Vulture (comics)

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).

Character biography

Adrian Toomes was born in California 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 as the Vulture.

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.

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.

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.

Civil War

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."

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 .

Other Vultures

Blackie Drago

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.

Clifton Shallot

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. 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 and her roommate. Mary Jane witnessed him killing them 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. Clifton Shallot is presumably still serving his sentence for the murders.


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.

Powers and abilities

Utilizing his harness, the Vulture is able to fly with a natural winged flight limit. The harness increases his physical strength to the point that he can survive blows from Spider-Man's enhanced strength despite his age. When he removes the harness his enhanced abilities slowly fade, although the rate at which this transpires remains unclear (some writers, such as John Byrne, have suggested that his strength is permanent).

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.

Alternate versions


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.


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.

House of M

Marvel Zombies

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 destroyed by the Silver Surfer.

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 Vulture

The Ultimate 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. 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.

Ultimate Adrian Toomes made his first appearance in issue #125 as an employee of Bolivar Trask.

Other Media


Spider-Man (1967)

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.

Spider-Man (1981)

The Vulture later appeared in the 1981 Spider-Man animated series episode "The Vulture Has Landed" voiced by Don Messick.

Spider-Man: The Animated Series

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.

Spider-Man Unlimited

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.

The Spectacular Spider-Man

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.


  • Vulture was originally supposed to be in the Spider-Man 3 movie alongside the Sandman, and a single sketch can be seen in The Art of Spider-Man 3, featuring a Vulture whose wings were mounted on his back, rather than attached to his arms. Originally, Vulture and Flint Marko would have been cellmates who escaped together, with Vulture pressuring the more passive Marko into committing crimes (a role partially played by Venom in the film). Actor Sir Ben Kingsley was confirmed to be the second villain in Spider-Man 3 before Venom was chosen to be the second villain. Sam Raimi has also expressed interest on introducing Vulture in a future film. He said he planned on introducing Vulture and Electro to set up the Sinister Six.

Video games

  • The Vulture appears in the Sega CD adaptation of The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin.
  • The Vulture appears in Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six.
  • The Vulture appears in the SNES Spider-Man game based on the animated series.
  • In the video game adaptation of Spider-Man: The Movie, the Vulture (voiced by Dwight Schultz) is working with Shocker to rob a jewelry store. Having defeated Shocker, the player is directed to a clock tower in the lower east side of New York, where they must pass various bombs and traps to catch Vulture, followed by a chase through the streets of New York before confronting him by the Chrysler Building, where the player must force the Vulture to land to attack him.
  • The Vulture appears as a boss in the Nintendo DS adaptation of Spider-Man 2, based on the film of the same name. Vulture's feathers can be seen on the Chrysler Building in a reference to the first game. The Vulture also makes a cameo in the PlayStation 2 adaptation of Spider-Man 2 as one of the many villain assistants for Quentin Beck in his scheme to humiliate Spider-Man. Vulture also appears in the PSP version of Spider-Man 2. Rhino has broken him, Mysterio, and Shocker out of prison. Vulture then plants bombs around the city. After Spider-Man shuts them down, Vulture flees with Spider-Man in pursuit. Spider-Man defeats him at a construction site, where a webbed up Vulture tells Spider-Man that he was kicked out of a job with Rhino and Shocker at the docks. Spider-Man then leaves Vulture for the police to take care of.
  • Adrian Toomes appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man game for the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox voiced by Brian George. However, he does not appear as The Vulture. Here, he is a researcher for Trask Industries who used to work with Peter Parker and Eddie Brock's fathers. He injects the micro-samples of the Venom symbiote in Peter Parker as he makes a reference on how he knew Peter's father. When Peter Parker is turned into Carnage, Adrian Toomes ends up knocked out.
  • Vulture appears as a primary character in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. In this game, his wings are sword-like blades that attach to his suit through magnetic means and be used to attack when launched.

Toys and collectibles

  • The Vulture was thrice made in action figure form by Toy Biz, first (in his young form) as part of line based on Spider-Man: The Animated Series, then later (as his older self) in the regular Spider-Man line and again as part of the Marvel Legends line.
  • The Vulture was made in mini-bust form as part of Art Asylum's Rogues Gallery collection.
  • A statue of him comprises one seventh of Diamond Select's "Sinister Six" collection.


External links

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