365 Reasons to Love Comics #285
Today, in our look at comics’ greatest villains: my favorite Spider-baddie. He’s probably not yours, but I think he’s cool. (Wealth and fame, I’m ignored; archive is my reward.)
285. The Vulture
(Man, remember when Spidey was fighting! joking! daring!? Those were the days.)
The Vulture (or Vultchy to those who know him best) is certainly not the most popular Spider-villain, or even the most effective. He is, however, pretty cool, mostly because he’s a geriatric guy with wings who can still kick some ass. He’s the Abe Vigoda of the super-villain community: solidly B-list, but when he shows up, you know you’re getting something great. (Yes, Abe Vigoda is awesome.)
Created by the wonderful Stan Lee and Steve Ditko team, and first appearing way way back in Amazing Spider-Man #2, the Vulture was an elderly fella who committed robberies through the use of his marvelous electromagnetic wings. He was really Adrian Toomes, an engineer turned to crime after gaining revenge on a business partner who had shafted him. In this way, he’s not so much “science gone wrong!” like Doctor Octopus, but more like “science corrupted,” kinda like Green Goblin.
Vultchy asserted himself as a mainstay of Spidey’s rogues gallery. He’s been a member of every incarnation of the Sinister Six. He became friends with (and then accidentally caused the death of) Aunt May’s second beau, Nathan Lubensky. Later, in the “Funeral Arrangements” story by J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema, the Vulture almost died of cancer (he got better) and begged Aunt May for forgiveness. He can be a nice guy at times– he also tries to provide for his grandkid (by stealing, of course, but…). So, yeah, there have been some really good Vulture stories. The Lee/Ditko ones were excellent.
There have also been some lame stories– like when Vultchy gained the ability to absorb youth from others and sucked out Spidey’s life force. It was alright, and overshadowed by the whole “Peter’s parents are robots” plot, but it took away from Vulture’s fantastic core concept, which is that he’s a really old guy who can still prove to be a match for a generation of young superheroes.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Vulture– he’s my favorite Spidey baddie (not counting Swarm, who, let’s face it, is everyone’s enemy). It’s probably because I have the mentality of a 90-year-old man. Many think Vultch is lame because of his old age, but c’mon! Super-villains don’t practice ageism. Even if he’s on Medicare and collecting social security and eats nothing but applesauce and kidney mush, the Vulture is still a formidable opponent to that blasted webslinging wallcrawler. I believe he’s loaded with potential, most of which remains untapped.
My choice for the next Spider-Man movie villain? The Vulture, of course. Played by… Ben Kingsley! (I doubt Abe Vigoda would actually be up for it.) It’d be great and you know it.
For more on Vultchy, go to Spider-Fan or Marvel’s own Wiki. Give the old duffer your respect! One day, you too will be a crazy old fogey with a giant fluffy collar who has to put up with the younger crowd. Remember that.