Due to popular demand, in February of 1993 Venom was given his first limited series, Lethal Protector, beginning a long run of horrible, symbiote-themed limited series.
Recently, interest in symbiotes seems to have grown, with Eddie Brock auctioning off his symbiote in the Marvel Knights series, and Carnage spawning his own symbiote "son" in the Venom/Carnage limited series. Now Toxin, the spawn of Carnage, gets his own limited series. Is it a symbiote's time to shine, or is Toxin just another Lethal Protector?
Due to the recent breakout in New Avengers, there are quite a few more super villains running around New York than usual. One of which is King Cobra, who takes it on himself to interrupt the sale of some high quality diamonds and make off with the goods.
Pat Mulligan wants to find King Cobra, and what better place to start his search than at Ryker's Island Maximum Security Penitentiary, the very place that King Cobra just escaped from? And who better to question than Calvin Zabo, better known as Mr. Hyde, the Cobra's old partner? Zabo's got this collar on which stops him from becoming Hyde, and he offers to give up some info about Cobra if he gets half an hour a day without the collar. Needless to say, his request gets denied. He leaves with a police officer he seems to know, who tells Pat to come to his senses and go back to his wife and kid, and start being a cop again instead of impersonating one.
At home, Pat is having a conversation with Toxin, his symbiotic "other." Toxin wants to go out. Pat doesn't, and Toxin hits him up with some of that teenage angst we all know. Neither Pat nor Toxin seems too comfortable with the other, and both seem pretty unhappy about the situation they're stuck with.
The next day in the park, Pat does a little soul-searching as he watches his wife Gina and his son from afar. That night, he's talking with his police officer buddy, and tells him that he wants to make another trip to Ryker's for another talk with Zabo. Pat says that it's the only way he can rationalize what he's done by leaving his family and the police force, and that he's got to start using what he's become. Pat lets him in on everything that's happening with the symbiote.
Pat is with Zabo again, and he wants to talk. But this time, he doesn't want to talk about King Cobra. He wants to talk about "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". The book isn't just the blueprint Zabo used to create Mr. Hyde, but also about good and evil. "Good is bad and evil is good," as Zabo puts it. Pat tries to get him to see things differently, to convince him that no one's all good or evil, that there's always the potential for both. Zabo gets fed up and kicks him out, but not before tossing him a piece of snakeskin that Cobra had molted.
Pat's at home reading "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," which Toxin quickly gets bored of. He (it?) wants to go out and hunt for Cobra, and because of the snakeskin Zabo gave them, he can feel where Cobra is. Toxin heads out for the prowl.
Toxin tracks King Cobra down as he's, ahem, "engaged" with a lady friend of his--coincidentally, the courier of the diamonds he stole. Toxin and Cobra brawl, the girl walks out, and Toxin comes out on top. Toxin leaves Cobra wrapped up for the cops to pick up, which draws the attention of Spider-Man. Spidey knows of another super-villain on the loose, a guy with two swords for hands that goes by the name of Razorfist. Toxin agrees, after all, "How tough can someone with no hands be?" Well, apparently pretty tough, since we see him waste a gang of thugs pretty easily...
I started reading this comic with pretty low expectations, considering how my last experiences with symbiote limited series went. I'm very happy to say that so far, this is NOT another Lethal Protector! Toxin has depth to him, and he makes a pretty good hero. Much better than Brock ever was when they tried to turn him into some warped anti-hero.
Let's take a look at the good stuff this issue. I liked that it brought up King Cobra's old relationship with Hyde. I liked that Pat sometimes stutters when he's around the super types, since it shows he's still new to all this and doesn't quite feel comfortable with everything that's going on. I love that a symbiote finally has it's own personality, instead of the usual "Kill!! Feed me! Eat their brains!" we see from the Venom and Carnage symbiotes. Toxin seems much more like a rebellious teen, and it works really well. I also liked the parallel they used between Hyde and the symbiotes and the references to "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." And for the most part the dialogue is very good, the best part being the second conversation between Pat and his cop buddy. I'm not telling you what it is, so go pick up a copy for yourself!
And now for the bad, and fortunately there's not that much of it. I didn't like that Pat's buddy doesn't even get a name. I REALLY didn't like that scene with Toxin fighting King Cobra. The dialogue was just horrible and a lot of the reactions were very out of place. And since when is King Cobra so mutated? I thought he was just a really quick and flexible guy with cobra venom gadgets. I also don't care for this new Razorfist guy. He seems pretty boring to me, especially after fighting a veteran like King Cobra. I mean c'mon, going against a guy who's held his own against Thor, Daredevil, Spider-Man and Captain America, and then fighting a guy with swords for hands? And is he a new villain or did they just make him up for this?
The good definitely outweighs the bad. Let's hope it continues.