Shows : Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 4

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Show Must Go On...

This review was first published on: Mar 2010.

Background...

The Vulture is a long-running Spider-Man enemy, debuting in Amazing Spider-Man #2.

For reasons that are not quite clear, they didn't want to show the classic, elderly Adrian Toomes version of the Vulture. Perhaps the censors at the time were concerned that the kids watching would think their grandparents are much more nimble than they act and attack them with cardboard tubes obtained from paper towel rolls. Or maybe that was just me.

At any rate, they chose to model their Vulture after Blackie Drago, who debuted as the second Vulture in Amazing Spider-Man #48.

In Detail...

"The Sky is Falling"
Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 4 (Story 1)
Sep 1967 : SM Title
Summary: First Aired Sep 30th 1967
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At the Daily Bugle, Jameson is lecturing Peter on the evils of money [Ironic, isn't it?]. Suddenly a flock of birds appears out of the blue [The close-ups reveal that they're turkey buzzards. I guess turkeys can fly.] Moments later the Vulture descends from the flock and to announce he is now master of the skies. When Jonah turns to order Peter to take pictures, he's already gone.

Peter changes to Spider-Man to confront his enemy. When he reaches the roof of the Daily Bugle, he wonders aloud how the Vulture is able to control the birds. The Vulture arrives and explains in one breath that embedded in his cowl is a "sonic device [in which] all flying things are hypnotized into doing [his] bidding". [Wow, thank you, anime-like exposition. Where would we be without you? Probably just as confused.] The Vulture quickly defeats the unprepared super-hero and flies away toward city hall to make demands.

When Peter returns to the Daily Bugle, Jonah's on the phone with the mayor. The Vulture has demanded that the city pay him a two million dollar ransom. This story has already made it's way into the next edition [Wait, how is that possible? Did they invent digital publishing when we weren't looking?] Jonah is convinced that Spider-Man is in league with the Vulture despite the lack of any evidence. The mayor eventually rejects the Vulture's ransom demands.

When the Vulture hears of this he decides to make them pay for not taking him seriously. He then attacks a construction site, scaring away the workers. Spider-Man appears and once again takes on his feathered foe, but again is unable to stop him. Their battle wrecks the skyscraper-in-progress.

Peter returns to the Daily Bugle with pictures of the fight. He once again tries to convince Jonah that Spider-Man is not working with the Vulture. Once again it falls on deaf ears. Betty enters the office and tells her boss that the window washers refuse to clean the windows for fear of the Vulture. Jonah is furious because they won't do their jobs [You *could* give them hazard pay, ya cheapskate.] Peter has an idea to use this situation to his advantage.

Posing as a window washer, Spider-Man bides his time cleaning the outside windows of the Daily Bugle [For his most vocal critic, isn't that nice of him?] The Vulture eventually takes notice and decides to make an example out of the lone window washer. He is surprised to find that it's Spider-Man and quickly engage in an aerial battle which results in another Vulture victory.

Peter returns to the Daily Bugle [Looking either exhausted or stoned, I'm not sure which] in time to hear Jameson's announcement. The mayor has agreed to pay the two million dollar ransom. "To Spider-Man," Jonah ad-libs. The catch is that it's to be paid in two one-million dollar bills [Didn't we go through a similar payment deal with Mysterio already?] Peter just stares at his boss in complete disbelief. Jonah continues by stating a courier has been sent to the observation tower of the Empire State Building to deliver the ransom. He tells Peter to go there and photograph the exchange.

Once the exchange is made, Spider-Man challenges the Vulture for a third time. He allows the Vulture to gain the upper hand, hoping that he'll try to throw him off the building. Just as Spider-Man planned, he does. Before he is cast off the top, he plants a device that will scramble Vulture's control device. As he is thrown, he grabs the two bills and lands safely on the ledge below. He antagonizes the Vulture until he uses his hypnotic bird helmet [I can't believe I had to write that.] which cause his minions to attack him. Spider-Man watches from below and makes bird jokes until the Vulture flies away in defeat.

He later returns the ransom [Both bills] to Jameson's office with instructions to return it to the mayor.

In General...

Quite frankly, the fact they used old-school radio knobs on the Vulture's cowl to "adjust" the device was hilarious. I'm not quite sure how you can make adjustments to something without looking at it. Especially something that would require precision like avian mind control.

Once again we are shown some of the questionable choices made by the production company. A two million dollar ransom to be paid in 2 bills. I guess this is easier than drawing a briefcase, but it really doesn't make any sense as two bills are very easy to lose. One could make the aerodynamics argument, but I dismiss that as the Vulture is strong enough to compensate for the additional weight.

Overall Rating...

3 webs. Having a bird army for the Vulture is a little weird given that Toomes was an engineer and Drago was pretty much just a thug. Neither one would have the know how to do this, but we have to assume that this Vulture does.

Ignoring that facet, this episode wasn't too outlandish and had a few funny moments. Despite a few quirks, it held together very well.

Footnote...

Just because I want to try this: here are captions for each of the screen captures:

  1. I challenge you to an arm wrestling contest!
  2. C'mon, Webhead, its time for Circe de Soleil practice!
  3. Mr. Jameson, why are there Oompa Loompas playing touch football in your office?
  4. Time out, Spider-Man! 105.9 is playing my favorite Nickelback song.
  5. "Light as a feather, stiff as a board. Light as a feather, stiff as a board."