Wrapping up this week’s Free Comic Book Day 2016 theme is my review of The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2016.
Forewarning: this article contains !!!SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS!!! If you picked up this comic on FCBD and haven’t read it yet, what’s wrong with you? It’s been almost a week. Read your comics. You don’t want to end up like me with 2 longboxes of back issues and 2 more longboxes of trades that you haven’t gotten to yet.
The cover is an homage/rip-off/parody of the classic Adventure Comics #247. The first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The joke doesn’t really carry over though as the main story features the Tick encountering other-dimensional counterparts of himself. If the story was about Tick being rejecting from a superhero team, this reference would make more sense. A better choice may have been of a hero encountering a doppelgänger or reference to alternate universe heroes. One that comes to mind is the cover of Superman: Man of Steel #37 by Jon Bogdanove. While not as iconic as the Adventure cover, it would get the theme of this Tick story across more effectively.
And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s probably one that’s way more relevant for this, I’m just forgetting it.
Inside, as stated above, the story is about the Tick teaming up with a slew of other Ticks from alternate dimensions. “The Council of Ticks” by Jeff McClelland and Duane Redhead. There are some good visual jokes here with the multiple versions of the Tick, but a lot of the ones in the background are recolored versions of the original. It seems that there was room for a few more different costumes that could be played as parodies of modern comic superheroes. Where is the “New 52” Tick, “Manga” Tick, or “Live Action Movie” Tick? It feels like a missed opportunity here that easily could have added a lot of enjoyment to this book.
Now, the Tick teaming up with variants of himself is a great concept. When supervillain Thrakkorzog shows up, the swarm of Ticks excitedly charge, only to trip over each other in their enthusiasm. Thrak (I’m not typing all that again), is disconcerted when he realizes all the Ticks from alternate dimensions are in close proximity to each other and pose a threat to this universe. He runs off since the current reality is “on a collision course with entropy!” The Ticks cheer for Arthur since they believe he scared off Thrak. At the end Arthur is left with a sense of unease (natural for the character) about the threat the Ticks still pose. Tick being more of a danger to the City than the villains is a theme that has followed the character, but is still a funny ending to this tale.
The next story, “Tales of the Tick-Verse: Tick, P.I.” also by McClelland with art by Ian Nichols. This story stars a noir detective version of the Tick, who is black and white even while in the color universe. This is a fun, if only, 3 page sequence that shows a look at this Tick’s world. An entire issue of tales about other world Ticks could have been a lot of fun.
However, the final story here is “Convention Season” again written by McClelland and drawn by Redhead. Tick and Arthur hear about a convention to honor the Tick even though they have nothing to do with it. Some other local heroes plan to dress as the Tick to gain free admission to the convention, as the organizers surely wouldn’t charge the guest of honor to attend. The “convention” is of course a trap set by a supervillain, The Vantage Point. He is a small character that always appears small despite his actual proximity to the viewer. There is one close up of the character, admittedly, probably to show him to the reader, but it kind of throws off the joke. It would be more effective if he was always exactly the same size throughout the panels. Vantage Point is scared off when the other “Ticks” arrive.
This is a very similar ending to the first story. So much so, it’s a puzzle why the writer even introduced the idea of the other heroes wearing Tick costumes. We just had an army of Ticks in the previous tales. Why not just have them all show up to attend the convention? That could have just been the reason they were all here to begin with. It’s left a mystery as to how they were crossing over to begin with.
Overall, this is a good, fun comic with some jokes they should have went for. The art style within still tries to evoke Ben Edlund’s original series which is strange at this point. Tick #12 came out in 1993. Edlund has made it clear that he’s not finishing that series and it’s painfully clear that he’s not interested in producing these books. New England Comics printed a faux Tick #13 years ago to finish the story. The credits even list editors and an art director that are not Edlund. So why do these books mimic his style still? Let’s give some new artist a chance to draw their version of the Tick. How about several artists doing their versions? When you pick up Batman titles, they don’t all look alike. It would be boring if they did. All of the characters that have survived the decades have been portrayed differently by different artists and writers. Surely, the Tick is a versatile enough character to withstand this.
The other big issue with this comic is what to read after this. The back cover is an ad for Tick collections, but I read some of those comics 15 years ago. What is happening now with Tick? Is there a monthly book? I’m not even sure. For a freebie that will hopefully end up in a lot of people’s hands, why not get your message out? Is there a new mini-series on the way or a special? The reader has no idea. Amazon is starting a new Tick show. Why not put an article about that in here so people know? At least an announcement so fans know to look for it.
There is an ad where you can send away for the previous Free Comic Book Day issues. That’s kind of cool, but are we limited to one issue of the Tick a year? It seems like even Ben Edlund would have the time to make one issue a year of his book.