Any cartoon fan in the 1990s would be an ‘eeediot’ if they didn’t recognize the names Ren and Stimpy. The cantankerous chihuahua and his dimwitted cat companion were staples of Nickelodeon’s animation lineup toward the end of the century. But what many fans may not know is that the equal parts popular and controversial show also spawned a comic book that saw Spider-Man swing through for a crossover issue in which he goes to battle with Powdered Toast Man. To the uninitiated, those words probably sound like nonsense – and it’s only going to get weirder from here – but for those in the know, here’s how it went down.
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The eponymous duo of Ren Höek and Stimpson J. “Stimpy” Cat one morning find themselves out of powdered toast, the breakfast food that “tastes just like sawdust” (it’s a thing in the R&S universe, just roll with it). Stimpy naturally calls on the series’ hero Powdered Toast Man to replenish their supply, but to their surprise, it’s not the Bread-Head, that arrives, but instead the Web-Head. Spider-Man is, “just filling in,” he explains, as PTM has been mind-controlled by the evil genius Dr. Dough-Naught. After somehow using his web-shooters to provide our title characters with their breakfast, Spidey receives a distress call through PTM’s spare pair of Elasti-Shorts (that he’d apparently adorned at some point) and zips off to investigate.
After arriving at the office of “The Commish,” Spider-Man is informed that Dough-Naught has injected Powdered Toast Man with a yeast infection, causing him to rampage through the city, with the Commish saying he’s been turned into a “Cereal Offender” (puns aplenty in this one). The two eventually face off, with Dough-Naught upping PTM’s “Toastosterone” levels to take on the wall-crawler.
An especially ridiculous fight ensues, which includes Powdered Toast Man’s signature attacks like launching corrosive breadcrumbs through armpit farts or hurling razor-sharp bread slices like they were Batarangs. “Looks like all you need was a little kneading,” Spider-Man quips as he trounces PTM. “And that’s the way the toasty crumbles! Any last words before you go bready-bye?” (we warned you about the puns). A conveniently located milk truck allows Spidey to put PTM down for good since everyone knows he can’t stay crunchy in milk. But this leaves Spider-Man alone against the dreaded Dr. Dough-Naught, and after taking a couple blows from a lead pipe, the web-slinger seems out of commission. That is until PTM pulls from his shorts a can of Powdered Toast, and downs it Popeye-style to regain his strength and put Dough-Naught down for good.
The story wraps with the titular characters thanking Spidey for stopping by to boost the book’s sales (which actually had a 44-issue run) and asking to join him on future Marvel adventures, with Ren rocking a Punisher outfit and Stimpy having affixed utensils to his fists like a makeshift Wolverine. After a disastrous – and, frankly, disturbing display of the pair’s “superpowers” – Spider-Man swings away, seemingly trying to hold back vomit. So there’s, unfortunately, no Happy Happy Joy Joy for Ren and Stimpy this time around. But at least they’ll always have Log.
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