Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #195

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This story is part of an Arc: "Death of Vermin"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings

This review was first published on: Jul 2011.

Background...

The Mutates have kidnapped Edward (aka Vermin) and Dr. Kafka and Spider-Man is hot on their trail.

In Detail...

"Masquerade"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #195
Dec 1992 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Death of Vermin"
Editor:  Rob Tokar
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Sal Buscema
Inker:  Sal Buscema
Cover Art:  Sal Buscema
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 Reprinted In: Dirt Magazine #2
Articles: Kafka, Dr. Ashley, Nocturne, Vermin

Dr. Kafka and Edward are freaked out by the assorted Mutates that confront them. Edward thinks that Baron Zemo sent them to abduct him and turn him back into Vermin. Due to his panic, he starts transforming into the half human/half rat cannibal.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is looking through the ruins of Dr. Kafka’s office. He’s there with Detective Cairn (last seen taking Harry Osborn away to the Vault in Spectacular Spider-Man #190). They get in an argument about Dr. Kafka’s work and Spidey leaves.

While we see Peter brooding in his apartment, we cut to Baron Zemo (don’t ask me which version) who is sitting by a fireplace and monologueing to himself in his study. He burns his father’s mask in the fireplace. Hmmm.

In their underground lair, the de facto leader of the Mutates (a pale yellow blob with a third arm growing out of his/her forehead) is addressing Vermin. It seems the Mutates escaped from both Baron Zemo and SHIELD (see Captain America #278 if you’re interested in that story) and are now looking for a leader to help them get revenge on the world. Vermin readily accepts the offer. Dr. Kafka tries to talk him out of it, saying Edward needs to let Vermin go, not indulge him. Vermin attacks her, but doesn’t kill her because she was so kind to him. (Wasn’t Vermin just upset with her last issue because she’s killing him? Why not kill her when he has a chance? Now maybe I’m getting too bloodthirsty!)

Meanwhile, Baron Zemo is still monologuing, and throws his own mask onto the fire. Ominous.

While Vermin and his motley crew are a looting a supermarket Spider-Man drops in and starts smacking everyone down. He asks Vermin where Dr. Kafka is. Vermin reverts to Edward and tells Spider-Man about the Mutates. The Mutates, however, have regrouped and they quickly overwhelm our hero. Both Spider-Man is knocked out. Then, he and Edward are scooped up and carried away to the Mutates’ underground lair.

Edward tries to reason with the Mutates. He says Dr. Kafka cured him and she can help them too. The yellow blobby leader is just about to accept his proposal, but is suddenly struck down by a laser fired by Baron Zemo! He stands in a doorway, in his classic purple and yellow suit., only he’s not wearing a mask and his face is mottled and scarred.

Spider-Man (now awake) leaps to disarm the villain, but Zemo has an ace up his sleep. At the touch of a button, all the Mutates (plus Vermin) are reprogrammed to follow his orders. Zemo threatens to kill Dr. Kafka if Spider-Man doesn’t let go of him.

In General...

Since Zemo is the one who first transformed Edward into Vermin, it makes sense to bring him in for the final chapter. After all of Dr. Kafka’s hard work, it was shocking to see Vermin go feral so fast on the last page.

Overall Rating...

A good, solid story.