Stew’s Reviews – The Tick
I really just can’t get into the Amazon Tick show.
It’s not that it’s bad or anything—it’s a passable enough show—but it’s easily the third best of the three televised versions of The Tick so far. If I had a rating system, it would be:
1. Cartoon Tick/Patrick Warburton Tick (tie)
3. Amazon Tick
I watched the first five episodes of the new Tick and came to the startling realization that I had only laughed out loud once, and that was at a meta joke in the second episode where Arthur notes that the Tick’s costume is different from the abomination they used in the pilot.
I can’t tell if the show is objectively inferior or if I’m just curmudgeonly and won’t accept something that isn’t what I loved in my youth. But I do find it to be rather boring, and the last thing the Tick should be is boring. I don’t care if friggin’ Dot is in too deep with a gang; who wants that in their Tick show? Weird stuff.
TITLE: The Tick
Writer and Artist: Ben Edlund
Protagonists: The Tick, Arthur, Oedipus, Angus MacGuire
Antagonists: A million zillion ninja, Chairface Chippendale, The Red Scare, others.
Obviously the lead in here is that I love The Tick. I was a huge fan of both the cartoon and the Warburton iterations of the show. On top of that, I’ve owned the first ten issues of The Tick comic books for… several years now. Probably at least a decade. And yet, I just never found the time to read them until now. It’s been one of those things I just kept putting off. “Oh, I’ll read that next”, you know, and then I’d never get to it. I had read the first two issues a while ago—back when the cartoon was still airing—but never moved any further. To my credit, while I may have owned them for ten+ years, I didn’t KNOW I owned them until a halfway between then and now; they came in a bunch of boxes I got all at once without knowing everything that was within. When I finally sat one day to sort through it all… voila! The Tick!
I don’t want to say the book is “rough” at times, but you can tell Edlund was perfecting it as he went. The first appearances of Arthur where Tick treats him without much respect are different than how I have been trained to view their dynamic from other forms of media where Tick is much more reverent of his buddy. The opening two issues with Tick meeting The Caped Wonder (and his secret identity, Clark Oppenheimer) are fine and have some classic moments (Clark making circles with his fingers to put over his eyes when his glasses have busted), but they don’t feel entirely like The Tick just yet. He’s got a bigger sense of malice about him and doesn’t have the hopeless altruism I expect. It’s almost like a bully cosplaying as the innocent goof we know and love. And while the Warburton series handled the hero/sidekick dynamic as a homosexual reference with some tact and a lot of humor, the comic has a bit with Tick suspecting Arthur is “funny” that hasn’t aged particularly well.
It does gain some footing as it goes, though; and there are a lot of references a casual Tick fan will get. “Spoon!”, of course, is brought in quickly as Tick’s battlecry. “I grok it”. “Stop your evil ways”. A lot of well-known Tick lingo was created here, to the point where when the big, blue bug fell from a building and crashed through the sidewalk below, I was shocked to NOT see “Gravity is a harsh mistress”.
The best arc of the first few issues is the “Night of a Million Zillion Ninja” that runs from #3 through #5. Tick gets caught up in an evil ninja plan to kill a trainee named Oedipus who has stolen an ancient artifact, and it’s noteworthy for the hopelessly unprofessional ninja who are as humorous as The Tick himself. The big, blue bug usually gets the best laughs, but the ninja are the star here. They complain about crumbs in their eyes, ponder if water evaporates to get around rocks, and pretend to be a hedge outside of Oedipus’ house.
Apart from ninja and the Caped Wonder, Tick’s adventures include working with a Dick Tracy-esque detective to stop Chairface Chippendale in a story that was translated well to the cartoon (with Chairface trying to write his name on the moon), fending off villain-for-hire The Red Scare, and putting The Man-Eating Cow in charge of The City so he and Arthur could head to New York to find real villainy to quash. The stories are brief but entertaining, and it honestly feels like Edlund improves as a writer with each issue. The world that he constructed is delightfully and unapologetically silly, and while The Tick is at the center of that, he feels right at home in a realm of nonsense characters. Hedge ninja, man-eating cows, and all.
Talking Point: Dual talking points today! The first being: What iteration of The Tick is YOUR favorite (comic, cartoon, Warburton, or Amazon)? The second: what comic book or character did you get into BECAUSE of another form of media? Maybe you started reading Guardians of the Galaxy after the first flick? Or got into Batman because of The Animated Series? What is it?
It’s a funny funnybook, and I did laugh out loud a few times, many of those at jokes I could callback to The Tick shows from my younger days. It’s rough around the edges at times, but it’s pretty much success; it hasn’t surpassed the Patrick Warburton series or the cartoon in my eyes, but as a prototype for what The Tick could be, it’s really good.