Swarm (comics)

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Swarm (comics).png
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Champions #14 (July 1977)
Created by Bill Mantlo
John Byrne
In-story information
Alter ego Fritz von Meyer
Team affiliations Exterminators[1]
Sinister Six[2]
Abilities Flight
Ability to mentally manipulate the bees that compose his body

Swarm (Fritz von Meyer) is a fictional supervillain and former Nazi sympathizer that appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, mainly featured as an enemy of Spider-Man. His entire body is composed of bees surrounding his skeleton.

Publication history[edit]

Swarm first appeared in Champions #14 (July 1977). He was created by Bill Mantlo and John Byrne.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Fritz von Meyer was born in Leipzig, Germany and became one of Adolf Hitler's top scientists. Escaping capture after World War II, he became a beekeeper or apiarist in South America, and discovered a colony of mutated bees. Intrigued by their intelligence and passive nature, von Meyer attempted to enslave the queen bee, but failed and the bees devoured him, leaving only his skeleton. The unique qualities of the bees caused his consciousness to be absorbed into them, allowing von Meyer to manipulate the hive to do his will, although some of his skeletal remains are inside the swarm itself. His consciousness merged with the swarm to the extent that they become one being, calling himself/their-self "Swarm".

Swarm battled The Champions of Los Angeles.[3] After being defeated, Swarm resurfaced to battle Spider-Man.[4] In the first of many fights, Spider-Man prevailed against him by dosing his own costume in a new type of Raid that hurt the bees if they got too close to the web-slinger. Swarm lost his/their skeleton in this battle, but returned to fight again (no longer having the skeleton but still possessing von Meyer's consciousness), first teaming with Kraven the Hunter against Iceman and Firestar,[5] then against Spider-Man,[6] but feedback from a weapon fired by the Rhino caused Swarm's bee body to disperse temporarily.

Swarm next appears when a Super-Collider from Rand Industries gets activated and called his/their attention.[7] Swarm decided mankind should be exterminated so insects can rule the world. Doctor Druid convinced Swarm that mankind will exterminate themselves and the age of insects can begin.[8]

Eventually however, Swarm tired of waiting and, after a psychic wave generated by Onslaught disrupted the psychic field that bound him and his bees together, returned to New York, forcing a group of scientists investigating energy fields to help him not only restore his original field, but expand it to grant him control of every bee on Earth. As New York was invaded by bees, Ben Reilly tracked the bees to their destination and — taking advantage of the fact that the swarms' instinctive memory of the original Spider-Man's use of Raid caused them to automatically flinch away from the second Spider-Man — infiltrated the building and contacted the scientists. By claiming that the scientists' equipment was having trouble broadcasting a sufficiently powerful signal through the dome of bees, the second Spider-Man was able to trick Swarm into allowing the construction of a device designed to negate the vibrational frequency that the bees created to allow themselves to fly. With the bees now grounded, the second Spider-Man subsequently recovered the Queen of Swarm's hive and left her in the care of the authorities, reasoning that without her, Swarm wouldn't be a future threat.[9]

Now back with an internal skeleton, Swarm felt that the fall of the criminal organization Pride allowed access to their former territory, specifically Los Angeles. However, he/they are defeated by the Runaways, protectors of the city, when his/their body of bees' mental link is disrupted by electrical blasts.[10]

He/they regained control over his colony and joins the Chameleon's Exterminators [1] to kill Spider-Man, now that Peter Parker's true identity is revealed. Swarm attacks Mary Jane Watson but Mary Jane sprays Swarm with water while a co-worker smashes Swarm's skeleton, but the bees reformed around the skeleton as Stark Industries bodyguards take him/them away.

When Alyosha Kravinoff began collecting a zoo of animal themed superhumans, Swarm is in one of the cages.[11] He fought Gargoyle as the Punisher passes them and escaped.

Swarm next turns up in Denver, Colorado, having amassed enough bees to become giant-sized. The Thunderbolts face him/them unsuccessfully until Norman Osborn dispatches Venom devouring Swarm's bones. Osborn speculated this was, by now, a minor inconvenience that shouldn't prevent Swarm's return.[12]

Next, Swarm turns up in Buenos Aires having his intelligence again. He fought the Mighty Avengers by creating 'avatars' made of bees. Notably, the Avengers roster included the Wasp, Stature and Amadeus Cho. Stature placed an inhibitor collar on the queen bees which caused Swarm's intelligence to somehow disperse.[13]

He was briefly seen trying to launch an attack of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning only to be almost instantly thwarted by the X-Men's Krakoa, the Bamfs, and Doop.[14]

Swarm later formed his own incarnation of the Sinister Six with 8-Ball III, Delilah, Killer Shrike, Melter III and Squid. They attack Spider-Man and the students of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Swarm gets defeated by Hellion which caused the other members to surrender.[15]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Swarm is a composite being of hundreds of thousands of bees driven by a human intelligence. He is technically intangible, as his body is merely an aggregate of tiny forms. He can fly through the air and assume any shape and size he desires. He can mentally influence the actions of other bees, the full range of which may extend over hundreds of yards in radius. At first, Swarm seemed capable of only controlling other bees, but he has exhibited the ability to communicate/control other insects as well. Fritz von Meyer's skeleton, the focal point of his consciousness, remained behind as his only remains until being was devoured by Venom.[12]

Other versions[edit]

Marvel Fairy Tales[edit]

In the second issue of the Spider-Man line of Marvel Fairy Tales (an adaptation of the legend of Anansi), an alternate version of Swarm appears as the stories' main villain: the Bee Spirit.[16]

Marvel Adventures[edit]

Swarm recently appeared and fought Spider-Man in Marvel Adventures #38. He/they supposedly wanted to take over the world (or at least kill a few jocks), but it looked like he/they just wanted some ice cream.

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Swarm is Petra Laskov,[17] a female mutant of Syrian descent that initially appears as the supervillainess Insect Queen,[18] and later as the superheroine Red Wasp.[19] As Insect Queen, she that has Swarm-like powers to control insects (albeit fully corporeal) with features of grey skin and horns similar to Margali Szardos. Insect Queen is one of the members of a supervillain group that invades the United States to kill many in order to put a stop to perceived American aggression. During a showdown with the Ultimates, Insect Queen is apparently killed after being stomped by a giant-sized Wasp.[20] However, the character is later rebuilt as the human-looking Red Wasp, a modified variation of the late Wasp.[21] As Red Wasp, Petra serves as a member of the Avengers led by Nick Fury and Gregory Stark. The character's past is also revealed: Petra was the wife of Georgian activist Nikolai Laskov, and the couple together had a child. Unfortunately, the couple's child is held at gunpoint, forcing Petra to kill her husband to save her own child. She does so, only for Petra's child to be killed anyway, and then Petra was raped by thugs.[17] When the Avengers fight the Red Skull, the villain torments Red Wasp until Captain America and Hawkeye saves the team. Afterwards, Petra (disguised as a nurse) shoots her family's executioner in the head in a hospital.[22] Petra continues to serve with the Avengers. When the Avengers fight Vampire X, Petra confides with an ex-teammate that's also added to the Avengers.[23]

In other media[edit]


  • Swarm appeared in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, voiced by Al Fann. This version was formed when alien energy from a fallen meteorite irradiated a nearby beehive. In the episode "Swarm", a beehive is given sentience via a meteorite's energy. Wanting a hive mind throughout the universe, Swarm uses its eye blast ability to increase the size of bees and mutate humans into insect drone hybrids. When Spider-Man, Firestar and Iceman fight Swarm, the mutated drone hybrids (which included Flash Thompson and May Parker) turn Firestar and Iceman into insect drone hybrids as well, however, were unable to turn Spider-Man due to the web-slinger's irradiated blood. After Spider-Man used a lead-lined room to restore Firestar and Iceman back to normal, the Spider-Friends launch the meteorite back into space, thus there was enough to distance for the bees and hybrids from the meteor's radiation, reversing all of Swarm's effects.
  • A new iteration of Swarm appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series,[24] voiced by Eric Bauza (in "Swarm") and by Drake Bell (in "Sandman Returns"). This version is Michael Tan, a disgruntled and immature employee of Stark Industries that assumes the Swarm form via self-replicating nanobots. In his self-titled episode "Swarm", Michael's project to control technology as an extension of a person gets turned down and ends up fired by Iron Man. Michael activates his device, vowing that Spider-Man and Iron Man will regret this before he scatters his own molecules. Unknown to anyone, his molecules then fuses with Spider-Man's Spider-Tracer which turns himself into self-replicating nanobots. When Spider-Man faces the Juggernaut and uses the Spider-Tracer, something goes wrong as Juggernaut is surrounded by self-replicating Spider-Tracers. Spider-Man and Iron Man then fight Swarm, finding out that Michael is now Swarm while Iron Man uses various armor parts to help Spider-Man fight Swarm. Intent on assimilating technology due to believing he's the future, Swarm splits into two to attack Spider-Man and Iron Man until re-combining into one again. In order to get Michael out of the Spider-Tracers, Spider-Man uses Iron Man's arc reactor to amplify the Spider-Tracer's interface with a nullifying frequency as the web-slinger and Iron Man are thrown at Swarm. Upon the frequency's activation, Swarm is neutralized and Iron Man confiscates the inactive Spider-Tracers to put Michael back together again. In the episode "Sandman Returns", Swarm attacks a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility to assimilate the technology, resulting in a fight with Spider-Man and Sandman. Swarm targets Sandman's containment suit which forces Spider-Man to get the containment suit off Sandman. Sandman then pummels Swarm into submission. In the episode "Ant-Man", Swarm is indirectly alluded upon via Amadeus Cho's Spider-Tracer submarine for Spider-Man and Ant-Man.


  • An action figure of Swarm was released in 1997 as part of the Spider-Man: Spider Force toy line. It was molded in a translucent yellow plastic, and featured a removable cape and hood, and snap-on bee armor. This armor could also be assembled to create a 'giant' bee accessory.



In August 2009, TIME listed Swarm as one of the "Top 10 Oddest Marvel Characters".[25]


  1. ^ a b Exterminators (Spider-Man foes)
  2. ^ Spider-Man and the X-Men #4
  3. ^ Champions #14–15 (1977)
  4. ^ Spectacular Spider-Man #36–37
  5. ^ Spider-Man Family Amazing Friends #1
  6. ^ Lethal Foes of Spider-Man #3–4
  7. ^ Secret Defenders #18
  8. ^ Secret Defenders #19
  9. ^ Sensational Spider-Man #9–10
  10. ^ Runaways vol. 2 #7
  11. ^ The Punisher War Journal vol. 2 #15
  12. ^ a b Thunderbolts #122
  13. ^ Mighty Avengers #24
  14. ^ Wolverine and the X-Men #18
  15. ^ Spider-Man and the X-Men #4
  16. ^ C. B. Cebulski (w), Niko Hendrichon (p), Niko Hendrichon (i). "Once Upon A Time..." Marvel Fairy Tales 2 (August 2007), Marvel Comics
  17. ^ a b Ultimate Avengers #5
  18. ^ Ultimates 2 #9
  19. ^ Ultimate Comics: Avengers #3
  20. ^ Ultimates 2 #12
  21. ^ Ultimate Comics: Avengers #3
  22. ^ Ultimate Avengers #6
  23. ^ Ultimate Comics: Avengers 3 #5
  24. ^ Goldman, Eric (20 April 2012). "Ultimate Spider-Man: Make Way for Iron Man!". IGN.com. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  25. ^ "Top 10 Oddest Marvel Characters". Time. August 31, 2009. 

External links[edit]