As last month’s D-Lister proved, doctors can be terrifying. However, not every physician needs to wield meat cleavers or perform lobotomies in order to be villainous. What if a PhD performed disturbing experiments not just on others, but herself?
June Covington is a gifted biologist and geneticist with no value for human life. June has no inherent powers but gained abilities by augmenting her body. Over the years, however, Covington has rarely shown her full potential or been featured independent from a team of villains. With an irradiating personality, it’s time to welcome Toxic Doxie to the D-List.
Created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios, June Covington first appeared in Osborne #1 in 2011. A very ominous introduction, June was held in a secret prison alongside mass murdering superhumans, aliens, and gods. Norman Osborne was a new transfer, but a member of the fanatical Goblin Cult infiltrated the prison to free the man (you know, those people who wear the “Make America Goblin Again” hats). Wanting to capitalize on the powers of his new cellmates, Osborne invited them to accompany him and escape. While nearly nothing was revealed about Toxic Doxie throughout the main story in this issue, a backup story featured a more detailed origin.
Covington began her professional life as a researcher in a university and experimented with “genetic plug-in” technology, which corrected physical flaws. She presented her discoveries to a colleague, Edward, who thought her experiments were insane, so the man reported Covington to the university and she was fired. Angered, she continued her experiments by acquiring funds from black market investors. Months later, June found Edward at a party and invited him back to her lab. There, she punctured his hand with her nail, which injected him with a paralyzing agent (they had a very toxic relationship). Edward was completely conscious, but unable to move or speak, and June left him in this underground lab to die. She continued her experiments, which killed thousands of people, as she sought to enhance her own genetics.
June was immediately an intriguing villain because she not only had the potential to become very powerful, but was also intelligent and cunning. Although her origin was interesting, I think a visual account of the experiments she conducted that culminated in the deaths of thousands of people would have been interesting to see, and certainly added a level of viciousness to her character. Although the paralyzing agent which she used on Edward was officially the first display of her power, she soon proved herself as an even deadlier adversary.
As Osborne and his new companions sought to escape the prison, a riot occurred, and a large man slammed June into the ground (sounds like toxic masculinity). Much to his surprise, Covington stood up and began to crack her many broken bones back into place. She commented that she had softened her bones in order to diffuse impact and allow her joints to dislocate easily. Covington had also added a neurotoxin to her blood, to which her attacker was exposed, and he collapsed, dead. After their escape, Norman revealed that he planned to put a team of Dark Avengers together, and June agreed to be his Scarlet Witch.
Along with June, Osborne’s team consisted of Covington’s cellmate, Ai Apaec, as Spider-Man, Clint Barton’s brother, Trickshot, as Hawkeye, and the clone of Thor, Ragnarok. Osborne baited the heroic Avengers into a fight, and June disabled Dr. Strange by exhaling poison at the hero. Of course, the Avengers eventually defeated the villains and they were imprisoned in The Raft. However, June, Ai Apaec, Trickshot, and Ragnarok, still in their Avengers guises, were recruited into the new Thunderbolts program, and assisted Luke Cage on a rescue mission in the Middle East. Unfortunately, June wasn’t granted much of a spotlight during this mission because her powers proved ineffective when monsters attacked the team (what a waste…a toxic waste).
I was really upset that June was nearly useless during this battle because she had already proven herself very powerful. A genius intellect, poison breath, malleable bones, and toxic blood should’ve made her the deadliest member of the team regardless of circumstances, but unfortunately, she was relegated to a background role for nearly this entire story arc. Further adding to Covington’s mistreatment, writers couldn’t even correctly state her name (which was quite a toxic shock). Trickshot once called her “Toxie” as a nickname, and thus, writers wrote her as “Toxie Doxie” for at least a full year, which is an absolutely awful and nonsensical codename.
June and the Thunderbolts attempted to escape from Cage while on a plane back to The Raft. Covington revealed she had limited telepathy and used it to force Skaar into smashing the aircraft’s controls. Man-Thing teleported the plane before it crashed, but he accidentally sent it to an alternate universe. June awoke in a lab, was greeted by Hank Pym, and learned about the world in which she and her teammates were trapped. New York City had been divided into factions all battling each other for control of territory, so June rightfully assumed she would have to fight in order to get home.
Covington removed an implant keeping Ragnarok docile and also restored U.S.Agent’s limbs that had been lost during a battle with Nuke. The Thunderbolts, led by Agent, had to fight on various fronts and June acted as a mental link for the team. They were able to find a portal home after a large battle, and as the book ended, U.S. Agent called the team of June, Trickshot, Ragnarok, Skaar, and Moonstone, the Dark Avengers. I really wish this team had stayed together and appeared in another volume (sadly, they were left in the dark).
Aside from the backup story from her first appearance, this storyline was really the only chance June had to shine. It was awesome to see her excited to work in a lab and actually use her knowledge and skills to help others. One of the biggest disappointments, however, is that the Dark Avengers never amounted to anything after the end of this series. However, Marvel did not completely forget about June, and she was brought back in a badass capacity shortly after.
June acquired a new lab and ordered an Inhuman terrigenesis cocoon, but it exploded upon arrival. Somehow, both the blossoming Inhuman inside and June survived the blast, and after investigating, June discovered that the Inhuman had the power to make himself invisible to machine surveillance. June wanted this power for herself, but unfortunately, this man was a teacher to Anya Corazon, also known as Spider Girl, who was friends with the Avengers.
June discovered that A.I.M. had sent her the explosive cocoon, so with her new, Inhuman power, June stealthily entered A.I.M. facilities and spread her poison into the ventilation systems. She stole their technology and left dead bodies in the road as a message to other members of the villainous organization (so this was what S.O.A.D. meant by “the toxicity of our city”). Of course, Spider-Girl tracked her teacher’s whereabouts and defeated June with the help of the Avengers.
This was the last story arc that featured June as the exclusive villain, and it was amazing to see her ruthlessness fully realized. She was willing and able to destroy multiple A.I.M. facilities and murder massive amounts of people just for revenge. Unfortunately, since that story was released over four years ago, Toxic Doxie has only appeared once, and was swiftly defeated by Santa Claus. Yes, Santa is the most powerful being in the Marvel Universe (and eco-friendly: No more coal, the naughty get punched in the face).
June Covington is an exceptionally interesting villain but has rarely been featured independent of other villains, so the true extent of her destructive power has barely been explored. It’s a shame, because she is intelligent, powerful, and deadly. I think that she would fit perfectly in the current Unstoppable Wasp series which features science-related stories, or even as a villain of the Incredible Hulk while possibly trying to recreate his power for herself. Regardless of the actual story, I just hope that Toxic Doxie doesn’t detox, and we see her in the Marvel Universe again in the future.