Jab’s Reviews: TMNT (Pizzaface, The Mutagen Man & Muckman)

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So I’ve decided I’ll throw some of the “Gross Guys” all in at once!
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Pizzaface – Shredder’s crazed culinary creator – had a plan to become the most powerful pizza chef ever. So he zapped himself in his Retro mutagen oven, hoping the energy would bake him with badness. But the hungry Turtle Teens burst into the parlor and pulled Pizzaface out. Now this half-baked bozo wants to get even with the Turtles for foiling his formula. All the Turtles wanted was a large pepperoni to go – but instead they got part pizza and part Pizzaface!

Possessing the power of the pizza pie, Pizzaface is the ultimate Turtle nightmare: traveling from parlor to parlor, he terrorizes the Turtles, trying to turn them into tasty teen topping. Armed with flying pizzas and a Pizza Box Shield, this peg-legged pizza piper follows the Foot Clan, even though he’s only got one good leg. And what’s worse? He delivers.

PIZZAFACE:

-Among the most grotesque toys of the 1980s, Pizzaface is DISGUSTING- a lumpy, drooling guy covered in what looks like blood (but can be passed off as “sauce”), complete with a pizza cutter for a foot and a PIZZA BOX for a foot! He never appeared in the cartoon (possibly being too horrifying for young audiences), so this 1990 action figure is all we got. It’s a hell of a figure, though- gross and bloated just like we liked ’em!

-Amazingly, the 2012 Nick Toon actually used the name of the character, as one of those “advertisement chefs” named Antonio tastes some Mutagen, hoping it’ll be a good ingredient to use on his pizzas. And of course he mutates into a giant pizza monster that wanted to eat people. And Michelangelo discovers that the way to defeat him was to EAT HIM from inside, a hilariously-gross method of dismemberment for this bizarre show. We get the “It was all a dream” ending, but with the “PSYCHE!” variant, as Mikey faints upon being attacked by the last piece of pizza, and wakes up in his room thinking he’d imagined it… and then that slice is seen slinking away. He never appears again, only getting a background shot once.

-The toy Pizza Face is a generic PL 8 brawler with a Shield & Cleaver to use as weapons. The Nick version is actually tremendously powerful, having Mind Control (Limited to people who’ve eaten the living pizzas he made), Slithering, Intangibility, Pain Immunity, Cheese Snare and things like that.

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THE MUTAGEN MAN:

Victim of Krang’s insidious experiments, Seymour Gutz woke up from a lab table only to find himself hideously transformed into Mutagen Man – a pathetic, dripping, ever-changing mutating monster. Confined to a mechanical life support system that holds his mutating body together, Mutagen Man is now dependent on Ooze to replenish his deteriorating form. Forced to do Shredder’s bidding in exchange for Retromutagen Ooze, Mutagen Man reluctantly performs dastardly deeds to get the substance his body so desperately craves.

Armed with his Mutagen Machine Gun, Mutagen Man relentlessly tracks down the Turtles and their allies. Head for the sewers and hide your Ooze! Mutagen Man’s on his way – and you just know he has the guts to get you!

-Based on a Peter Laird sketch, The Mutagen Man ended up in both the toys and the cartoon. In the cartoon, nerdy deliveryman Seymour Gutz was transformed when Rocksteady & Bebop knocked him into a container of Retromutagen Ooze, turning him into one of the ugliest-looking Mutants in history- essentially a bunch of floating organs in a tub (though the show included more facial features- eyes and a mouth attached to a brain- to allow for expressions). Requiring more Ooze to live, he was forced to work for Shredder & Krang, using his ability to transform into anything temporarily. Eventually, the Turtles undo Shredder & Krang’s plan, and give Seymour the secret element that he requires to transform back. Of course, getting to CHOOSE his next form, he chose the form of a handsome, debonair-looking man (albeit with a pencil mustache and silver in his hair). “I may be a nerd”, he says, “but I am not stupid”. Then he went out on a date with April. Unfortunately, like a lot of toy-based episodes, this one was a one-off appearance, and we never saw him again.

-His toy is PHENOMENAL, too- one of the best “concepts” of the line, which often defaulted to the same old lazy “Mutant Anthropomorphic Character” archetype. Not THIS guy- his toy is essentially a hollow tub surrounded by an armature with arms and legs, with a bunch of floating bits. The tub naturally can be filled with water, to allow the “bits” to actually FLOAT AROUND inside him. Effectively the world’s most disgusting snowglobe. And you all know about how much ’80s kids loved disgusting things.

-The Mutagen Man is a guy who was a one-off in the TV show and got his own toy, but has had more of a life elsewhere. The 2012 Nick series actually brought the character back, initially using him as The Pulverizer- a wannabe superhero named Timmy, seemingly inspired by Zach the Fifth Ninja Turtle. However, he later got into some mutagen and became THIS show’s “Mutagen Man”, complete with a bunch of organs floating around a tank. Donatello tries to cure him, but Timmy drinks more mutagen and becomes powerful, going on a rampage. He is finally frozen by Donnie, who promises to cure him some day. He does not recover from this.

-The IDW Comics also used him, this time as a random mutant created by Null who was a combination of various animal body parts. Despondent and suicidal over his lot in life, he attempted to kill himself but was rescued by Mondo Gecko and became an ally. However, he was badly injured by Slash and was saved by Mondo & Michelangelo… but Seymour screamed at the two, having wanted to die and end his life. But Mondo, seeing him as a brother and not wanting to be without him, broke down in tears, and the two embraced as Mondo begged forgiveness. WELL THAT’S UPLIFTING.

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Mutated with muck and transformed with trash, this fuming, former sewer worker oozes mysteriously through the city’s sewer system, searching for morsels of muck, sludge and slime.

The grungy garbage man tolerates the sewer-dwelling Turtles because they respect the dignity of the dark and the sanctity of the sewer. And the Turtles think Muckman’s cool because he looks like a pepperoni pizza.

Though Muckman stinks like a landfill, it doesn’t bother him. Don’t be fooled by the clothespin on his nose – that’s not to keep the smell out, that’s to keep the garbage in! But what does Muckman have besides a nose clogged with gunk? He’s got Joe Eyeball! The amazing three-eyeballed no-nosed parasitic pal who decomposes his way through sewer pipes and can see through the thickest sewer stench.

And be sure to keep his extra helping of Retromutagen Ooze (not included) handy, ’cause Muckman likes to keep his flesh fresh.

MUCKMAN:

-One of the best, and grossest, toys of the 1987 series belonged to Muckman. Looking like he’s made entirely of green snot, dripping with goo, and walking around with a trash can for a foot, he’s absolutely hideous. He even has a hole on the top of his head and in his back in which you can stick the series’ iconic “Ooze” (I can’t imagine how hard that stuff is to get out of the crevasses of these toys- I don’t think my parents ever bought any for us). Joe Eyeball is probably the best “Sidekick” toy of the line, too- a green, squat monster with eyes on giant stalks, he’s way more distinctive than the Beaver, Mosquito or Lemur Sidekicks out there. All in all, this toy is AMAZING and one of the top-tier ones of the line. A truly definitive 1980s toy (though he was released in 1990).

-Muckman is SO GROSS that I always naturally assumed that he was a villainous character, as I’d never seen his episode- so imagine my surprise when research shows that he was a HEROIC character! Given the most generic origin ever (Rocksteady & Bebop were pouring mutagen out a window, and it landed on a garbageman), he and his pal Joe first attacked the Turtles, blaming them for their mutations, but eventually learned the true culprits, and freed the Turtles. In the ‘toon, Muckman’s presence seemed to weaken the Turtles by proximity- a condition that does not affect Rocksteady & Bebop. In the episode, “Garson Grunge” was given a voice just like Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden on They Honeymooners, and Joe the voice of Art Carney’s Edward Norton from the same show.

-Of particular note are their voices- they’re voiced in the manner of Ralph Kramden & Edward Norton from The Honeymooners, replicating the famous old comic duo. Unfortunately, like a lot of temporary allies, they never appeared again, despite Donatello promising to work on a cure for their condition. The heroes told him not to hurry, as they were now Mutant Heroes, but it remains to be seen if they were ever turned back to human form.

-A variation of Muckman appeared in the Nickelodeon cartoon- a running gag of a “Sewer Worker” ended up with him being modified into a garbage-controlling inhuman guy with huge gaps in his body. He even has an eyeball he names “Joe” giving him advice, and is manipulated by Rocksteady & Bebop into fighting the Turtles! This is his only major appearance in the series, however- he is just a backgrounder elsewhere.

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