Writer: Adam Cheal
Artist: Alberto “Renzo” Rodriguez
Release Date: To Be Determined
Just kidding. I was actually reading the first issue of the Toxic Storm series and… got a little carried away.
See, Toxic Storm #1 is a self-published indie comic about Simon, a falsely convicted rapist who gets superpowers mystically before he’s executed in prison. His buddy, a fellow inmate and occult leader, casts a spell that turns Simon into a ghost made of poison gas after the execution. Afterward, the undead Simon flies out into the world seeking murderous revenge on the people who ruined his life. The news media dubs him the “Gas Killer,” and his crime spree garners the attention of the FBI.
The book’s creators, writer Adam Cheal and artist Alberto “Renzo” Rodriguez, have labeled it a horror tale, and it does indeed come off like a printed version of an episode of the old spooky TV series Tales from the Crypt, only with more superpowers than that show’s budget probably would have allowed for a live-action version.
Toxic Storm’s first issue entertains in that respect. Simon’s life in prison, and the circumstances that got him there, are bloody and unpleasant, and the people who victimize him are portrayed as selfish victims whom you just know are going to get theirs as payment for their misdeeds, which is befitting for a horror story. Yet Simon doesn’t rise above the evil that plagues him, and his vengeful actions reveal that he’s been twisted by pain he’s suffered.
In this respect, Toxic Storm’s not just a horror comic, it’s also a revenge tale, a la Kill Bill or an old western. But it remains to be seen what kind of protagonist Simon will become in future issues. His main defining trait so far has been his desperation and thirst for revenge, and we’re unclear yet on whether he was a decent person to begin with before he went to jail. He experiences guilt for going so hardcore on the whole “I want JUSTICE for my suffering” bit, so it’s possible he’ll emerge as something of an actual, self-loathing hero archetype as time goes on.
Toxic Storm #1 is a decent first issue in a series that could go in interesting directions. It’s got a superpowered protagonist who’s not a superhero or a complete unrepentant supervillain, so it’s up-in-the-air where the storyline could go or where Simon will go next.
Rodriguez’s artwork is pretty good, and the facial expressions of his characters convey the requisite emotion for the appropriate scene very well, as exemplified by this poor, ill-fated gentleman in these panels to your left.
I recommend Toxic Storm #1 if you’re interested in horror comics starring superpowered folks who have more in common with the bad guys than they do with the good ones.