Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #128

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

Vulture has returned, and he seems to be targeting women. He's already killed one and gone after two more, including Mary Jane, who witnessed the murder. And, to make matters worse, he's done something to himself to transform him into a human vulture. Spider-Man has intervened and kept the Vulture's focus on him, which results in Spidey's being dropped too high in the sky to web himself to safety.

In Detail...

"The Vulture Hangs High!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #128
Jan 1974 : SMURF 128.500 : SM Title
Summary: Vulture
Editor:  Roy Thomas
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  Ross Andru
Inker:  David Hunt, Frank Giacoia
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
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Review
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #105
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #6
Articles: Flash Thompson, Jameson, J. Jonah, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Leeds, Ned, Vulture III (Dr. Clifton Shallot), Vulture III (Dr. Clifton Shallot)

Spider-Man makes a last-ditch effort to save himself by creating a web to land on just before he hits the ground. It works, and he bounces up to safety, swinging onto a rooftop to collect himself. Recalling the events up to now, Peter decides to do some investigating, starting with the lab. Before he gets too involved, Doctor Shallot enters, surprising him. Peter recognizes him from accounts a friend told him about his class involving organic mutation. Shallot informs Peter about the board of trustees canceling the program before going about cleaning up his lab.

The next stop is the registration office where Peter looks up the lab assistant. It turns out that she, Christine Murrow, was also the roommate of Gloria Jenkins, the woman Vulture killed. It also appears that despite one wearing glasses, the girls could have been identical twins.

His next stop is to the Daily Bugle, where he gets chewed out by Jonah for not grabbing a picture of the Vulture when he attacked the campus. But not before Peter had gone through their files to learn that the Vulture was still in jail. With that bit of info, he heads to Mouthpiece Moylan, a notorious informer, and shakes him down for information on where else the Vulture has been spotted.

That takes him down to the pier. Investigating as Peter, he stumbles across a sailor knocked out in an alley amidst broken bottles of a chemical. That's when he's attacked by the Vulture and dropped into the water near one of the ships. Climbing out and drying off, Peter decides he better get over to Mary Jane's in case the Vulture decides to try anything. He manages to get her out to his waiting cab just as the Vulture strikes, sending the cab off-road.

Vulture scoops up the unconscious MJ, but Spidey appears to stop him. Vulture just hands MJ over, but Spidey isn't about to fall for his ploy; to chase after him while he doubles back to abduct her again. He webs her behind a net and stands ready to fight. Vulture retreats and Spidey gets her back into the cab, and then heads off to put a stop to the rampage.

Spidey returns to Shallot's lab where he finds his assistant, Christine. Just then, Vulture arrives and another fight breaks out. But this time, Spidey is ready. He pins the Vulture and feeds him the chemical he was after on the dock, having convinced the captain on the ship he was dropped by to give him some. The result is the Vulture transforms into Doctor Shallot.

Spidey had worked out that Shallot's experiments at one point involved the Vulture's suit, requisitioned from the prison. When his class was cancelled, something snapped and he used his research to turn himself into the Vulture. Enjoying the power, he had one loose end to get rid of; his assistant. But Christine had let him believe that Gloria was her, allowing her to be killed instead. And it was all thanks to Vulture saying something that made him realize he met Peter Parker before, making all the pieces fit. He then asks Christine what her justification was to let Gloria die in her place, citing that there's little difference between murderers and the people who stand by and do nothing.

In General...

This wasn't a hard mystery to decipher; all the clues were nicely laid out. But, it was a good story that comes full circle with Mary Jane doing the same thing as Christine, but eventually coming around to do the right thing. It was one of those life-lesson stories that was able to be told without sounding overly preachy.

It does beg the question, however, of all the villains Shallot could've gotten equipment from, why the Vulture? Surely some other of Spidey's rogues were imprisoned at the time who used gimmicks over natural powers, and a good number of them are a lot more powerful. It just seems like an odd choice to be able to transform yourself into a completely different person and to pick to become an old man. Or an older man, as the case may be.

Overall Rating...

4 Webs. There's some question as to why anyone would pick the Vulture to transform into, but overall it was a good story with a decent mystery at its helm.