Marvel Tales #46 (October 1973)
Reprints Amazing Spider-Man #63
Stan Lee-John Romita/Don Heck/Mickey Demeo
"Wings in the Night!"
Doug: This one kicks off with a very cool splash page! Winged guys do lend themselves to cool shots. The original Vulture is back, which is saying something -- ol' baldy was supposed to have died over 30 issues earlier, in jail! His mantle, so to speak, had been usurped by his former prison roommate, Blackie Drago. But Blackie went and got himself beat up by Spider-Man and ended up back in the slammer. Now the original was back, and not happy!
Karen: I was struck by that splash page too! Very dramatic, almost cinematic.
Doug: As we get rolling, a quick comment about the art -- Johnny Romita turns in his typically stellar work, and Mike Esposito (here by his pseudonym Mickey Demeo) is very strong over the Jazzy One's pencils. But I have to register one complaint -- no one draws the Vulture like Ditko. Ditko's quirky style, the haggard look to Adrian Toomes' face, etc. were just perfect. Romita tended to beef everyone up just a bit too much. But, as soon as Gwen arrived on the scene, I forgot about it. NOTE: The day Doug composed this post (10/24/10), he learned of Esposito's passing via Booksteve's blog. Thanks for the memories, Mike!
Karen: It's a real mix of styles here, with Romita presumably supplying mainly layouts, and possibly touching up the faces. Heck's style is also there though. It's sort of like Romita-lite...not quite as satisfying as all-Romita!
Doug: Nit-picking time -- It's pouring buckets, as Spidey says, and he's worried that his webbing won't work and that he won't stick to the walls. All true -- seen it before and since, and Pete does take a nasty spill because of the webbing issues. But then there's a scene where he is sticking to the walls, and he scales the wall to get to his apartment. Then, claiming to be too tired to change before getting into bed, he hops between the sheets in his soaking wet clothes!! Duh...
Karen: Yeah, that couldn't have been too comfortable. This was about the time that it seemed like Stan started dropping the ball sometimes in the books. But overall, it's still solid stuff here.
Doug: We get the usual soap opera scene with Gwen, who once again feels that Peter has betrayed her. Both are distracted, and neither wants to attempt to solve their problems. It's nice to see a sturdy Harry Osborn in this story, as once this book got into the #90's, it was over for ol' Harr. In a later scene, he reads Pete a letter from Flash, who had just gotten his deployment orders for Vietnam (that would make Flash in his mid-60's about now, right?), and tells Pete not to sweat the fact that Peter doesn't pay any of the rent. Later in the book, Norman Osborn drops by and gets really agitated when he sees Pete. This story predates, but serves to set up, the events that would take place in the magazine-sized Spectacular Spider-Man #2.
Karen: This story also has a brief scene with Prof. Warren, who Gerry Conway would later transform into the Jackal!
Doug: Back to the Vulture, Toomes breaks into a museum that had been exhibiting the wings that Blackie wore. Breaking out with the additional togs, the old codger heads to the prison where Blackie is cooling his heels. Since everyone thinks the Vulture's dead, they're a little spooked when he swoops down into the yard and gives Blackie the wings. They fly away together, and Blackie marvels at how much more skilled Toomes is at all of the Vulture-business than he.
Karen: The Vulture seems amazingly vicious, and takes out the guards easily. I just never think of him as a real quality villain though. I mean, he flies. So what? But I thought it was a nice touch that he was more skilled than the much younger Drago.
Doug: The real Vulture tells Blackie how he survived his alleged "death" by willing himself back to health. He couldn't stand that someone else would be wearing the wings. So the Vulture escaped, laid low, and built another set of wings while Blackie tussled with Spidey. Teaming up with Kraven the Hunter, Blackie blamed the Hunter for allowing Spider-Man to best him and send him back to jail. The story ends with the two Vultures battling, Toomes wanting to show all of New York City who is the real Vulture. In the process, J. Jonah Jameson has ushered the injured Peter Parker to the roof of the Daily Bugle to snap some shots of the battle. However, in the course of the aerial battle a child on a balcony is endangered. Pete cops out, changes to his fightin' duds, and swoops down to save the lad. But, at the same moment Blackie Drago is beaten, Toomes see Spidey and whirls to face him. Next issue looks to be good!