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In terms of pro-environmental comic series, no other series ever came close to The Toxic Crusaders.
There are all sorts of things that you can blog about the merits of Captain Planet or Tank Girl, in terms of what those comic series did to enrich public discourse about the health of our environment. But none of those series can hold a candle to The Toxic Crusader.
The whole franchise was derived from Troma’s independant camp horror classic, The Toxic Avenger. The film told the story of a nerdy gym janitor who falls into a dump truck filled with industrial waste, and it transforms him into the Toxic Avenger. He’s 25% environmentalist, 50% percent vigilante, 25% monster, and 100% gross. But gross as he is, the character isn’t nearly as troubling as the industrial detritus and messiness that initially inspired the film.
The film became a cult classic, and inevitably inspired it’s own Saturday morning TV show, entitled “The Toxic Crusaders.” The program was infinitely milder than the raunchy independent series that inspired it, but it still had plenty of in-jokes for adults and Troma fans. The show features supervillains who are corporate fat cat/super villain hybrids who love nothing more than polluting the earth.
The program was on the air for two years, and in the United States, Marvel Comics produced an 8 part comic series modeled after the television show. The short-lived, but nevertheless wonderful comic series featured story contributions from significant comic writers, including Steve Gerber and Hilary Barta. One issue was even a direct parody of Captain Planet. In Europe, Fleetway produced their own Toxic Crusaders comic series, which consisted of 10 issues.
The comics (like the films that preceded them) take a satirical blow at large corporations that carelessly pollute the environment. Thankfully, we live in a world now where consumers are pressuring corporations to reduce their waste, and what’s more, alternative energy providers in deregulated markets such as directenergyrates.com are enabling the average person to reduce their own energy waste.
Given the modern-day preoccupation with green energy/eco-consciousness, perhaps the series is due for some kind of resurgence?