I’ve been watching some second season Spectacular Spider-man and it’s put me in the mood for the real deal, as it were. So for the next few days I plan on talking the wall crawler. Specifically I plan to talk about the first appearances of some of his greatest foes.

Okay, okay, the foes I like best.

Here then is the start of the matter.

1. More Like a Gigantic Bird of Prey

I usually put the cover here, but that’s a better picture by far.

There are those out there who might disagree, but I love the Vulture a great deal. You’d think an old man who can fly would be, y’know, like dullsville, man. Straight up L 7. And perhaps he is, compared to such worthies as Doc Ock and the Lizard. But as he’s Spider-man’s second super villain (and the first to have real powers), he’s got a place in my heart.

This, though, isn’t his best outing. That would be his second appearance in Amazing Spider-man #7 (making him Spidey’s first reoccurring foe). However, as we’re looking at first appearances in this series, we’ll have to let that one go for another time.

Our story begins with the Vulture continuing his effort to make a name for himself by swooping out of the sky and stealing a briefcase full of bonds. That’s right. Our terrible villain here is nothing more than a high-tech mugger. However, a very spectacular one, as everybody’s talking about him already.

Among this is that saint, that prince, that man among men, jolly J. Jonah Jameson. Our favorite publisher here is but a hint of what he will become. Not a caricature, not a ranting and fuming blow hard, but an honest publisher of Now Magazine. Someone who just wants…

What’s that? Yep. Now Magazine. Not even the old sour puss’s periodical is firmly in place yet. Last issue it was the more familiar Daily Bugle Newspaper. This month it’s Now. Next month back the Daily Bugle again. In the end it’ll be decided that Jameson runs both a paper and a magazine. Still, it’s kind of neat watching history slowly being made here.

Anyway, what the publisher wants is a good picture of the Vulture and, to get it, puts the word out he’s willing to pay good money for one. Word reaches high schooler Peter Parker and, after borrowing a camera from a cameoing Aunt May, sets out after his target in his red-and-blue underwear. Got to make ends meet, don’t you know. The Parkers aren’t exactly rolling in money.

All of this takes place in the better part of two pages. One of the things today’s comics are missing is that speed of narrative. So much happens so quickly that you can actually feel the wind ripple past.

He had a face even a mother had trouble loving.

Unfortunately we reach one of the bad parts about old super hero comics on that second page of story. We return to the Vulture, who is in the middle of planning a heist so daring that even Spider-man will be unable to stop him. And we know because he thinks it, or, rather, narrates it so the reader can follow along. He’ll do this, Spidey’ll will do it, everyone will do it if the need arises. It’s intrusive and a wee bit annoying, even to a fella who loves thee sort of stories.

Anyways, our foul feathered fiend sets his plan in motion. Apparently his modus operandi is to warn people through the news and the police that he’s going to come a-calling. Sort of like the Joker, only much older and a wee bit less homicidal.

However, he’s picked up a tail. It’s none other than our hero, Spider-man. And here we hit another oddity from the past. The wall crawler discovers the Vulture not by seeing him in the air but by feeling, as he puts it, “Something coming through the air… but making no sound!” As with Jameson, things are still in flux. The spider-sense is one of these. It does a lot more… and a lot less… in some of these early tales.

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