Spidey has been tangling with the new Vulture for a few issues, starting back in Amazing Spider-man Vol. 1 #592. Last issue, Electro, in the employ of Sasha Kraven, sprung the captured Vulture from jail. Jonah Jameson has been accused of having a hand in the creation of the villain, causing a scandal, and also causing the Vulture to pay Jonah a visit at the end of last issue, with Spider-man in pursuit.
Spidey busts in the dark room to find Vulture over a prone security guard, not Jonah. Spidey tackles Vulture, sending them crashing and soaring out the window. He attempts to reason with the creature, telling him not to believe the frame up of Jonah having a hand in his creation. Vulture spews some acid, melting Spidey’s webline. He perches on a lamppost, firing webbing into the creature’s face. Spidey takes the opportunity while Vulture is flying blind to spin a giant web between two buildings.
Spidey goes into an interesting verbal tirade as Vulture gets snared in the giant web—a sort of play-by-play commentary (that has to be read in context to be fully appreciated). Clearing the webbing from his face, Vulture attempts to vomit more acid to break through the giant web, but is clobbered with a web-bat from behind by Spidey. After Spidey begins to run out of web fluid, he attempts to reason with Vulture again as he escapes again, saying Adrian Toomes told Spidey that it was the mob that created this new Vulture (as seen in Amazing Spider-man Vol. 1 #594 ), and that Spidey will help take them down. It’s all to no avail as Vulture flies away. Spidey’s able to leap over him in the air in an arc, and land a Spider-tracer on him.
Back at City Hall, one of Jonah’s aides, Lubeck, is trying to lay on him the gravity of the situation—that the Vulture coming there to attack him could act as a fatal blow to Jonah’s political career. Jonah explodes at him saying that a man is dead and that Lubeck is a bigger vulture than the one that attacked—and to get out. Jonah then reflects on how the security guard, Gabriel Graham, came upon Jonah in the halls running from the Vulture, and promised to protect him, and how he didn’t even know the guard’s name until now.
Peter runs into Lubeck in the hall outside Mayor Jameson’s office. Lubeck tells him Jonah’s in no mood for jokes--he’s in mourning for one of his guards that was killed. Pete is taken aback at the glimpse of Jonah’s human side, so rarely seen. Lubeck says that with no living witnesses, Jonah isn’t really cleared in the scandal: that he might’ve been involved in creating Vulture. Peter says he was around after hours, and may have snapped a photo that proves JJJ is innocent. Lubeck gets him to a computer workstation. Peter thinks that he can’t let Jonah go down for something only he knows he’s innocent of, and that with a little photoshop help, he can re-create the evening’s events exactly as they happened.
Meanwhile on a yacht on the Hudson River, Vulture is terrifying a gangster and his girlfriend. The mobster agrees to tell Vulture what he wants to know; how Vulture was previously a cleaner for the mob named Jimmy the Fixer. Jimmy was good at what he did, but was getting exasperated by the inexperienced men the mob employed, who got themselves into stupid situations. Jimmy tells a gathering of the mob that he would like to strike a little “motivational fear” into the mob hires who slack the worst. He takes the group to one Charlie Goss, a scientist of the seemingly mad variety who has come into the equipment used to make the Scorpion and The Human Fly. Goss reveals they’re looking to engineer a new Vulture, to prey on the weak members of the gang. Jimmy says the new Vulture should be quick, athletic and on the ruthless side, and that all the mob has to do is bring the right candidate to Goss and Jimmy will do the rest. One of the gang tells Jimmy they already have the right candidate, and drawing his gun, shoots Jimmy in the leg. They order Goss to change Jimmy, who they drop into a glass chamber. After a meaningless protest, Goss changes (molts?) Jimmy into the new Vulture.
The mobster concludes his story: that Goss told him Jimmy’s memory would be wiped clean, that there should be no fear of reprisals, but that they didn’t count on Vulture going rogue. Meanwhile, Spidey is suited up and looking for Vulture in the city. His spider-sense leading him to a boarded-up apartment building, he busts in only to find his tracer abandoned on the floor. Meanwhile on the yacht, Vulture is standing over the cowering mobster—he lowers his facial scarf, ready to vomit some more acid as the mobster pleads for his life.
The next day, Peter arrives at the Mayor’s office, to a round of applause from the staff, who call him “the man who saved the Jameson Administration, and (their) jobs”. As Pete ducks into Jameson’s office, JJJ tells him to come with him, and ominously, to leave his camera, as he “won’t need it”.
Jonah leads Pete to a press conference, with the media assembled. JJJ orders Peter to sit down. Jonah addresses the media, reiterating his innocence in the Vulture debacle. He says he’s known Peter since he was a kid in school, which makes it even harder to reveal that the photo Peter produced to clear Jonah is a fake. Jonah says he can’t support a lie, even if it’s to save his own skin. He adds that he’s firing Peter from his staff, and urges every “honest organization, news or otherwise” in town to “stay well away from him”, that Peter has “violated a basic trust of the public..and his career is finished.” Jonah has the photo in question brought up on a projector screen—one of him kicking at the Vulture, photoshopped from a pic of Jonah kicking a chair. He points out a framed photo of the former Mayor’s children in the background—one that JJJ himself could never stand and had removed his first day in office. JJJ adds that according to security records, Pete wasn’t even there the day in question. He asks Peter what he has to say for himself, but Peter has left the press conference.
Later that night, Peter’s in costume, hanging off the side of an adjoining building, close to the demolished Bugle building. They’re finally carting off the rubble of the Bugle. Pete reflects on how his career is finished, how he did a stupid thing for the right reasons. He wonders what Aunt May and his friends will say. As he ponders how much worse his life can get, the Vulture flies by overhead, looking on, illuminated by the moon.
Like Waid’s previous arc with Electro, Power To The People, his story here takes on a somewhat topical slant, namely unemployment and how that affects Peter. Getting Peter to that point seems almost arbitrary in this story—why exactly would Peter bother to photoshop a picture of JJJ to clear him? To save his own job? Because it was the right thing to do (was it?). Jonah, meanwhile, reacts—probably just how Jonah would react. He doesn’t afford Peter the luxury of any kind of loyalty.
The origin of Rulture this issue is nothing mind-blowing—gangsters, mad scientist, unnamed scientific process—the usual comic book thing. Interesting that instead of some mechanical harness, this Vulture is somewhat organic, but Waid never goes further in establishing just how organic this new Vulture is, or why he’s red. Either way, I hope to see more of this Vulture at some point and time down the road. I didn’t find this second go-round with Vulture as good as his first appearance also scripted by Waid, in 24/7 however.
So Peter joins the ranks of the unemployed this issue—but this is a guy who’s been a freelance and staff photog on and off a half dozen times in some 40 years, always half-ass employed to begin with and has almost certainly been fired by Jonah before at some point. One does wonder why Pete can’t go to Tony Stark, or any of the other Avengers, for financial help--I believe this is addressed in an issue somewhere down the line.
Pete being fired has to be considered some kind of character development, as Pete’s been almost completely static since the beginning of Brand New Day. The aerial battle with Rulture here is quite cool, but as we learn his origin, he exits the stage for the time being, giving this short arc an unresolved feeling. Azaceta’s artwork seems to be an almost acquired taste, but I very much like the work he did on these two issues. There have been some superlative covers the last dozen or so issues, and this ish’s creepy image is yet another. Mark Waid has a good handle on the Spider-universe and cast of characters—I just wish there was more of a consequential feeling to Pete being ousted. We’ll see where it goes, though. Three webs for this ish.