Welcome back to another episode of the Neogenic Nightmare sage, true believers! We open the episode on the most exciting of all possible scenarios: a corporate board meeting. Norman Osborne, CEO of Oscorp, is apparently also on the board of Toomes Aerodynamic. He’s called this meeting to make the claim that Toomes CEO Adrian Toomes has officially become a senile old coot and should be voted out of power. He also throws in that they should vote to sell the company to Oscorp and let him run everything, naturally. Osborne tells the board that Toomes is wasting money on stupid things like de-aging & anti-gravity technology, which are just pipe dreams. What nobody knows is that Toomes has seemingly already perfected these technologies and has developed a three step plan to put them to use:
- Put on a green winged suit.
Toomes, who is lookin’ pretty jacked for a feeble old man, suits up as the Vulture and flies out of his penthouse suite. He happens upon a young kid rollerblading through the park at night and attacks him. It turns out that the de-aging technology Toomes has put together requires siphoning off someone else’s youth and transferring it to him. Kinda makes me wonder what it would be like if his anti-gravity device worked by transferring his gravity to something else. Anyhoo, Vulture sucks the youth out of this kid (get your mind out of the gutter) and becomes a strapping, young, 90’s haired version of himself. However, in the chill of night, at the scene of a crime, like a streak of light, Spider-Man arrives, just in time! It doesn’t go well for the Wall Crawler, though, as Vulture quickly gets the better of him but suddenly flies off when he realizes that the effects of his age reversing tech are only temporary. As Vulture goes back to his own age, so does the victim he drained.
As the rapidly aging Vulture flies off into the night much faster than our hero can give chase, Spidey decides that the fight will have to wait for another day. Peter Parker has a fancy dress party to get to! The Toomes Foundation (definitely relation) is giving out its annual grant for scientific achievement and ESU, particularly Dr. Curt Connors’ neogenics research, is up for the prize. Connors wins and names Deb Whitman as his research assistant, which is the spot that Peter Parker and Michael Morbius were also competing for. You may remember it causing the whole “living vampire” debacle from earlier this season. While Peter is happy for Deb, he’s bummed out that his web slinging responsibilities have cost him yet another opportunity in his personal life. Deb, on the other hand, is upset that Flash Thompson (whom she currently has a crush on) is completely oblivious to her attention and paying more attention to Felicia Hardy than her.
Meanwhile, Vulture has sucked the life out of a fully grown man this time (I thought I told you to get your mind out of the gutter) in the hopes that it will make his youthful transformation last longer. He quickly goes after Norman Osborne, the man trying to steal his company from him. He reveals his plan pretty quickly and it’s pretty much to just straight up kill Osborne by dropping him from a high place. Spidey saves the day again, swooping in to save Norman at the last second. Osborne is not yet the Green Goblin in this universe, but even if he was Spidey still wouldn’t just stand back and let him die. He’s a cool dude like that. Vulture suddenly starts aging again, so he freaks out and tries to fly away without anyone seeing his true face. Again, he’s too fast for Spidey to catch but Peter does have his camera on him, so he manages to snap a quick picture of Vulture flying off into the night. Peter enhances the photo and runs it through some facial recognition technology to discover the Vulture’s true identity, which you already know if you’ve read this far.
This makes Peter understandably worried about his friends & colleagues working at the fancy new lab that Toomes’ company has set up for them. He pays a visit to the new lab where he finds Deb Whitman working and Flash Thompson just kinda hangin’ around. Toomes, de-aged and calling himself Arthur Avis, shows up to creep on Deb and tells Peter & Flash that they need to get out. Flash tries to tell him off, but Deb shoves Peter & Flash out of the lab so that she can get some work done. As they walk away, Peter tells Flash that he thinks Deb has the hots for him. Flash says “What would somebody as brain pumped as Debra Whitman ever see in a jock like me?” to which Peter responds “Hey, she definitely likes you, pal, so she can’t be that smart.”
Later that night, Dr. Connors pays a visit to Toomes’ office. Toomes surprises him by placing a neural neutralizer on him, keeping him paralyzed so that Connors won’t run off after Vulture sucks the youth out of him (why is your mind still in the gutter?). Toomes needs Dr. Connors to stick around so that he can work on the neogenic technology that might permanently de-age him. As Connors is paralyzed, our villain monologues about how his current de-aging technology is based on the Tablet of Time, whoch you might remember Toomes bought from Hammerhead at the end of the last episode. He also reveals that the next step in his plan is to go after Osborne’s son, Harry.
Harry’s whereabouts, or harrybouts if you will, are watching his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson perform in a production of the play Faust. Peter Parker is also there because MJ has asked him to meet her backstage because she says she has something she needs to tell him. She just got a letter from her father, who she hasn’t seen since she was a kid, asking for her to come see him. She wants Peter to go with her because he, having lost both of his parents, can kinda relate to what she’s going through. Peter asks what Harry thinks about this and Mary Jane scratches her head and says “Well, Harry and I are kind of…” but can’t finish the thought before getting called away to start the show. Vulture shows up and tries to kidnap Harry during the performance but Spidey saves the day once again. Mary Jane rushes to Harry’s side after the ordeal, so any hopes Pete might have had that the relationship might be on the rocks are…well, on the rocks.
Back at the Toomes lab, Deb Whitman gets attacked and youth drained by the Vulture. Thankfully, this happens while she’s leaving a voicemail for Peter Parker, so Spidey is quickly on the case to figure out why she suddenly started screaming in the middle of the call. He finds Flash Thompson there, looking to surprise Deb with some flowers. He tells Flash to go home because things are too dangerous, but of course he doesn’t listen. Spidey goes off and finds Dr. Connors, freeing him from the neural neutralizer. Vulture shows up and starts a fight with Spider-Man, eventually trapping him in a room with a laser cannon whose shots ricochet all over the walls but Spidey destroys the cannon with the power of geometry. Flash is the first to find the advanced aged Deb Whitman, who tells her that he cares about her even if she is old and grey. Thankfully, they soon find out that the effects are only temporary.
Vulture, now old, shows up and tries to explain to Spider-Man that he’s only fighting for his own survival while also trying to kill him. Spidey manages to catch the older, slower, more feeble Toomes this time but the villain activates a self destruct sequence for the lab that will kill everybody in sixty seconds unless they all get the hell out of there. Spidey actually lets him go, but Vulture tags him with a neural neutralizer, leaving him paralyzed and unable to escape. Lucky for him, Flash Thompson stuck around when he was told to leave and saves Spidey’s bacon.
The building blows up but everybody made it out safe thanks to the teamwork of Spider-Man and good ol’ Flash. Spidey heads off to chase down Vulture, but gets sneak attacked and gets his youth sucked out. Vulture figures this is the perfect opportunity to take off Spidey’s mask and find out who he really is, but this is actually a terrible time for that. Adrian Toomes doesn’t know who Peter Parker is at all, so what good does it do to see Peter Parker’s face when it’s all old & wrinkly?
How does our hero get out of this jam? Tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion!