Spectacular Spider-Man #194-196 (1992-1993): The Death of Vermin

This is a three-parter titled, “Death of Venom,” and although the spectre of Harry Osborn/Green Goblin is on the cover of the first chapter, he has nothing to do with this story. There are some seeds planted for how his daddy issues are lurking about, etc., but he doesn’t even appear in these three issues.

It’s really a Vermin story.

I like Vermin.  I mean, I get that a sewer-dwelling half rat/half man isn’t an exceptionally creative idea, especially in a comic about Spider-Man, whose series have debuted dozens of animal-based villains, but I have a soft spot for the character.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in NYC and have rat phobia.

Anyhow, this is the story that kills him.

Edward Whelan has been switching back and forth with his creature persona, with each persona talking to the other, and a doc is trying to cure him.

And then New York is overrun with creatures who rise from the sewers and kidnap Vermin because he, like them, are products of Baron Zemo.

This is a new wrinkle to his origin. I could have done without this aspect of Vermin’s story, but whatever.  I get that everything in the ‘90s has to be a big conspiracy that ties to a larger Marvel Universe.

Over the course of the tale, we learn that SHIELD is exterminating Zemo’s creature creations, so they’re all trying to get together to resist and survive. Helmut Zemo is collecting his mutates—and he has mind control over them.

There’s some very strange daddy issues at play in Zemo’s story.  He burns his “daddy’s” mask…

Now maskless, Zemo has his mutates capture and unmask Spider-Man so he can wear Spidey’s mask…

…Which, when he sees it, triggers Vermin to shake off Zemo’s control and save Spider-Man.

Vermin doesn’t actually die in the end.  The “death” is that he turns human for good.  And at the very end, it’s implied that the doctor who cured Vermin will cure the rest of the mutates.

This really isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. Above average.

Also, MJ and Peter are cute together.

Leave a Comment