Third time is the charm for comic superhero ‘The Tick’
In pop culture, as in nature, getting rid of ticks is not easy.
More than 30 years ago, a kid in Massachusetts named Ben Edlund created a mock superhero called “The Tick.” Two years later, the big blue goofball got his own comic book series, then an animated show that aired for three years in the ’90s and then what should have been the crowning achievement, a live action show in 2001.
Alas, the series lasted only nine episode, in spite of getting lots of love from critics and cult followers of “The Tick.”
Edlund refused to give up. He believed in his creation and now, so has Amazon, which has rehatched a live-action “Tick” whose entire first season will become available for streaming on Friday.
This time around, “The Tick” (Peter Serafinowicz) is a blue-clad crime fighter who has a lot of brawn but is kind of, you should pardon the expression, flea-brained.
He’s hardly the only superhero in The City. There’s also Superian (Brendan Hines), the first superhero who at least looks the part of what we think of as a superior being: Chiseled jaw, perfect hair, twinkling eyes. There also is the mysterious Overkill (Scott Speiser), who more than lives up to his name but we’re not sure for a while which side he’s on.
And, of course, the City also is plagued by a lot of villains. The baddest of the bad guys, The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), is thought to be dead. But there are plenty of others, including Ramses IV (Michael Cerveris), who’s got a whole Egyptian thing going on; and Miss Lint (Yara Martinez), who always dresses in black and has only one eye. Apparently no one told her that lint is more visible on black and she’s constantly surrounded by the stuff.
One person who is certain The Terror still lives is the proverbially mild-mannered, bespectacled accountant Arthur (Griffin Newman). He’s been obsessively mapping bad activities that have all the earmarks of The Terror for a long time to prove his case. But becoming a superhero himself was never part of the bargain.
That’s what he becomes, though, thanks to the Tick who outfits him with a moth suit that includes retractable wings and special goggles that are supposed to help him activate the suit’s powers.
Needless to say, Arthur has an extended period of adjustment.
All of this is played for laughs, but the kind of laughs Edlund goes for may be challenging for some viewers. It’s silly, of course, but mostly, the show is droll. There are few, if any, sidesplitting moments and you have to listen carefully to catch some of the deadpan moments.
Serafinowicz partially models his Tick after the embodiment essayed by Patrick Warburton in the 2001 version, but brings his own quirkiness to the role. Warburton is an executive producer of the remake, by the way.
It should go without saying, but it won’t: Any time you have Jackie Earle Haley playing a supervillain, you are in good, lethal hands.