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Comic Book / Toxin

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Like grandfather, like father, like son

Toxin was a Marvel Comics miniseries written by Peter Milligan, spinning out of the events of New Avengers.

The "child" of Carnage, Toxin is a symbiote bonded to NYPD officer Patrick Mulligan, who hopes to teach the still young creature right from wrong by taking down escaped supervillains, and thus prevent the symbiote from turning out like his father. While characterization varies from writer to writer, and indeed host to host, generally Toxin is cast in a more noble light than other symbiotes. While he has a dark sense of humor and can be just as brutal as any of his kin, Toxin is also portrayed as childish, curious, and playful, ultimately coming down firmly on the side of justice rather than the fine line walked by his grandfather, the self-styled "Lethal Protector".

Following the conclusion of the character's miniseries, Patrick Mulligan was Killed Offscreen by Blackheart, who took the symbiote for himself. The Toxin symbiote eventually wound up being bonded to Eddie Brock in Rick Remender and Cullen Bunn's Venom. This carried through into Gerry Conway's Carnage (2016), when Eddie gave the Toxin symbiote to South African teenager Jubulile van Scotter, who sacrificed it to halt a Darkhold invasion.

When the creator of the symbiotes, the cosmic horror known as Knull, arrived at Earth to conquer the planet, he discovered Toxin had survived his ordeal, barely. However, the King in Black believed it to be too weak to be of any use and thus did nothing to restore it. Remarkably, it was eventually able to limp to a young boy named Bren Waters, who became his newest host, regaining much of his original characterization in the process.

This series contains examples of:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: After his defeat, Razorfist begs Toxin to kill him rather than send him to Ryker's. Toxin of course decides he's Not Worth Killing.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Razorfist might look like just a loon with blades for arms, but he actually studied under a kung fu master "who by force of will could rearrange his molecules". This is how he can slash his Self-Harm-addicted followers without actually harming them.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Razorfist had his arms replaced with blades. They make him an incredibly dangerous combatant, but he needs a small army of servants to feed him and attend to his personal hygiene, and whenever he's arrested, the blades are taken away and he's forced to rely on prosthetic arms.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Razorfist isn't above using his blades on stray cats to keep his reflexes sharp.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: As much as Razorfist can brag and put on a show, he turns Dirty Coward and runs for the exit the second Toxin shows himself.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Razorfist is more deadly than you'd expect a guy with no hands to be, but he's still way out of his league against Toxin. The instant the symbiote stops jerking Pat around and takes the guy seriously, it's over.
  • C-List Fodder: Pat would end up being Killed Offscreen sometime after the end of his series.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Since Razorfist has blades instead of hands, his combat style is limited to close-range attacking.
  • Cultural Rebel: Anton, Razorfist's newest recruit, is the archetypal African-American who is intellectual and shunned by his peers for it.
  • Cumbersome Claws: Razorfist keeps a small army of Self-Harm-addicted children to attend to him since his lower arms are replaced by blades. He's called out on it by Toxin saying he removed his arms to force the responsibility of feeding, clothing, and cleaning himself onto others.
  • Death by Origin Story: While Toxin is already an established hero when it happens, Patrick's dad is killed by Razorfist during the course of the miniseries, making Razorfist his archenemy.
  • Driven to Suicide: Patrick tries to off himself jumping at a moving subway. Toxin intervenes to save him, and gives him a reason to live by letting him see his kid with shapeshifting.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: After Toxin's miniseries ended, the character disappeared for a few years until the symbiote turned up in the possession of Blackheart in Rick Remender's Venom run. When asked what had happened to Patrick, Remender quipped that he had been beaten to death off-panel by Blackheart, who then ate his wife and son.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Razorfist brags about being an "equal opportunities employer" to Anton, the latest of a gang of kids he hires to attend to his needs.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Razorfist's lair apparently has quite the pungent order. Being a twisted sort of guy, he likes it that way.
  • The Fagin: Razorfist is a dark exploration of this trope — he recruits kids who Self-Harm and uses his powers to inflict the sensation of harm on them without the actual harm in exchange for their absolute loyalty.
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: As a massive break-out of villains occured right before this miniseries, Pat helps Spider-Man in rounding them up.
  • Invincible Hero: The main complaint readers have with this story. Toxin's not outright invincible, but compared to the villains he faces he might as well be.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: After merging with Toxin, Pat leaves his wife and child out of fear that he'll hurt them if he loses contol of the symbiote.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Continuing the theme established when Carnage was introduced as stronger than Venom, Toxin is initially established as being stronger than both Venom and Carnage, putting Pat in the ranks of Superpower Lottery winners as symbiote hosts go. Later, however, Toxin's power was scaled back, probably because he didn't end up taking off as much as Marvel wanted him to.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In the first issue of the limited series, Pat decides to tell his buddy that he's become a superhero. His buddy initially thinks he's coming out of the closet.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Razorfist isn't exactly a name to inspire confidence. Indeed, one of his followers even lampshades it:
    Lulu: Oh, get real, Anton. He calls himself Razorfist. What did you think he did? Charitable work for the homeless?
  • Nightmare Fetishist: A diamond courier in the first issue finds herself ambushed by the snake-themed supervillain King Cobra, who grabs her client and threatens to kill him. In their next appearance the two are sleeping together, with her calling him "Cobra-baby" and him bragging about his "cobra grip".
  • Papa Wolf: Pat's father is looking for him and even pulls a gun on his Friend on the Force to try and get him to tell him where his son is.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: This is Toxin's general M.O.
  • The Peeping Tom: Despite walking out on his wife and child for their own good, Pat can't help himself from going to the park every day and watching them from a distance. Toxin even offers to shapeshift their appearance into one his wife won't recognize in exchange for greater freedoms.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The second issue sees Toxin tackle a duo of convenience store robbers, who of course are racist white males terrorizing innocent immigrants (Hindus which the robbers confuse for Muslims, packing in two prejudices for the price of one).
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Unlike previous symbiotes which were given no characterization, Toxin is given a distinct personality and internal dialogue with his host, and fittingly for a newborn creature, Toxin's personality is distinctly... well, psychopathic and childlike.
  • Religious Bruiser: The third issue reveals that like Eddie Brock before him, Pat Mulligan was raised Catholic. He's not nearly as much of a Knight Templar about it as Eddie is, though.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Attempted by the Toxin symbiote in the second issue, after Pat gets a little preachy at it following its successful killing of the two racist robbers. Impressively, Pat manages to keep the symbiote from escaping, telling it that "he runs this show." The symbiote gets the last laugh, though, refusing to come out when Pat is ambushed by Razorfist until he begs for it to.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Deconstructed in-text when Pat finds himself reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (appropriately enough, after a meeting with the incarcerated supervillain Mr. Hyde). Toxin complains as Pat reads, first about the archaic language ("Boring! What's with the old-fashioned lingo?") and then about the use of this trope as a narrative device.
  • The Sociopath: Razorfist owns it with a Badass Boast: "I'm two hundred and fifty pounds of sociopathic rock-hard muscle and razor. What are you gonna do?"
  • Spider-Sense: Like Venom and Carnage, Toxin has this ability.
  • Super Cop: Pat was a rookie police officer before becoming Toxin, and he still works closely with his buddies in the NYPD to follow leads and get a fast-track on interrogating supervillain in Rykers.
  • Take That!: Pat delivers one in the first issue to the New York Public Library:
    Patrick Mulligan: I plan to start my search for King Cobra in a building full of stale human sweat and manic gibbering. Unfortunately, the public library is closed, so I come here (to Ryker's) instead.
  • Tempting Fate: Pat's reaction when Spidey tells him about Razorfist: "How tough can someone with no hands be?"
  • Trap Door: Razorfist's hideout has a classic trap door, though instead of dropping the victim into a trap, it drops him into a pit with Razorfist — he's the trap.
  • The Unrepentant: Mr. Hyde expresses no remorse for his lifetime of violent thuggery in his chats with Pat, telling him that the only thing wrong with him is that he got caught.
  • Two Beings, One Body: Toxin and his symbiote more or less share the same meatspace. This was part for the course with others symbiotes too, but Toxin having personality meant that he got to do things like taunt a guy with blades for hands about how he uses the restroom as his host begs him to shut up.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: One of Toxin's perks over Venom and Carnage is being able to do this. Pat uses it to talk to his wife and child without them realizing its him. Unfortunately, Toxin can also use it to prank his host, which he does in the second issue by turning Pat into a geeky guy in a bow-tie right in the middle of his fight with Razorfist.
  • The Worf Effect: The Wrecking Crew (actually just two of them, Wrecker and Piledriver) show up in the fifth issue for Toxin to beat up on, because establishing a new hero's cred by having them beat up on the Wrecking Crew is practically Marvel tradition.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Razorfist's introduction sees him murder four small-time slum dwellers so he can live in their building.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Inverted — Razorfist can use his blades to inflict the sensation of being slashed to pieces without actually inflicting any harm. He uses to keep his legion of Self-Harm-suffering kids in line.