The Spider-Man Challenge: Monday through Friday, I read a Stan Lee-written issue of Amazing Spider-Man and write crap about it.
“The Return Of The Vulture”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
Synopsis: The Vulture poses as a model prisoner to gain access to the prison machine shop, rebuilds a rough version of his flying harness and escapes. Peter Parker over hears this during gym class and fakes a headache to investigate. Spidey attempts to use his patented magnetic inverter again, not realizing The Vulture has adapted his new suit to overcome it. He catches the wall-crawler by surprise and leaves him on a rooftop with a sprained arm.
Peter arrives home, but narrowly avoids Aunt May by sticking to the ceiling. Later, at The Daily Bugle, A skeptical Betty Brant teases Peter about spraining his arm in a “volley ball game”. Jameson calls Peter into his office to discuss some Vulture photos, only for the real Vulture to show up and demand the payroll. Peter slinks off and makes a sling out of his webbing before swinging back into The Bugle to confront The Vulture. The two fight through the Bugle’s offices all the way down to the printing presses. The fight spills out into the sky, where The Vulture attempts to drop Spider-Man, only to be foiled when his wings are pinned with webbing. Spider-Man saves them both with a timely web-parachute. With The Vulture taken care of Jameson calls Spider-Man over (he thinks to apologize), but instead yells at him for the damage to his offices. A fed-up Spidey webs his mouth shut. Sneaking back in the office as Peter Parker, he finds Betty sitting behind a desk. When asked where he went, Peter sheepishly responds he hid in a closet and that he’s “just not the heroic type”. Betty says neither is she and that’s what she likes about him. The two sit together while a silent Jameson fumes.
- This issue goes by really quickly, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It keeps a good pace and feels less sluggish than some of the previous stories.
- I feel like this issue does a great job of fleshing out The Vulture. He’s entirely motivated by money and, to a lesser extent, revenge on Spider-Man. This isn’t the most original motivation by any means, but The Vulture’s straightforwardness as a character is one of the things I dig about him. No tragic backstory, he’s just a miserable old asshole.
- Easily the most homoerotic imagery of any Spidey story yet:
- This issue has the first “Peter hides on the ceiling to avoid someone in his daily life” which becomes a recurring element in the comics, even showing up in the first movie.
- Jonah getting his mouth webbed shut is priceless.
- Lastly, the Betty/Peter dynamic in this issue completely made the issue for me. I’ve always felt that Lee did a great job creating a bittersweet, realistic romance between them and I’m excited to reread it. It’s one of those things that, to me, makes silver-age Marvel so great. From Lee’s dialogue to the Ditko’s layout, the last panel is just perfect:
Final Thoughts: This is actually the first issue of Spider-Man I ever read, I’m pretty sure I owned a reprint of this. This is a brisk, fun issue and it’s always fun to see an issue where everything goes Peter’s way. Tomorrow, “A SALUTE TO TEENAGERS”. I’ll leave you with some proof of Peter Parker’s undeniable love for Queen: