All posts by Symbifan

Avenging Hero…..in a Tutu

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.)

Long Live the King! (part 2)

Gather around, my fellow Unspokenites, and let me tell you a tale! A tale of one of the coolest, yet frequently forgotten, characters in all of the Aquaman mythos! I speak of course of King Noble, ruler of the underdwelling people, the Lurkers. When I last left you, Aquaman and Noble had gotten into a fierce fight. A fight that Aquaman ultimately won. But when the sea king attempted to make the defeated Noble swear allegiance to him, the surrounding Lurkers pulled their weapons and took aim at the King of Atlantis!

Aquaman mentally commands Mera to strike now and strike hard! Mera musters all of her might and commands the very water within the Lurker ships to expand, exploding several vessels in their armada! Next, Tempest is let loose on the unsuspecting Lurker soldiers! First he tries to freeze the water around their bodies, but this does little as these creatures are used to the frigid depths of the ocean! He then changes strategy and blasts flame from his hands at them! That has the desired effect! This attack defeats several of the Lurker warriors! (And people thought Aqualad was lame. Well, the little boy has grown up to become a badass! It’s gotta be the facial tattoo. It makes Mike Tyson look stupid, but on Tempest, it just works!)

Finally, Aquaman gives the command for the Atlantean army to attack the Lurker soldiers! While the battle commences, King Noble gives a rallying speech to his people. There will be no surrender. (This part really reminded me of “Braveheart”. Minus Mel Gibson’s superior acting skills. You know, back when he had an acting career?) Noble turns and orders one of his people’s large war machines to open fire upon an Atlantean structure! The mighty spire collapses from the blast! Sharpened rubble propels downwards, toward a petrified Atlantean child! Surprisingly, Noble pulls the youth to safety at the last moment!

This action doesn’t go unnoticed. Mera, witnessing the whole thing, questions Noble. Why would one who brings war to Atlantis, save an Atlantean? He merely replies that the young one was innocent in all of this and does not deserve to become a victim in this fight. Mera, obviously shocked by this, attempts to reply. This is however cut short as a mentally-commanded whale slams into the King of the Lurkers with all of its tremendous bulk! Aquaman orders Mera to flee to safety, thanking her for this “distraction”. She opens her mouth to protest just as an enraged King Noble bursts back onto the scene! He roars about cowardice and deception! (I’ve gotta agree with the King here. Talk about a cheap move! Waiting until Aquaman was busy elsewhere in order to show off to his woman! How distasteful!)

King Noble hurls himself at Aquaman with unfathomable ferocity! The two udersea kings seem to shake the very foundations of the city around them as they trade mighty blows! That is until Aquaman makes the mistake of calling himself the king of all that resides below the water! Noble had not heard this boast until this very moment! He is now noticeably even more angry! How dare this man claim to be a king of something that he himself has ruled underneath of for the entirety of his life? He turns with a look of unbridled fury! (It’s really on now, folks! Aquaman’s in for the fight of a lifetime! And I mean a fight more difficult to win than the fight to tame that wild, long hair while it’s sopping wet!)

The fight continues. It rages from one end of the kingdom to the other! Neither of them holding anything back! Finally, while King Noble is distracted by a living wall of commanded fish, Aquaman leads the fight to his bed chambers. When Noble comes crashing through the wall, he finds his opponent armed with a new, seemingly cybernetic, golden hand! (Groovy! Did you youngins out there get that “Army of Darkness” quote? Let’s pretend you did so I don’t weep over how ancient I’ve become. Deal?) The King of Atlantis strikes the King of the Lurkers with such force, that he actually momentarily stuns him! He then uses this opportunity to begin forcing Noble towards the surface world above!

Mera ponders out loud, what could the Sea King’s ultimate goal be? Tempest answers that it appears as though his mentor means to see how Noble handles a serious case of the bends! Noble howls in pain as he clutches his skull, in agony from the sudden change in pressure! It’s then that Aquaman stops. Instead of killing this powerful enemy, he talks sense into him! They both obviously care a great deal for their respective people, but this pointless fight needs to end. Noble seems utterly shocked as his foe lowers him back to Atlantis. (Awww! Makes you feel warm all over, doesn’t it? Unless someone just peed in all of this water…..)

A short time passes. Both kings shake hands. Aquaman declares that not only will Noble continue to lead the Lurkers, he is making him his right hand! Shocked but touched by this sign of respect and friendship, he accepts. Well, that’s it. Who’s to say that comic books can’t have a happy ending? And I’m sure that the two undersea kings’ friendship will be a strong and lasting thing for years to come. In fact, let’s peek ahead at a cover of Aquaman just a few months later……

Well crap! Until next time, Symbifan out!

Long Live the King! (part 1)

So, does he just talk to fish? Sadly, that’s all that enters most people’s minds when they think of Aquaman. The guy rules nearly three fourths of the planet, can rip open a tank with his bare hands, and has skin that’s tough enough to withstand the intense pressure of the lowest depths of the oceanic floor! All of this, and you’re all concerned with his power to telepathically communicate with aquatic lifeforms?! For shame! Anywho, that being said, this article isn’t really even about Aquaman. It’s about a rival to his throne that most fans have all but forgotten. This is the tale of King Noble…..

Our story begins with a celebration. The King of Atlantis not only celebrates the day of his birth, but the recent completion of his rebuilt cities. Many come to rejoice in the glory of the new undersea kingdom as well as Aquaman’s birthday. Yes. It is most certainly a day of happiness. But not all are as pleased. Sinister eyes flash with anger in the darkest depths. (Uh-oh. Looks like someone doesn’t like loud parties. I can relate at my age. Damn kids and their hippity hop music!)

With a kingly speech, Aquaman proclaims the new Atlantis officially complete! That’s when the explosions begin! The mighty domes that cover the cities explode into shards, raining down upon the amassed people below! The king looks to the source of this destruction and his gaze is met by the emergence of a heavily-armored and well-armed army of attackers! (Man, Princess Ariel’s dad’s gonna be really peeved!)

This is far from Aquaman’s first rodeo. The ruler in him immediately takes over. He goes into king/superhero mode and begins giving orders to his loyal compatriots on how to best retaliate against this savage onslaught. He then turns his attention to protecting his people. When this is attended to, he demands an audience with the leader of this terrorist group. He doesn’t have long to wait. The leader fearlessly approaches! (It’s on like Donkey Kong! That reference is a bit dated. Umm. It’s on like Call of Duty! There! I’m hip.)

The gray-skinned man says that he is known as King Noble and that the Atlanteans are not wanted in what is their domain. Aquaman replies in anger that this has been the home to his people for time untold. Noble merely says that his people, the Lurkers, have existed beneath this place since before the Atlanteans’ arrival here and that the recent encroachment upon their land has incurred their wrath. Shocked by this, Aquaman demonstrates how the very creatures of the deep obey his very thoughts. Is this not a sign that not only he, but his people were meant for this place? Noble answers with a fist to the King of Atlantis’ face! (Yeah. Way to prove your point, Arthur. I can get a house cat to come to me, but I’d hardly say that I’m destined to be Lord of the Cats! Or should I? Hmmm…..)

The mighty blow staggers Aquaman! But he has fought more battles in his life than he could possibly count. Recovering quickly, he fires his harpoon hand at Noble! The cable attached almost ensnares the King of the Lurkers, but he grabs hold quickly and, with a powerful yank, snaps the cable! (Aquaman had better watch out! Next Noble may just punch a hole into the aquatic superhero’s metal bra just for kicks!) Aquaman turns and swims towards a nearby power station. Seemingly having boxed himself in, Noble swims at him like a torpedo, ready for the kill! At the last moment, Aquaman moves, causing Noble to crash into the complex equipment! He is electrified into unconsciousness! Aquaman then grabs the fallen king by his hair and demands that he swear aligence to him! The Lurkers have other ideas as they ready their weapons in defense of their downed ruler!

To be concluded…..