“Destiny’s powerful hand has made the bed of my future, and it’s up to me to lie in it. I am destined to be a superhero. To right wrongs, and to pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evildoers everywhere. And you don’t fight destiny. No sir. And, you don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future, or you get all… scratchy.” —- The Tick
Created by an 18-year-old Ben Edlund in 1986, the big blue slab of superhero marble known as The Tick was originally created to be the mascot of a local comic store franchise (New England Comics). The comic was a fun thing for customers. He’s first seen as a loony in a straight jacket. One cannot strap down the call of destiny, though, and the Tick soon snapped from his bonds and pursued the siren’s call of Lady Justice!
Edlund’s run would only last 12 issues (though that took 7 years to complete). Edlund parodied a lot of references avid comics fans would recognize: a man with superpowers named Clark, a lady with sai blades who fights ninjas, and a detective with a bulky wrist communicator. The comic ended abruptly, with Tick just acquiring a high-tech Tick cave, a team of supervillains led by The Terror making their debut, and a mysterious lady Moth looking for them. Likely he would be relegated alongside Megaton Man to the dust bin of forgotten superhero parodies, until…
In 1994, Fox Kids was looking for the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A black-and-white indie comic created by a New Englander where the title character is something you can make toys out of? Hey, you could do a lot worse than The Tick! (Spoiler alert: a lot of people did a lot worse.) Edlund was on board with the cartoon, with some of his storylines (like one with the guy that has the head of a chair) making the jump to the small screen.
There would also be two live-action adaptations, one starring Patrick Warburton and the other starring Peter Serafinowicz. Each version expands on the scope of the superhero parody elements. And yet, it also crafts a goofy, fun world of superheroes as oddballs and neurotic messes that you kinda want to live in. One where superheroes are overly optimistic, where costumed vigilantes hang out like old friends, and where a humble spoon can inspire a battle cry.