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small animals collectively, esp insects and rodents, that are troublesome to man, domestic animals, etc.
Throughout his tormented life the repulsive Vermin has been surrounded by rats. Created by writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck, traumatized young Edward Whelan is a street urchin, scurrying from his sexually abusive father. Two late-twentieth- century Nazi criminals, Baron Zemo II and Arnim Zola, make Whelan a human guinea pig in their perverse genetic experiments, turning him into the cannibalistic Vermin, a 6-feet-tall, fanged and furred rodent-man with superhuman strength and agility and a feral instinct of self-preservation. Engineered to attack their foe Captain America Vermin sics an army of obedient rats on the Star- Spangled Sentinel. Zeck's cover to Captain America #272 (1982), Vermin's first appearance, evokes memories of the 1971 horror film Willard, with the hero being eaten alive by rats—but Cap crushes the vermin of all sizes. The mentally ill Vermin is childlike in thought and open to suggestion, yet when cornered or threatened will strike with lethal force with his razor-sharp teeth and claws. Vermin's most famous storyline was “Kraven's Last Hunt,” DeMatteis and Zeck's six-part 1987 Spider-Man opus, in which yet another manipulator—Kraven the Hunter—used the rat-man in his personal vendetta against the wall-crawler. DeMatteis teamed with artist Sal Buscema to produce “The Child Within” in The Spectacular Spider-Man #178–#184 (1991–1992), in which Vermin attempted to kill his father but was netted into another gambit against Spidey, this time by the Green Goblin II. Whelan's psyche struggled for dominance over Vermin's savagery, and with the help of psychologist Dr. Ashley Kafka he nearly succeeded in purging his rodent mutation. Yet tragedy and creative whims reverted Whelan to Vermin, and in the 2000s he has scampered in and out of the limelight, in scrapes with Wolverine and the Punisher. When not spreading pestilence throughout the Marvel Universe, Vermin is caged at Ravencroft, the maximum-security asylum for deranged supervillains.