“The Tick” is back and better than ever! 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, I’ll be doing “5 Thoughts” a week on anything that crosses my mind while watching the episode, along with a dash of criticism here and there as I deem necessary. The 5th thought is always a collection of the episode’s best quotes: perhaps the strongest aspect of any iteration of “The Tick.” All that said, please enjoy my thoughts on the first episode of season two: “Lesson One: Think Quick!”
1. What a re-molting development
Season two opens on a majestic shot of The Tick photographed from behind, the light beaming in on him from the window (it’s the featured image of this dang post, in case you haven’t seen the episode yet). It doesn’t take long for keen viewers to notice that he has yet another new costume (remember that the costume changed once between the pilot and the rest of the season one, a fact that was humorously commented on within the show itself). Arthur moves around his apartment, finding pieces of Tick’s old outfit lying around. Arthur finds it kind of disgusting, but it’s also pretty funny and the comic beat of Tick quickly flushing a stray piece down the toilet is an especially funny moment. That cannot be good for those delicate New York City apartment building pipes. It’s a clever way for finding a new look for The Tick, who still hadn’t quite embodied that “larger than life” feel from the comics. The season two look for the character is much closer to that Tick – at least as close as a live action TV show is likely to come without it coming off as patently ridiculous. This Tick is pumped like Hanz and Franz. He’s a big boy. An absolute unit. I’m in awe of the size of this lad.
I think it ushers in a new sense of fullness to the television version of “The Tick.” You may recall that one of my few criticisms of season one was that it was too grounded. Too small. Here, the costume gets bigger and bolder, and I think the world of the show might be on the verge of that too.
2. Crazy outfits, pretend jobs, and paper money
The surrealism of the caped superhero weighed against the mundane is something that Ben Edlund’s “Tick” has played with since its origins on the comic book page, but the Amazon series is a little different than all the other various adaptations in that it seems to be taking the mundane aspects of life seriously. Ordinarily, “The Tick” would use the image of Arthur wearing a necktie (a clip-on, of course) while he also wears his moth costume as some sort of absurd bit of visual humor. In this series, Arthur actually has to worry about balancing his job, paying the bills, and making everyone in his life happy while playing superhero on the side. The two worlds are having real trouble co-existing, which is something I don’t remember being an issue in, say, the animated series. When Arthur is out fighting crime with the Tick and gets caught up in yet another case, his mother and step dad sit at a dinner table, wondering how he could have missed yet another family dinner. Arthur is playing the Peter Parker role to a very literal degree, and it really works in the context of this show. While Peter Parker has an altruistic sensibility, a need for money, and a desire for popularity driving the actions that continually let down and endanger his family, Arthur has a big blue buffoon and a desire to find something that actually makes him feel like he’s living a full life to drive his actions. The difference is subtle, but it really suits The Tick to be playing a lovable angel/devil figure on Arthur’s shoulder.
3. Climbing Dot Everest
I don’t think that Valorie Curry’s Dot was necessarily underwritten in season one, but I am delighted that season two immediately gets down to business in giving her more to do and adding a lot of depth to her character in a short amount of time. Her storyline appears to fit well with what I wrote about Arthur in the last bullet-point. Dot feels the emptiness of an unfulfilling life and desires more for herself. At the same time, she’s experiencing some sort of mild supernatural effect of her encounters with The Terror in season one. We don’t know much about them yet, but she appears to be developing some sort of precognition. Will this prove to be a superpowered talent or merely an after-effect that eventually goes away? It remains to be seen, but this precognition could be the thing that ultimately helps her find meaning in her life. She pairs well with Overkill in this episode, as he too is having a sort of existential crisis over his being duty-bound to no longer kill. In his mind, “righteous murder” is the only way he knows. For better or worse (let’s be honest, it’s worse) it’s the code of honor he lives by, so when it’s taken away from him, he doesn’t know how to live. It’s a surprising moment of vulnerability for a character who was otherwise mostly a comedic source of brutal action scenes and hilariously hard-boiled dialogue. How about that? The show where a big blue bug guy leaps around walloping bad guys is becoming an honest-to-god vehicle for superhero pathos.Continued below
4. All-New, All-Different Flag Five
“The Tick” introduces its own Nick Fury character in Tyrannosaurus Rathbone: Agent of A.E.G.I.S. The comparisons to the MCU’s Nick Fury as played by Samuel L. Jackson are numerous. The not-so-subtle futuristic militarized garb, the unannounced pop-in to a potential recruit’s home, and the desire to put together a curated superhero team to take on an foreboding, yet amorphous oncoming threat. At one point in Marc Kudisch’s hilariously straight-laced and shouty performance, he even says “I’ve got an eye on you”, which technically makes sense yet nonetheless recalls Marvel’s eye-patched recruiter. Ty Rathbone may have two working eyes, but the spirit of Fury lives within him.
Arthur, finding an opportunity to meld his desire to drop everything and be a superhero with the material need for income (otherwise how is he going to keep The Tick’s coffee bender going?) makes this a relatable and realistic conflict to springboard into the rest of the season. The Tick, horny for justice and nothing else, expresses some understandable reservations. I’m guessing this is going to provide a little bit of tension as the season goes on.
5. “Spoon!” watch
This is the part of the column where I pick out three (3) especially funny and quotable lines from each episode. After all, one of the hallmarks of “The Tick” has always been his penchant for the non-sequitur. He’s not the only one who gets to have all the fun though. In season 1, Overkill definitely got his share of space in this section.
– The Tick: “The mystery of me is an onion with many leaves.”
– The Tick: “If is always when in evil’s book, fella!”
– Overkill: “What are you trying to do, turn me into a goddamn Buddhist?”
The Tick: “Boots. Shoes. It’s not about the footwear, man. It’s about the path!”