Cover Price: $.60

#241
June 1983

Value: $9 (Near Mint-Mint)

 

Supporting Cast:
Mary Jane Watson, Anna Watson, Lance Bannon


Guests:


Villains:
Vulture

"In The Beginning..." - 22 Pages


Writer -
Roger Stern
Artist - John Romita Jr.
Inker - Frank Giacoia
Cover -
John Romita Jr.
Letterer
- Joe Rosen
Colorist -
Glynis Wein
Editor - Tom DeFalco
Editor In Chief -
Jim Shooter

The Vulture is back--and he's deadlier than ever. But this time, after all these years, we finally learn the back-story as to why he became a super-villain.

This issue picks up where Amazing Spider-Man #240 left off, namely with Spider-Man laying unconscious on the floor of the New York Coliseum, where he has been dropped 25 feet by the Vulture. The Vulture has flown off with a hostage, Gregory Bestman, with whom he has an old score to settle. The police storm the expo hall and the gruff Lt. Keating, who is no Spider-Man fan, is furious to learn the bad guy has escaped with a hostage and blames the stunned Web-Slinger. "I must have been crazy to give your boneheaded plan a chance! From what I've heard, you couldn't even keep your lady friend -- the Black Cat -- from getting shot up (in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #76)!" Lt. Keating says in a real cheap shot. Spider-Man vows to bring in the Vulture. He grabs Keating's police scanner and heads out. Using the scanner, he learns the villain is headed toward Staten Island.

The Vulture takes Bestman to an abandoned barn in the country. Now, I have no idea where you could find that much green space and a barn in the New York City area. But anyway, it turns out this barn's silo was the Vulture's first hideout -- the place where he first experimented with his wings and honed his skills. He then recounts his origin. Adrian Toomes was an electronics researcher who went into business with Gregory Bestman. They started a company called B+T Electronics and Bestman promised Toomes the world. "With your know-how and my business savvy, we'll be bigger than RCA in no time!" Bestman tells his business partner. Toomes continues working and develops an electromagnetic harness that enables him to fly. He intends to market this for commercial use, but when he goes to Bestman's office, he learns that Bestman has been skimming profits off the top. He jerks Bestman up by the neck, amazed at his new-found super-strength. "I might have killed you then, but for one thing. I suddenly realized that I was holding you like a rag doll," he tells Bestman. The harness that allowed him to fly also has boosted his strength.

Bestman boots him out of the company and Toomes soon learns his partner has cheated him out of his half of the company. So with only his meager savings, Toomes retreats to this farm where he perfects his discovery, building his first set of wings. "For the first time in my life I have power!" he thinks. "And I intend to use it!" Thus, the Vulture is born. For his first crime, he ransacks Bestman's office and takes as much money as he can find. After hearing this story, Spider-Man is sympathetic to the Vulture's situation. But that doesn't mean he's not going to stop him from murdering Bestman. "It's your friendly neighborhood buttinsky--back again for more!" he says, confronting the furious Vulture. They battle, with Spider-Man doing all he can not just to save his own life, but Bestman's, too. He eventually is able to rip the power pack from the Vulture's back, which disables the villain's wings and negates his power. Spider-Man drops off the Vulture to the police, but says, "This is one time that I'm sorry I had to!"

It turns out that Keating heard the whole story over the police radio that Spider-Man grabbed. He tells Bestman that he's officially under a police investigation for fraud. Keating is an interesting character who was used quite a bit during this era. He doesn't like Spider-Man, but he's a man of integrity and a good cop.

This issue does a masterful job in fleshing out the Vulture's motivation and making him more than just a thug with a pair of wings. Writer Roger Stern deserves a tremendous amount of credit for taking one of Spider-Man's oldest villains (the Vulture first appeared back in Amazing Spider-Man #2) and giving him a much-needed boost.

Previously, the Vulture's advanced age (he's a senior citizen) had been at best something for Spider-Man to joke about and at worst a weakness in taking the character seriously. Well, beginning with Stern's classic story in Amazing Spider-Man #224, the Vulture's age becomes part of what makes him interesting. Now, Stern adds an intriguing back story. Now, with this two-part story, we understand the character's motivation in becoming a villain. Oh, and John Romita JR's art doesn't hurt, either.

We also get an intriguing secondary plot. Last issue, Amy Powell, the pretty blonde girlfriend of Lance Bannon, Peter Parker's rival photographer at the Daily Bugle, stopped by Peter's apartment looking for him. It's clear she's interested in more than his photographic skills. Well, in this issue, Amy tracks down Peter and insists they go out for a cup of coffee. And that doesn't make Lance too happy. "If he's getting mixed up with my lady... then it's time Lance Bannon did something!"

And if that isn't interesting enough, who returns to New York but...that outrageous redhead Mary Jane Watson! Look out, Tiger!

Next issue: Spider-Man tangles with a classic Fantastic Four villain, as the Mad Thinker comes to town--and he's bringing his Awesome Android with him!

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 4
Significance Rating: 3

Overall Rating:

7

 

Amazing Spider-Man #240

Also This Month:

Marvel Team-Up #130
Spectacular Spider-Man
#79

Amazing Spider-Man #242