“Duel to the Death With the Vulture!” and “The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer”
Cover Date: May 1963
Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
Cover Artist: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
In “Duel to the Death With the Vulture,” Spider-Man encounters a new airborne thief: the Vulture! After going off half-cocked and getting beaten by the elderly thief, Spider-Man uses his brains to defeat the crook.
In “The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer,” am elderly repair shop owner, the Tinkerer, is repairing the radios of prominent people for suspiciously low prices. Spider-Man investigates and finds that the “fixed” radios now contain eavesdropping equipment. It’s up to Spidey to put a stop to this racket, before important government secrets are accidentally leaked!
Is It Good?
While the villains in these stories are kind of dumb, they were still a fun read. Peter Parker’s world has a lot more grey area than the other Marvel comics, and Peter’s motivations are noticeably different. It’s a welcome change of pace.
- Peter realizes that he could take photos while fighting the Vulture to make good money.
- The Vulture likes to taunt the police and his prospective victims before he robs them.
- The Vulture cleverly subverts expectations; when everyone is expecting him to use an air attack to steal some jewels, he strikes from the sewers.
- Spider-Man defeats the Vulture by deducing how the Vulture’s suit works, and then designing a countermeasure that permanently breaks Vulture’s flight capabilities.
- Peter is asked to assist Professor Cobbwell over the weekend, and he agrees. The Professor asks Peter to pick up his radio from the repair shop on the way to his lab.
- Peter is rightly suspicious of the ten-cent repair charge from the Tinkerer.
- It turns out that the cheap radios are part of an alien plot to eavesdrop on important Americans.
- Spider-Man confronts the aliens and destroys their equipment. They escape via a flying saucer. The aliens all escape, as does the Tinkerer. We learn that the Tinkerer was wearing a mask the entire time, so he was likely an alien, too.
- This is the first appearance of the Vulture, the Tinkerer, and Professor Cobbwell.
- J. Jonah Jameson’s base of operations is the J. Jonah Jameson Publishing building, and he publishes Now magazine.
- Spidey is out of web fluid again!
- Peter learns from his mistakes and is adding spare web cartridges to his outfit.
- Peter opts to not receive credit in print for his pictures. This is a clever move for someone intent on maintaining his secret identity. It’s hard to connect Peter Parker to Spider-Man without those pictures.
- We have a diagram of Spidey’s web-shooters!
Comics Are Goofy:
- Amazing Spider-Man #1 made a big deal over JJJ’s negative coverage of Spider-Man in the Daily Bugle. In this issue, there is no mention of the newspaper. Now, it’s all about Now magazine.
- Yes, a brief internet search reveals that vultures can, indeed, be pretty fast. It’s still not the first thing I associate with vultures.
- This is a remarkably self-aware reaction to getting kicked in the back of the head by a grown man.
- In any other comic, having the hero profit like this would be frowned upon, or the hero would quickly learn the error of their ways. It’s fascinating to see the writing frame Peter as being clever instead.
- I like that Stan Lee just adds scientific-sounding words together, like “anti-magnetic inverter,” and the character acts like no further explanation is needed.
- HOW MUCH DID JONAH PAY FOR VULTURE PICS?!?
- The Vulture gets to wear his costume in prison?
- I don’t get Flash Thompson. Making fun of Peter for having no life, while a dick move, is at least predictable. The way he complains, though, makes it sound like Peter is ditching him for being a “dumbhead.”
- This issue implies that the Tinkerer was an alien wearing a mask the whole time. Many years after this, it will be revealed that the Tinkerer is, in fact, a human, and he looks just like his mask. Also, there were no aliens (but that’s another, separate retcon). So he was wearing a mask of himself when Spider-Man ambushed him, I guess.
Well, That Aged Poorly:
- Few things age as quickly as pop culture references in comic books.