The second issue of The Amazing Spider-Man introduces a major recurring villain who is still in use in Spider-Man stories today and it has a second, completely forgettable story as its second feature. While both are included in Marvel 616, it’s clear The Vulture is the standout enemy.
The first page of the first story shows Vulture in aerial combat with Spider-Man, signaling a lot of the kinetic and fast pace action to come in many issues of Spider-Man. This is, of course, just a splash page to get the audience excited about reading.
The story starts with a figure wearing vulture wings coming out of nowhere and snatching a briefcase from a pedestrian. This was a briefcase full of a fortune in bonds and Vulture gets away easily. The crowd reacts in shock and excitement, and marvels at how silent the attack was.
We next get a glimpse of J. Jonah Jameson inside the building where Now magazine is published. While we will most associate J.J.J. with The Daily Bugle, he does publish this magazine and it pops up here and there in the comics. The publisher is in desperate need of photos of this Vulture character and is willing to pay top dollar to get them. He also continues his crusade against the menace known as Spider-Man.
We change scenes to a high school where Peter Parker is working at a lab experiment. His classmates mention how valuable pictures of the villain would be while looking at an issue of Now and Peter realizes he can probably make some money as a photographer if he can get a good shot. Peter gets a bit picked on for being a science nerd but he quips right back. He next goes home and Aunt May gives him a mini-camera perfect for what he wants to do.
Again shifting scenes, we check in with Vulture who has a plan to steal a million dollars worth of diamonds about to be moved across town. For some reason, Vulture decides to leave notes with the authorities tipping them off to the fact he’s trying to rob them. It’s not the plan I would go with but then again I am not a master criminal.
As Vulture is flying around, Spider-Man is setting up his camera. He senses The Vulture but doesn’t hear him flying silently through the air. The police get ready for the attack, with special attention paid to the skies. On his way to the crime, Vulture sees Spidey and knocks him out. Vulture dumps Peter in a water tower. It takes him a minute to figure it out but Spider-Man uses his strength to push off the bottom of the water tower so he can leap out of an open hatch. I doubt the physics would work like this here but it’s a comic so we’ll just go with it.
This is one of the first times Spider-Man runs out of web fluid when he needs it, since that would have helped him to get out. He realizes before he escapes, he needs to make some adjustments to the web shooters. He heads home and makes what is basically a utility belt he can hide under his costume with extra web fluid and a spot for his camera. He also rigs something up he says will stop The Vulture next time they meet.
The next day Peter goes to sell pictures he did get of Vulture to J.J.J. The publisher tells Parker he’ll pay even more for Spider-Man photos.
The day after, Peter goes to school and all his friends want to go watch the diamonds get moved. Peter knows he’ll need to slip away and be the hero. While the police were ready for an aerial attack, Vulture strikes from below, popping out of a manhole. He snags the diamonds and flies through the underground sewer system to escape. Peter catches up with him as Spider-Man. There’s a bit of a fight but Peter gets the upper hand when he uses a web to stick to Vulture and then uses his gadget to stop the Vulture from being able to fly. Vulture crashes to the ground and is captured by the police. Turns out Peter’s gadget was an “Anti-Magnetic inverter.” The Vulture powered his flight using magnetics so this device disrupted that. Again, the science is way off here but it’s a comic so we’ll have to let it slide. Peter cashes in on his photos and brings the money back to Aunt May. In the last panel of the story, Vulture swears revenge on Spider-Man.
The next story is about a group of aliens who try to take over the world by inserting special tubes in radio equipment. The main villain is called the Tinkerer and there’s a group of aliens, a rubber mask, and Spider-Man saving the day. It’s a remarkably forgettable story and it’s yet another entry in the superhero saves the world from aliens tales we keep seeing in 616 up to this point. We do get a little diagram of Peter’s web shooters in the story though. Other than that, there is just not much to mention here.
What I find interesting about this issue is this is the beginning of a really colorful rogues gallery in Spider-Man comics. Vulture may not be the smartest or best villain in the world but he’s unforgettable. In the months and years to come Spider-Man comics end up with villains that are consistently good, probably only rivaled by those found in the pages of Batman. We also get the first hints of the ongoing and somewhat complicated nature of Peter’s relationship with J. Jonah Jameson. Peter sort of has a triple problem going where he needs money, but he thinks it’s funny to get it from the guy who hates Spider-Man while hiding the fact he is Spider-Man. It works on a lot of levels and comes into play in more stories than can be counted. It’s easy to see, even in only the second issue of The Amazing Spider-Man why he has such appeal and goes on to be one of the most popular comics characters of all time.
Next up on the reading list we catch up with the first family of superheroes in the pages of The Fantastic Four #13!
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