Jab’s Reviews: TMNT (Scumbug, Antrax & Wyrm)

Sent to eliminate the bug problem in the Technodrome, a mild-mannered exterminator got accidentally oozed and mutated into the scampering, sickening Scumbug. Unable to face other customers, Scumbag saddled up with Shredder as his ace assassin. Armed with his poisonous pinchers and a tank full of Anti-Turtle Spray, this rude roach chews his way through almost anything. His power claw and bullet-proof shell make him a tough Turtlebustin’ bug. And when the going gets rough, this roach gets other bugs to rally ’round him. Using his super-sensitive antennae as a telepathic link to insidious insects, Scumbug’s the Pied Piper of the creepy and the crawly. You’ll know when you’re near his army – just listen for the crunch.

SCUMBUG:

Scumbug was one of the more-boring “early toy” releases, in my opinion- just a purple insectoid guy in regular (albeit torn) clothes. He showed up briefly in the Archie series and the cartoon, where oddly he was treated as an “old foe” of the group, despite never having appeared before. This was the 1993 episode The Night of the Rogues, where Shredder gathered all of the Turtles’ old enemies to fight them- the ending is considered a bit of a disappointment, as the “obvious” solution of gathering all of the Turtles’ old FRIENDS wasn’t used to its fullest, and instead they just grabbed Casey Jones & Zach the Fifth Turtle. In the episode, he used a couple of gadgets (an Acid Spray and a Glowing Net), and spoke with a pronounced lisp (I swear it was some cruel bastard who decided that the term for lisps had to include an “S” sound, so that lispers would actually lisp when saying it).

Scumbug is a pretty low-tier TMNT foe, created for the toyline in 1990, and not getting an appearance in the fiction until three years later (in a bit of a continuity error). He and Wyrm have a hilariously one-off appearance in the Archie Comics, simply mutating at the same time and getting into a fight before being electrocuted. This reads like “the producers forced us to include these characters, but we’ll be damned if we make them important”- they show up in a later appearance, but aren’t important. He appears in a cameo in the IDW Comics, with a totally different appearance, and shows up in one episode of the Nick Toon, where he is mutated from a businessman captured by Baxter Stockman- combining a stag beetle & spider, he is meant to be an ally of Baxter’s.

When Antrax comes marching in, heads will roll! He’s mean; he’s deadly – and worst of all, he’s quadridexterous! That means he has four arms (just count ’em)! This insidious insect used to be the only executioner in Dimension X. That was until yesterday, when Krang, on his annual scouting trip for Turtle tearing talent , spotted this top crop choice! Krang was impressed with Antrax’s skill with the ante-up axe and the beat ’em back bat. Krang offered Antrax money, power – even cable T.V.(with all the channels, of course). Antrax accepted and became Krang’s own judge, jury and Turtle executioner. Dimension X is now a tad nicer place to visit, but the Turtles are now more worried than ever. Besides his battling bites and unnatural devotion to Krang, this awesome-armed ant will turn any Turtle pizza picnic into a panic party.

ANTRAX:

Antrax got one of the weirder shots in the TV show- in Night of the Rogues, Shredder gathers together a huge assortment of past Turtle foes… and adds Scumbug & Antrax to the mix. Scumbug is treated as having met the TMNT before, despite never appearing in the show previously, but Antrax is “Krang’s Personal Executioner”, and wields an axe. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a pretty terrible fighter- his one battle consists of having his axe’s head chopped off by Leonardo, who then spin-kicks him away. Keep in mind the point of this episode was that the Turtles were drastically outnumbered, to the point where they were captured and had to be springed by their mostly-human allies. Antrax’s goofy, high-and-mighty, imperious-sounding voice didn’t help matters, either. Not much of a sell-job on his toy, which had come out two years earlier. Not that it was a particularly great one- he’s just a black ant with a purple hood.

A black ant called Antrax appears in the 2012 Nick Toon as a mutant ally of Baxter Stockman’s alongside Scumbug, and another version gets a cameo in the IDW Comics, acting as a wrestler in Stump’s arena- he is defeated when Raphael becomes enraged, KO’ing him in one shot.

One day, a mild-mannered trash man slipped and fell headlong into Shredder’s garbage bin. The resulting nightmare: Wyrm – a planetarium warped and wiggly creepy crawler. Embarrassed by his slimy stench, this greedy garbage ghoul gathers gunk from the bowels of the sewers. This head honcho of the Unsanitation Department has a voracious appetite for munchy mouth worms, which make his eyes bulge with hunger. Tenderizing rancid rubbish with his trash compactor mallet, Wyrm’s got the belly of a beast – and the breath to prove it. Only Muckman’s foul enough to be Wyrm’s friend. Mostly, though, no one likes to get too close to Wyrm – and that’s why he’s one solitary slitherer.

WYRM:

Wyrm is one of the more hideous, yet dynamic-looking toys, but only appeared in the Archie Comics (fighting Scumbug in a random issue before being electrocuted- both later reappeared) and, much later, the Nickelodeon series. I can see why the cartoon didn’t use him in a way- he’s got the same origin as Muckman! But really, this guy’s all about the design- a giant face with bulging eyes, multiple bright colors making him look unbelievably garish, and it’s capped off with a gross, sucker-ridden tentacle for a leg! These guys REALLY knew how to make gross designs!

In the Archie Comics, Wyrm was a big naked yellow monster who was a Norwegian Flatworm that got mutated by some dumped Mutagen- he attacked Scumbug (the mutant exterminator) and overpoweroed him, but they were both electrocuted. Many issues later, a bunch of worms were clinging to a wounded Scumbug- they promptly reformed into Wyrm, then attacked some reporters. Scumbug recovers and attacks once more- the two end up running afoul of ANOTHER villain, who freezes them with a gun that turns them into statues. In IDW Comics, Wyrm is an “aggregate” creature resulting from numerous flatworms being exposed to Mutagen- it collected tons of refuse as a substitute for social interaction- he soon went mad, fighting Michelangelo, but a cop whose brother was murdered by Wyrm set off a fire that killed him, leaving only a single flatworm.

In the Nick Toon, the character oddly looks just like the toy (but with a bigger head), yet has a totally different concept and origin story- Wyrm is now one of “three reality-bending creators of chaos” who were trapped in the fifth dimension millennia ago. When unleashed, he will grant three wishes- if he grants a third, he is free. He acts funny and silly, but he’s actually impatient and temperamental. Casey Jones ultimately re-seals him before he can be freed. This whole episode is identical to a Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! episode which was written by the same writer- what are the ethics in something like that? I know various TV writers consider that unethical (you’re being paid TWICE to do the same work).

3 thoughts on “Jab’s Reviews: TMNT (Scumbug, Antrax & Wyrm)

    1. Nice! I feel like Scumbug was a VERY common figure- he came out pretty early in the line and fit a good “Gross Villain” template.

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      1. Yeah, part of the Turtles’ popularity is that they leaned into the gross toys that were coming out throughout the 80s.

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