Real Name: Unrevealed (see comments)

Identity/Class: Human mutate (Pre-Modern era)

Occupation: Thief, spy

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Unidentified agent

Enemies: Rat, Professor Serak, United States military

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "The Spy Who Cannot Be Caught" (as called by himself); "The Man In the Rat Hole" (see comments)

Base of Operations: His apartment in an unidentified city, somewhere in America

First Appearance: Strange Tales I#78/4 (November, 1960)

Powers/Abilities: An expert safe-cracker, the Worm Man carried a pill case on the waist of his shorts (see comments) which contained a shrinking formula and a growth antidote (both in pill form). Taking a shrinking pill reduced his stature, and--as the chemically-induced size-change was permanent--a growth antidote pill was needed to return him to his normal size.

A nimble and athletic individual, the Worm Man was able to climb nearly anything he could get a foothold or handhold on.

At his reduced size, the Worm Man could easily gain access to buildings by crawling unseen through the cracks, crevices and dead spaces within walls, and thus was virtually invisible to security devices, making him the perfect thief; but the size reduction also proportionately diminished his strength.

While shrunken, the Worm Man employed a spot of phosphorescent material to provide him with light to see in dark places.

Height: 5' 10" (by approximation); 1.5" (while shrunken)
Weight: 170 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

(Strange Tales I#78/4 (fb) - BTS) - The past of the Worm Man is unrevealed, but he somehow obtained a shrinking formula and a growth antidote in pill forms (see comments)--the criminal began to use these pills to steal.

(Strange Tales I#78/4) - Outside a military installation, the Worm Man swallowed a shrinking pill and reduced his size. After making his way inside a wall, he sneaked into a general's office by climbing up an electrical wire. Taking a growth pill to return to his normal size, the Worm Man easily broke into a safe and removed some documents--to smuggle the secret papers out, he merely sealed them in an envelope with his own address on it, then dropped it in an outgoing mail box. Afterward, the Worm Man took another shrinking pill and left the same way he entered, having accomplished the perfect spy mission.

   Later at his home, the Worm Man was visited by a foreign agent who hired him for his next mission: The Worm Man was tasked with spying on an important meeting between the nation's chiefs of staff and top scientists, to learn what was being discussed--the Worm Man assured the agent that he wouldn't fail.

   Shortly afterwards, the shrunken spy made his way into the secret meeting place, where he stood unseen atop of a lighting fixture and listened. The Worm Men learned that Professor Serak had developed a powerful new explosive, so he decided to steal the Professor's notes for himself--with the secret of the explosive, the Worm Man figured he could extort every nation on the planet, and thus have the whole world in the palm of his hand!.

   But as the Worm Man crawled back into the walls so he could get to Serak's lab, he found his passage blocked by a common rat. Noticing that the menacing "giant" rodent was straddling a length of electrical wire, the miniature malefactor pulled the wire and threw the rat off balance, causing the creature to fall off a ledge and into a dead space, where it couldn't climb out. But as it fell, the rodent had managed to scratch its claw at the Worm Man, tearing off the pill case containing the growth antidote. The rat and the pill case both landed at the bottom of the hole, far from the Worm Man's reach.

   Realizing he couldn't climb down to retrieve the pill case--because he wouldn't have a chance confronting the maddened rat--the Worm Man found himself in a dilemma: He could either stay trapped in the rat hole at his reduced size, or he could call for help and be captured by the authorities.

   Left trying to decide which course of action to take, the Worm Man's final fate remains unresolved.

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Steve Ditko.

When this story was reprinted in Tower of Shadows#6 (July, 1970), the title was changed to "The Man in the Rat Hole!" and it was edited and re-lettered to remove all references of this character being called "The Worm Man".

The Worm Man predates the first appearance of Henry (Ant-Man) Pym in Tales to Astonish I#27 (January, 1962).
But maybe the Worm Man's shrinking pills utilized what would later be known as the size-altering "Pym Particles".
--Ron Fredricks

So who was the Worm Man, and where did he get his size-changing pills? My theory is that he was an adult Jimmy Everett/Microman--maybe little Jimmy fell in with a bad crowd, and this is what happened to an obscure Golden Age character.
Hmm... It's possible--they both had blue eyes, and both were good at climbing...
Also, it might be worth mentioning that the Worm Man shrank out of his street-clothes, so he always went into action barefoot and only wearing shorts--maybe his skivvies were made from some sort of unstable-molecular fabric that shrank with him (...otherwise there might have been trouble from the Comics Code Authority).
--Ron Fredricks

Profile by John Kaminski. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.

The Worm Man has no known connections to:

Professor Serak has no known connections to:

Unidentified agent

Apparently working for an unfriendly foreign power (probably the Russians and/or other Communists), he employed the services of the Worm Man.

He went to the Worm Man's apartment and hired him to spy on a meeting between the American military and top scientists; although the agent objected to the high price the Worm Man charged for his services, he assured the shrinking spy that his price would be met.

--Strange Tales I#78/4

Professor Serak

A scientist employed by the U.S. military, Professor Serak (first name unrevealed) developed a new explosive; but the explosive proved to be impossible to control, so Serak requested a meeting with the nation's chiefs of staff.

At the meeting, Serak gave his report about the unstable nature of the explosive to the military officials; Serak requested that he be allowed to abandon the project and destroy his notes, and the military leaders granted him permission to do so.

But unknown to Serak and the others, the Worm Man (see red circle) was eavesdropping on the meeting from above--the shrunken spy was planning to steal Serak's notes for his own purposes.

--Strange Tales I#78/4


An ordinary rodent, it dwelt within the walls of a U.S. military installation.

When the shrunken Worm Man was climbing through the walls of the building, he found the passage blocked by the "huge" rat. The rodent happened to be straddling an electrical wire, so the Worm Man pulled the wire and threw it off balance, causing the rat to fall.

But before the rat fell, its claws managed to scratch at the Worm Man, and thereby tore off the pill case containing the tiny spy's growth antidote--both the rat and the pill case landed in a dead space within the wall, from which the rat was unable to climb out.

Although the rat was trapped, the tiny Worm Man couldn't retrieve his pill case, because he knew he wouldn't have a chance confronting the "giant" maddened rodent.

--Strange Tales I#78/4

images: (without ads)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p1, pan1 (Main Image - Worm Man climbing along wire, above rat)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p3, pan7 (Headshot - Worm Man)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p3, pan1 (shrunken Worm Man shrinks after taking pill)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p5, pan4 (shrunken Worm Man realizes his pill case is gone)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p2, pan4 (after shrinking, Worm Man climbs out of his street-clothes)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p3, pan6 (unidentified foreign agent speaks with Worm Man)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p4, pan3 (Professor Serak; shrunken Worm Man (in red circle) on light fixture (background) )
Strange Tales I#78/4, p5, pan2 (rat charges as shrunken Worm Man pulls electrical wire)
Strange Tales I#78/4, p5, pan5 (rat trapped in dead space; shrunken Worm Man contemplates his predicament)

Strange Tales I#78/4 (November, 1960) - unidentified writer, Steve Ditko (pencils and inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Artie Simek (letters), Stan Lee (editor)

First Posted: 03/10/2005
Last updated: 09/08/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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