||This comics-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|First appearance||Captain America #272 (Aug 1982)|
|Created by||J. M. DeMatteis
|Alter ego||Edward Whelan|
|Team affiliations||Baron Zemo, Armin Zola|
|This section requires expansion. (December 2012)|
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.. 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.
Vermin later battled Captain America and Spider-Man at a street festival and was captured. 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; Kraven sought to prove himself superior to Spider-Man by defeating Vermin alone when Spider-Man needed Captain America to help him. 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. 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.
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.
At certain points, he is returned to his original human form, only to be kidnapped and reverted to 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.
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.
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."
The recovery doesn't last long and Whelan is next seen fully reverted to his Vermin state once again when he teams up with Bloodscream to fight Wolverine.
Vermin in next seen in the opening story arc of New Avengers, during the breakout of the Raft orchestrated by Electro. He attacks Spider-Man after Count Nefaria knocks him into a hole with the other escaping villains. He was later seen fighting Captain America.
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.
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. In Secret Invasion, he is among the many supervillains who rejoins the Hood's crime syndicate. Vermin, the Syndicate and an army of heroes attack and defeat an invading Skrull force in Central Park. He joins with the Hood's gang in an attack on the New Avengers, who were expecting the Dark Avengers instead.
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. 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.
During the Origin of the Species storyline, Vermin is among the supervillains assembled by Doctor Octopus to secure specific items for him in exchange for a reward.
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.
Before being altered by Zola, Whelan was an accomplished geneticist. As Vermin, his intellect is reduced to a childlike (yet cunning) level and he suffers from paranoid delusions.
In other media
- Vermin appears in The Amazing Spider-Man video game (based on the 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man film reboot) with its vocal effects provided by Steven Blum. This version is an ordinary rat who was injected with human DNA by Edward Whelan, headed up by Alistair Smythe (who used the notes of Dr. Curt Connors). The lab rat mutated overnight and bit Whelan, who then developed rat-like symptoms, before retreating to the sewers. When the cross-species go berserk because of sensing Peter Parker's Spider DNA, Vermin escapes from its Oscorp chambers before biting Gwen Stacy in the shoulder and then escaping Oscorp. Spider-Man eventually finds and chases Vermin through the sewers despite interferences from Alistair Smythe's Combat Sentries. Spider-Man eventually defeats Vermin and gets its DNA for Dr. Connors' antidote.
- Captain America #272
- Captain America #275-278
- Marvel Team-Up #128
- Web of Spider-Man #31-32; Amazing Spider-Man #293-294; Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132
- Spectacular Spider-Man #178-184
- Nightcrawler vol. 3 #7-8, 12
- Avengers: Deathtrap, The Vault #1
- Spectacular Spider-Man #178-184
- Spectacular Spider-Man #194-196
- Wolverine (vol. 2) #170
- New Avengers vol. 1 #01-02 Jan-Feb 2005
- She-Hulk #5-6
- Thunderbolts (vol. 2) #104
- New Avengers Annual #2
- New Avengers #46
- New Avengers #50
- Amazing Spider-Man #566
- Amazing Spider-Man #567
- Amazing Spider-Man #642
- Fear Itself: Spider-Man #1