It's once again time to see how Batman would fare in a totally random encounter against a character he has no knowledge of. Everyone knows Batman's a beast with prep and when it comes to characters in his universe, he does indeed have a plan on how to handle almost everyone. But, I thought it would be way more fun to test his abilities against a slew of street level characters he knows nothing about because they're not from his world. This way we have to speculate how he'd react and whether or not he has what it takes to logically earn a majority of wins over his opponent. The Dark Knight is doing pretty well thus far in the monthly segment and has a record of 4 wins, 2 losses and only 1 draw (links to each are at the bottom). Now it's time to place him against one of Spider-Man's dangerous villains: Kraven the Hunter.
To make sure the segment is neutral, the matches will always be a random encounter (this means neither has knowledge on the other or prep time) and in a generic, unpopulated city setting at night (NOT Gotham). All of the standard city lights and lights inside buildings will remain on. They'll start roughly 50 feet apart, have their standard gear and they will be in character. Naturally, they have the objective to defeat the other character. Just like over in the Battles Forums, the winner will be declared based on who I think takes the most victories in this scenario if it played out 10 times. Additionally, it's worth noting that this segment is treating all pre-New 52 Batman feats as canon (New Earth, of course).'
Does Kraven have what it takes to drop the Caped Crusader... or will he fail this hunt?
I feel like a broken record when it comes to this factor. Not many characters out there are more skilled than Batman, and Sergei Kravinoff isn't one of them. We all know the basics when it comes to Bruce's skill: master of a gazillion styles (127, but who's counting?) and he's sporting great form. He's had what it takes to drop Lady Shiva and even gave Deathstroke a tough time. While Kraven isn't Bruce's equal in technique, I'm here to tell you why he's no slouch, either. In fact, I'd say Kraven's a very talented hand-to-hand fighter (ranked 6 out of 7 in fighting skill in the official handbook). Sergei has spent decades training himself (he has slowed aging thanks to his potions) and globetrotting to take down every creature possible (yes, this includes animals in the Savage Land). He has extensive knowledge of human (and various animals') anatomy and frequently uses pressure points to disable his enemies. We've seen him use these attacks against Spider-Man and Tigra and he's used far more brutal methods against Vladimir and a sasquatch (snapped their limbs). His use of nerve strikes has ranged from merely disabling an entire limb to temporarily paralyzing his target.
Spider-Man was borderline bloodlusted in the conclusion of Grim Hunt and he humiliated Kraven's entire family, yet Sergei was still able to land a slash and dislocate Parker's shoulder before going down. As you should know, Spider-Man is absolutely vicious and amazingly formidable when he really lets loose. Additionally, he's defeated Vermin while unarmed, successfully taken blood samples from all of the original X-Men while in combat for Mr. Sinister, and slit Kaine's throat before getting blitzed. Sergei doesn't have the luxury of facing more than a handful of characters, but based on what I have seen and his consistent fights with Spider-Man, he's certainly not a character to take lightly. Kraven may not be as skilled as Batman, but he's still pretty darn talented in this regard. Throw in his superior stats and this could spell trouble for Batman, but clearly, Mr. Wayne has the edge in this one.
Everyone and their mother should know what Batman is bringing to the table by now. Grappling lines, standard batarangs, sonic devices, small explosives, electric, gas, smoke, cryo and more. "But Gregg, how does he have all of this on him at all times? That's stupid!" Most of these devices are actually quite small and fit within the various pouches on his belt or are located somewhere on his costume. Besides, it's not in character for him to use all of them (cryo, for example), but he'd be a fool not to carry most of these things since he can't predict what kind of threat he'll encounter. And Batman? He's no fool. Let's not forget the man is technically a genius, yes? All of these different items don't weigh him down nor is it absurd to think he's packing a lot of variety while in his cowl. While standard batarangs won't do more than annoy Sergei, electric, gas and sonic attacks would prove effective if Batman has the chance to use them.
Variety is definitely on Batman's side, but Sergei has a simple yet highly effective variety of gear. Yes, he has his standard bladed weapons-- nothing too special there -- and his bolas and nets could give him a temporary opening, but it's his use of poisons and potions which could serve as a real game changer. We've seen the villain use them in quite a few different ways. Sometimes they're on his bladed weapons, they're on the tusks on his belt (which he can detach to use as melee weapons), he has a blow gun to fire poison-tipped darts, and he's even worn a gauntlet which fired dozens of little poisonous darts. In a vast majority of these showings, the poison/potions were able to drop his opponent in a few moments at most or severely impact their coordination (the key exception which comes to mind is his fight with Flash Thompson). This could be a huge factor, especially if Kraven momentarily snags Batman with a bola or a net. Then there's the infamous laser nipples on his vest (used at least 3 times and temporarily stuns his enemies), but yeah, I think we'll just go ahead and leave that weapon in the past.
Batman has a greater variety of high tech tools which can turn the tide, but Sergei's frequent use of poisons could prove to be equally troublesome as well since once slash is all it would take.
Kraven may look like a silly man, but he's by no means a dumb man. He prides himself on his tactics as a hunter and has adapted in combat numerous times. Thinking he needs prep or has to be in a jungle to remain effective is a silly misconception. Upon being disarmed by Tigra, he immediately countered by using a nerve strike to turn the odds. And when he knows he can't take Spider-Man in a slugfest, he resorts to poisons and has no shame in doing so. I think he'd have the same mentality against Batman. It won't take long to see he's facing someone who's amazingly skilled, so I think it's fair to assume he'd try to use his poisons ASAP. Even if he was oblivious to Batman's skill, it's still a tactic he'd opt to use sooner rather than later.
Yes, Sergei is an intelligent man and great with tactics, but he's simply not Bruce's equal in this regard. Wayne's a genius and an expert tactician -- decades upon decades of comics have consistently proven this. Thanks to that and his superior form, there's the potential for him to direct the course of events or use the environment to his advantage as the fight progresses. The longer he's in the fight, the better his odds are.
While stealth is something both of these do characters use a fair amount, I actually don't view it as a huge factor here. The starting distance may seem like a fair gap to us, but to these characters it isn't much at all. Seeing as both appear to be standard humans when first spotted, I fail to see why either would opt to immediately run away into the shadows most of the time. Both are confident in their abilities as a combatant and both could close this gap in a matter of seconds if they wanted to, especially since Sergei can run in bursts of 60 mph. Both will use ranged weapons but it'll have no real impact. Sergei has danced around thrown weapons from T'Challa and Batman has a plethora of feats to justify dodging and/or blocking what Sergei could potentially throw his way during his head-on encounter. It won't be long before the two are within close proximity, but it is possible for Batman to use smoke pellets if things aren't going his way and resort to stealth. This could give him the advantage of the next strike, but he's also unaware of Kraven's expert tracking abilities. Regardless, I think this is a fight that will remain in close proximity most of the time due to the settings.
Both are wise and no nonsense fighters who can adapt to their environments (unless Kraven's facing Spider-Man, then he wastes opportunities like a true villain) but ultimately, there's just no disputing Wayne is simply a superior tactician.
Bruce Wayne has pushed himself to peak human condition thanks to extensive and continuous training. But Sergei? We're talking about a dude who's superhuman after previously experimenting with herbal potions (which he no longer requires for these stats, by the way). His speed, strength and durability is absolutely above Bruce's.
When it comes to durability, Kraven is actually way more impressive than some may assume. Yes, he looks like an ordinary man, but it has been consistently established that he's incredibly durable. He can take numerous strikes from Spider-Man and, despite it sounding silly, Parker has once admitted he needed to use a strike which he'd use against the Hulk. Additionally, when Kraven abducted Harry Osborn back in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #47, Harry punched Sergei in the face and said the villain didn't feel it and it was like "hitting an elephant's hide." Long story short, Batman's standard assortment of strikes won't cut it when it comes to eliminating Kravinoff and that's a big deal at first in a random encounter.
As for strength, Kraven's got the edge. He's made Spider-Man struggle in a grapple and a bear hug, punched through walls and constantly cites how he can drop a bull elephant in a single strike. According to his handbook entry, he can lift 2 tons. And when it comes to speed, Kraven can run in bursts of 60 miles per hour. Venom said he was, "faster than eyes track -- a blur of motion" and he's dodged lightning strikes from Storm and pistol shots from Deadpool. Furthermore, since his resurrection, Kraven has an accelerated healing factor which has allowed him to remain conscious after being stabbed int he heart (this happened twice). At any rate, I don't see this as being a huge factor since Batman using cutting/stabbing damage in a lethal measure is highly unlikely and there's no evidence to prove it has rendered him immune from electric or gas attacks.
I'm not the biggest fan of ABC logic, but please forgive me as I use it for a moment. While off venom, Bane has given Batman good fights -- a stalemate and even took the edge before losing once -- and it's clear he accomplishes this because of his edge in physicals. Yes, Bane is undeniably skilled and it pains me when people think he's merely a brawler, but he's not Batman's equal in that regard and it's his physicals which narrows the gap between the two. While it's definitely fair to say Kraven is slightly less skilled than Bane, he is, however, well above Bane when it comes to physicals (again, off venom). I'd say that large physical edge more than compensates for a slight technique disadvantage. By this logic, I believe Kraven should be more effective against Batman than an off-venom Bane because he's essentially in a similar skill range yet more physically impressive. And, if an off-venom Bane has what it takes to give Bruce great fights, I think this would grant Sergei better odds. Again, ABC logic should be used sparingly, but I do think there are numerous similarities between Kraven and Bane, so I thought it was a fitting example.
Batman does indeed have the skill, tactics and equipment required to eventually defeat Kraven -- there's really no denying that. But in a random encounter? I think it's more likely the Kraven's physicals in combination with his more than adequate degree of skill and use of poisons would allow him to overcome before Batman can use one of his more effective gadgets. The man has what it takes to keep pace, take hits and even land nerve strikes on Spider-Man, after all. It's definitely a great fight and has the potential to go either way, but in the end, I think Sergei's should take a slight majority (6/10).
We have a special guest chiming in for this one!
Erik Burnham, upcoming co-writer of SCARLET SPIDER
"Sure, he has that crazy lion-face vest that I'm surprised Lady Gaga hasn't co-opted, but Sergei Kravinoff can take a punch from Spider-Man. He can wrestle down gorillas. He can track by scent, and Batman doesn't have ESP on his side. I think Kraven's going to take Bats down a peg, and he's going to do it while wearing leopard print pants and laughing like Boris Badenov. That's gonna be embarrassing for the Dark Knight."
And what does a fellow Comic Vine staffer think about this battle?
Corey 'Undeadpool' Schroeder, Comic Vine Writer
"I originally went into this thinking Bats would take it easily, but the more I researched and reacquainted myself with the Hunter, the more I realized Kraven is, in many ways, Batman's polar opposite in that his power set very specifically counters many of Batman's usual tactics and he lacks any obvious weaknesses to be exploited. Batman would likely try to strike from the shadows, but Kraven would detect even the slightest noise thus Batman would immediately lose the element of surprise. Likewise, a man whose spent his entire life on the hunt for stronger and stronger prey would neither be alarmed by "the Bat Man" nor likely to be fooled into thinking he's any kind of supernatural force, so the fear element is gone as well. This leads to who can throw down more effectively on a base level and it's here that I think Kraven actually takes it. Batman's style tends to be very defensive and reactionary, which is absolutely not the way to take down Sergei as he has the advantage in strength and knowledge of anatomy, and at least equals Bats in agility and reflexes.
The utility belt might be versatile, but it's going to take more than pepper spray or a taser to stop Kraven, and even if Bats tries to get some distance to catch his breath or even attempt ranged combat, Kraven has shown himself plenty proficient with guns and enough traps and snares, even nets, to make sure the Bat doesn't get very far. Ultimately, it would come down to a pitched, knock-down, drag-out brawl, but Kraven would add the Batman's cowl to his many, many pelts."
There you have it, Viners. Erik, Corey and I think Kraven has the means to defeat Batman in a random encounter. But who do you think should win? Speak your mind below!
Want more Batman battles?
- vs. Deadpool (Winner: Batman)
- vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (W: Batman)
- vs. Daredevil (W: Batman)
- vs. Gambit (W: Batman)
- vs. Wolverine (W: Wolverine)
- vs. Captain America (W: Draw)
- vs. Black Panther (W: Black Panther)
- Official Discussion Thread for the segment (use this thread for future match suggestions!)