TOXIC CRUSADERS (#3, July 1992)
I vaguely remember watching the Toxic Crusaders cartoon as a pernicious youngster. Of course, I had no idea that it was based on a film series so debauched, that it helped redefine exploitation. Let me get this out of the way; I can take or leave Troma. I don't despise Lloyd Kaufman's brand of lavatory humor, but I can't name a single title that I genuinely love. If I had to pick a favorite, I suppose The Toxic Avenger would win the blue ribbon. I still have blue ribbons that I won in the Special Olympics. That's how I see Troma pictures. I envision them as mentally challenged children being extolled by a crowd of supercilious onlookers for placing first in the ring toss. Not that it matters, but I totally kicked ass in all of the wheelchair races.
There were only thirteen episodes of the cartoon, but it precipitated an influx of merchandise. Marvel published eight comic books. I own one. That's right. Touch me, motherfucker. TOUCH ME! This issue is about a hulking, amorphous custard creature. In a stroke of atypical serendipity, Dr. Killemoff (insectoid archfiend numero uno) and Czar Zoster (insectoid archfiend numero dos) unwittingly create the tapioca titan by shipping the wrong chemical to a pastry factory. Initially bewildered, the evildoers decide to allow nature to run its course. If everything goes according to plan, the devastating dessert will ravage Tromaville. Will Toxie and the gang be able to thwart the onrushing vicissitude? What do you think?
I'll say this much; the writing is fairly clever. The blob-like menace doesn't harbor nefarious intentions. It merely wants to be eaten. Unfortunately, the artificial enzymes can't be digested by humans. God, why am I still banging out a synopsis? The plot is the kind of callow bilge you would expect, which isn't to condemn the comic as a whole. It serves its purpose. The artwork is frowzy, garish and appropriately disgusting. I wasn't blown away, but if I had read this insanity in 1992, it would have ruled my life. Oddly enough, the opening page is a comic strip advertisement for Apple Cinnamon Cheerios christened "The Adventures of Apple and Cinnaman: Defenders of the Sprinkles." Yep.
Speaking of ads, I enjoyed them more than the feature presentation, if I may be so candid. Spy sunglasses, pills that give you "Hercules muscles," whoopee cushions (billed as whoopee devices), magic tricks, snake eggs, mental floss...obviously, I ordered each furbelow. I made sure to send extra coinage as an incentive to expedite the shipping process. In summation, Toxic Crusaders #3 is hardly mandatory reading material, but it's a bit of a blast. I'm tacking on a half-Dragon for those gnarly ads. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is opening this summer? I'm fucking there!