||This comics-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (January 2016)|
|First appearance||Captain America #272 (Aug 1982)|
|Created by||J. M. DeMatteis
|Alter ego||Edward Whelan|
Superhuman strength, speed and stamina
Peak level agility, durability and reflexes
Extremely acute senses
Razor sharp teeth
Inch-long claw-like fingernails
Ability to control rats and stray dogs and revert to human form at will
|This section requires expansion. (December 2012)|
Fictional character biography
Edward Whelan suffered severe physical and sexual abuse as a child from his father. As an adult, he became 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 becomes a light pinkish fur color and he ends up resembling a cannibalistic, humanoid rat. Vermin is defeated by Captain America and turned over to S.H.I.E.L.D. He escapes S.H.I.E.L.D., however, and returns to the service of Zola and Zemo. Vermin is shackled by Zemo with Captain America in a dungeon; he battles, mutates, escapes, and wounds Zemo.
Vermin later battles Captain America and Spider-Man at a street festival and is captured. Some time later, Vermin kidnaps women off the streets into the sewers, murders and devours them. He is defeated and captured by 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 is forced by Kraven to battle the real Spider-Man, then allowed to escape; he is finally captured and turned over to the police by Spider-Man. During the breakout from the supervillain prison 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.
Vermin eventually escapes the asylum, and attacks his parents at their home in Scarsdale. He is captured by Spider-Man and returned to psychiatric care. In response to treatment from Dr. Ashley Kafka, he temporarily reverts to his human form.
Under continued treatment from Dr. Kafka, Whelan's original human form eventually becomes his default state, and he only changes to Vermin for a few hours at a time. He and Kafka are kidnapped by a group of other Zemo mutates, who want Whelan to become Vermin again and lead them in their quest for revenge. Instead, Whelan persuades them to surrender themselves for psychiatric treatment so that they can be cured as he was. However, Baron Zemo uses a mind-control device to take control of the mutates and revert Whelan to Vermin, intending to use them as subjects for further experiments. His will strengthened by his psychiatric care, Whelan partially reverts to human form and attacks Zemo. Dr. Kafka convinces him to not kill Zemo, and by letting go of his hate Whelan allows "Vermin" to finally die. No longer confined to psychiatric institutions, he submits to trial for his crimes as Vermin. Top defense attorney Matt Murdock agrees to be his lawyer for the case.
Whelan reverts to his Vermin state once again when he teams up with Bloodscream to fight Wolverine. During the breakout of the Raft orchestrated by Electro, Vermin attacks Spider-Man after Count Nefaria knocks him into a hole with the other escaping villains. He is later seen fighting Captain America.
Vermin is 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.
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, speed and stamina, 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 was originally going to appear in the sewer in the Spider-Man Animated Series video games. His sprite was given hair in the final versions of the game.
- 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.
- Johnson, Dan (August 2009). "In Our Sights: Kraven's Last Hunt". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (35): 5.
- Spectacular Spider-Man #178-184
- 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
- Avengers: Deathtrap, The Vault #1
- Spectacular Spider-Man #194-196
- Wolverine (vol. 2) #170
- New Avengers #1-2 Jan-Feb 2005
- She-Hulk #5-6
- New Avengers Annual #2
- New Avengers #46
- New Avengers #50
- Fear Itself: Spider-Man #2
- Amazing Spider-Man #566
- Amazing Spider-Man #567
- on YouTube