We continue with part two of the three-part story arc which sees our web-head hero facing not one, but TWO Vultures! If you missed the beginning, then head back to part one in Amazing Spider-Man #63.
|Pencils:||Don Heck, John Romita, Sr.|
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Sr.|
Spider-Man stands on a chimney, holding onto his wounded shoulder, waiting for the Vulture to attack. On the Daily Bugle roof, J. Jonah Jameson's fuming is interrupted by the arrival of Joe Robertson accompanied by a staff photographer. "Get over here, mister!", yells JJJ, "Start snapping!" Back at the scene, the Vulture can tell by the way he's favoring it that something is wrong with Spider-Man's arm. Spidey knows that this gives the Vulture the advantage but he tries to counter with bravado and a swift two-legged kick, giving it everything he's got. The Vulture takes the brunt of it but is able to use "the air to cushion the impact". The wall-crawler can see that the Vulture is faster than ever. He's in big trouble and he knows it.
But if the Vulture is fast, Spidey's "not exactly a tortoise" himself. When the Vulture swings down with his own two-legged kick, powerful enough to send bricks flying off the chimney, the web-slinger evades the attack. When the Vulture swings around, Spider-Man is gone. "Did he fall to his death?", the Vulture wonders. He flies to the other side of the chimney to find out. This is what Spidey wants, of course. He is wall-crawling on the side of the chimney. When the Vulture arrives, he reaches out with his left arm... his good arm... and snags the Vulture by his wing. But he can't hang on, not without using his other arm. The Vulture breaks free and punches him soundly in the jaw. Spidey responds with a lefty backhand slap, his right arm hanging uselessly at his side. (And over at the Daily Bugle, JJJ is still in raptures over the great photos.) Spidey realizes that "the force of my swing almost made me topple off the wall". He can't keep his balance and fight with one arm. But he has no choice in the matter. The Vulture has recovered from the blow and flies back toward his opponent.
Rather than attacking, though, the Vulture hovers in front of his foe. This allows Spidey to use his injured arm to shoot webbing around the winged man's legs. The webhead doesn't expect this to help much but he's got to do something.
Over at the Bugle, the photographer is running out of film plates. ("You can't!", says Jonah, "I want shots of Spider-Man's finish!") But Joe Robertson points out that it's liable to be their finish. Spidey has managed to switch the webbing over to his good hand but the Vulture has pulled him off the wall. Now, the villain flies directly at the Daily Bugle, dragging Spider-Man behind, using the wall-crawler as a deadly bola.
Spidey yells at the men, calling them by name, telling them to get off the roof. The photographer takes his advice. He's out of film anyway. Jonah stays put, yelling that Spidey "doesn't want us to witness his defeat". And in the midst of this chaos, Joe Robertson can't help but notice that Spidey used their names. "Is he someone I know?", he wonders.
But further thoughts are impossible. The Vulture carries out his threat and uses Spidey as a weapon, knocking both Robbie and Jonah to the ground. Spidey realizes that he must let go or he may end up injuring the two men. He lights upon a Daily Bugle sign and Joe Robertson warns him that the Vulture is again approaching. ("What are you warning him for?", yells JJ, "I'm rooting for the Vulture!") The winged man has freed his legs from the webbing and he uses them to strike at Spidey. But the wall-crawler leaps away and the only result is debris broken loose from the Bugle sign. Unfortunately, that debris is heading for Robbie and Jameson.
Jonah is too frightened to move so Robbie must act the hero. He leaps quickly and knocks Jameson out of the way of the falling chunks. Jonah is unhurt but Robbie collapses. One of the stones has hit him and he is wounded. Jonah, his hatred for Spidey blinding him to the truth, springs up and accuses the wall-crawler of the entire attack. A semi-conscious Joe Robertson tries to tell his boss that it wasn't Spidey's fault but Jameson will not listen. The Vulture hovers above the two adversaries. Jonah yells at him to "swoop down on him now before he escapes", then grabs Spidey, pinning his arms and yelling to the Vulture to "rid the world of Spider-Man forever!" Spidey can't believe that JJJ is so blind to the situation that he thinks the world would be better off with the Vulture running around free. ("You biscuit-brained bedbug!", he calls the publisher.) He also can't believe that Jameson thinks he can hold the webster. When the Vulture zeros in for the kill, Spidey flips aside, "as though Jameson is just a feather on his back" but this maneuver makes his arm hurt worse than ever.
The Vulture hangs back, looking for an opening, but JJJ is staging a frontal attack. "I wish you were an official, card-carrying super-villain", says Spidey to the publisher, "Then I'd really have an excuse to lean on you." But he settles for covering Jonah with webbing instead. Spidey goes to check on Joe Robertson who doesn't seem to have "any bones broken". But before he can do any more, the Vulture starts to attack again.
And, elsewhere, in Forest Hills, May Parker answers her door to admit Mary Jane Watson. May doesn't recognize MJ at first because of her "ginchy new hairdo" (did anybody ever really say "ginchy"?), which is cut short and heavily curled. MJ asks May and Aunt Anna if they've heard from Peter lately and this just gets May worrying more. She hasn't heard from her nephew in days and if even Mary Jane hasn't heard from him, then maybe something really is wrong.
In another part of town, Gwen Stacy meets up with her father, now recovered from his to-do with the Kingpin. He tells Gwen that, with his recovery, his memory has returned. He now knows "that Peter didn't really attack me that day, he was trying to help me". Tears of happiness well up in Gwen's eyes and she joyously hugs her father. As they walk in the city together, Gwen tells her dad that Norman Osborn "hasn't been well lately" and that "Harry thinks it might be a nervous breakdown". But this conversation is cut short as they approach the Daily Bugle building. A crowd has gathered below and Gwen recognizes Betty Brant and Ned Leeds. She asks Betty what is happening and Betty tells her that Spider-Man and the Vulture are battling and that JJJ, Joe Robertson, and Peter are stuck up there. Now the tears in Gwen's eyes are from worry.
Back at the battle, the Vulture bides his time, hamming it up for the crowd. Robbie tells Spidey to run for it but that's never an option. As the Vulture streaks in for the kill, Spidey hits him, left-handed, in the stomach. But, once again, the Vulture uses his wings to roll with the blow and is unfazed by it. He gets in close and hammers Spidey with two punches of his own. Stunned, the web-slinger falls, and, dazed, grabs onto the wall. His arm is killing him, everything is spinning around, but he hangs on. "Why don't you fall?", screams the Vulture.
Spidey knows he is helpless in this position. He decides, no matter what happens, to go out fighting. The Vulture dives in again, and, this time, Spider-Man leaps at him and grabs the villain's legs. The Vulture is unimpressed. "Your grip is weaker than ever!", he gloats, then delivers dozens of punches to Spidey's unprotected face. Finally, the web-slinger can take no more. He slips off the Vulture's legs and plummets toward the ground, hearing the birdman's mocking laughter as he falls. Still dazed from the blows, Spidey has enough sense to realize that he is too far from a building to snag it with his web. So, he quickly forms a cushion out of his webbing just below him and manages to land on it. It is "just enough to break my fall". The Vulture can't tell what has happened but it looks to him as if the wall-crawler landed on something. He flies down to take a look and the by-standers scatter at his approach. Spidey "hasn't moved a muscle" since he landed. The Vulture lands and moves in close. He sees the web cushion and wonders why it didn't break Spidey's fall. Just then, Spidey sits up. He has been playing possum, hoping that the Vulture would get close. He reaches his left hand up to the power pack on the Vulture's back and crushes it. "I felt it snap beneath my fingers", Spidey says, and the Vulture knows that, with his power pack short-circuited, he must get away as fast as he can. Unsteadily, the Vulture flies away, with Spidey taunting him as he goes. ("What's your hurry, Vulch? Aren't you gonna tell me how much stronger you are than a has-been like me?") But Spidey's strength fades. Everything gets hazy. And, though he knows he mustn't, the wall-crawler passes out. The crowd encircles him and comes closer. "He's unconscious", says one crowd member. "This is our chance", says another, "to unmask him, at last!"
The Vulture does one heck of a job hiding out after making his escape because he is not seen again for a very long time. The next appearance of "the Vulture" is in ASM #127-128 (December 1973-January 1974) but this turns out to be a mutated Dr. Clifton Shallot. The next appearance of the real Vulture is Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #4 (March 1977). Man, he must have had troubles getting that power pack fixed.
In the meantime, what happens with Spidey? Does the crowd succeed in unmasking him? Let's find out.