Real Name: Ottokar Meltzer
Identity/Class: Human (German) mutate (World War II)
Occupation: Criminal, terrorist, Axis agent
Group Membership: None
Enemies: Allen, Benson, Cannon, Captain America (Steve Rogers), Bucky (James Buchanan Barnes)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Ricardo Bellski (see comments)
Base of Operations: His roost
First Appearance: All-Select Comics I#1/1 (Fall 1943)
Powers/Abilities: Skilled in chemistry, the Vulture developed a serum which endowed him with enhanced strength (see comments) and the ability to fly; the nature of his flight power is unknown--perhaps it was by psionic levitation. He wore a mask (see comments) and a winged costume (see comments), the aerodynamic properties of which presumably assisted him in steering his flight. He also carried a handgun and a whip.
The Vulture carried his flight serum in a syringe attached to a chain around his neck. The flight serum was apparently harmless with the initial injection, but it had the cumulative effect of creating a physical dependency upon an individual and thereafter required regularly scheduled inoculations every twelve hours to renew the flight power; failure to receive continued injections would result in the death of the individual.
The Vulture recruited and costumed the Batmen, a gang of underlings to whom he administered the same drug and similarly empowered them. He had the Batmen carry out his attacks on America while he masterminded their missions.
Height: 5' 8" (by
Weight: 150 lbs. (by approximation)
(All-Select Comics I#1/1 (fb) - BTS) - The past of the Vulture is unknown, but he developed a drug that gave him paranormal abilities. He organized the Batmen, a group of underlings he similarly empowered with his addictive drug. As an agent for the Axis powers, the Vulture had the Batmen carry out a campaign of robbery, kidnapping, murder, and sabotage against America.
(All-Select Comics I#1/1) - The Vulture had his Batmen drop threatening leaflets from the sky, warning America to surrender to the Axis forces--so bold was the Vulture that he even mentioned by name which government officials would be his targets for kidnapping. Captain America and Bucky found one of the leaflets and tried to prevent the Vulture from carrying out his threats, but the Batmen succeeded in first kidnapping Mayor Allen, and then Bank Superintendent Benson. Cap went to protect the next victim, General Cannon, but he was taken by surprise and knocked out from behind by one of the Batmen. While Cap was recuperating in a hospital, the Vulture's Batmen continued their reign of terror, destroying four bridges, derailing six trains, and destroying a munitions plant. Determined to stop the carnage, Cap left the hospital, and he and Bucky went on stake-out on the roof of Police Commissioner Varner's apartment.
When one of the Batmen landed on the rooftop and attempted to kidnap Varner, he was captured by Captain America; Cap tried to question the Batman, but discovered the flying felon's tongue had been cut out. With the assistance of a police officer, Cap and Bucky put the Batman into a police car and had him point in the general direction of where to find the Vulture, but as they drove along the way, the Batman suddenly died. Captain America dismissed the police officer so he could drive the Batman's body back and have it autopsied, while Cap and Bucky continued down the road on foot. The two came upon an isolated and abandoned house and heard a scream coming from within, and they ran inside to find the Vulture about to torture one of his hostages. The Vulture ordered his horde of Batmen to attack Captain America, who was soon overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. After Cap and Bucky were captured and tightly bound, the Vulture and his men carry the two heroes back to their mountain roost.
In the cave hideout, Cap and Bucky saw the other two hostages chained to the cavern wall. The Vulture promised Cap that he would spare his life and offered him wealth and power if he agreed to join forces with him. But before he would give an answer, Cap asked the villain how he and his Batmen flew--the Vulture told Cap about his discovery of his serum, and explained how he held the Batmen in slavery because they would die unless he continued inoculating them with his flying serum. At that point, Cap gave the Vulture his promised answer--a punch to the evil-doer's jaw! Enraged, the Vulture ordered his underlings to imprison Captain America and Bucky in a cage suspended in space over the mountain side.
But although escape from the hanging cage seemed impossible, Cap reached through the bars and seized a Batman who was flying on routine patrol around the roost. Placing the guard in a choke-hold, Cap forced him to unlock the cage. After he rendered the Batman unconscious, Cap "borrowed" his wings and attached them to his own arms; with Bucky holding on to him piggy-back, Captain America was able to use the wings to glide back to the cave entrance of the roost. As Cap directly confronted the Vulture, the silent Batmen were paralyzed with fear when they saw their master go down under Cap's mighty blow--meanwhile, Bucky took care of freeing the two hostages. The Vulture pulled out his handgun and fired a shot at Cap, who easily deflected the bullet with his shield before delivering the final punch that knocked the Vulture unconscious. Bucky noticed a syringe hanging around the Vulture's neck and figured it to be the flying serum. Realizing they had no other means of escape from the mountain lair, Cap took a gamble and injected himself, Bucky, and the two hostages with the serum so they could all fly to safety. After confirming that the injections worked and the four of them were able to fly, Captain America smashed the syringe--with the fluid destroyed, the Vulture and his Batmen would not be able to follow them, and in a few hours, the villains would all be dead (Cap: "And that's as it should be, because they are too evil to live!").
As the four descended through the air from the Vulture's roost, Bucky enjoyed his brief flight, and wished his friend Toro (Thomas Raymond) could see him soar; but Cap told him they better keep quiet about the experience, because nobody would ever believe them.
Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Don Rico (artist)
Vulture's real name was revealed in Marvel Atlas#1's profile on
Germany. He was later identified as Ricardo Bellski in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A TO Z SC#2 (2011)
My two cents! It was definitely an accident to give him two civilian names, but it could be explained like this. Bellski was a falase identity he used to infiltrate the US while Meltzer was his real name.
Unless he was smart enough to keep an emergency supply of his flight serum hidden in his roost, I guess we can assume that the Vulture and his Batmen died, which is no big loss, considering there are an overabundance of Vultures in the Marvel Universe (and there's another slightly more famous guy using that other sobriquet over in a Different Continuum) (see Clarifications below).
Although the main image from the story's splash-page depicts the Vulture with skeletal bat-like wings, he actually had bird-like wings covered with feathers (as seen in a lower image).
I guess it's possible that the Vulture actually underwent a physical transformation into a green-skinned winged creature with talons, but I would argue that his serum only granted the power to fly for the following reasons:
1. The two flashback panels of the Vulture's recollection of his origin (one seen above) depicted him with green skin, pointed ears, and a large beak-like nose even before he injected himself with the serum, so I'm going to write that off to artistic license and assume he wore a mask; and I'm also assuming that his wings (which he didn't have when he first flew) and talons were also artificial.
2. The Vulture and the Batmen used the same serum, yet his underlings have a different appearance--it seems logical they would have been changed into Vulturemen as well--so the Batmen were probably also wearing masks and costumes, because Captain America was easily able to "borrow" the wings from one of them.
3. Captain America, Bucky, and the two hostages didn't undergo any weird physical transformations after they were injected with the serum.--presumably, their flying powers faded away at some point, and since they didn't receive any further injections, they never suffered the fatal addiction to the serum.
The identities of the three hostages--Allen, Benson, and Cannon--wasn't clear, so it is unknown exactly who the two flying hostages were, and who was the third hostage being tortured in the abandoned house (presumably, he was freed later).
The Vulture claimed his serum could "give one man the strength of twenty," but he didn't seem to be much of a physical challenge to Captain America, who only has peak human-level strength, so his claim was probably just hyperbole.
Maybe the Vulture's flight serum was later perfected and the fatal effects were eliminated, and it was eventually used by the Owl.
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
The Vulture has no known connections to:
The Batmen have no known connections to:
The underlings of the Vulture, they had numbered perhaps fourteen. The Vulture surgically removed their tongues so they couldn't divulge his secrets if they were captured, and he held them in his power because of their dependency on receiving regular injections of his flight serum every twelve hours--one of the Batmen was captured by Captain America, and thus died when he failed to return in time for his next scheduled injection.
The Batmen wore bat-like glider wings to assist their flight--Captain America captured one of the Batmen and removed his wings so that he and Bucky could escape from a suspended cage.
The Batmen assisted the Vulture in his attacks on America on behalf of the Axis powers. Presumably, they all died along with their master after Captain America destroyed the Vulture's flight serum.
--All-Select Comics I#1/1
The hideout of the Vulture and his Batmen, it was where they stored their plundered treasures and imprisoned their hostages. Located in a large cave halfway up the slippery sheer cliff-side rock of Mount Eyrie, it was inaccessible to conventional climbing.
--All-Select Comics I#1/1
images: (without ads)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p1, pan1 (main image, Vulture swooping down to grab Bucky as Captain America punches him, full moon and Batmen in background)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p8, pan1 (headshot, Vulture)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p10, pan3 (origin flashback--Vulture flies for the first time; no wings)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p12, pan1 (Vulture being punched by Captain America)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p12, pan 3 (Batmen's faces)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p10, pan4 (Vulture (center) using whip on two Batmen)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p11, pan 3 (Captain America removing wings from unconscious Batman)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p9, pan1 (Vulture and Batmen flying to roost)
All-Select Comics I#1/1, p9, pan6 (Vulture's roost; Vulture ranting to Captain America that escape is impossible)
All-Select Comics I#1/1 (Fall 1943) - Unidentified writer, Don Rico (penciler), Al Bellman (inks), Vince Fago (editor)
Last updated: 06/02/16
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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