xraven it is for the greater good. Replacing the X-Men with his genetic duplicates will require careful maneuvering. Once the task is complete, however, Mr. Sinister will finally unite all factions of mutants and move them forward according to his design. Mutants are too scarce a commodity right now to act as anything but a unified force.
“No,” Xraven says, crushing the vials in his hand. “You would breed slaves, not warriors.” He lunges at Sinister with his blades drawn and optic blasts firing in full force, refusing to be anyone’s slave. The fallout from their climactic duel brings ruin to the entire facility.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man finishes telling his friends Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, and Nightcrawler how important he finds their friendship. “Together, there’s nothing we can’t handle,” he says. “‘Cause at what we do…we’re the i>best there is.” Wolverine smiles and tells him he mangled the line. Spider-Man stares at him. “You just can’t let a guy have a moment, can you?