For years, rumors of a Kraven movie persisted and fans demanded they come to fruition. With the announcement of a Kraven project by Sony this past August, it looks like they will finally get their wish. The Kraven’s Last Hunt comics were some of the first I read as a kid, so I am admittedly ecstatic to see him hit the big screen. The questions remain: will a Kraven feature bring this seminal storyline to life, and if so, will Vermin come with it? This very likely scenario makes a largely overlooked character, and his first appearance in Captain America #272, worth taking a look at.
A Brief History
Vermin was created by legends J. M. Matteis and Michael Zeck and is part of Spider-Man’s forgotten rogue gallery from the ’80s. Despite earlier appearances, he is largely known for his role in Kraven’s Last Hunt where he is hunted by both Kraven and Spider-Man through the sewers of New York City. How Kraven and Spider-Man handle Vermin, a simultaneously sympathetic yet monstrous character, is central to the story. Through Vermin, we are able to compare Spider-Man’s deep morality with Kraven’s savagery. Kraven and Spider-Man actually have more physical confrontations with Vermin than they do with each other across the six-issue cross-series story. Simply put, without Vermin there is no Kraven’s Last Hunt.
While Vermin’s claim to fame is Kraven’s Last Hunt, he originally served as an antagonist for Captain America, making his first appearance in the pages of Captain America #272. Vermin was a run of the mill human named Edward Whelan before falling victim to the experiments of Baron Zemo, transforming him into a humanoid rat. Typical of comics of this era, the issue deals with the street crime of New York City and introduces Vermin as the embodiment of urban decay. Only the ’80s could give us a classic Zeck cover with Captain America covered in trash and rats.
While I could have written about a more obvious and higher-priced key such as Kraven’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #15, where would the fun be in that? With its handling of mental illness, Kraven’s Last Hunt is regarded as one of the best storylines in Marvel if not comic history. With the recent announcement by Sony and even a tweet by Jimmy Kimmel regarding the film, we know Kraven is coming. Sony would be remiss to not put Kraven’s Last Hunt on the big screen at some point and any film starring Kraven must include Vermin as the two are forever intertwined. With the recent interest in Marvel horror movies, Vermin would be a terrifying and fitting addition to the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters. What could possibly be scarier than a villain surrounded by hundreds of rats? And if you don’t think a massive man-rat could be a popular character, let’s not forget Splinter of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s fame. 80’s comics loved their rats.
Outside of the likelihood of a Vermin movie appearance, GoCollect data shows us why Captain America #272 would be an excellent addition to your collection. If this were a stock, I would give it a strong buy rating. GoCollect shows us that there are only 23 9.8s on the census, 20 9.6s, and 65 graded books total on the CGC census. There have been so few sales tabulated that fair market value has not been calculated. These numbers are shockingly low considering Vermin’s importance to one of Marvel’s most popular stories. There are no 9.8s available on eBay at the moment with only one recent sale for $259. Raw copies are very reasonably priced from 10 to 20 dollars. CGC presently does not correctly label Captain America #272 as Vermin’s first appearance, a telltale sign of an overlooked key. If it is announced that the Kraven movie will adapt the Last Hunt storyline, expect demand to far outstrip the nonexistent supply of this book and for it to soar. While I am not a fan of the newsstand craze for a variety of reasons I will explain in length in a future article, I would keep an eye out for graded 9.8s newsstands as there can only be a handful of those in existence with such a low CGC population.
Between the possibility of a movie appearance by Vermin as a central character and an extremely low CGC population, Captain America #272 would make an excellent speculative purchase. More importantly, I always think it’s best to buy what you love, and can you really go wrong with Mike Zeck pencils on Captain America? I think not.
“This whole city’s a jungle–We’re just a bunch of animals tryin’ to claw our way out”- Captain America #272