Art by Terry Dodson
|First appearance||Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Adrian Toomes|
|Team affiliations||Sinister Twelve
The Vulture is the name of three comic book supervillains in the Marvel Comics universe. The first Vulture is an elderly enemy of Spider-Man created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963).
Adrian Toomes was born in Staten Island, New York. He is a former electronics engineer who was once the business partner of a man named Gregory Bestman; Bestman handled the finances while Toomes, the inventions. One day, after creating a flight harness, Toomes eagerly rushed into Bestman’s office to share the happy news. However, Bestman was not there, and Toomes discovered that Bestman had secretly been embezzling funds and that Toomes had no legal recourse. Enraged, Toomes wrecked the business, discovering that the harness also granted him superhuman strength. He then decided to turn to crime professionally as the Vulture. His wings are as sharp as swords and can be used as projectile weapons. They will replenish themselves so he can maintain flying abilities.
The Vulture employs a special harness of his own design that allows him to fly; his flight is directed by a pair of wings worn on his arms. The harness also endows him with enhanced strength and (according to some sources) increases his lifespan. Although Toomes is advanced in age, he is a strong fighter and a remorseless killer. On one occasion, he restored his youth through biochemical means,[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed] though this wore off after exposure to the corpse of an elemental superhuman.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed] At one point he had used a device to steal Spider-Man’s youth, leaving Vulture young and Spider-Man elderly, but this effect wore off within hours.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
The Vulture first encountered Spider-Man during a jewelry heist. The Vulture modified his harness, and attempted to rob the Daily Bugle payroll. He joined Doctor Octopus’s first Sinister Six.
Later, believing himself to be dying in prison, Toomes revealed the location of an extra Vulture outfit to his cellmate Blackie Drago, who became the second Vulture. Drago, as the Vulture, teamed with Kraven against Spdier-Man. Toomes ultimately defeated Drago, and then defeated Spider-Man in battle as well. Some time later, Dr. Clifton Shallot mutated his body into a form resembling Toomes’s, but possessing natural wings and flight capability.
The Vulture later humiliated the racketeering mobster, Mr. Morgan, who hired the Hitman to kill Spider-Man, trying to rob the Vulture of his revenge. The Vulture then arranged the murder of New York’s top mobsters to become New York’s new crime-lord, and battled Spider-Man. The Vulture later escaped prison, and battled Spider-Man again.
The Vulture later came out of retirement to claim vengeance on Gregory Bestman, his former research partner who embezzled him out of the profits. He then confronted the Vulturians, a group of youths who stole his designs.
He became involved in Atlantic City casino racketeering to prepare for his own ostentatious funeral, but was thwarted by the Hobgoblin. He moved his gambling operations to Las Vegas, where he attacked Snake Diamond in the middle of the desert for stealing his formula for a special embalming fluid. He later confronted the mutants Rusty Collins and Skids in an attempt to release Nitro.
On more than one occasion Toomes has been in league with several other Spider-Man villains in order to destroy the wall crawler. The Vulture has been in every incarnation of the Sinister Six, and appeared in the Sinister Twelve. He has a strong friendship with fellow villain Electro; the two of them nearly beat Spider-Man to death.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
During one of his many periods of ill health, Toomes struck a friendship with Nathan Lubensky, a man who had become the new love of May Parker‘s life. Nathan was unaware of Toomes’ true identity, and encouraged the injured criminal to take his chances with life and not to let handicaps drag him down (Nathan was a paraplegic). Toomes followed Nathan’s advice and attempted to take over his rehab clinic as the Vulture. A battle with Spider-Man led to Toomes almost killing Nathan, the shock of almost taking the life of a man who had helped to save his own distracted Toomes and led to his capture.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
The Vulture would seemingly cherish Nathan’s influence, but irony would serve him a cruel blow when he was hired by the Kingpin to assassinate a high ranking casino runner. During another conflict with Spider-Man as part of Doctor Octopus’s new Sinister Six, the Vulture sought to use a hostage as a shield, and selected May Parker from the crowd. Little did he suspect though that Nathan was also with May, and he defiantly leapt from his wheelchair and grabbed Toomes, still not realizing who it was, Toomes flew high into the air with Nathan on his back, warning the man to get off, Nathan took one look down and realized how high they were, triggering a fatal heart attack. Toomes fled as Nathan fell. Though he was successfully caught by Spider-Man, Nathan would die in May’s arms.
Toomes was later diagnosed with cancer, caused by frequent exposure to the essentials needed to power his flying apparatus. In an attempt to be forgiven for all of his previous sins, the Vulture terrorized the Parker household, pleading that May Parker forgive him for indirectly causing Nathan’s death. An enraged Parker attacked Toomes, forcing The Vulture to capture him and take him back to his old lair. After escaping Toomes, Peter switched to Spider-Man and brutally assaulted The Vulture, and in the ensuing battle, the Vulture’s own power pack malfunctioned and exploded, setting his wings ablaze. Spider-Man successfully ripped the burning pack off of Toomes, and the two crash landed in a muddy ditch.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
After being arrested, Toomes was returned to the Parker home so May, reunited with Peter, could identify him. May hoped that Toomes’ death would be slow and full of suffering. The next day, she visited Toomes in prison and apologized to him for her cruel remarks, but also stated that she could not forgive him, and that any kind of redemption would be left up to him and God.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
The Vulture once stumbled across a plot by the Chameleon and the Green Goblin to drive Spider-Man insane by having shapeshifting androids impersonate his late mother and father; due to Toomes’ interference, the androids were destroyed, leading the wall-crawler to a brief nervous breakdown. The Vulture absorbed the artificial life force from the Mary Parker android, and the effect on the Vulture was twofold; not only did he become a young man again, but he was instantly cured of the cancer that had been slowly killing him for some time. During this period he attempted to kill everyone who’d ever known him as an old man in an attempt to get a clean slate for his life, but this plan went wrong when he targeted a Prowler impersonator (the Prowler having once thwarted his attempted takeover of his old company) and Spider-Man; although Toomes nearly gutted the fake Prowler, Spider-Man managed to get him to the hospital. During a later fight with Spider-Man, the Vulture was ‘attacked’ by David Kalen, a man capable of dissolving anything he touched and had turned his power on himself in his grief at the death of his brother. Toomes subsequently reverted back to his old age, presumably due to Kalen’s power having negated the youth effect.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Toomes’ identity as the Vulture has been claimed by impostors on several occasions. Blackie Drago and Professor Clifton Shallot are some of them. The Vulture technology was later copied by a group of thugs called “The Vulturions”; Toomes defeated these usurpers as well. Also, Toomes himself was not the first comic villain to use the name. In the 1941 comic Doll Man Quarterly, a robber named the Vulture used his pet vultures to carry bombs and commit crimes.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
In the Identity Disc series, it was revealed that Toomes, with the help of Sandman, manipulated Marvel villains Bullseye, Deadpool, Juggernaut, and Sabretooth into laying siege to terrorist group A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) headquarters in order to retrieve a disc containing the identities of undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives (including that of Toomes’ daughter).[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
During a brief time working for the Owl, he failed in a mission (and had his face brutally slashed by the Black Cat) and was severely beaten as punishment. He subsequently revealed himself as a member of Norman Osborn’s Sinister Twelve â€” though he wore a helmet, presumably to mask the wounds.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Under the tutelage of Al Kraven, the son of Kraven the Hunter, Toomes briefly attempted a stint at heroism, but before long he returned to the other side of the law.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Aside from his daughter, Toomes also has a son, whom he has dismissed, and a grandson from that son. The Vulture has come to care deeply for both his grandson and his mother, committing a series of robberies to finance a cure for his grandson’s terminal illness. He once had a nephew, Malachai Toomes, and flew into a killing rage when he was murdered by a gang-lord.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
During the Civil War, he was apprehended along with the Grim Reaper and the Trapster, by Captain America and his growing Resistance, who chained him together with Grim Reaper to a pole and broke his nose. When he was found and taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D., he complained, “that lunatic broke my damn nose.” After Spider-Man unmasked himself, Toomes was seen in his jail cell, knitting his fingers together. As someone on the television set said they hoped it wouldn’t be any trouble for Spider-Man, Toomes said, “Oh I think it will be.”[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
After Spider-Man goes rogue, Toomes is seen in a S.H.I.E.L.D prison cell speaking with agent Jamie Madrox, and commenting on Spider-Man’s inherent weakness, that being his unwillingness to use his powers for personal gain. S.H.I.E.L.D. then returns his flying harness and encourages him to hunt down Spider-Man, saying that he “is now an outlaw, same as you.”[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Later, the Vulture attacks Spider-Man at a book signing, and manages to slash him with a powerful sedative. Toomes, however, falls unconscious and, sensing something is wrong, Spider-Man rushes him to the hospital.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Toomes wakes up a few hours later, where a doctor reveals that he has suffered a stroke, and many of his muscles on the left side of his body have been paralyzed. When the doctor leaves, Spider-Man sneaks in and Toomes asks him to kill him because he is weak. When Spider-Man refuses to do so, he says that Spider-Man is also weak, and always has been. After making remarks about Uncle Ben, Spider-Man takes a pillow and begins suffocating him. He fights back, and Spidey removes the pillow, commenting that “For somebody who’s begging to die, you fight for life pretty hard.”[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
When Al Kraven began collecting a zoo of animal-themed superhumans, Vulture was one of his captives. To stop Vulture from using his intellect to find away to remove his bomb collar, Kraven broke his hands repeatedly but with the help of Rhino, Vulture escapes .
In “Young Men” #26, a scientist named Dr. Scarlotti went by the name Vulture and was an enemy of the original Human Torch and Toro.
On a related note, there were some of other characters in the World War II era that went by the name Vulture.
In the story arc, Spider-Man 24/7, a new Vulture has appeared, who eats people he finds. He is found by Spider-Man, whom at first thinks it will be an easy battle, having beaten Adrian Toomes and those who have used his harness before, only to find that this Vulture’s wings are apparently real. He also has a separated mandible, and can spit an acid, which temporarily blinds Spider-Man. After just barely escaping the battle, Spider-Man questions Toomes on the new Vulture, with Toomes saying that he has no connection to him, though he heard that the new Vulture was made that way by the mob, and is out for revenge, as well as stating that while he normally hates people who steal the Vulture name, he would have no problem with him killing Spider-Man. Spider-Man later defeats the new Vulture in a battle in the new Yankee Stadium.
In the timeline of MC2, Blackie is revealed to have had a daughter named Brenda Drago, the Raptor.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
In Amazing Spider-Man #127-128, Professor Clifton Shallot, was an expert on bio-mutation and professor at Empire State University. He also had a Vulture wings and costume making project which he requisitioned from the State Prison Authority. When one of his courses was canceled by the university trustees, something snapped in the doctor’s head, and so he underwent the final stage of the mutation himself when he donned the Vulture costume. The result was a change in himself which no amount of expertise and practice could do for the original Vulture…his face, teeth, and fingernails mutated, and for a short time, the wings became part of his body. The only one who knew his secret was his lab assistant Catherine Murrow and her roommate Gloria Jenkins. Mary Jane witnessed him killing Gloria (whom he had mistaken for Catherine) and she became a target. Clifton discovered that his mutation is reversible and when he ran out of the right chemicals, he stole them. This led Spider-Man to a clue of who the identity of this Vulture was and tracked him down. His powers were lost in his first (and only) battle with Spider-Man who force-fed him the antidote. After reverting back from Vulture, Clifton fainted. Clifton Shallot is presumably still serving his sentence for the murder.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
While in prison for dealing heroin, an engineer named Honcho becomes the cellmate of Adrian Toomes, who has revealed the designs of his Vulture harness to him. Memorizing how to construct the Vulture harness, Honcho, when released on parole, builds four red, yellow and silver Vulture harnesses which he equips himself and three petty criminals (Gripes, Pidgeon, and Sugar Face) with; gaining all the powers of the Vulture, the group call themselves the Vulturions.  Wanting to make names for themselves and become big-time criminals, the Vulturions make several attempts to kill Spider-Man and accumulate wealth, ultimately failing in all their attempts. Learning of the Vulturions’ existence and exploits, Adrian Toomes builds a new Vulture harness and breaks out of prison, intent on hunting down his “rip-offs”. Locating the group, Adrian beats them all and comes close to killing them, only to be stopped by Spider-Man, who defeats the Vulture and turns him and the Vulturions into custody. 
A new group of Vulturions, consisting of three members, appear in Avengers: The Initiative, where they steal a briefcase containing classified research on gamma radiation from Baron Von Blitzschlag. One of the Vulturions is identified as Honcho, apparently released from prison and back to crime. They are stopped with certain ease by a costume-less Peter Parker and the Scarlet Spiders.
Utilizing his harness, the Vulture is able to fly as if by natural winged flight . He wears a costume of synthetic stretch fabric housing a tailored electromagnetic harness with bird-like wings attached beneath the arms. This consists of an electromagnetic anti-graviton generator worn on his body as a harness enabling him to fly silently with precise maneuverability. The harness also increases his resistance to injury to the point that he can survive blows from Spider-Man’s enhanced strength despite his age. Another by-product of his exposure to the harness is that despite his age and lack of exercise, his physical strength represents the upper limit of human development. When he removes the harness some of his enhanced abilities slowly fade, although the rate at which this transpires remains unclear (some writers have suggested that his strength is permanent). The Vulture is elderly and depends on his electromagnetic harness to augment his strength, vitality, and athletic prowess.
It has recently been revealed that, due to his prolonged use of the harness, the Vulture can levitate or float his body even without the harness, although he requires his wings to maneuver while airborne.
The Vulture has a new version of his flight harness that has supposedly been augmented by the Green Goblin. Though Vulture claimed that it increased his strength by five-hundred percent it appeared to be a bluff to frighten the Black Cat, who proceeded to beat him half to death.
The Vulture is intellectually brilliant in the fields of electronics and mechanical engineering, with a great talent for invention. He has earned a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering.
In Marvel 1602 the group of warriors working for Otto von Doom are referred to as the Vultures and wear flight enabling armor similar to the mainstream universe Vulture.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
In the year 2099, a new Vulture is a recurring foe of Spider-Man 2099; this version of the Vulture wears high-tech armoring, possessing metallic wings and claws, as well as a helmet, and is also a mentally unstable cannibal. In the character’s first appearance, the Vulture 2099 appears as the leader of a gang known as “The Freakers” and reveals to Spider-Man 2099 his ambition to rule the sky. 
When most of the civilized world is flooded, the Vulture creates a floating boat-colony off the shores of the Savage Land. His new crew is called the ‘Wild Boys’. There, he recovers an old associate, Wulff, whom his gang torments.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Vulture is one of Rhino’s friends who helped him attack and detain the Green Goblin for ruining the best chance at a good life Rhino ever had.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
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In this reality, Adrian has mutated into a more vulture-like appearance, with real wings, claws and beak, due to the action of the Terrigen Mists. He has been a member of the Enforcers, bodyguards of the USA President Norman Osborn, but since Osborn’s death, his current whereabouts remain unknown.
In the second issue of Marvel Zombies, an undead Adrian Toomes can be seen among a group of zombified heroes, whom he later aids in attacking the Silver Surfer.  The zombified Vulture is among those who battled against the Silver Surfer, and is seemingly killed. In “Marvel Zombies 3,” it is revealed he survived, and along with Angel, The Falcon, and Beak, he attacks the Earth-616 Machine Man and Jocasta, but is quickly killed.
In the one-shot prequel to Marvel Zombies, Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, the Vulture is part of an undead version of the Sinister Six, alongside Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Doctor Octopus, Electro, and Mysterio, who he helps in attacking and devouring the inhabitants of New York.
The Ultimate Marvel Vulture made his official appearance in Ultimate Spider-Man #90, though it was not Adrian Toomes but rather “Blackie” Drago. A disgruntled former S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Drago had been hired to kill Donald Roxxon, head of the Roxxon Corporation. Drago received his equipment from a former employee of Roxxon named Elijah Stern, the Ultimate Tinkerer. He was defeated by Spider-Man and taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, imprisoned in the Triskelion, headquarters of the Ultimates. When Norman Osborn broke out in Ultimate Spider-Man #113, several other villains including Drago escape in the chaos; a news report depicts the Vulture’s recapture at the hands of Captain America. He was apprehended by Spider-Woman and Human Torch after a robbery.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
Ultimate Adrian Toomes (Dr. Adrian Toomes) made his first appearance in issue #125 as an employee of Bolivar Trask.
In Spider-Man Noir, Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. the Vulture is depicted as a former circus freak, a geek who lived in a cage, feeding on chicken heads. The Vulture was taken by mob boss Norman Osborn, alias The Goblin, to become one of his hitmen. Toomes was responsible for the death of Ben Parker, whom the Vulture cannibalized after Parker was beaten by Osborn’s Enforcers.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
He was killed by Spider-Man when he took May Parker hostage and attempt to kill her.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ needed]
The Vulture’s first appearance outside the comics was in the 1960s Spider-Man animated series, where he appeared in two first-season episodes, “The Sky is Falling” and “The Vulture’s Prey”. The Vulture in this series seems to be based on the second Vulture (Blackie Drago) rather than the original Adrian Toomes Vulture (mainly in that the Vulture in this series wears a helmet like Drago did). He was voiced by Gillie Fenwick.
The Vulture later appeared in the 1981 Spider-Man animated series episode “The Vulture Has Landed” voiced by Don Messick.
In the Spider-Man animated series (1994-1998), Adrian Toomes (the Vulture) was voiced by Eddie Albert. In his first three appearances in “Ravages of Time“, “Shriek of the Vulture” and “The Final Nightmare“, he is an old man. Later, he used the Vulture talons to suck youth out of people to make him young (when young, he was voiced by Alan Johnson). In “The Final Nightmare“, the Vulture transformed into the Man-Spider after absorbing Peter Parker’s DNA and youth. Eventually, Spider-Man enlisted the aid of Dr. Connors, who helped defeat the Vulture and return Spider-Man’s youth. In “Partners“, the Vulture absorbs Silvermane’s energy, restoring him to his young form. In the “Six Forgotten Warriors“, part 1-5, Vulture became a member of the Insidious Six, replacing Mysterio, who was originally a member but died in an earlier episode.
In the Spider-Man Unlimited animated series, a Counter-Earth version of the Vulture appeared and voiced by Scott McNeil. Like the Counter Earth Green Goblin, this version of the Vulture is a hero instead of a villain and also like the Counter-Earth Goblin, he first mistook Spider-Man for a villain.
It is explained the Vulture was a human who got Bestial powers, hanging out with Bestials and disrespecting humans, while he was also playing with one. When he caused his human friend trouble, he hated the High Evolutionary for what he did and rebelled against him.
Vulture appears in the The Spectacular Spider-Man, wearing the suit designed by Terry Dodson, voiced by Robert Englund. He appears in the first episode, “Survival of the Fittest.” Here, Adrian Toomes is an elderly scientist who claims that Oscorp has stolen his flying technology and, seeks revenge against Norman Osborn. He takes his name from Osborn’s insult, however Osborn stated he called Toomes a “buzzard”. He, alongside the Enforcers, are defeated and soon jailed by Spider-Man.
Vulture reappears in “Group Therapy” in which he alongside Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Shocker and Sandman are busted out of prison by Electro and form the Sinister Six, and has his flight tech protected by reinforced steel. During a later battle, Vulture is defeated yet again when Spider-Man damages his helmet, causing him to pass out mid-flight.
Vulture escapes prison once again, in the season 2 episode, “Reinforcement,” to join a new Sinister Six created by the Master Planner. The Planner sends the Six to attack Spider-Man. Vulture teams up with Electro to fight the web-slinger at Rockefeller Center, but he is caught in Spider-Man’s webs and tied to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, then zapped by an overeager Electro and trapped when the tree collapses. He is retrieved before the police arrive. In “Shear Strength,” Vulture continues to aid the Master Planner, who is revealed to be Doctor Octopus, in his plan for world domination by gaining control over all the computers in the world. Doctor Octopus attempts to kill Norman Osborn with an explosion, to satisfy Vulture’s hunger for revenge, but it stopped by Spider-Man. Vulture is later sent with Electro to kidnap Gwen Stacy, in order to blackmail her father into downloading the codes that would give the Master Planner access to all the computers in the United States, and possibly the world. The Planner sends Vulture, now with a laser-firing attachment to his flight pack, to distract Homeland Security agents so that Stacy can more easily steal the codes. When the plan is foiled by Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus sends Vulture the order to withdraw.
This version of the Vulture uses the costume Terry Dodson gave him during his run on Marvel Knights Spider-Man with some differences and has a more bird-like nose.