The Tick vs. Season One
September 13, 2006
The Tick was originally an independent comic book created by Ben Edlund back in 1987, but its popularity comes from an animated television series that aired Saturday mornings from 1994 to 1996 which he wrote and co-produced.
The Tick and his sidekick Arthur (a mild-mannered accountant who always wears a white moth jumpsuit that is often confused for a bunny) fight crime in an anonymous big city (that could be Metropolis or Gotham City). The Tick is a bit of an idiot who has a tendency to do more damage than actual good but Arthur has enough smarts to get him to eventually save the day.
The city they live in is populated with all sorts of odd super heroes like Bi-Polar Bear (who wants to fight crime but just can’t out of bed this month), a Superman-type who can’t find any place to change into his costume, Die Fledermaus (a Batman clone), Big Shot, a psychotic, gun-happy parody of the Punisher, American Maid, a tough-talking Captain America clone, and the Sewer Urchant who dresses like a purple blowfish and talks like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (1988).
In contrast, there is an equally colourful assortment of villains to challenge these heroes, like Chairface Chippendale, a dapper baddie with a wooden chair for a head, who talks like Frasier and plans to write his name on the face of the moon with a big laser. The seemingly endless supply of villains who look like their monikers – Headless Henderson, the Deadly Nose, Eyebrows Mulligan – are an obvious nod to the outlandish bad guys in Dick Tracy. In one episode, the Tick faces off against the Terror, a geriatric bad guy from World War II. This episode also features the origins of the Tick’s battle cry. After rejecting Arthur’s suggestion (“Not in the face Not in the face!”), he is inspired by his breakfast and picks, “Spooooon!” The Terror gathers together a motley crew of allies: an alien not of this Earth, Joseph Stalin (actually Stalingrad, a former graduate in Russian studies turned super villain), the Man-Eating Cow, and the Human Ton (an idiotic lug with a smart aleck sock puppet on one hand).
The Tick playfully satirizes the costumed super hero genre by lampooning its many tried and true clichés. For example, the flowery prose that the hero spouts to the reader. In one episode, the Tick proclaims, “Destiny’s powerful hand has made the bed of my future and it’s up to me to lie in it.” The Tick takes this kind dialogue and goes over the top with it. The show also skewers the super hero body type. The Tick looks like your typical muscular super hero with his impossibly square jaw except that his head is way too tiny for his body. It also pokes fun at the power hungry bad guy. Most of the villains the Tick faces really aren’t much of a threat and are actually quite silly.
None. Of note: this set contains only 12 of the 13 episodes from this season. Rumour has it that “The Tick vs. The Mole Men” was omitted because it contained an unflattering parody of Cindy Crawford and Disney did not want to risk litigation.