Welcome to Multiversity Comics’ “Five Thoughts” on The Tick. Amazon Prime may have dumped the entire series out to us all at once, but this column will be coming out once a week, covering one episode a week, until we reach the end of the season. As is customary here at Multiversity Comics, these “5 Thoughts” will regard generally anything that crosses my mind while watching the episode, along with a dash of criticism here and there as I deem necessary. However, the 5th thought is always a collection of the episode’s most quotable lines: perhaps the strongest aspect of any iteration of “The Tick.” All that said, please enjoy my thoughts on the third episode of season two: “Blood and Cake”
1. Stranger Dangerboat
“Blood and Cake” turned out to be a pretty remarkable episode of The Tick, but not for the typical reasons that one would expect from the property. While The Tick has definitely had some minor elements of realism to highlight the differences between it and the comics it parodies, it has never been known as a storytelling agent of pathos, but this episode has the ability to honest-to-god hit you in the feelie parts. To top it off, the character that is meant to do the emotional heavy lifting here is Dangerboat, Overkill’s sentient high-tech speedboat. The well-meaning but clueless Tick goes a bit too far in asking Dangerboat to recall their A.E.G.I.S. history, which brings up a painful memory of their prior master and object of affection (“Michael King” in an obvious and fitting nod to “Michael Knight” from Knight Rider). What follows is a minor treatise on the effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which manifests as a literal shutdown of Dangerboat’s systems. The episode almost nearly treats PTSD the same as it would for a human character, which is what makes it particularly powerful. It doesn’t hurt that Alan Tudyk (Dangerboat’s voice actor) has proven to be a master at voicing robotic characters, yet imbuing them with personality and life. I can think of recent examples in the comic book sphere that don’t treat PTSD with this kind of sensitivity and understanding (cough-DC Comics’ “Heroes in Crisis”). Best of all, the normally hard-edged Overkill is the most sensitive and patient member of the bunch when it comes to dealing with Dangerboat in his time of need. “Blood and Cake” unironically demonstrates the power of friendship and how easy it should be to just be kind to someone (or something, in this case) who is hurting. Arthur, the current object of Dangerboat’s affection, make not reciprocate Dangerboat’s feelings, but he handles the situation with a rapidly learned sensitivity in a manner that is truly touching. I can’t believe I’m saying that about a story involving The Tick, but it was really stunning work all around for being such a surreal situation.
2. Miss Lint Just Might Stick
The motivations behind Miss Lint’s face turn transformation into the heroic “Joan of Arc” character are finally revealed: she’s going after her criminal rivals. The thinking being that if she wipes out the competition, she can be the kingpin of crime that The Terror never quite allowed her to be, when he reigned supreme. I think this would feel like a fairly conventional villain-turned-hero fake out if not for one key aspect: the unique point of view of The Tick himself. Recall that last week The Tick saw something in Dot that no one else was seeing at the time: a desire to be her own kind of hero with her own agency. This week, The Tick wonders aloud whether Miss Lint’s heroic turn is a true desire to be good, while at the same time he watches Superian being selfish and acting out because of bad social media buzz. It’s brief, and it really doesn’t feel like that’s where the story is going, but what if it did? What if the Joan of Arc moniker sticks, and she finds real satisfaction in being the hero? Recall that the first season did at least a little bit of work on trying to get us to sympathize with Lint, even if what it was really trying to show us was a villain trying to get out of someone else’s shadow. Still, a surprising turn of events for the show would be for Joan of Arc to remain the hero, and for Superian to fully lose his grip.Continued below
3. Expanding A.E.G.I.S.
New character alert! The Tick and Arthur bump into Flexon again at A.E.G.I.S. headquarters, and he briefly introduces us to a new old hero “Bronze Star”, who looks like he would fit right in at the JSA meeting table. I have to think we’ll see more of him, as I’m not sure they would get a guy all painted up in bronze for 5 seconds of a single episode. Either way, it’s nice to see The Tick continuing to acknowledge all the other strange superheroes that are wandering around.
4. Overkill, You’re Free
I have to say, Overkill needing Dot to literally anti-wish The Tick’s request that Overkill stop murdering as part of the honor code for having saved his life is a moment that should have played out as childish, yet in the hands of the cast of this wonderfully bonkers show elicited real laughs out of this viewer. It’s another example of The Tick taking a common trope from fictional history (“The Wookie Life Debt”) and putting a surreal spin on it. The honor code Overkill lives by should by all rights be something that’s intangible in nature – more of a strong promise than an actual physical impediment. Yet the show treats it as if it’s literally a curse that has power over him, and when Dot un-wishes the code of honor, it’s as if a massive weight is lifted. I keep using the word surreal to describe comic moments like these, but it really is the best way to put it. This moment would seem ridiculous and out of place in a story that didn’t concern a hulking man-child in a blue tick suit as the central character. As it is, it’s a moment of unique comedy that no other show could really pull off.
5. “Spoon!” watch
Flexon: “It’s creepy, but what do you expect from someone who tucks their cape into the front of their pants?”
The Tick: “Dorothy Everest. You un-wished my wish and turned Overkill into a kill genie?”
Overkill: “Don’t listen to Small Bunyan and his big blue ox.”