Spidey Super Stories #5 (Story 3)

Background

Return of the Vulture! Well, since in the first Vulture story he appeared in a dream (Issue 1, Story 4) actually it's the first real appearance of the Vulture. Geesh, old bald men in funny costumes sure are scary. I remember one time my great-uncle dressed up as a woman for Halloween, he didn't even have to rob me, I just gave him money so he'd go away and not be related to me.

Story Details

The story opens with Spider-Man relaxing in a web hammock right outside of J. Jonah Jameson's office. Spidey seems to love torturing poor JJJ just a little too much. This is the man who hates his guts and tells the entire city to hate him too, and Spidey sits outside his window expressly to annoy him. It's like that scab you can't stop picking, and pretty soon you've got a big bloody infected mess on your hands. When you were a kid, did you hang out in front of the neighborhood bully's house, hoping he'd come out and verbally abuse you and then go tell everyone you know what a loser you are? And I don't understand why Spider-Man always seems so shocked that JJJ doesn't like him.

JJJ: If you hang around here again, I'll swat you!
Spider-Man: Oh, go... go print your papers, Jameson! I was leaving anyway.

Yes, you go print your papers, you... newspaper publisher, you. Hmmm. And you... you go deliver your milk, you evil milkman! And go cut hair, you nasty beautician you. Sure, they have to tone down Spidey's razor sharp witticisms for the kiddies, but they don't have to make him a blathering idiot either. Spidey really, really needs to work on his come-back quality if the best insults he can come up with are telling people to go do exactly what they were about to do anyway.

Spider-Man then swings onto the roof and changes into good old Peter Parker, who happens to be wearing an extremely unfetching bright blue leisure suit with a yellow pinstripe shirt. I've seen Muppets with better fashion sense than this. Man, say what you will about that Gonzo, but the muppet could dress his chickens up for the prom and actually make it work somehow.

So Peter climbs down the building, giving us yet another recap on how he sells photos of himself to the Daily Bugle, JJJ doesn't know he's Spidey - what a dork!, etc. But on his way to work, Peter walks by the "National Bank" (which is strange, since Andrew Jackson outlawed the National Bank in 1837, but hey) and someone shouts, "DANGER! DANGER, SPIDER-MAN!" Well, ok, actually his Spider-sense gives his head that funny buzzing feeling we all know so well, so he knows "danger is near". I hope Peter never gets too drunk at parties, or the next day he's going to be torn between his Spider-sense and his Hangover-sense. He'd probably accidentally beat up several empty urinal stalls. "My Spider-sense says, uh a little fuzzy, huh... Dr. Doom... making cheesecake with... guppies? Um.. no, no... wait, that's Aunt May. Uh-oh, run-to-toilet-sense buzzing..." *blorch*

And after we just had a fascinating discussion last issue of how the Beetle should actually fall like a two-ton anchor when he tries to flap his wings, here comes the Vulture, the absolute last word in aerodynamic impossibility. In his one-page origin, we learn how he constructed his fearsome suit of wing-ed death and stuff.

Mr. Caption: A View of the Vulture! or The Fly-By-Night Foe!
*Vulture sits in his old-man apartment, with Vulture suit hanging from light fixture. He has big frilly lacy curtains, the pansy.*
Mr. Caption: The Vulture suit is made of feathers, glued to wings of wire!
*And yes, he's smearing glue on some bent-up wire hangers and sticking some feathers he found on them.*
Mr. Caption: A small motor makes the wings flap!
*He puts the suit on, reaches around to attach a 2-inch motor to the wings, and jumps out the window.*

Well then. I can't decide whether it's a worse idea to do a Vulture and go jumping out of a window in an untested suit composed entirely of materials scavenged from a hospital bed, or to do a Beetle and jump off a building with wings made out of solid Battleship-grade steel. But I'm going to give it to the Vulture here, because as a bonus stupid thing the Vulture's arms are inside his wings, so his brittle old-guy shoulder blades get dislocated with every motorized flap he takes.

Anyway, way back in the main story, Peter has detected trouble, yes? And he's walking in front of the Bank, where an armored car is unloading. And gee... let me think... has there ever been an armored car that appeared anywhere in any film or literature that wasn't robbed? I never actually see any on the streets, the only purpose they serve in society is to fill that "Desperate Hack Writer Needs Target of Opportunity for Some Kind of Evilish Criminal Element" gap. They might as well call them "Golden Sponge Cake with Free Money Goodness" trucks for all the damn good they seem to do. Of course, they might work slightly better if you try keeping the money INSIDE them. Because the two security guards who were unloading this truck figured it would be okay to unload the clearly marked bags of money in the middle of the city street and then go back in the truck for more bags of money to just toss into the street. They've got six giant bags of cash sitting there, and they're genuinely surprised when the Vulture swoops down and steals one. That's like wondering why your hand hurts after you come home from work, take your shoes off, loosen your tie, sit down to watch the news, and then go stick your hand in the oven for an hour. You really could have avoided it if you had the common sense God gives to ready-mix concrete.

But the security idiots totally didn't see that one coming, and it all happens so fast that even Peter, our Spider-hero type guy, doesn't have time to do anything stupid that would immediately reveal his secret identity like he usually does in this comic. As the Vulture flies off, the security guards try and console Peter.

Security-I-couldn't-guard-melting-ice-cream-Man1: Don't feel bad, kid.
Security-Help!-I'm-trapped-in-my-laundry-hamper-Man2: There's nothing any of us could do.
Peter thinks: Except me!

Nothing anyone could do, except possibly maybe it would help if you didn't leave the money you're paid to guard lying around in the street. Just a suggestion.

But old Peter "Guilt is my maiden name" Parker starts walking through the city, cursing himself for letting the Vulture go, reminding himself about that secret identity thing (so pesky!), and deciding, "Peter Parker may have been helpless, but Spider-Man will beat that bird! And as long as I'm in an avian-beating mood, I'm going kick the crap out of that competing 'Big Bird' for the Electric Company kids!" I think Spider-Man vs. Big Bird would be a helluva lot more exciting than Spider-Man vs. Wilford Brimley here armed with feathers and a gleaming bald head, but there's no accounting for taste.

But there's several more pages to go, so to fill some space they showed the highlights clip from "Vulture's Rain-of-Ter-roar".
*He menacingly flies over city and casts a big bird-shaped shadow.*
*He steals some jewelry from a window.*
*He steals three fur coats from a rack that some guys are pushing in the middle of the street for some reason during the middle of the day.*
Mr. Caption: He comes without warning, he takes what he wants, and wings away!

Ah, 'wings away'. Another clever pun. Boy, they sure work hard on these puns down at the Spidey Super Story factory! Each lame pun is individually hand-crafted with genuine Italian leather and lovingly packed in a collector's showcase box to be enjoyed by you and your family for generations to come!

You know, if you think about it, the Vulture's plan really isn't that bad. He swoops down and steals some stuff across the city. He's the only Spidey Super Story villain so far to have anything resembling normal crimes and an actual motive. I was hoping at the very least for some kind of bird-themed crime. Isn't there some kind of hideously ugly golden Aztec bird on display somewhere in the city or something? Then he could leave Spider-Man some lame-ass clue like "I will steal the flapping thing that is also made out of a substance that is golden in color. Please turn upside down for answer." And then Spider-Man would spend hours trying to figure it out, what could it MEAN??, and then eventually capture the Vulture, etc. You know, proper Spidey Super villain stuff. But no, he wants to *yawn* steal things that have actual value like money. How droll.

But have no fear Spidey Super readers, because if there's an uncomfortable lack of stupidity in the Vulture's plan, it's more than compensated by the total whacked-out idiocy that our darling Peter Parker and the New York City police demonstrate. Yup, Peter steps right up to bat when there's a looming void in the all-important moronic content, and hits this one out of the park.

The police have come to enlist J. Jonah's help in capturing the Vulture, and ending his crime 'spree'. But Peter bursts in on JJJ and the four police captains, wracking their tiny, tiny brains about what to do. "Okay Parker, this had better be good!" yells Jameson at the interruption. Peter's carrying two giant rolled up diagrams that detail his clever plan for bringing down the Vulture. And although all we can see of his diagrams suggests that a large game of tic-tac-toe is somehow vital to capturing the Vulture, the police captains are immediately convinced to use this punk high-schooler's plan. I wonder if Peter learned some hypnotic tricks from the Ringmaster or something.

So as part of "Peter's plan", he has the Daily Bugle print today's paper with the headline, "CITY BANK GETS TEN MILLION DOLLARS TODAY BANK IS NOT AFRAID OF VULTURE" You might think that with a headline so big that it takes up the entire front page, they might have added some punctuation or something. I guess they're just trying to teach the kids a valuable lesson they had better learn as soon as possible: grammar is for sissies. And nothing gets you beat up faster than correcting other people's poor English, so just let it slide...

So the Vulture swoops down and steals a paper from the same newspaper-stand guy that Spidey and the Beetle terrorized last issue. Newspaper-guy exclaims in exasperation "Why do I try to sell papers? I should just give them to any goon in a get-up!" as the Vulture flies off and vows to steal the money. 'Goon in a get-up'? Has anyone who reads this ever used the word 'Goon' in an actual conversation? If so, please stop reading this and check yourself into a mental hospital as soon as possible. Operators are standing by.

But the best part of this whole thing is Peter's actual plan. It's a little hazy as to what his actual plan is, but near as I can figure, it's this: Get Ten Million actual dollars and put them in an armored car just sitting outside the bank. Then leave the doors to that armored car wide open. Have ten policemen (and JJJ) wait outside the armored car. THAT'S THE WHOLE PLAN. Gee, the police could never have thought to oh, try and catch a criminal. Peter must have turned their little world upside-down when he suggested something so radical as have policemen try and find out where a criminal may strike and try and catch him. Boy, I bet the police chief had little cartoon steam shooting out of his ears, he was trying so hard to wrap his head around this astonishing plan.

Now, of course, Spider-Man is waiting in the armored car. But I really don't think that he was part of Peter's plan.
Mr. Caption: J. Jonah Jameson doesn't know Spider-Man is there!
And after Spider-Man and the Vulture start fighting, JJJ says, "Spider-Man! How did he get into the act?" Since Peter unveiled his 'plan' with JJJ in the room, I doubt the police officers know Spidey's there, either. Though it's pretty hard to excuse them or JJJ, since Spider-Man is clinging to the ceiling inside the armored car they're supposed to be guarding, whose doors are completely open. Then again, I very much doubt the New York police could even remember their own names without name tags, so forgetting to look inside the armored car they're watching is easily forgivable.

So eventually the Vulture swoops down from the sky, but he has an almost-nasty surprise for the police in a big bag. Not that they could deal with it even if it was a nice surprise, like the Vulture baking them a cake. They'd probably shoot the cake.
Officer Shoelace: It's the Vulture!
Officer Casserole: He won't steal anything this time!
Vulture: Fools! I'm not going to steal...
*dumps his bag, which is full of feathers, onto the officers*
Vulture: I'm going to trade Ten Million feathers for Ten Million dollars!
Officers Shoelace, Casserole, Applesauce, Recycled Newspaper, and Tapeworm: A-CHOO!

And Spidey Super Stories is once again perpetuating a vicious stereotype. Look, feathers do NOT make people sneeze uncontrollably. Feathers resent this accusation. And sharks never eat people, it's actually dolphins disguised as sharks, smartest mammal and all, damn them. And while we're at it, acid rain has been scientifically proven to make plants grow better. So there, tree-huggers. Just thought I'd clear that up for the kids.

So the Vulture now swoops past the incapacitated police officers (not to suggest they had much 'capacity to begin with), and finds Spider-Man waiting for him in the armored car. And then in one panel Spider-Man shoots a web at the Vulture's arm. And then JJJ shouts at him, and then out of nowhere Spider-Man and the Vulture are a hundred feet in the air, with Spidey dangling from the Vulture's arm exactly like a stray cat dangling by the scruff of its neck. Our hero. Spidey Super Stories compensates for its lack of ability in drawing action sequences by just skipping over as much of them as possible. Though I can't say I'm complaining.

Vulture: *holding Spider-Man with one hand by the neck* Put on your seat belt! This will be a bumpy ride!
*drops Spider-Man about ten feet onto a roof*
Mr. Sound Effect: THUMP!
I just don't get it. You have Spider-Man at your mercy a hundred feet up in the air, and rather than dropping him onto the pavement or something, you find the tallest roof around, so he can get back on his feet and shoot you with webs.

*Spider-Man shoots him with webs*
Spidey: You look like a bird... and you have a brain to match!
*tries to reel in the Vulture like a wriggling sea-bass*
Spidey: It takes more than one thump to keep this webslinger down!
Vulture: Then take another! As they said at the tea party... One THUMP or two?
*sixty-year old Vulture kicks Spidey in the face. Mr. Sound Effect: THUMP!*

Okay, so now we switch from having puns about birds, cause like there's a guy who looks like a bird and stuff, to having multi-layered puns about tea parties? How many five-year-olds regularly attend tea parties, or realize that in the 1800s sugar came in lumps, unlike the cubic shapes of today, and that polite British people used to ask for "lumps" in their snotty tea? Are they trying to appeal to the geriatric crowd? "Spidey Super Stories is easy to read for youngsters and Alzheimer patients alike!"

Spidey recovers, snaps a picture of the Vulture's back as he flies off, and then the Vulture comes flying back. And then I'm not really sure what happens. Spidey grabs Vulture's feather-glued chicken-wire wing and swirls him around, and then Vulture spins crazily off into the city, except in the next panel he's flying directly away from Spider-Man as fast as he can, and then in the panel after that the Vulture spontaneously falls to the ground, and Spider-Man shoots some webs. Notice, I didn't say he shoots webs at the Vulture, because his right hand shoots webs off the right side of the roof in a giant arc that covers 270 degrees of the sky, and his left hand shoots webs off the other side of the roof, covering the other 90 degrees of the sky. So, way to go there, you've captured all the dangerous gnats in a fifty foot radius around you, but the Vulture's still falling to the ground in front of you. Your webs aren't even close to him. Really, this is exactly what it looks like. The only thing I can figure out (Warning: Do Not Attempt To 'Figure This Out' Without Parental Supervision) is that Spidey wanted the Vulture to plummet to his death, but wanted it to look like he made a token effort to save him. So he shot some webbing in random directions, "Whoops, I missed!... too bad, so sad" and never has to deal with the Vulture's ointment-laden butt again.

So Spidey swings away from the mushy mess that is probably the Vulture, changes into Peter, and calls out to Jameson from the roof Spidey just swung onto. "Mr. Jameson, here I am! I took pictures of the whole fight!" Well, um, no, you snapped one of the Vulture as a little speck in the distance. Somehow I don't think lying to Mr. Jameson is going to get you a raise, bonehead.

JJJ and the policemen are still mulling around randomly in front of the open armored car with the Ten Million dollars. Apparently a street sweeper-guy came and swept up all the feathers. Or maybe they melted. Or maybe the feathers transformed into more randomly mulling police officers. Who can tell when the laws of physics are treated like one of a number of possible suggestions?

JJJ: If I find out who invited that web-head, I'll wring his neck!
Boy, since it was Peter's plan, and Peter and Spider-Man kept coming from the same roof, and they're never around at the same time, couldn't be that Peter. Glad we eliminated him as a suspect. Wait a second...

General Comments

Without the New York City police department, my job wouldn't be half so entertaining. So here's to you, NYC police officers! May you continue to carry on your proud tradition of doing the stupidest thing possible in any and all circumstances to this very day. In honor of you, I've written a little story.

Eric's alternative plan (in conjunction with the New York City police dept.):
Punk-ass high-school Eric wanders into headquarters: Uh, hey, I heard there was this guy who was stealing purses.
Police Captain: That's right! We have no idea how we can possibly stop him.
Eric: Well, do I have a plan for you. See, purse snatchers like money, right?
Police Captain: Hey..., you know, I guess they do!
Eric: Well, first you get a bank to give you Ten Million Dollars in unmarked small bills and put it in an untraceable armored car. Then you lock the back, but leave the car running and its front door open. You have to do it that way, because purse snatchers are, uh, easily frightened by, um... uh... turned off cars?
Police Captain: *calls over other captains, fascinated* Tell me more!
Eric: Okay then. Then get a whole bunch of officers, and kind of mull around behind the car.
Other Police Captain: *chimes in* Hey! Our guys can do that!
Eric: Right. And in no time you'll capture this purse snatcher.
All Police personnel within earshot: Whoa! This guy is good! What a plan! What a genius!
*the next day the police get everything set up the way I told them and we wait an hour*
Eric: Well, you know, since the purse-snatcher doesn't look like he's going to be showing up any time soon...
Police Captain: *exhausted from the effort of mulling around randomly* That's for sure! Police work sure is hard!
Eric: Yeah, why don't I take the car to the car wash. I've heard purse-snatchers don't steal form dirty cars. They're very picky.
Police Captain: Great idea!
Eric: Alright then... *gets in car*
Police Captain: Wait a minute! *comes running after me*
Eric: *gulp in Scooby-Doo style*
Police Captain: Here's a coupon for a free carwash I had stapled to my underwear! You're welcome to use it!
Eric: Thanks. *starts driving car away, shouts* So long, suckas!!
*hours more pass with police officers mulling about randomly in street*
Police Captain:... ... Boy, my legs sure are tired. But that car sure was dirty!
*Eric retires to life of luxury and extravagance in Brazil*
Eric: Super Sweet!

Overall Rating

2.5 webs. I can't believe Peter didn't steal the free money. Whata maroon.