Spooooon!!!!!!!! Destiny is whispering your name chum and she’s saying “Thank You” for stopping in and checking out this edition of The Franchise. With Amazon’s The Tick returning for the second half of its freshman season today I thought it was the perfect opportunity to break down what makes this big, blue lug and his misfit band so darn lovable. So in the indelible words of Arthur “Not in the face! Not in the face”
Core Concept: First and foremost The Tick is a spoof. A well thought out, rich send-up of everything that the superhero genre has to offer. The heroes are silly, the villains are sillier. But superhero parodies are as common as a bad guy breaking out of Arkaham. So why has The Tick endured while others have fallen by the wayside? Two reasons. The first is the deep friendship (and unhealthy co0dependence) between The Tick and his faithful sidekick Arthur. The second is its bold and hysterical use of high-concept philosophical ideas such as existentialism and nihilism. The Tick may be a parody but often times its a lot smarter than the subjects of its gentle ribbing.
Essential Moments: To date, there have been four iterations of The Tick. The comic book version, the 1994 animated TV show, the 2001 live-action show on Fox, and the 2016 live action amazon show all of them differ in how they approach The Tick’s origin and the various members of his supporting cast and rogue’s gallery. The one this that has remained constant is how The Tick urges Arthur to leave his accounting gig and embrace his destiny as a superhero. Arthur’s choice to become The Tick’s partner, friend, and brains is the most important moment in the entirety of the franchise and it’s not even close.
Rogues Gallery: The Tick has faced a slew of foes since his inception back in 1986. Most of these foes were one off parodies created specifically for whatever medium was being used for Tick’s adventures of the time but a few have been possessed of some serious staying power. Chairface Chippendale is the criminal mastermind with a chair for a head. As far as villainy goes he tried to write his name on the moon with a laser and he managed to carve the letters C-H-A before he was finally stopped. There is Barry aka The (other) Tick; The other superhero know as The Tick who is constantly trying to get The (real) Tick killed so he can reclaim his name. But perhaps The Tick’s greatest foe is The Terror. A geriatric foe known for being the greatest super-villain who ever lived. So far he is the only one of The Tick’s foes to appear in all four of the incarnations I listed above.
Best Stories: I mean Chairface Chippendale carving his name into the moon is kind of a can’t miss. That story is told in both The Tick vol. 1 #7 and the animated episode “The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale”. The Tick vol. 1 #7 “Road Trip” introduces the Chainsaw Vigilante who is a personal favorite. And on the live action front, I’m a big fan of the episodes “The Tick versus Justice” and “Couples” from the 2001 series and the episode “The Party Crashers” from the 2016 series. But if you really want peak Tick stories “The Tick vs The Tick” and “The Tick vs Proto-Clown” from the animated series are as Tick as you are ever going to get.
NEVER DO IT THIS WAY AGAIN: Look the first few issues of the first volume of the comic book series are a bit rocky and there are some episodes of the animated (kids) show that don’t hold up well as an adult. But really? There are no stories involving The Tick that are so bad that they carry with them the shame and infamy that usually accompanies entries on to this list.