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Poxxus and Phlogeus

Mythic Legions
by yo go re

The descripton of the Circle of Poxxus refers to him as "exiled ruler of the Netherrealm." Guess the exile's over!

A terrifying visage of sickness and decay, the spiteful god Poxxus is pestilence incarnate. Dripping with disease and crackling with menace, the horrific sight of Poxxus alone is enough to inspire dread. Armed once again with his deadly bow, The Plaguesayer, Poxxus can fire off hordes of infectious insects with every pull of his string. Triumphantly riding atop his rotting horse, Phlogeus, Poxxus travels the roads of Mythoss with the intention of poisoning the Realm and all those that live within.

Befitting his role as the "Pestilence" of the Four Horsemen's four horsemen, Poxxus is a slender figure, not a beef tower like Arethyr was. He's covered in multiple layers of clothing and armor, and it's all stylized to look like it's very specifically his. Like, the chest is covered by scale mail armor, and that could work for anyone, but his pauldrons are cracked and asymmetrical, with dilapidated chainmail hanging from beneath them. There are two layers of ragged cloth hanging from his belt - brown and tan - and a loop of tan material tucked around his neck to make it look like he has a hood. Above his waist armor is an ornate belt with pockets on one side, a pouch tied to the other, and a few small vials hanging by the bag. You can tell this belt is just for him and no one else, because molded as part of it are several jagged things that look like massive insect legs, fitting his theme.

Poxxus has an utterly terrifying visage. He's partially skeletal, with no lips covering his uneven teeth, but then he still has ears and there are blisters growing on his forehead. His eyes are blank, which on any other figure would simply look like he was blind, but on a disease-bearer like Poxxus look like gross pustules waiting to pop. A stringy grey beard falls from his jaw all the way down to the mid-thigh level, with a large bead near the end to hold it together like a ponytail. All the evil gods (so far) have borne some sort of special headgear, be it Arethyr's horns and flame or Illythia's Kentucky Derby hat, and now Poxxus has what looks like a crown, but is actually a series of large insect legs emerging from his skull. There are five main ones, then a couple smaller ones that are just starting to grow. Do they fall out over time, like a moose's antlers? Is that where the ones on his belt came from? It's great!

Poxxus also gets a set of wings. In keeping with his theme, they're insectoid, like a dragonfly or something. They're mostly translucent tan, with a bronze app carefully painted along all the veins. Each "wing" is actually two molded together, with the larger wing facing the outside and the smaller wing facing the body. They plug into a special backpack piece that's the same iridescent green as his bug-leg crown, and has spikes like a beetle. The backpack also provides an unobtrusive slot for one other piece: since the Circle of Poxxus is all about magic, the figures in this series get a lot of magical effects; Poxxus himself gets one in translucent yellow that sits right behind his head and looks like some sort of unholy halo. It's a diamond inside a circle of symbols, and fits into notches in the backpack seamlessly.

Making Poxxus' weapon a bow is a nice classical nod. In Greek mythology, the twins Artemis and Apollo are the gods of many things, and while those things are often opposites (sun/moon, civilization/wilderness, he's a total man-whore/she's much choosier, etc.), some of them also overlap; that's how you have Artemis being the great archer, but one of Apollo's two main symbols is the bow, or how he's the god of medicine, but there are also stories about her healing wounded Trojans during the war. Conversely, there are times when both of them get name-dropped as randomly and unpredictably offing Greeks with their divine arrows - something that, minus any real godly presence on the battlefield, can be read as an allegory for how disease would spread in a military camp when you have no concept of germ theory. Why did Paraebates the Corpse Handler get sick and die while Phrynichos the Clothes Washer didn't? Well, it must have just been Artemis and Apollo plinking random arrows. So giving this toy Plaguesayer, a bow that literally shoots diseases, is not just some random choice, it's got roots thousands of years ago.

The figure comes with two versions of his bow, one with four bug wings and one without - figure it sprouts extra appendages when he powers it up. The body of the bow looks like more insect legs, and the arrow, which is translucent yellow, appears to have a barbed tip, but when you look closer you'll see that it's a tiny bug of its own! Fun! There's also a second arrow piece, where it's split into six bugs instead of just one. Awesome design! We get a quiver of arrows that can hang from his belt, a sheathed dagger that can do the same, and four sets of hands: two different kinds of holding, one clawing, and one gesturing.

Illythia's horse Phobos was a bit boring (because I managed to overlook the fact that its head was half-skeletal), but Poxxus' Phlogeus is much better.

Phlogeus wears a lot more armor than Aethon did - which is to say, "any." There are large plates of armor covering both the front and back ends of the horse, though with their scalloped edges looking more like bat wings than bug wings, they might have been better for Phobos than Phlogeus. The bridle fits the style, though, with more of those large insect legs framing the face.

We've seen normal horse heads and skeletal horse heads in the Mythic Legions line before, but this one is somewhere in between: its skin is actively rotting off as we watch. There are spots where the bone and muscle are showing through, spots where the flesh is sloughing down or otherwise frayed, and just like Poxxus, there are hideous green lumps making the body look unclean. In fact, the word "pox" is simply an alternate spelling of the word "pocks" - as in, the plural of "pock," the same place we get "pockmark," which originally refered to the pits and scars left behind after a pock formed and then went away. So those oozy green lumps all over Phlogeus' white skin? Those are pocks. Which may mean he's carrying the pox. And will later end up with pockmarks. (And while we're at it, "Phlogeus" comes from the Greek phlegein, "to burn" - in other words, the disease guy basically named his horse "Fever.")

The head isn't the only new bodypart. Yes, there are the new mane and tail, which are limp and stringy and hang straight down, the way your hair does when you've been sweating for days with a fever, but that's not what we're referring to here. Surprisingly, the front left leg - and only that leg - has been slightly remolded, so it looks like it's decaying in the same manner as the head: groups of pustules, holes in the skin, visible tendons, and even the outer wall of the hoof has cracked and splintered away, exposing the softer inner wall, or possibly the sole itself. A sickly green color spreads up that leg, while the other three are pristine.

You can tell Arethyr was the first "Horseman" the Four Horsemen made, because he had a stiff piece of armor in the front of his belt that had to be removed if he was going to ride his horse; Illythia improved on this quite a bit, and Poxxus does even better. Of course, he's also got more stuff around his hips, which will make it hard for him to straddle a huge horse like this.

Poxxus is definitely my favorite of Mythoss' evil gods so far, both from a design and construction standpoint. And even if you're not into the story, a toy of "creepy drowned insect zombie king" is wild and off-putting enough that there are plenty of displays that could use him as a horrific villain.

-- 05/18/24

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