Like I’ve said many, many times before: Anything had the propensity to be turned into a cartoon. Anything. Even Troma films. Troma’s most popular film (I use that term loosely) spawned (I use that word purposely) its own cartoon. The Toxic Avenger begat Toxic Crusaders. For the life of me, I can’t tell you why, but I watched the crap out of this.
You know all those goofy movies you and your 13-year-old friends filmed and eventually put on YouTube? Troma has been doing that since 1974. Whatever you made is about the same quality of their “work.” The Toxic Avenger, released in 1984, eventually became a cult classic. When Ted Turner made environmentalism cool with Captain Planet, others sought out their own eco-focused cartoon. Hence, Toxic Crusaders.
Aside from general concept and protagonist, the movie and cartoon had little in common. In the cartoon, scrawny gym janitor Melvin Junko of Tromaville, New Jersey, was tricked into kissing a sheep while wearing a tutu. He went running out of the gym, only to fall into a barrel of toxic waste, mutating him into Toxie, a creature of superhuman size and strength. The rest of the Crusaders were created in similar mishaps. No-Zone was a test pilot who crashed into a radioactive silo of pepper after flying through a hole in the ozone. Headbanger was the result of Dr. Bender, a mad scientist, and Fender, a surfer, becoming conjoined after falling into an atom smasher. My favorite was a homeless man and his dog, who slept in a kennel covered in toxic waste. A lightning strike mutated them together, forming Junkyard.
This took the nonsensical heroic origins of Marvel characters, where everything was cosmic this or radioactive that, and cranked it up to 11. Despite the inherent absurdity, I still believe there are open barrels of toxic waste spread about New Jersey. I’ve been there. It’s terrible. Fun fact, kids: cosmic waves, radioactive anything and toxic waste only give you cancer. Or maybe melt a body part.
The Crusaders battled aliens from the planet Smogula, intent on polluting our planet to make it habitable for themselves. Czar Zosta and Dr. Killemoff were the central antagonists, working alongside corrupt Mayor Max Goody. Other random facts: Toxie’s mop, Mop, could talk; there was a one-off villain named Mower Man, gardening equipment, toxic waste, you get the idea; Toxie had a pet blob named Blobbie; Rodger Bumpass, best known as Squidward on Spongebob Squarepants, voiced Toxie and Dr. Killemoff.
Toxic Crusaders was stupid. The show only lasted a short 13-episode season. I don’t know why I liked it so much. Probably because it was really colorful. The toys were pretty neat. I think Toxie regularly helped the Ninja Turtles fight Shredder. Never understood the tutu, though. Oh, don’t listen to the theme song. It’s terrible. You’ll never get it out of your head.
Remember this waste? Get it? Waste? Sigh… Comment below.
In addition to THN’s Saturday Morning Cartoons and Nerd at the Movies, Tony writes for his own site, thecredhulk.com, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ’em hi.