With the Sony/Marvel collaboration Spider-Man: Homecoming quickly approaching, you may be wondering to yourself, “Where can I read good stories with that angry, winged Michael Keaton character?” Well, despite the fact that his costume is oddly reminiscent of the Firefly’s costume from the Batman: Arkham games, that is actually the storied Spider-rogue, the Vulture (AKA Adrian Toomes).
Now, unlike the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Venom, Vulture doesn’t really have any stories that shook Spider-Man’s world. The closest he’s come is his participation in the original iteration of the Sinister Six. However, there are still some great stories to read with the Vulture, and I’m here to help you find them.
In my own research, I found a great list on a website called Superior Spider Talk. Give them a visit to see some good suggestions too, some of which are indeed on this list.
For a start, let’s begin with his first appearance, all the way back in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #2 in 1963. He was one of the Web-Slinger’s first costumed adversaries, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko themselves. The aged villain actually manages to get one over on Spider-Man, and it is up to his own ingenuity and inventiveness to bring down the Vulture. One of the best places to find this one would be in Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1. Available on ComiXology.
The second story to look for is Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 from 1964. This is the first appearance of the Sinister Six, a team made up of Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Electro, and, of course, the Vulture. The six banded together to bring down Spider-Man, but he managed to take them out one-by-one and won the day. This story can be found in The Amazing Spider-Man: Omnibus Vol. 1, which is Available at Barnes & Noble.
For a look at the origins of the Vulture, look no further than Amazing Spider-Man Vol.1 #240-241, written by celebrated comics writer Roger Stern. The story focuses mainly on Adrian Toomes, and it involves an old business partner who cheated Toomes by the name of Gregory Bestman. This story might be a bit tougher to track down, though the individual issues can be purchased on Amazon and ComiXology.
If you want a weird favorite of my own that involves Mr. Vulture, look for Identity Disc miniseries from 2004 by Robert Rodi and John Higgins. It centers around a mysterious benefactor employing the Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Deadpool, Bullseye, Sandman, and the Vulture to retrieve a mysterious disc with the secret identities of a large portion of Earth’s heroes. It’s a fun read, and has a lot of the Vulture in it. He actually ends up playing a key role in the endgame.
Now, if you noticed that title, the Shocker is going to be in this movie, and I’ve promised to find you some good stories for him, as well.
Now, I consider myself a connoisseur of the Shocker, as he is one of the best Spider-Man rogues of all time and deserves a spotlight. Herman Schultz is amazing. If you think he’s lame, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you are objectively wrong, with objectively objective objectiveness. None of that subjectivity here.
His first appearance was in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #46, created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. The legendary rogue manages to keep the Web-Head off balance with his vibration blasts, and Spider-Man has trouble defeating him due to his vibrating body. This one can be found in Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5.
A good character study on the Shocker himself came with the recent series The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by the divisive-but-talented Nick Spencer and artist Steve Lieber. It focuses on a newer iteration of the Sinister Six made up of the Shocker himself, Boomerang, Speed Demon, Overdrive, and the newest Beetle, Janice Lincoln (yes, there’s only five). It’s a very entertaining series, and it has a good sense of humor to it. I highly recommend this one too. It ended a couple of years back, but the trade paperback collections are fairly easy to find.
The Thunderbolts, being a team of ex-villains, naturally had to add the great Shocker to their ranks. They finally did so in Thunderbolts #157, by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker, and Declan Shalvey, with Luke Cage bringing him and others onto bolster his team. His stay was fairly short, being abandoned by escaping teammates to stay at the Raft in #162. He was taken off the team by Cage who no longer trusted him after the escape. These issues can be found spread out across Thunderbolts: Violent Rejection and Thunderbolts: Fear Itself.
So there you are, some great reads about classic Spider-foes Vulture and the immortal, invincible Shocker! Take a look at these if you want a prepper for Spider-Man: Homecoming, premiering July 7th!