Vermin as seen in Fear Itself: Spider-Man #1.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceCaptain America #272 (August 1982)[1]
Created byJ. M. DeMatteis
Mike Zeck
In-story information
Alter egoEdward Whelan
SpeciesHuman mutate
Team affiliationsNew Revengers
PartnershipsBaron Zemo
Armin Zola
  • Accomplished geneticist

As Vermin:

  • 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

Vermin (Edward Whelan) is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is usually depicted as an adversary of Captain America and Spider-Man. A geneticist working for Baron Zemo and Arnim Zola, Edward Whelan was subjected to an experiment that mutated him into a humanoid rat, gaining superhuman abilities, as well as the predatory instincts of a rat. The character's most notable appearance was in the storyline "Kraven's Last Hunt".

Publication history

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2012)

The character's first appearance was in Captain America #272 (August 1982).[2] He was created by J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck.[3]

He became a Spider-Man villain as well in Marvel Team-Up #128 (April 1983), fighting both Captain America and Spider-Man.[4]

Fictional character biography

Edward Whelan suffered severe physical and sexual abuse as a child from his father.[5] As an adult, he became a geneticist working for Baron Helmut Zemo and Primus I (who was impersonating Arnim Zola). After being subjected to an experiment by Primus, his skin becomes a light pinkish fur color and he is mutated into a cannibalistic, humanoid rat. Vermin is defeated by Captain America and turned over to S.H.I.E.L.D.[6] 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.[7]

Vermin later battles Captain America and Spider-Man at a street festival and is captured.[8] Some time later, Vermin kidnaps women off the streets into the sewers, 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[5]

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 mutants, 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 mutants 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.[11]

Whelan reverts to his Vermin state once again when he teams up with Bloodscream to fight Wolverine.[12]

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.[13]

Vermin is later incarcerated in New York's experimental "Ant-Hill" prison, where all prisoners are reduced in size thanks to Hank Pym's Pym particles. An escape attempt is thwarted by She-Hulk.[14]

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.[15]

During the Secret Invasion storyline, 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.[16]

During the Dark Reign storyline, Vermin joins with the Hood's gang in an attack on the New Avengers, who were expecting the Dark Avengers instead.[17]

During the Fear Itself storyline, Vermin attacks Spider-Man, who is struggling to deal with the fear and chaos that is gripping Manhattan.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel, Vermin appears as a member of Maker's New Revengers.[21]

During the Search for Tony Stark arc, Vermin rejoined Hood's gang and assisted in the attack on Castle Doom.[22]

During the Hunted storyline, Vermin was seen attacking people until he is defeated by Lizard and Taskmaster who then hand him over to Arcade.[23] Vermin is being kept captive by Arcade. Vermin bites Arcade's finger in defiance. In fear of being killed by Arcade, Vermin reveals that Lizard and Taskmaster are working against Arcade. Arcade puts a serum into Vermin's skin causing him to spawn clones of him in the cage.[24] Spider-Man is overwhelmed by the Vermin clones when they attack him. Just when he is about to be killed, Kraven the Hunter repels the Vermin clones and saves Spider-Man.[25] After the Great Hunt is over, some of Vermin's surviving clones are seen lurking in the subway.[26]

During the "Gang War" storyline, Vermin and his clones are responsible for the rat and stray dog invasions on the F.E.A.S.T. building as Spider-Boy helps it's inhabitants avoid them. Vermin later telepathically tells them that they will take over from here. Vermin and his clones are then seen outside of the F.E.A.S.T. building.[27]

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.

Special skills

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.


Other versions

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Edward Whelan used to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. before its dissolution, which led to him living in the sewers where he had a psychic connection with Agent Crock. Vermin and Agent Crock ruled the sewers with an iron fist until they encountered the Young Ultimates during their search for Crossbones. After being unable to reason with them, Shadowcat phased through Agent Crock's head enough to kill him and even Vermin as a side effect of their psychic connection.[29]

In other media


  1. ^ Misiroglu, Gina Renée; Eury, Michael (2006). The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 9780780809772.
  2. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Sanderson, Peter; Brevoort, Tom; Teitelbaum, Michael; Wallace, Daniel; Darling, Andrew; Forbeck, Matt; Cowsill, Alan; Bray, Adam (2019). The Marvel Encyclopedia. DK Publishing. p. 393. ISBN 978-1-4654-7890-0.
  3. ^ Johnson, Dan (August 2009). "In Our Sights: Kraven's Last Hunt". Back Issue! (#35). TwoMorrows Publishing: 5.
  4. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Manning, Matthew K. (2012). Spider-Man Chronicle: Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. DK Publishing. p. 134. ISBN 978-0756692360.
  5. ^ a b The Spectacular Spider-Man #178-184. Marvel Comics.
  6. ^ Captain America #272. Marvel Comics.
  7. ^ Captain America #275-278. Marvel Comics.
  8. ^ Marvel Team-Up #128. Marvel Comics.
  9. ^ Web of Spider-Man #31-32; The Amazing Spider-Man #293-294; The Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132. Marvel Comics.
  10. ^ Avengers: Deathtrap, The Vault #1. Marvel Comics.
  11. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #194-196. Marvel Comics.
  12. ^ Wolverine vol. 2 #170. Marvel Comics.
  13. ^ The New Avengers #1-2 (Jan-Feb 2005). Marvel Comics.
  14. ^ She-Hulk #5-6. Marvel Comics.
  15. ^ The New Avengers Annual #2. Marvel Comics.
  16. ^ The New Avengers #46. Marvel Comics.
  17. ^ The New Avengers #50. Marvel Comics.
  18. ^ Fear Itself: Spider-Man #2. Marvel Comics.
  19. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #566. Marvel Comics.
  20. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #567. Marvel Comics.
  21. ^ The New Avengers vol. 4 #7. Marvel Comics.
  22. ^ Invincible Iron Man #597. Marvel Comics.
  23. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 5 #19.HU. Marvel Comics.
  24. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 5 #20.HU. Marvel Comics.
  25. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 5 #21. Marvel Comics.
  26. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 5 #23. Marvel Comics.
  27. ^ Spider-Man Unlimited Infinity Comics #20-22. Marvel Comics.
  28. ^ Allan, Scoot (2021-11-01). "Marvel: 10 Characters Baron Zemo Created In The Comics". CBR. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  29. ^ All-New Ultimates #7. Marvel Comics.
  30. ^ "Meet The Villains Of The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game". Archived from the original on 2018-08-17.