Characters : Vulture I (Adrian Toomes)
Black with Green irises
Toomes is a brilliant electronics engineer with a great talent for invention.
Armed flight-suit housing electromagnetic anti-graviton generator allowing silent flight for up to 6 hours at a maximum altitude of 1,100 feet with precise maneuverability. The Vulture's top speed is 95m.p.h.
No Innate Powers
In costume: 700lbs, out of costume: Normal
Carries some form of plasma pistol & several grenades of unknown types.
United States of America
Sinister Six IV (Electro, Mysterio, Sandman, Kraven II)
Masters of Science degree in electrical engineering
Las Vegas, Atlantic City
Sinister Six I (Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven, Mysterio, Sandman), Sinister Six II (Doctor Octopus, Electro, Hobgoblin II, Mysterio, Sandman)
Electro, Mysterio, Hobgoblin II (deceased), Shocker, Scorpia, Beetle, Doctor Octopus, Kraven (deceased), Sandman, Owl, Chameleon (deceased), Venom
Malachi Toomes (nephew, deceased); unnamed son; Ramona (daughter in law); unnamed son; Marcus (older brother)
Criminal record in U.S.
Spider-Man, Gregory Bestman, Blackie Drago, Mr. Morgan, The Vulturians, Daredevil, Scarlet Spider (deceased), Kaine, New Mutants, Prowler, Hobgoblin I
Staten Island, New York
New York City
Not much is known about Adrian Toomes's life before he became the Vulture. His parents died when he was young and he was raised by his older brother, Marcus. At some point Marcus was involved in a motorcycle accident, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Marcus gave up on life and begged Adrian to push his wheelchair in to the ocean. Adrian refused to kill his brother, prompting Marcus to tell him that all humans are just animals, and that they were both weak, but that Adrian was weaker because he refused to admit it.
For much of Adrian Toomes' criminal career the villain known as the Vulture has been obsessed with two things; Revenge, and Death (particularly his own). Toomes's career as a criminal began when he discovered his then partner Gregory Bestman (in the engineering firm of Bestman & Toomes) had been cheating him out of his share of the profits. The elderly Toomes confronted Bestman and in doing so discovered that he, Toomes, had somehow gained incredible strength.
Toomes had already begun work on his now infamous electromagnetic flying harness and discovered that exposure to its unique radiation had granted him super-human strength. Bestman threw Toomes out of the company. Enraged, the elderly inventor took his creation with him, to perfect it as a weapon against his former partner. Dubbing himself the Vulture, Toomes ransacked his former company, robbing the place blind. Intoxicated with his new found power and the ease with which he committed his crime, the Vulture went on a wild crime spree, daring the police to catch him. This brought him into contact with Spider-Man, who cleverly defeated his winged foe.
Along with Kraven the Hunter, Electro, Mysterio and Sandman,Toomes was a founding member of the Sinister Six, which was led by Doctor Octopus. The Six kidnapped Aunt May and Betty Brant in order to draw out Spider-Man. Each villain took on Spider-Man mano a mano, with the battlegrounds suited to the crook's strengths. Vulture met Spider-Man at the top of the Empire State Building and forced the web-slinger to throw away his web shooters. Despite the loss of his most versatile weapon, Spidey's amazing agility was enough to overwhelm Toomes, and Spider-Man went on to face the next challenger.
There have been several usurpers to Toomes' technology, including Blackie Drago and Dr. Clifton Shallot. Drago was a prison mate to Toomes, who fooled him into telling him where he could find the old man's flying harness. Blackie fought both Spider-Man and Kraven the Hunter, but it was eventually Toomes himself that took back his invention. Shallot was a professor of evolution at Empire State University, who managed to requisition Toomes' wings from the New York Prison Authority. He combined his expertise in mutation with the wings to endanger several E.S.U. students.
Toomes laid low for quite a while, anonymously working in a repair shop, all the while tinkering with his harness and making improvements. A local mobster named Morgan had tried to muscle him for protection money, and Vulture replied by dumping his goon into the Hudson River. Vulture again humiliated Morgan when he came to talk to the old man, and left the mobster hanging from a lamp post. As Vulture had humiliated Morgan, he would humiliate Toomes. Vulture struck next by taking hostages every fifteen minutes until Spider-Man arrived. Morgan watched the news on TV and hired the Hitman to kill Spider-Man before Vulture could do it.
Hitman finds Vulture standing over an electrocuted Spidey and Vulture fights to protect his enemy...so that he can kill him. (Now that is bitter!) Spider-Man is surprised at Hitman's speed and shooting accuracy and he escapes out a window. Vulture is also surprised and forced to flee after he gets a face full of mace. A tracer had been placed on Vulture's back, and Hitman followed him to goad him into another fight with his modified weapons. Vulture followed him to Peter's neighborhood, because Hitman had also placed a tracer on Spidey. The fight drew out the web swinger and the fight moved to Central Park. Vulch and Spidey battled on top of a construction crane and Spidey feigned helplessness as he dangled from a webline. Vulture dove at his enemy as the Hitman took a careful shot at the hero. Spidey beat them both by catching Vulture in his legs and turning him around in time for the bullet to destroy Toomes' power pack. Hitman fled the scene as the contract was to kill Spider-Man and steal Toomes revenge. That was now impossible, as Toomes was helpless.
From this point he was perpetually at deaths door. Most were false alarms, but they lead to some ridiculous capers (fighting over embalming fluid, SHEESH!) Toomes was especially ambitious when he tried to take over the Kingpin's empire after Fisk "retired" from organized crime. Using his nephew, Malachi Toomes, as an intermediary with the squabbling, remaining crime bosses, Vulture hoped to rule the New York mafia. Through several tests of loyalty, Toomes used the mafia to kill potential rivals. After "Black Alfred" found out he had been used by the Vulture, he swore revenge and shot Malachi. His nephew's death badly upset Vulture.
Toomes later set his eyes on revenge on the Las Vegas mafia, who he felt had cheated and humiliated him. His target was Morris "The Snake" Diamond, a casino owner and criminal that Toomes had tried to sell dice to. The dice was made of a plastic that the casino could control with ultra sonic waves. Diamond laughed in Toomes face and later ordered the death of Randall Reese, the inventor of the plastic, who was traveling with Toomes. Diamond's boys had also stolen Reese's journals, which detailed how to make the plastic. Vulture managed to crash the plane to New York that both Diamond and Peter Parker were traveling on, stranding the passengers in the desert. Spider-Man managed to capture the Vulture and the Diamond gang, with the help of flight attendant/Central Intelligence Division agent Sara Glenville.
Vulture was still trying to peddle his trick dice to the mob, this time in Atlantic City. He was again turned down by the gangster and got revenge later by smashing up his casino. Naturally Peter was there with Aunt May and his spider sense warned him of danger. Peter changed into Spidey and went after Vulture, but the Hobgoblin (probably Ned Leeds) showed up. This casino's owner was in league with the Rose and Hobgoblin was his enforcer. Vulture had no interest in taking on both Spider-Man and Hobgoblin and fled.
Vulture learned that the prolonged use of his harness had given him inoperable cancer. Toomes then decided none of his enemies would out live him, so he tried to kill as many of them he could, failing with only Spider-Man. Ironically, Toomes tried to commit one act of goodness before his death. In a previous attempted theft, Vulture had taken the elderly Nathan Lubensky hostage when Spider-Man arrived at the scene. Toomes tried to fly away with Nathan, but accidentally dropped him, causing his death.
In one of those comic book coincidences, Lubensky had been a friend of Toomes and was the fiance of Peter's Aunt May. Wrecked by guilt over causing his friends death, Adrian went to Aunt May to beg her forgiveness. In a rage, May slapped Vulture and forbade him from ever coming to her house again. Peter stayed the night with May to keep watch over her, and when Adrian returned, he took off with Peter when the police arrived. Toomes swore to Peter that he didn't mean to kill Nathan and Peter began to believe that Adrian was truly sorry for his crimes, until he saw the body of Gregory Bestman on the floor of Vulture's hideout. Peter managed to escape and come back as Spider-Man, defeated Vulture and brought him back to May to force him to apologize. She couldn't do that, and could only say that forgiveness was between Toomes and God.
Toomes's desperation for a cure led him to team with the Chameleon, who was in the midst of a plan, concocted by Harry Osborn right before his death, to avenge Kraven's death (enough villain overlap for you?). Over the course of these invents the Vulture found himself rejuvenated, the cancer gone from his system and his youth restored. As a result Toomes updated his costume to a suit of battle-armor, complete with a host of new weapons. The "new" Vulture proven to be even more short-tempered, cruel and dangerous than the "old," as his youth depended on his ability to drain the vitality out of others.
Vulture tried committing mass murder with an experimental virus that he stole from the military. He liked being his stronger, youthful self and couldn't bear anyone remembering what a weak old man he had been. With the help of the Owl, Vulture was going to spread the virus all over New York via vultures, eagles and other birds. They were defeated by Spider-Man and Daredevil, but not before one of the birds infected Peter with the virus. Peter only survived after Doctor Octopus created an antidote.
He also fought the second Prowler, around this time. Toomes had already fought and badly hurt Hobie Brown, the original Prowler and attacked the third Prowler (Rick Lawson) thinking that it was Brown. He gutted the new Prowler, who was a hospital attendant for Brown and had stolen his costumed identity. Spidey took the injured man to the hospital, where he survived. (Sensational Spider-Man #18)
Toomes's rejuvenation didn't last long, though. During a battle with Spider-Man, he was attacked by David Kalen who somehow sucked the youth from him. Easy come, easy go. Toomes soon fought Peter after he assumed the Hornet identity. Norman Osborn had framed Spider-Man for assault and put a bounty on his head, so everyone with a gun came after the web swinger. "Hornet" had claimed on TV that New York didn't have to worry about Spider-Man any more and an enraged Vulture assumed that Hornet had claimed to have killed his foe. Vulture went after Hornet and nearly defeated him due to Toomes greater experience in flying, until Hornet crashed him into a billboard.
As bitter as ever, the Vulture joined yet another Sinister Six after the Reboot, in an attempt to kill Dr. Octopus as revenge for Octavius betraying the Six in their previous criminal efforts.
Vulture later challenged Spider-Man to a final fight, mano a mano at the site of their first fight. Spidey waits at the top of the Empire State Building through a snow storm, but wonders why Vulture is late. Its actually because Toomes was waiting for him at the Chrysler building. (Whoops. Wrong sky scraper, bug man.) Toomes finds Spider-Man and pulls an uzi on him, telling him that he lied about going mano a mano. Spidey lied too, and the Human Torch arrives, frying Vultures wings. Spidey punches Vulture in the face and he goes spiraling down into a snow bank as Spider-Man and Torch laugh.
As much as he would deny it, Vulture does have a kind side. He would consider it a weakness, but not only did he ask May for forgiveness, he also has stolen to provide for his young grandson. He didn't even know he had a grandchild until his daughter in law brought him in to Riker's Island to meet Adrian. Toomes's son was in jail for armed robbery, the boy had been diagnosed with leukemia and his mother had no way to pay for the treatments. With the aid of Electro, he stole $20 million but the money was lost in a fight with Spider-Man. Peter managed to get $5 million to the boy's mother but Vulture was far from grateful, and keeps fighting Spider-Man on a regular basis.
After Peter revealed his ID on live TV during the Superhuman Registration Act, Toomes attacked Deborah Whitman, who had written a tell all book about her past with Spider-Man. Attacking Deb drew out Peter and Toomes suffered a stroke in mid air during the battle. Afterward, Vulture claimed that he's rather die than be saved by a compassionate weakling like Spider-Man. In a rage, Peter began suffocating Toomes in his hospital bed with a pillow. He stopped after Toomes struggled. Peter told him that for a man who said he wanted to die, he definitely fought to live.
Saving his grandson's life has not changed anything for Toomes. He went through a forced transformation after Stegron brought a crystal from the arctic, bringing out the inner animal of everyone in New York. Like a real vulture, Toomes began murdering and eating the corpses of random people. Lately, he was kidnapped by a former Sinister Six member: Alyosha Kravinoff. Alyosha was hunting animal themed super villains and was stopped by the Punisher.
When a new, mutated Vulture came on the scene, Spidey paid a visit to his old friend in prison. While Adrian had only heard rumors, he gave Spider-Man a clue that the red costumed Vulture was a former mafia hitman forced to undergo experiments to be deadlier. A while later, a free Toomes was using teenage delinquents as surrogate Vultures. He didn't trust them to give him his share of the loot that they stole, so he kept track of their weight before and after a heist. He knew down to the ounce how much each teen was to steal and if they were so much as two coins over the limit, he would turn off their magnetized wings in mid-air. This had happened several times, and the apparent teen suicides drew the attention of Spider-Man and Carlie Cooper. Spidey suspected that Toomes was behind the deaths when one of the dead criminal's body piercings was found to be magnetized. Further evidence led Peter and Carlie to a club called the Wake. (A Wake is a flock of vultures.) The teens were captured and Toomes escaped after he tossed a water tower at Carlie.
Adrian didn't fare as well when he next faced Spider-Man (Octavius). He was using children to steal back jewelry from The Wake. His electromagnetic signature used by his flying device was used by Spider-Man to track him back to his hideout. Children were easy to use as henchmen, as all they asked for were game tokens and pizza. Spider-Man became enraged when he learned that kids were being used, as it reminded him of his childhood abuse at the hands of his father. Toomes fled in the face of the strangely furious Spider-Man but was beaten after being blinded by and crashing into the spider-signal used by mayor Jameson, badly cutting and burning Toomes in the process. (Superior Spider-Man #3)
The Vulture was blinded after the battle and was incarcerated at The Raft in a medical ward with the Scorpion and Boomerang, both of whom had also been badly injured by the new webhead. At the same time, Alistaire Smythe was about to be executed and Spider-Man was there to make sure he didn't escape. Smythe did try to avoid his fate with tiny robots. Spider-Man had expected this and had his own tiny robots at the ready. As Spider-Man attempted to apprehend the escaping mad scientist, Alistaire's robots arrived at the medical ward and cured Toomes of his blindness, as well as freeing Scorpion and Boomerang. In return, they were tasked to kill the wall crawler. (Superior Spider-Man #11)
Toomes and the others soon began to over power the wall crawler, until Smythe gave them new orders to attack Jonah Jameson and the other hostages (Norah Winters, Glory Grant, the head of security of The Raft, Smythe's lawyer and a priest) which Toomes set out to do while Scorpion went after Jameson and Boomerang stayed with Spider-Man. (Superior Spider-Man #12) Arriving at the hostage site, Vulture found a weakness in the force field they were protected by and began to power it down when the people inside began to offer deals with him. Grant claimed she could spin the story so he was the hero of the ordeal. One of the D.A.s promised leniency and Smythe's lawyer said he could say that Smythe's technology made Toomes act against his will. He considered all of the offers but was soon powerless after Spider-Man killed Smythe, making all his upgrades to the other criminals power down. Toomes was shot for good measure by The Raft's head of security. (Superior Spider-Man #13)
Vulture was soon in the custody of Spider-Man, who implanted a mind control chip and forced him to join his Superior Six. The new Six were forced to act as heroic vigilantes under Spider-Man's control. Their first mission was to protect Alchemax, the new corporation of Liz Allan, which was under attack from The Wrecking Crew.
|Oct 1999||App: Guts & Glory|
|May 1963||1st: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #2|
|First encountered Spider-Man during jewelry heist|
|Dec 1963||App: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #7|
|Modified harness, attemped to rob the Daily Bugle payroll|
|Year 1964||App: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #1|
|Joined original Sinister Six|
|Jan 1996||App: Untold Tales of Spider-Man #5|
Here is the Full Appearance List (86 Apps) for Vulture I (Adrian Toomes).
The assistance of the Marvel Chronology Project is gratefully acknowledged.
Some of the above information is extracted from the various versions of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe and the more recent Marvel Encyclopaedias.