Real Name: William Turner

Identity/Class: Human mutant (see comments)

Occupation: Vagrant; former criminal

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Stella Pavlov, Joyce Phillips, Kangaroo (Brian Hibbs), Rhino (Aleksei Sytsevich)

Enemies: Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Eugene "Flash" Thompson, citizens of Far Rockaway, New York, unidentified thugs

Known RelativesUnidentified parents (both deceased)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: The streets of New York City, New York;
   formerly Ravencroft Institute;
   formerly the Cage prison;
   formerly Manhattan Psychiatrical Hospital;
   formerly a house in Far Rockaway, Queens in New York City, New York;
   formerly an unidentified orphanage;
   place of birth Far Rockaway, Queens in New York City, New York

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man I#138 (November, 1974)

Powers/Abilities: Mindworm needed to leech thoughts and emotions from others to survive, which could be fatal over a prolonged period of time as it not only weakened them psychically, but also physically. He could read other people's minds, erase memories, unleash mental force waves, create illusions, inflict brain damage, mentally draw people to him and command them and broadcast his feelings to others to influence their behavior. He was able to invade dreams or trap others in his own dreams. Prolonged exposure to his psychic attacks could render people unconscious. He had limited telekinesis, and could levitate his own body a few feet from the ground.

Education: High-school equivalent education from orphanage.

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown

(Amazing Spider-Man I#138 (fb)) - William was born to a couple from Far Rockaway, New York. He was part of rash of abnormal births in the area after the government opened an experimental compound outside town. According to the doctor at the hospital William was the only one of these mutated children that was not still-born.

   Unaware to his parents William was a psychic parasite that fed on feelings and thoughts and unwittingly drained them all the time, leaving them weakened. His father lost his job shortly after William was born.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#35 (fb) - BTS) - While he was still an infant William was bitten by a rat in his home, which traumatized him.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#138 (fb)) - William kept feeding on his parents and eventually his mother collapsed and died while he fed on her when she tucked him into bed one night. His father saw it happen and ran away from his monstrous child, but was run over by a speeding car. He felt guilty for their deaths.

   With both his parents dead William ended up in an orphanage where he became the target of other children. One day William actively used his powers against one of the boys that were always beating him up and made him stop by damaging the boy's brain.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#138 (fb) - BTS) - Over the next couple of his years William trained to increase his physical strength, but also his psychic powers.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#138 (fb)) - When he was old enough to leave the orphanage he returned to his old, abandoned home in Far Rockaway and moved back in. He was strong enough to not be a victim anymore and started feeding on the emotions of the people living in the area.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#138) - Mindworm watched from his home when a taxi arrived with a new tenant (Peter Parker) of the nearby apartment buildings. Mindworm felt the strong emotion and psychic power of the boy immediately. Mindworm sat down cross-legged and began to meditate and feed.

   That night Mindworm used his powers to lure the citizens of Far Rockaway during their sleep to his home so he could feed on them. Spider-Man saw the sleepwalkers, including Flash Thompson, who he was living with and felt Mindworm's pull as well. He followed his Spider-Sense to Mindworm's home though he resisted the psychic powers that left the others helpless. A police car arrived and reported the strange gathering before they fell under Mindworm's influence as well. Feeling the threat Spider-Man posed to him, Mindworm sent the people under his influence to kill him, but Spider-Man webbed some of them up and made his way into the house. Spider-Man faced off with Mindworm, who felt that Spider-Man was the boy with the strong emotions that had just moved to the area. Mindworm used all his psychic strength against Spider-Man to overpower him, but it was not enough and he was hit by Spider-Man. Mindworm continued using his psychic powers against Spider-Man to weaken him enough before tackling him and sending him down the stairs. Mindworm then tried to crush Spider-Man's ribs with a bearhug, but Spider-Man clapped his ears. With his ears ringing, Mindworm couldn't hear the people's mind from the area anymore and he lost control over them. Everyone returned home and Mindworm was left feeling alone again. The police arrived in helicopters to investigate what was going on in the area and ended up arresting Mindworm.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#35 (fb)) - Without his psychic connection to feed on the emotion of others Mindworm was starving to death. The authorities rushed him to Manhattan Psychiatrical Hospital where the doctors were able to keep him alive with machines. They were unable to restore his vitality, but over the next months Mindworm began to focus on his own mind to find new strength to get his revenge on Spider-Man.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#35 (fb) - BTS) - William became infatuated with his nurse Joyce Phillips and even offered to help her learn for her final psych exam.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#35) - One night Mindworm inadvertently trapped the sleeping Spider-Man and Joyce Phillips in a powerful dream of his. In the dream Mindworm escaped from the hospital after awakening from the coma, but he still felt disconnected from the rest from humanity. He sought out Spider-Man to get his revenge and lured him to his old Far Rockaway home where he forced Spider-Man into a maze. Inside the maze Spider-Man encountered Mindworm's supposed psychologist Joyce Phillips. They were attacked by giant rats before they were carried away and knocked out by hurricane-like winds. They ended up awakening in front of a monstrous looking form of Mindworm, which was, according to Joyce, what Mindworm saw himself as. Joyce asked Spider-Man to work together with her to help Mindworm before his lost his humanity forever. During a physical confrontation Spider-Man reminded Mindworm of his parents, which turned him back into his human form. Mindworm finally confronted his guilt over the death of his parents and remembered them one more time before he vanished. Mindworm, in Spider-Man's costume, told Joyce that he had finally defeated his deadliest foe, his guilt. He then released Spider-Man and Joyce from his dream.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#35 - BTS) - Mindworm removed Joyce's memory of the dream.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#35) - The next day Spider-Man swung to Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital to confront Mindworm. He saw Mindworm talking to Joyce Phillips, who was just his nurse, and reminded William that he had offered her to help with studying for her final psych exam. He had already read Spider-Man's mind and gave him the chance to ask if what had happened last night was real or just a dream. Mindworm wasn't sure himself, but he knew that it had helped him learn that with power came responsibility. He thanked Spider-Man and wished him good luck.

(Spectacular Spider-Man III#22 (fb)) - Mindworm started using his power to alter people's perception for jewel heists, but got caught by Spider-Man.

(Spider-Man's Tangled Web#5) - Mindworm was sent to the high-security prison known as the Cage around the same time as Kangaroo, Hypno-Hustler and Rhino. He wore manacles and shackles while he was escorted through the prison and laughed at Rhino.

(Spider-Man's Tangled Web#6) - After gaining a superior intellect through an experiment Rhino broke Mindworm and Kangaroo out of the Cage and offered them a job in his growing criminal empire. They took his offer.

   Mindworm and Kangaroo joined Rhino and his girlfriend Stella Pavlov to watch a new production of Hamlet.

(Spider-Man's Tangled Web#6 - BTS) - Mindworm lost the job when Rhino relinquished his genius mind voluntarily.

(Spectacular Spider-Man III#22 (fb)) - He was caught again by Spider-Man and handed over to the police with a bag over his head to block his powers. It was clear to Spider-Man that Mindworm didn't have the heart for crime.

   Mindworm was taken to Ravencroft where he became a model prisoner. He took medication that helped him a lot. He was eventually released to minimum security after around a year.

(Spectacular Spider-Man III#22 (fb) - BTS) - Upon his release the mentally ill Mindworm ended up living on the street and became an alcoholic begging for money. He inadvertently projected his misery to the people throughout an entire city block, which made them miserable and sometimes even aggressive themselves.

(Spectacular Spider-Man III#22) - One day Spider-Man found Mindworm sitting under a bridge and knew that he was the source of the misery the people in the area felt.

   Spider-Man returned as Peter Parker while it was raining because he felt guilty for what had happened to Mindworm. He watched him drinking cheap scotch and begging for food, but people just ignored him. Peter left Mindworm his umbrella to protect him from the rain.

(Spectacular Spider-Man III#22 - BTS) - After talking to May and Mary Jane about Mindworm, Spider-Man decided to take him to a doctor to help him.

(Spectacular Spider-Man III#22) - A few nights later Mindworm's inadvertent psychic assault rendered many people in the area unconscious. Spider-Man found Mindworm in an alley under attack from a group of street thugs. Mindworm lashed out at them and made them see the monsters from his nightmares. One of the scared thugs ran in front of a train while Spider-Man was nearly overwhelmed by Mindworm's nightmares. Spider-Man ended up fighting the thugs and trying to calm down Mindworm at the same time. The thugs ran away, but not before one of them cracked Mindworm's head against a wall. Mindworm died in front of Spider-Man.

Comments: Created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia & David Hunt.

Mindworm was part of the back-up feature "A Gallery of Spider-Man's Forgotten Foes" in Web of Spider-Man Annual I#3 (1987). In this mini profile Mindworm was called a mutant. The main image is a refurbed version from this feature.

Is he actually a mutant? Yes, but not what Marvel would consider a traditional mutant with the X-gene. He was actually mutated in the womb and possessed his powers since birth.

Mindworm received handbook profiles in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man 2005 (June, 2005) and All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z HC#7 (May, 2009).

I (and others on the Internet) wonder if Cyril M. Kornbluth's short story by the same name was an inspiration for Conway. The story was published in December, 1950 in the Worlds Beyond magazine. There are striking similarities between the main character of the short story and Conway's Mindworm, including a very similar set of abilities.

Mindworm's first appearance caused a bit of a controversy for Marvel, but not because of the character. Ross Andru used an actual house from the Far Rockaway area in Queens as reference, which got Marvel into legal trouble with the owner according to Conway because neighborhood kids started hanging around to get a glimpse from the guy with the oversized head. They apologized for it in the letters page of Amazing Spider-Man I#149 (November, 1974).

Profile by Markus Raymond.

Mindworm has no known connection to:

William Turner's family home

It was located in Far Rockaway and had been abandoned since William Turner's parents had died. Years later William returned to his old home and ended up living there by his own while feeding on the emotions of the people from Far Rockaway. One night he used his psychic powers to gather the people from Far Rockaway around his house. As they sleepwalked to his home, it caught the attention of the police and of Spider-Man, who had just moved in with Flash Thompson, who also lived in Far Rockaway. Spider-Man ended up breaking into the house and defeated Mindworm, who was arrested by the police.

--Amazing Spider-Man I#138

unidentified parents

The parents of William Turner lived in Far Rockaway, New York. When their son was born he was one of the many abnormal births in the area that happened since the government opened up an experimental compound outside town. They were unaware that their son was born with psychic powers that led to him constantly feeding on their emotions. William's father lost his job shortly after William was born. Over the next few years William's constant feeding on them left his parents in a severely weakened state. One night William's mother died when he started feeding on her while she tucked him into bed. His father saw it happen and immediately ran away from his monstrous son. He ran right in front of a speeding car and died as well, leaving William orphaned.

--Amazing Spider-Man I#138

images (without ads)
All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z HC#7, Mindworm profile (refurbed version of Web of Spider-Man Annual I#3, p38, main)
Amazing Spider-Man I#138, p10, pan1 (as baby)
Amazing Spider-Man I#138, p15, pan4 (using powers)
Spectacular Spider-Man II#35, p13, pan1 (psychic self)
Spectacular Spider-Man III#22, p5 (homeless)
Amazing Spider-Man I#138, p10, pan3 (with parents)

Amazing Spider-Man I#138 (November, 1974) - Gerry Conway (writer), Ross Andru (pencils), Frank Giacoia & David Hunt (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Spectacular Spider-Man II#35 (October, 1979) - Tony Isabella (writer), Lee Elias (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Jim Shooter (editor)
Web of Spider-Man Annual I#3 (1987) - Roger Stern (writer), Greg LaRoqcue (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Spider-Man's Tangled Web#5-6 (October-November, 2001) - Peter Milligan (writer), Duncan Fegredo (artist), Axel Alonso (editor)
Spectacular Spider-Man III#22 (February, 2005) - Paul Jenkins (writer), Talent Caldwell (pencils), Norman Lee (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)

First Posted: 11/19/2023
Last updated: 11/19/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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