Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #179

 Posted: 2007
 Staff: Jeremy Roby (E-Mail)


Vermin's escaped and Spidey's hunting him down. Meanwhile, Harry is in the middle of a nervous breakdown.

Story 'Wounds'

This issue's first session with the asylum-cam reveals Vermin's real name – Edward. Under Dr. Kafka's hypnosis, Edward reveals that he's afraid of going home for some reason.

So, of course, on the very next page we see Vermin and his little sidekick from last issue outside the gates of his old home. The two talk, and the boy eventually convinces Vermin to go inside. Inside the manor we see two figures sleeping in separate beds. One is an old black woman (presumably Edward's mother) and the other is a mustached white man (presumably Edward's father). Vermin crawls into his father's bed and announces, "I'm home." His father, quite startled, reaches for the gun that he keeps beside his bed and shoots Vermin (off panel). The sound of him crashing through the window wakes his mother, who starts to scream into the night.

Cut to Peter, MJ and Aunt May standing before the graves of his parents and Uncle Ben. Aunt May is telling a story about Uncle Ben and Peter's dad, Richard. Peter's mind begins to wander, however, and he hallucinates that Vermin is bursting forth from the grave. He cries out, alarming both MJ and Aunt May. He quickly makes up an excuse and leaves. We find out that it's the next day after Spidey's unsuccessful hunt for Vermin last issue. And, of course, Peter is feeling guilty about him still running free out there somewhere.

Speaking of somewhere, we next visit the Osborn family at a merry-go-round in Central Park. Harry waves to Liz and little Normie. Of course, the ghost of Harry's dad, Norman Osborn, decides to show up once again. Norman complains again that Harry is coddling his son, but Harry points out that Norman used to do the same things with Harry. They get into an argument, but then Norman suddenly falls down, impaled from behind by his goblin glider. A figure of Spider-Man then shows up, telling Harry that his father never loved him at all. So lost in this exchange that Harry yells at his son when he tugs on his shirt. He quickly apologizes, again, and say's they'll go and get some cotton candy to make up for it, "Just like my dad did with me."

Cue the asylum-cam. Now we see Edward/Vermin lying on the floor, curled up in a ball. Dr. Kafka comes into view, calling out his name. He wakes up and they hug. Pulling back, we see Dr. Kafka once again reviewing tapes of her old sessions. Spider-Man shows up once again, asking for background on Vermin. They discuss how Vermin emits a psychic taint that brings out the worst in anyone who comes near him. Also, his transformation extends from the abuse he suffered as a child. Then, Dr. Kafka looks out the window and sees Vermin (somehow covered in rats) staring back at her, asking for help.

He sees Spider-Man behind her, though, and scurries to the roof to try and get away. Spider-Man is there waiting for him, of course, and tries to talk to calm him down. His anger at being shot and fear of being caught takes over, however, and Vermin launches himself at Spider-Man.

Spider-Man easily gets loose from Vermin's grip and starts pounding away at him. Spidey tries to control his own rage, but can't stop until Dr. Kafka intervenes. At first Vermin is grateful, but then he bites the hand that she offers him and knocks her down. Spider-Man has to jump in to save her, flinging rats all over the roof (I just love the looks on their faces). Of course, in the tumult Vermin disappears again, which isn't easy seeing as how the building was surrounded by cops just a few minute earlier (maybe they all left to check out some donut shop down the street).

Anyway, the last page gives us a rather ominous cliffhanger, with Harry kissing Normie goodnight. As he closes the door, the ghost of Norman Osborn appears, with a Green Goblin suit and mask, saying, "It's time."

Overall Rating

Going back and rereading this book, I notice that there are a lot of creepy elements cropping up - ghost, graveyards, goblins, sewer rats, and a cannibalistic killer. It's really good at setting the mood for the story. DeMatteis also does a great job of mixing the stories of the three protagonists to get just the right reaction. I would have given this issue a five, but I know it gets even better next time!

 Posted: 2007
 Staff: Jeremy Roby (E-Mail)