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 fifth episode of season two: “Magic is Real”
1. More Mother than Monster
In yet another keen, humanistic twist this episode of The Tick reveals that the big bad that Arthur has been hunting down isn’t really “bad” at all, but a pawn being used by the group of large Boston boys seen at the poker game Arthur infiltrated a couple episodes back. The conflict between The Tick and Lobstercules looked like it was being set-up as a classic “hero versus very similar villain” confrontation (think Iron Man vs. Iron Monger, or Ant-Man versus Yellowjacket), but the reality is much different. In an earlier column, I guessed that Lobstercules was only being set up as a sub-boss on the way to some greater enemy, and while that turned out to be the case, in typical Tick fashion, the surprise twist ends up being more delightful than that. You see, Donny Donnelly and his brothers are basically keeping Lobstercules as a caged animal to be used as the super-powered muscle for their crime ring. They’re doing this by holding Lobstercules’s children hostage in Igloo coolers (they couldn’t even spring for the Yeti brand) and bringing them into contact with Lobstercules only to allow her to occasionally feed them. This keeps her doing their bidding, essentially enslaved in perpetuity. This sequence is another example of The Tick being so adept at injecting humanity into the unlikeliest of places, and even with the most otherworldly of trappings. You wouldn’t think the image of a hulking lobster creature chewing up starfish and spitting a gooey purple paste into the mouths of her children would make for a particularly emotional scene, but it does. The scene is mixed with some strange aural elements, and I’m not sure whether this was supposed to be some sort of alien choral piece or Lobstercules and her children making affectionate noises toward one another during feeding time, but either way it only added to the heartwarming nature of the scene. I can imagine few other shows pulling something like this off in such an affecting way.
2. Furniture with a Feeling
While on the subject of surreal yet heartfelt moments, The Tick pulls off another minor one during this episode’s B-plot. At the end of last week’s episode, Overkill and Dot took down a gang of eccentric dealers who specialize in human furniture. It was kind of a missed opportunity to perhaps introduce Chairface Chippendale, but I suppose his story doesn’t necessary line up with the idea here, which is that these are still very much intact humans who haven’t been hacked up or transformed in too severe a fashion, just mind-wiped to be perfectly still as their consciousness starts to believe they actually are a lamp or a sofa. I find myself repeating this praise over and over, but it’s really true and real Tick-heads know it: few other shows would attempt to cultivate pathos with a bizarre situation like the human furniture crime. As Overkill and Dot grill the newly revived human-lamp man for information, the show is content to spend a little extra time humanizing him, even though he’s just some effectively nameless character that’s being used to advance the plot with an information dump. Other shows would use a character like this for his information and then dump him, but at least for one scene we listen to the guy talk about his experience and what was going through his mind as all of this happened to him. In some small way, The Tick is centering the victims of its bizarre crimes and trying to figure out how a real person might be affected by them.Continued below
3. Joan of Character Arc
I find myself continuing to be fascinated by the character arc of Miss Lint (or, perhaps I should start permanently referring to her as Joan of Arc). At the start of the episode, she shows up at A.E.G.I.S. to take the John Hodgman tour and apply to be in the Flag Five, much to Arthur’s dismay. Later in the episode, her right hand man Frank expresses concern that she’s becoming more invested in actually being a hero than the idea that she was only doing a heroic turn to wipe out her criminal competition. In all the time we’ve spent with Joan of Arc over the course of the series, we’ve seen her search for a greater purpose, but that search has always been presented as one of bad intent. I’m still not sure I buy that she’ll ever completely flip sides (after all, in acting in a heroic role, she still bungles things for The Tick and Arthur by getting too rough with Lobstercules by the end of the episode), but the show sure is putting in effort to get us to think it could be the case.
4. Superian Super-Ego
The flip-side of the aforementioned face turn, is Superian’s heel turn, which is becoming increasingly difficult to watch and I mean that as a compliment. In season one, Superian really worked as the good-natured, yet totally aloof and self-centered doofus Superman. In season two, he’s falling apart because he’s falling out of favor with the public – at least if social media can be believed. Here, he goes on a talk show in an attempt to reconnect with the public and to explain away his recent newsworthy outburst where he carved his likeness into a mountain. It doesn’t go well, and he comes off looking even worse than before. And I have to say, Superian is becoming an extremely difficult character to sympathize with, and I think that’s another compliment to the show. This isn’t a heel turn that’s coming out of nowhere. No, like most aspects of this show, the showrunners are content to take their time to earn these twists and turns. Superian isn’t snapping and becoming something he’s not, but slowly turning into something else because he’s slowly losing grip. And while I don’t sympathize with him one bit, it’s easy to see why the somewhat naive character from season one could eventually end up at this point.
5. “Spoon!” watch
Superian: “I suppose I’m here to clear the air. Kind of how I cleared the air of all those meteors falling on Chile a few years ago, do you remember that?”
Frank: “You zapped Albert so hard he lost Tuesday. Like as a concept.”
The Tick: “Oh hey! It’s Bronze Star and Super Nipple!”