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225px Specv Vermin
Cover to The Spectacular Spider-Man #132
Mike Zeck, artist
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Captain America #272 (Aug 1982)
Created by J. M. DeMatteis
Mike Zeck
In-story information
Alter ego Edward Whelan
  • Superhuman strength, speed, and senses
  • Ability to control rats and stray dogs

Vermin is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe. The character’s first appearance was in Captain America #272 (August 1982).


  • 1 Fictional character biography
    • 1.1 The Vault
    • 1.2 Civil War
    • 1.3 Brand New Day
  • 2 Powers and abilities
    • 2.1 Special skills
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links

[edit] Fictional character biography

Edward Whelan was a geneticist working for Baron Zemo and Primus I (who was impersonating Arnim Zola). In an experiment with the Primus/Arnim Zola imposter, his skin became a light pinkish fur color and he ended up resembling a cannibalistic, humanoid rat. Vermin was defeated by Captain America and turned over to S.H.I.E.L.D..[1] He escaped S.H.I.E.L.D., however, and returned to the service of Zola and Zemo. Vermin was shackled by Zemo with Captain America in a dungeon; he battled mutates, escaped, and wounded Zemo.[2]

Vermin later battled Captain America and Spider-Man at a street festival and was captured.[3] Some time later, Vermin kidnapped women off the streets into the sewers, murdered and devoured them. He was defeated and captured by an insane Kraven the Hunter disguised as Spider-Man. He was forced by Kraven to battle the real Spider-Man, then allowed to escape; he was finally captured and turned over to the police by Spider-Man.[4] Vermin eventually escaped the asylum, and attacked his parents at their home in Scarsdale. He was captured by Spider-Man and returned to psychiatric care. Vermin gained the ability to temporarily revert to his human form.[5]

Vermin is not a typical villain in that he is usually a pawn controlled by another. He has the intellect of a child, and would probably never be a threat to anyone if not for the ease with which he is manipulated. He has often turned on the villains who have attempted to use him as a weapon against Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine, as when he injured Zemo or when he turned on Bloodscream in the sewers beneath New York. Once Mephisto used him in a brutal attack on Nightcrawler.[6]

At certain points, he is returned to his original human form, only to be kidnapped and reverted back into his present state. Despite a name that approximates nuisance, Vermin has caused serious problems for Spider-Man and Captain America, and is not easily beaten.

[edit] The Vault

During the breakout from the supervillain prison the Vault, detailed in “Venom Deathtrap: The Vault”, Vermin assists Venom in hunting down Warden Marsh. Under Venom’s orders, Vermin later teams with Powderkeg and Mentallo; they temporarily defeat Iron Man and Hank Pym. Mentallo’s powers are used to neutralize the break out.[volume & issue needed]

The “Child Within” storyline reveals that Whelan suffered severe physical and psychological abuse as a child. Vermin is a cannibal, and is arachnophobic.[volume & issue needed]

Eventually, under psychiatric care, Whelan rids himself of the Vermin persona. This is made possible only when Spider-Man stops him from beating Baron Zemo to death; Whelan letting go of his hate allows Vermin to truly “die.”[volume & issue needed]

The recovery doesn’t last long and Whelan fully gives into his Vermin state once again. This is confirmed when he teams up with Bloodscream when they fight Wolverine together.[volume & issue needed]

Vermin was later incarcerated in New York’s experimental “Ant-Hill” prison, where all prisoners were reduced in size thanks to Hank Pym’s Pym particles. An escape attempt was thwarted by She-Hulk.[volume & issue needed]

[edit] Civil War

During the Civil War storyline, Vermin is among the villains given a choice between jail or assisting the Thunderbolts.[volume & issue needed]

Vermin appears among the villains recruited to join the Hood’s crime syndicate. He helps them fight the New Avengers, but is taken down by Doctor Strange.[volume & issue needed] He joins with the Hood’s gang in an attack on the New Avengers, who were expecting the Dark Avengers instead.[7]

[edit] Brand New Day

Vermin returns in the Amazing Spider-Man storyline “Kraven’s First Hunt”. He attacks the new Kraven the Hunter for intruding on his tunnels, and is beaten by her very badly. He escapes outside, and runs into Spider-Man, who is wearing a Daredevil costume. Not recognizing his old foe, Vermin attacks, overwhelming him, and taking a bite out of his shoulder.[8] Up close, Vermin is able to identify Spider-Man’s scent. Appealing to the last shred of humanity within Vermin, Spider-Man convinces him to reveal where Kraven is. Vermin later attacks Kraven again, but is defeated and captured by her. [9]

In Secret Invasion, he is among the many supervillains who rejoins the Hood’s crime syndicate.[volume & issue needed] Vermin, the Syndicate and an army of heroes attack and defeat an invading Skrull force in Central Park.[10]

[edit] Powers and abilities

Vermin’s strength was enhanced by the experimental mutagenic process designed by Arnim Zola, and forced upon him. His agility, reflexes, and durability are roughly equivalent to the absolute peak attainable for the human body but, unlike his strength and speed, they do not reach superhuman levels. He has extremely acute senses, particularly his sense of smell. Vermin has inch-long claw-like fingernails, razor-sharp pointed teeth, and fur covering most of his body, giving him the appearance of a humanoid rat. Eventually, Vermin gained the ability to revert to human form at will.

Vermin has the ability to control rats and stray dogs within a two mile (3 km) radius of his person. It has not been clearly explained how he does this but some writers have implied it might be hyper-sonic communication.

Though Vermin has no formal martial arts training, he utilizes bestial ferocity, animal cunning, and instincts which make him a very formidable hand-to-hand combatant. He once bested Spider-Man in a physical struggle, but Kraven the Hunter prevented Vermin from killing Spider-Man.

[edit] Special skills

Before being altered by Zola, Whelan was an accomplished geneticist. As Vermin, his intellect is reduced to a child-like (yet cunning) level and he suffers from paranoid delusions.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Captain America #272
  2. ^ Captain America #275-278
  3. ^ Marvel Team-Up #128
  4. ^ Web of Spider-Man #31-32; Amazing Spider-Man #293-294; Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132
  5. ^ Spectacular Spider-Man #178-184
  6. ^ Nightcrawler vol. 3 #7-8, 12
  7. ^ New Avengers #50
  8. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #566
  9. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #567
  10. ^ New Avengers #46

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