Amazing Spider-Man #2
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #2
Review/plot: I don't care what anyone says. I like the Vulture. I think the fact that he's old makes him interesting and unusual. He's still fast, strong, crafty, and can fly, so there's no reason to discount him. And he's certainly got moxy, telling the police exactly what crime he intends to commit before committing it.
A few times they will try and introduce a younger Vulture, and it makes the character a lot more generic.
Anyway, Parker's primary reason for going after the guy is money. He's looking to get photographs to sell to Now magazine (it's not yet the Daily Bugle).
His Aunt gives him a miniature camera that used to belong to Uncle Ben, and he attaches it to his belt.
He fights the Vulture but loses. He sells the pictures to J. Jonah Jameson, reasoning that it's fun to get money out of the man who bashes Spider-man.
I want to quote a little from Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story:
There remained an off-kilter gloom to Parker's world... his face often conveyed the bitterness of an outcast who's finally gained some power, an I'll-show-them madness in his eyes... despite the "great responsibility" line, Spider-Man's early crime fighting adventures were driven more by the promise of lucrative photo-ops than by any do-gooder impulse... The moments in which Parker is receiving payment are among the few that Ditko gives him a smile.
Peter also figures out how the Vulture's flight harness works and devises a gadget to shut it down. The next time they fight...
...Spidey uses the device and the Vulture lands in front of the cops.
A proto-Betty Brant appears in this issue for the first time. Unnamed and not looking quite like her. The 1985 Official Marvel Index doesn't list Betty as a character appearing, but the MCP does.
In the next story, as the top science student as Midtown High, Peter is selected to work with a local electronics researcher. I don't know if they actually did stuff like this in the 60s, but i think it's actually a good idea. Take some of the kids with better grades and hook them up with part-time jobs in areas that they do well, showing kids the value of what they are studying and encouraging kids to do well in school.
Anyway, Peter stops to pick up supplies for the researcher and gets a bad vibe from the repair man. He circles back later and finds that the man, called the Tinkerer, is helping aliens plant spy devices. Spidey fights the aliens...
...and drives them off, but the Tinkerer escapes. The Tinkerer will go on to be a background villain who supplies and repairs for a lot of the technologically based bad guys, which i think is pretty cool. There seems to be some indication here that the Tinkerer may also be an alien, but that has been dropped, which is a good thing.
It will be revealed much later in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #51 that the aliens aren't really aliens either; they're just out-of-work movie extras and stuntmen. One of them will go on to be Mysterio.
This issue is a major drop down from the first in terms of focusing on the human aspects of Peter Parker, but it's still pretty good especially compared to what was going on in other books at this time.
I think it's interesting that both of these early Spider-Man villains are very old, in contrast with the teenage Peter Parker.
We see the Peter Parker/Spider-Man "split-face" in these issues for the first time. It was supposed to indicate that Peter is Spider-Man and may be using his Spider-Sense powers, but it "confused a generation of young children reading Spider-Man who had problems understanding symbolism".
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Spider-Man Classics #3
Inbound References (7): show
There were 2 or 3 Vultures in Golden Age Timely comics as well, usually fighting the Human Torch.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 1:34 AM
when i read that bit about Spider-Man's name making the "underworld tremble", i thought, you know, HELL, not criminals. given Stan Lee's love of hyperbole, i pretty much didn't even question the assertion. now it makes waaaay more sense.
mebbe it's because it's been a while since i've been reading these back issues, and i'm so used to today's comics, but the first thing i noticed is there are ALOT of words in this comic. and ALOT of narration. now, i'm lucky if i get some clue that the armored guy in this panel is a totally different armored guy than the one in the previous panel even though they're nearly identical and no names have been mentioned.
forget about the balls the Vulture has to tell everyone he's going to steal those diamonds, what about the balls the Jewelry Exchange has for telling the world the day and time they're moving these diamonds? they might as well send out engraved invitations to get their merchandise stolen. and that was sure one ginormous manhole. the Vulture must be super strong.
i'm super amused by the crazy "hip" slang in this book.
we shall not be discussing the 'science' in this issue. it's just too nutty.
Posted by: min | November 18, 2011 12:34 PM
The test issue of Marvelmania #1 in 10/69 confirmed that Jameson "used" to publish Now, so maybe he sold the title?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 22, 2012 6:07 PM
In several Spider-Man issues in 1986, Jameson is said to be reviving Now magazine. So he clearly still owned the rights. Maybe he stopped publishing it because it was losing money?
Posted by: Michael | December 22, 2012 6:46 PM
John Byrne has stated several times he doesn't think the Vulture was meant to be an old man, just ugly. I can't see that view however. Besides baldness, the wrinkled forehead seems to indicate he is supposed to be old.
"Now" magazine is obviously a variant of Time. I wonder if Stan ever intended JJJ to be a parody of Henry Luce, or if he just wanted an evocative publishing title.
Posted by: Chris | September 21, 2013 2:17 AM
I seem to remember that DeFalco had a similar idea about Ock- DeFalco once had a character state that Ock's mother had just died at the relatively young age of 57 three weeks before the accident that turned him into Doctor Octopus. Several other professionals complained that Ditko intended Ock to be much older than 40 at the time of his first battle with Peter.
Posted by: Michael | September 21, 2013 9:08 AM
I've heard somewhere that Stan intended Jameson to be a parody of himself, or rather what fans thought he was like. Turns out this wasn't really what happened though.
He did however display interest in portraying Jameson in the movies, though he conceded that the one who actually got the role was a good choice.
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 21, 2013 11:03 AM
how come nobody points out that in early issues Spider-Man's costume is red and PURPLE or at least red and violet...?
Posted by: TheHumanRumpShaker | October 2, 2013 12:19 AM
I was certainly confused by the two-faced stylings of Peter and Spidey as a young lad reading early "Marvel Tales."
I do see the point of trying to make the Vulture younger - his only power is technological flight, it's not like he's a serious threat - but there's no way you can look at a character like that and not see him as old, which helps him look menacing too. I'm not a big fan of the Vulture, but when he's a great villain ("Daredevil" #224) he's a great villain.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 3, 2014 9:54 PM
"Daredevil" #225, sorry.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 3, 2014 9:57 PM
I think you have to give a lot of credit to the Vulture. His only real power is flight, which only about 5000 other people in the Marvel Universe have and he was an old guy to begin with and has only gotten older. In spite of that, he has had remarkable staying power.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 6, 2014 8:33 AM
Despite the Sean Howe line above, I somehow look at the scene Peter gets paid by JJJ for the Spider-Man pics as Ditko's interpretation of "sticking it to the man". Its obvious: if he's going to be a thorn to Jamison's side, might as well have a little fun with it and maybe make some money to help Aunt May. Obviously the "great power/great responsibility" element is still there, but I think this is just Ditko having fun in having this kid work his way around the adults in his life.
Heck, this whole issue alone really just emphasizes the whole conflict of "youth vs. age", with Peter starting to work and antagonize JJ while at the same time gaining two major "aged" villains in the Vulture (who has staying power due to being old and skilled) and the Tinkerer (who takes a while before finding his niche).
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 19, 2015 8:00 PM
Ataru, I agree with your analysis here, and have often thought about Ditko and Lee's theme of youth vs. age in the stories, as Spidey frequently fights foes older than him, instead of villains who are his own age.
I also think in Peter's dealings with Jameson that Ditko is potentially commenting on how JJJ (and media in general) make money off of other people's exploits by reporting on them, and often times the person who is the subject of the report might not be financially compensated for their participation in the news story (by giving quotes or posing for photos or giving access to their lives).
While I am not really sympathetic to that viewpoint, I do think that the role of financial profit in journalism tends create problems and bias in reporting news accurately (which is bought up in Amazing Spider-Man #9 with the reward for proof that Electro is Spider-Man). And most people tend to participate in news stories as long as they see personal gain in doing so, even if that gain is not immediately financial. But I think Ditko wants to be somewhat more pointed in his portrayal of these issues.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 19, 2015 8:53 PM
The "youth vs. age" I think really just applies to the Vulture this issue. As far as we know at this point, the Tinkerer was an alien of indeterminate age.
Posted by: mikrolik | August 20, 2015 11:44 AM
How many young villains are there anyway? I can't think of any around this time period.
Posted by: clyde | August 20, 2015 1:00 PM
Oh wow that is a good question. Closest I can think of being only a few years from Peter's age are Rocket Racer, Harry and the Prowler.
Posted by: david banes | August 20, 2015 1:37 PM
We'll get Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver in a year, but they don't stay villains long.
Posted by: Mortificator | August 20, 2015 1:59 PM
Guys, please remember, the Vulture has more than just the power of flight, he's superhumanly strong as well. And time and again he sports some dangerous thingamajigs, even guns. But it's true: he is basically an old guy who flies a lot. Let's just keep in mind that he's a genius, and unlike most Spider-Man villians, has few mental issues to undermine his efforts. He has pride but is nowhere as obsessive than Kraven; he is intelligent but has less vanity than Mysterio; he is resourceful but has none of the egocentric hysteria and paranoid irritability of Doctor Octopus; he is violent but not deranged like Venom; he is aggressive but far less irrational than the Lizard; he is sneaky but nowhere as obsessed as the Green Goblin; he has rage but not the Scorpion's vindictiveness; he has focus but not Spencer Smythe's single-mindedness; he can be cautious without the Shocker's hesitancy. I love him.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 20, 2015 8:35 PM
Transparent Fox, I commently agree with your well-worded assessment of the vulture. He's my favorite Spider-Man villain!
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 21, 2015 1:04 AM
While it is noted here that The Vulture was eventually given super-strength, "guy with wings" seems to be one of Ditko's go-to villain gimmicks. There was that weird bird villain for the Speedball story in Marvel Comics Presents #14, and a winged-inventor similar to The Vulture would appear in Ditko's graphic novel "The Mocker." It's a nice, simple concept for a villain, though it works a lot better in a world not populated with so many super-powered beings.
Posted by: TCP | February 15, 2016 11:55 AM
Re: the Spider-Man/Peter Parker "half-face" effect, when I read my first Spider-Man comic at the age of 8, I "reasoned" that Spider-Man's mask was his real face, and that the Peter Parker face was just another one of those latex masks that were also abundant in the same story. Spider-sense was making his bug-eyed face "glow" through the Peter Parker mask. You can even see the halo of light (wavy line effect). Told my cousins about this theory and they set me straight. I feel all better now knowing that other fool kids were reaching similar conclusions 8)
Posted by: James Holt | August 2, 2016 12:35 PM
Trivia question I don't know the answer to: As Fnord states, Spider-Man meeting aliens here is later retconned away. I never had too much of a problem with it myself, but I agree meeting aliens so early on doesn't "fit in" with Spidey's more down-to-Earth milieu, so I'm fine with the decision.
So, as this story no longer features Spider-Man meeting aliens, does anyone know what then becomes Spidey's first encounter with aliens? Haven't read it in ages but I guess he may have met some other dimensional beings (the Mindless Ones?) in his team-up with Dr Strange in Amazing annual #2, and Silver Surfer (and I guess Thor, really) is an alien that he meets relatively early.
I'm thinking Gog (in Amazing #103) might be his first alien villain? Though I'm more interested in who were the first group of "alien invader"-style villains he fought? And does the answer change depending on whether you count "untold tales" or not?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 30, 2016 6:00 PM
Yeah...if we count Asgardians, then it's his very brief encounter with Thor in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Technically FF Annual #3 might count, since Spidey is part of the battle royale and the Super-Skrull is around too, but they don't really "meet."
But past that, Silver Surfer #14 is definitely his first meeting with an extraterrestrial, and is much earlier than Gog's first appearance. And his encounters the extradimensional "People of the black Sea" in Sub-Mariner #40 and Annihilus in Marvel Team-Up #2 are both chronologically ahead of Gog's first appearance.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 30, 2016 9:14 PM
Thanks, Omar. I think even a teenager who has gained (street-level) powers would still be shccked & amazed the first time he encounters aliens, so it makes sense that the 2nd issue is too early for the stakes to get that deep (even though other superheroes are meeting aliens all the time). Seems like it should be a pretty transformative experience for a teenager, working on his own, who has only just got powers.
I think in at least some early meetings with Thor he is not necessarily believing that Thor is the real mythological Thor. It's more (paraphrasing from memory) "look at him fly around with that nutty hammer" than "this is an actual god". So if Peter believes Thor is just a guy with powers who uses the name, he isn't yet aware he's actually meeting a god/alien.
Due to the retcon, whenever he first meets aliens (I'd forgot about the Sub-Mariner story, good catch) he would be mistakenly thinking he had already met some in Amazing #2.
Then again the MU might have a different view of aliens, what with all the Fin Fang Foom and Googam son of Goom-type characters in the monster age, and Galactus' arrival. I think they've said that some of the general populace believe these are hallucinations or something, but Peter knows the FF and would know that stories of them fighting Galactus or other aliens were the real thing.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 1, 2016 4:27 AM
I also like the Vulture who was both smart and strong due a side effect of his magnetic field device. As for the symbolism, I got it when I was a kid. Maybe not all the symbolism but I understood the split-face thing anyway. I placed this issue and #3 after Strange Tales#109.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 23, 2016 9:44 PM
Well the Vulture they used in Homecoming is a bit different but I sure did like him. Everyone is going 'wow Vulture is cool now!' Me: uh excuse me? He was always cool.
Posted by: davidbanes | July 10, 2017 3:08 PM
Re: Byrne and Vulture's age- whatever Ditko thought, Stan seemed to think he was an old man. In issue 48, Drago calls him an old man- and the entire point of the fight in issue 63 is that Drago underestimates the Vulture because he's an old man.
Posted by: Michael | July 16, 2017 2:52 PM
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