I’m back with another installment of Marvel Firsts, the series where I journey through Marvel’s most iconic first issues and first appearances. Last time, we covered the big introduction of Venom in The Amazing Spider-Man #300. Now, as we introduce another of Spidey’s most infamous villains, we’re taking it back to the beginning. In The Amazing Spider-Man #2, we meet… the Vulture.
In an earlier installment of Marvel Firsts, I covered The Amazing Spider-Man #1. In this second issue, the same creative team of writer Stan Lee, artist Steve Ditko, and letterer by John Duffy return to introduce this winged menace into Spidey’s life. When Peter Parker learns about the Vulture’s growing criminal reputation, he decides to kill two birds with one stone by confronting the supervillain as Spider-Man: he’ll stop the Vulture’s next robbery, and then he’ll be in close range to take pictures of his arrest that he can then use for his job at the Daily Bugle.
Meanwhile, the Vulture is out here running these streets like a boss. He outsmarts Spidey at every turn, but that is no real slight against Spider-Man… the Vulture pretty much outsmarts everyone here. He warns the city that he’s going to steal a diamond shipment, and then pulls off the heist, just to show that there is nothing the police can do to prepare for him. He’s cunning and boastful, and a glorious bastard. I mean, he shoves Spider-Man in a water tower. It might not be the most convenient attempted murder, but it shows panache, that’s for sure. If a guy could’ve solved his superhero problems with a simple bash to the head but opts for the good ol’ water tower trick, you know you’re dealing with a man of style.
Anyway, I liked that the Vulture never really gets outsmarted here. Instead, Spider-Man simply catches up to his intellect, uncovering how the Vulture’s wings work. It’s Peter’s brilliant mind, rather than any flaw in the Vulture’s plan, that brings the supervillain down here, which serves to give Spidey that heroic moment without undercutting the threat that the Vulture poses. Because of Spidey’s quippy nature, I think writers sometimes fall back on having him goof on his villains until they become difficult to take seriously, but that doesn’t happen with the Vulture here. He’s conniving and forward-thinking until the end, so when we get that final shot of him in his jail cell vowing revenge on Spider-Man, there’s never a moment that we doubt he’ll get it.
The Vulture (and, funny enough, the Terrible Tinkerer who also gets a big first appearance in this issue) makes his cinematic debut with next month’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. I love the costume design, and I think he’s going to make a stellar antagonist to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. It remains to be seen, though if the Vulture will choose something a bit more practical than death-by-water-tower when he makes his move against Spidey in the film, but all I’m saying is that he should at least throw the guy into a water tower. Panache, people. Panache.