What’s hideously deformed, smells of toxic waste, and wears a ragged pink tutu? Yo mama! Ha! I kill myself sometimes! Ahem. Seriously though. If you answered, “The Toxic Avenger”, you’d be right on the money. The Toxic Avenger was created in 1984 as a black comedy/horror/superhero film for Troma Entertainment. Though the movie was low-budget and highly ignored upon it’s release the following year, it is now considered to be a cult classic. It spawned three sequels, a comic series by Marvel, and even a cartoon series, “The Toxic Crusaders”. That’s just to name a few of it’s major accomplishments. I first saw Toxie at home, on a rented VHS tape, when I was just a little boy. (And I turned out to be a completely well-adjusted individual. Kinda.) I’ve watched and re-watched it over and over again since and a large movie poster even adorned my bedroom wall. He was a large part of my childhood and is thusly held in high regard in my heart to this very day. That said, on with the story…..
Carrying only a mop, the creature crawls through the disgusting refuse of the barren junkyard. Confusion taints his every thought. Where is he? Who is he? All he remembers with clarity is excruciating pain. He happens upon a beaten-up, old car. Looking at his reflection in the vehicle’s broken window, he sees a grotesque monster looking back at him! He lets loose an unearthly roar that echoes throughout the garbage dump! Not far away, a trio of street thugs jump at the frightening sound. Leaving the warmth of their flaming barrel, they check their guns and go to investigate. The monster’s body is suddenly bombarded with an intense tingling. He somehow knows that evil approaches. (I get that buzzing feeling too. It’s usually caused by too much caffeine and followed by a sugar crash that involves me snoring away for hours. The only evil that follows is a stomachache and a mad dash to the bathroom.)
The punks round the corner and spy a humanoid form in the shadows. They waste no time in leaping from their hiding place and firing semi-automatic rounds into their intended prey! The three slowly approach their bullet-ridden target. It’s then that they realize that it was only a discarded mannequin. They question one another as to who cried out then. Their answer comes from a monstrous growl from behind them. The creature stands there revealed, spinning his mop like a weapon! (I totally did this move with a broom once. No lie! I mean, I quit after I nailed myself in the junk and went up a whole octave, but I did it!)
With a swift swipe of the mop, the trio are simultaneously disarmed! Another swipe takes all three off of their feet! The nameless monster lifts one of the thugs effortlessly over his head and shoves him into a nearby stack of tires! He then kicks the screaming man off of the peak of the junk pile, sending him crashing below! He’s then seemingly crushed to death by the tons of hastily stacked trash that topple down from the force of the impact! Seizing this moment as an opportunity to attack, another of the punks breaks a large chunk of wood over the creature’s head! He quickly turns, completely unharmed and now slightly irritated. The thug is thrown down into a festering pool of toxic waste! The man-beast then runs toward the bubbling chemicals (Probably 7-up. Hate that stuff unless I’m sick. Great! There goes my sponsor!) and reaches in to finish the fight. What he pulls out is nothing more than a charred and smoking skeleton! The monster turns then to see the last of his attackers run off, screaming into the night!
The evildoer leaps into a car and speeds off! The monster, in hot pursuit, runs after the car and into traffic! The creature then hails a passing cab. The driver pulls over, takes one look at his prospective passenger, and exits from the vehicle’s opposite door as fast as his body allows! The beast gets into the driver’s seat and floors the gas! He follows the thug’s car throughout the busy city streets until the creature hits a ramp at such a high speed, that he sails through the air until the cab crashes onto the roof of a nearby shop! (Man! That’s really hard to do! I only did it once or twice as a teen. Yep. Pretty rare.) The monster crawls, unharmed, from the wreckage. It then hears the terrified cries of the people down below. They’re scared of him. He leaps down from the roof, roaring in outrage! The concrete shatters where his feet impacted the ground! The people run away in a panic! Confused and frightened himself, he runs too.
We now shift our attention elsewhere. The scene is the Tromaville Home for the Blind. A scantily clad young woman with spiked hair and white facepaint covering half of her features speaks to the owner of the building. She asks him, with an obvious lack of tact, if he’ll sell the building to her boss for the purpose of tearing it down to make room for a toxic waste dump. Understandably angry at this, he orders her to leave the premises immediately. Amused, she does so. When she gets outside, she gives a loud whistle. Trucks full of gasoline begin driving in! (Awww! She’s sorry. She’s going to make up for her bad attitude by throwing a large barbecue! Oh! I do hope there’s weenies!)
Men exit the trucks, attach hoses, and begin dousing the entire building with gas! When it’s sufficiently drenched, the girl lights a match and tosses it onto the walkway to the entrance! There’s a large explosion as the Home for the Blind is engulfed in a firey inferno! (Okay. Everyone be calm. It does now appear that there will be no weenies.) The drivers then pull out guns and begin picking off the survivors that run from the burning facility! A load roar is then heard! One of the gasoline trucks is suddenly lifted and hurled at the shocked gunmen! The monster walks through the fire, towards an armed survivor of his awesome attack! The man panics and grabs the nearest fleeing blind person. He holds a sawed-off shotgun to her temple, threatening to take her life if he isn’t allowed safe passage out of here!
The creature implores him to let the poor girl go. Touched by this show of chivalry, the blind girl introduces herself as Claire. But before the man-beast can reply, she ducks down and rams her elbow into the henchman’s ribcage! He drops the gun! The monster seizes this opportunity. He punches a hole nearly clean through the villain’s head! (Umm. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think the guy in the picture above is gonna make it. I mean, I’m no doctor…..) The monstrous hero suddenly feels something strike him in the head. He turns and sees that the city’s denizens are pelting him with stones. Scooping up Claire in his powerful arms, he flees the scene as quickly as he can.
While this is going on, a sinister businessman orders his henchmen to dump more toxic waste into the filtration system of the pools at the Tromaville Health Club. When one of these goons dares to question why, the man replies that he wasnts to impress his uncle when he arrives. Meanwhile, the strange monster and Claire sit at the city dump. Things seem to move rather quickly between the two as she suddenly professes her love for her hero and desire to live with him. Overjoyed, he decides that his appearance and current encounters with the people of this city will unfortunately force him to reside right where the two lovebirds currently sit. Claire surprisingly agrees and the man-beast begins the hasty construction of a makeshift shelter. (Wow! Chicks. You show women the slightest bit of interest, and they immediately want to move in together. Am I right, fellas? Sheesh! Oh, if you happen to be a female that’s reading this, I immediately recant my previous statement. )
The two new lovers hold one another in the confines of their junkyard shack. Claire suddenly kisses her man. It’s then that he springs to his feet as his memories all suddenly flood in at once! His name is Melvin Junko! (Whew! Thank God! I was getting so sick of trying to find synonyms for the word “monster” and then alternating them! Though calling this huge guy “Melvin” isn’t much better!) Claire is understandably concerned. She asks Melvin if he’s okay. He replies that he is and that he now remembers how all of this happened to him. She begs that he tell her. He agrees and begins his tale.
Melvin Junko was your average, nerdy, ninety-eight pound weakling. He was the local janitor at the Tromaville Health Club, a place where only the beautiful and popular would congregate to show off ther perfect bodies. Needless to say, Melvin stuck out like a sore thumb. There was a girl that frequented the club that had always caught Melvin’s eye. Her name was Linda. Linda was living proof that beauty on the outside could definitely mask pure ugliness within. One day, as poor Melvin was mopping up around the pool area, the owner watched him with obvious disgust. He called Linda to his office and a nefarious plot to humiliate Melvin was concocted. (Man! That’s messed up! As an obsessive comic book fan, I call to all of the nerds of the world to rise up against our popular oppressors! The time for retribution is nigh! Or we could just complain the injustice of it all a bit and then play our Dungeons & Dragons in defiance. Dibs on the Drow elf!)
Linda approached Melvin that afternoon. Acting apologetic about her past dealings with him and aroused by his mere presence, she asked him to meet her in a back room later to be romantic. Overjoyed, Melvin agrees. There’s one catch however, it seems she’s only turned on when men kiss her in pink ballerina outfits. Too excited to question this strange request further, Melvin speeds off to change while she waits. (One might question Melvin here. Did he not suspect a practical joke? Need I remind you that she’s a sexy blonde, sporting a bikini, and he’s your average dumb man? I thought that might clear things up.) A few fumbling moments later, and with his prized mop in hand, he emerges to find the girl of his dreams waiting for him. Grabbing his pile of clothes suddenly, she runs out into the common area of the health club! A very panicked Melvin Junko gives chase! But what he finds when he exits the door is the laughing faces of literally everyone in the club! Even his boss chuckled and pointed!
Poor Melvin did the only thing his embarrassed and horrified mind could think of. He ran away. Unfortunately for him, the amassed bulky bullies gave chase until Melvin jumped from the nearest window! The fall wasn’t too bad height-wise. It was what he landed in. A truck that was hauling toxic waste had stopped directly underneath that very window! A bolt of lightning then struck the very barrel he was inside! Moments later, the young man slowly tried to crawl from the industrial byproduct! His flesh burned and bubbled as he did so! His hair ignited and fell out as his muscles grew and swelled with each painful step! No-one tried to help. What could they possibly do even if thry had been that compassionate? The monstrous form that was once Melvin Junko then sought refuge in the only place he could, the garbage dump. (The flashback has now ended. I now return you to your regularly scheduled movie adaption comic, already in progress.)
The monster now turns to Claire and announces that Melvin Junko died that night. From this day forward, he would be known as the Toxic Avenger! With this dramatic proclamation, he suddenly feels his body quake like it did earlier! Evil is near! That’s when a tank, driven by the punk that escaped him earlier, busts through the shack wall! Well, that’s the end of issue numero uno. If you were intrigued by my narrative and wish to find out what happens next, go buy a copy of issue two yourself! (I can’t do everything for you after all! Ha!)
Some items that I, your humble Symbifan, possess: (A Toxic Avenger novel signed by his creator, Lloyd Kaufman, and a figure of Toxie that my son just presented me with tonight, bought with his very first paycheck.)