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, though this wore off after exposure to the corpse of an elemental superhuman. 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.
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.
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.
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, 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 lept 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, he 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. Spidey successfully ripped the burning pack off of Toomes, and the two crash landed in a muddy ditch.
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.
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.
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.
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).
During a brief time working for the Owl, he failed in a mission and was severely beaten as punishment. He subsequently revealed himself as a member of Norman Osborn's Sinister Twelve - though he wore a helmet, presumably to mask the wounds.
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 ganglord.
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."
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.
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."
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 Amazing Spider-Man #48, "Blackie" Drago, was a prison cellmate of Toomes' who tricked Toomes and stole the Vulture harness and costume which was recently rebuilt. He used the suit to make money through air piracy which ended up in a three-way battle against Spider-Man and Kraven the Hunter - Kraven resented Drago's claims that he'd recently killed Spider-Man when in fact Spidey had merely collapsed due to a cold - which Spider-Man won. He later teamed up with Toomes when escaping from prison, but that was merely so that Toomes could prove himself the true Vulture once again. Once free, he was subsequently defeated and humiliated by Toomes whom regained the recognition he deserved. A humbled Blackie was taken away by the police, vowing "I'm through!! I'll never put these wings on again!" He was recently seen in the same prison that Norman Osborn was incarcerated in during the "Sinister Twelve" storyline. In the timeline of MC2, Blackie is revealed to have had a daughter named Brenda Drago, the Raptor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ultimate Adrian Toomes made his first appearance in issue #125 as an employee of Bolivar Trask.
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, 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.
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.