The Vulture returns in this issue, and he does something I always kind of wondered about when it comes to supervillain plans.
Not that the Vulture seems to have much in the way of plans at this point, but the point stands.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #7, December 1963
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
The Plot: The Vulture escapes from prison, and an injured Spider-Man is the only hope to stop him!
Commentary: So, there’s this thing about supervillain plans. Many times, the plan will come very close to succeeding, but then the hero will find some minor flaw and overcome whatever it is the bad guy was up to. As such, I have often wondered why the bad guys don’t just correct that minor flaw and try again. The method the hero used the first time won’t work then. Granted, sometimes they do, but more often than not, the villain will just come up with a different scheme that the hero is forced to try and stop.
The Vulture basically here figured out how Spider-Man sabotaged the flying man’s wings the first time the pair met, so he made a new set of wings that worked the exact same way but didn’t have the same weakness as before. He even lets Spidey think the anti-magnetism gadget or whatever will cause the Vulture’s wings to fail long enough to hit his enemy in such a way as to cause Spider-Man to land badly on one arm and give himself a bad sprain that he needs to keep in a sling for most of the issue. See, that’s rather brilliant, and it forces Spider-Man to find a new way to defeat his first repeat enemy.
It probably helps that the Vulture just wants to fly around and steal stuff. I would imagine that it would be much different if he was a more ambitious bad guy. He mostly just seems to fly places, swipe items at high speed, and then dodge the police on the ground and in helicopters. Spider-Man is the only real obstacle.
Or he was until he decided to rob J. Jonah Jameson.
I remember a meme I saw once that said you can tell a person’s true colors by what they do when death is staring them in the face, only to show JK Simmons’s J Jonah Jameson lie to Willem Defoe’s Green Goblin about who takes all the Spider-Man photos. That Jonah is not on display here as he begs the Vulture not to take all his precious money before payday, not because he wants to keep paying his employees or anything. The series has already portrayed Jameson as something of a skinflint. No, he doesn’t want to because he will personally be ruined. He then tries to, I dunno, negotiate a settlement with the Vulture, an odd thing to do since the Vulture is basically demanding everything. If the bad guys were allowed to be more dangerous at this point in time, Jameson might have just been killed and that was that. Instead, his cheap antics give Peter Parker time to change clothes, whip up an invisible web sling for his arm, and then go into battle and save the day.
That said, in “Peter is acting in a manner that is somewhat disturbing” moments, he thinks about how he can mash Flash Thompson into paste and how he will one of these days, and then openly flirts with a (seemingly open to it) Betty Brant.
So, yeah, there’s that…and since the issue ends with Peter putting his arm around Betty, that didn’t work so well for me in an otherwise stellar issue.