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The Tick Comics #1-4

The Tick: The Complete Edlund

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All 12 issues of Ben Edlund's original classic comic book series are collected in The Tick: The Complete Edlund, plus as a bonus the 13th Pseudo-Tick, "what-might-have-been" final issue! Extra materials include the first Tick story from the NEC Newsletter, rarely-seen backup stories, pin-ups, and original commentary by Edlund!

416 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Ben Edlund

53 books30 followers
In 1988, Ben Edlund launched the comic book that would make his name known to many comic and cartoon fans across the nation. It was the tale of a 300 lb., 7ft tall big blue insect named "The Tick". It was a character that Ben created a few years before in high school. The original series, drawn and written by Ben and published by New England Comics, only lasted 12 issues, but became quite popular in the underground comic world. The creation of a 13th issue is something Ben still hasn't decided against, but he has become a busy man since.

In 1994, Ben worked with Fox Kids Network to bring The Tick (and Arthur) to the small screen in an animated series. The show was a pretty faithful interpretation of the quirky heroic characters introduced in the comic book. It became an underground hit with a cult following. The show lasted for 3 seasons but eventually succumbed to being marketed as a kids show. The humor was often targeted to an older audience and trying to cater the show to children just stifled its creativity.
Fox wanted something to sell happy meals and figures. The Tick did just that, for a time, but shows would come along that Fox saw as better suited to a child audience.
Comedy Central picked up syndication rights to the show and aired it for a while. There it picked up some more fans and its popularity continued to grow.

In 2000, Ben began working on the Tick's 3rd incarnation, a live action television show. With the support of Barry Sonnenfeld (Director of Addam's Family, Men in Black), and the talent of Patrick Warburton (best known as Putty from Seinfeld) as the embodiment of big blue justice, the show had much promise. After a delay of almost a year after the acceptance of the pilot, The Tick finally aired. However, a difficult timeslot, (against NBC's Must See TV and CBS's Survivor), preemption by Baseball, as well as little promotion by the Fox Network, and other reasons I won't get into here (though I could!) would have the show end after only 8 episodes. It was the second time Fox had mismanaged one of Ben's creations.

In fall of 2002, Ben was working as a producer and writer on the Joss Whedon created show Firefly. He and Joss had worked together before on the screenplay for Titan A.E. Firefly was an innovative, character-driven space western. Unfortunately, Firefly was cancelled after only an 11 episode run, including the pilot. The only episode penned by Ben that aired was Jaynestown. And yes, Firefly was also on the Fox Network, but we've blamed them enough today. Currently Ben is writing and producing for Angel.

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5 stars
172 (52%)
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120 (36%)
3 stars
27 (8%)
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5 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
986 reviews1,114 followers
May 25, 2021
What’s big and blue and nigh-indestructible? Meet the Tick, a very unusual superhero, who seems to be suffering from a unique case of amnesia, on top of marching to the beat of his own extremely weird drum. You see, the Tick isn’t so interested in ending crime as he is interested in fighting it, which is a subtle but important nuance…

I love Ben Edlund’ weird brain: he was an early contributor on the ”Venture Bros.” (arguably the best adult cartoon ever), and writer for some of my favorite “Supernatural” episodes, so obviously, I enjoyed his original run as writer of the Tick. But I had also watched the 2 live action series before reading it (the 2001 version with Patrick Warburton is the best, and yes, I will fight you over this), so my enjoyment was a little colored by the fact that I missed Batmanuel and Overkill.

As a character, the Tick is always upbeat and always ready for action, but rather obtuse, to put it mildly – which can be a logistical problem for his friend/sidekick Arthur, or anyone else he interacts with, really. He is also remarkably clumsy, and tends to fall off buildings and make dents in the sidewalks. And yes, that is hilarious.

Edlund’s satirical take on superheroes is wonderfully funny and cringey, highlighting themes that Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick later explored even further, such as the problems with incompetent henchmen, the psychological damage done to sidekicks, characters who’s superhero or super-villain names are bad puns and the bureaucratic struggles that would inevitably result from such a vigilante system actually existing. The original twelve issues collected in this edition are funny, often silly but are also an early example of people making fun of the superhero and super-villain stereotype, which is something I appreciate deeply.

If you like wacky superheroes, you won’t find better than this!
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,501 reviews32 followers
March 14, 2023
OMG The Tick is awesome!!!! I love this parody of all things superhero. I can only read so much at a time as hurt myself laughing. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Michael.
273 reviews6 followers
June 9, 2011
The Tick is awesome. I've felt that way since I first saw the now classic '90's cartoon. The cartoon was written by none other than Ben Edlund. This first volume was also written by Ben Edlund. The Tick is Ben's creation. The comic is what can be considered the greatest black and white indy book from the late 80's early 90's. This comic takes humor and superheroes to a level that could be in league with Justice League International.

This classic looks at so many different styles. You got ninja's and archtypes of superman. You've got super villains introduced like Chairface and the Red Scare. Nothing like crazy villains to make you happy.

So, if you love classy comics or just awesome 80's indy books. This is your book. It's one of my favorite comics. See were your favorite 90's cartoon came from and see Chairface try and write his name in the moon all over again.
Profile Image for John Wiswell.
Author 44 books385 followers
May 6, 2014
It feels like I've been watching adaptations of The Tick all my life. Not only was the a Fox cartoon and blissful live action show, but its influences are obvious on other series, like Venture Bros. and Middleman. It's set in that wacky world of self-acknowledged tropes, where cynicism is corrupted by cheesiness. It's a world where almost everyone takes themselves deathly seriously despite the most rational man living in a moth costume and bemoaning his boring life (thus, he must sidekick for an interesting person). It's darned endearing superhero antics.

Our hero is the eponymous Tick, a nigh-invulnerable man-child who begins by annoying a Superman-lookalike half to death. The Tick/Superman story is painfully Homer Simpson/Ned Flanders, recast in the setting of the Daily Planet, and given when Ben Edlund wrote this book, that makes sense.

Like Venture Bros. and Middleman, you're never sure what tropes The Tick will encounter next. Following the Superman story, he essentially meets Elektra and The Hand. Then there's a nemesis rental agency for heroes who need bad guys quick, followed by a hard-boiled Noir detective who takes Tick into espionage. The pell-mell plotting is so unpredictable that it's fun. The comedy is always in how strangely these characters behave on their way through old-school comic book conflicts. At its best, The Tick has some of the funniest characterization in all of comics.

For instance, there's the meteorite populated by miscroscopic aliens (it's actually from Utah) that threatens The Tick unless he gives them an assortment of condiments. Arthur, The Tick's sidekick, finds Tick laying ketchup and mustard packets on the meteorite. Arthur asks why. The Tick grins wide and announces, "Popular demand."

If this sounds unappealing, you probably won't enjoy it. If it sounds appealing, it's far better at what I've described than any description I've given of it.
Profile Image for Pj Anderer.
88 reviews4 followers
September 11, 2017
Way back in early 90s or before I read all 12 issues of The Tick. This seems to be the closest thing to those, I suppose.
1 review
November 19, 2020
This book is about a very stupid superhero called The Tick and a very intelligent man called Arthur, who is his sidekick. The Tick and Arthur have many adventures. I had already watch the series that came from this book. I liked it because in the book they have some different adventures than in the series. I also enjoyed it because it has my 2 favorite genres, it is a comic book and it has crime.
Profile Image for Greg Weaver.
10 reviews8 followers
July 22, 2016
The perfect collection of silly superhero satire! It's classic Tick and Arthur at their finest.

"Laugh-out-loud funny!"
417 reviews
July 28, 2017
Hilarious comic collection that remains one of the best satires of the genre to date. Ben Edlund has a blast with the Tick, a character so dumb but endearing you can't help but root for him, even when he's ridiculing your favorite characters, from Superman to Elektra. Some gags are a bit on the nose but never not funny, and even pokes fun at itself more than once (the fact the Tick puts a tuxedo over his costume is a disguise is hilarious). It's matched excellently by Edlund's cartoony art (which the cartoon itself imitated nicely), resulting in one of the funniest comics ever made. If you love comics and like to laugh, this is a must read.
Profile Image for Fraser Sherman.
Author 9 books27 followers
March 17, 2020
A truly great parody comic. Ben Edlund cheerfully skewers ninjas, Superman, superheroes in general, Elektra and Dick Tracy. Some of it hasn't aged entirely well — a lot of the Elektra jokes seem to depend on knowing her 1980s adventures (I don't) — but the Dick Tracy parody is so bizarre it stands on its own.
I was surprised not to see some of the cartoon superheroes (American Maid, Sewer Urchin) here, but they weren't really needed.
Profile Image for Jack.
486 reviews3 followers
November 3, 2021
One of my favorite character archetypes is “big, dumb guy”. I also love the “character fails their way to success” trope. The art, especially the character designs, is a blast. Some of the comedy is annoying, but 95% of it lands, and more importantly this never takes itself too seriously. Fun stuff!
Profile Image for Terrence.
225 reviews7 followers
October 17, 2017
SPOON! Before the cartoon. Before the two TV series. Before the Broadway musical. Ben Edlund created the perfect super hero satire. Go back in time to read how The Tick and Arthur fought crime like nobody else.
543 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2018
Stellar superhero satire! The Tick and Arthur spoof Superman and Elektra, face off against Chairface Chippendale and an alternate Tick, and venture to New York in search of a city to save. Spoon!
Profile Image for Joel.
122 reviews
March 29, 2020
huge fan of the Tick! Not disappointed at all!!
best graphic Ive seen in a long time!!!
Profile Image for Marc.
9 reviews1 follower
May 12, 2020
How can you not give The Tick five stars?
Profile Image for Erik.
1,845 reviews7 followers
June 8, 2020
Some of this is really funny, some of it's just chuckle worthy. I enjoyed it, but kept wishing I was watching the show, where the delivery is perfect and really sells the material.
Profile Image for Gigi.
227 reviews4 followers
February 8, 2021
Even though much of it was different than the animated series, it was still a fantastic & fun read!
Found myself laughing out loud off & on throughout the whole book.
October 30, 2021
SPOOOOOOON! If you’re a fan of pretty much any incarnation of The Tick, you’ll enjoy this. All the madcap energy, plus you can see how it all started.
Profile Image for Adam Graham.
Author 53 books65 followers
September 2, 2013
Before the Tick became a popular Saturday morning cartoon character, he was a popular Independent comic book character created by Ben Edlund. Here we get to basque in the glory of this wacky superhero parody through its initial run by its creator.

The Complete Edlund collects The Tick Issues 1-12, Pseudo Tick #13, and a bunch of bonus Edlund material.

Edlund began working on the tick when he was when he was high school with a cartoon and character profile in New England Comics news letter #14. The character profile is interesting for many reasons. First, it's reprinted with a big typo. Second, it establishes the Tick as a divorced French-speaking concert pianist while claiming to be clueless as to the characters' nationality.

Tick #1 features the Tick's escape from the city and the famous scene where the Tick is interrogated about whether he sucked blood. This was an okay issue overall, but it should be noted that it contained a lot of swearing, mostly milder stuff but a lot of it, and there was a barnyard expletive thrown in. Edlund cuts this way down in future issues, as he matured as a writer.

Issue 2 was an okay Superman parody that was just a little too obvious.

To me, Issue 3 is where the Tick truly hits hits his stride with a 3-part Ninja-fighting story parodying Frank Miller's Daredevil as he battles a ton of Ninjas to help out a woman named Oedipus who became a ninja due to her being and responding to an ad to the newspaper for ninja training. The Ninjas and the Tick all work hilariously. The Tick Universe expands with the introduction of Paul the Samurai and more importantly, Arthur.

In Issue 6, Edlund introduces the concept of Supervillains Incorporated which finds the world so full of superheroes that in order for a superhero to establish himself he has to hire a villain to fight. Hilarity ensues when the Tick meets up with the villain instead.

In Issue 7, Tick goes out to get some Pez but ends up fighting alongside a Dick Tracy-like crimefighter against the arch-criminal Chairface Chipendale in a plot that would be mostly borrowed for the cartoon series.

In Issue 8, Chairface's men are out for vengeance but are stopped by the man-eating cow as Tick and Arthur decide to go to New York to make it big as superheroes.

Issues 9 and 10 finds the Tick and Arthur on the road to New York and run into chainsaw vigilante and and a band of mad scientist hillbillies under an evil spell.

Issue 11 has the Tick arriving in New York and having to defend his Tickhood against a man named Barry who has been using the name the Tick. The two duel in the Comet Club while Author experiences the horror of a visit to the sidekick's lounge.

In Issue 12, the Tick has secured the rights to the name and gets a lot of cool stuff with it, but Barry is plotting revenge. This issue was the last that Edlund drew and it did seem to be getting a little weirder and the humor a little tired. This comic was in 1993, 9 months after the previous issue and was left unresolved.

This book allows Marc Silva to resolve the story line in Pseudo Tick #13 which merited a couple laughs and managed to close up the story line with Edlund and make it consistent with other books that had been produced since. The concept art and extras were unusual like an obscure art film.

The new edition (not by Edlund) extends a detail from Issue 1 in an amusing story.

The meat and the best part of the book are Issues 3-11 and mere synopsis doesn't do the book justice. There are some magic moments such as when the Tick coins the battle cry, "Spoon" or discovers he has pockets. It gets a little weird and sometimes too weird for my taste, but when it's not too weird, it's hilarious.

Profile Image for Will.
33 reviews6 followers
February 21, 2017
A fun, relaxing read with beautiful illustrations and a couple of refreshingly serious moments. I like the works that these comics inspired more (especially if I can count The Venture Bros. as a spiritual successor), but this is a nice piece of independent comics history and was exactly what I needed to read.
Profile Image for Michael.
2,999 reviews
August 15, 2019
I haven't read a Tick comic since college and I was a little worried, because I have low tolerance for superhero satire, but this is really funny stuff. I wish NEC put the money into a better edition of it; this is basically just a cheap Essential/Showcase-style compendium of all the Tick stories by Edlund, plus issue 13, which was by others but concluded his issue 12 cliffhanger. Edlund keeps it lively, I think, by genuinely loving superhero stuff, rather than the mean-spirited parody exercised by Ennis et al that hits only the obvious jokes.

In many ways, not much is different in these comics than in the animated series or the live action series - The Terror's here, and so is Barry aka "The Tick" - but there are some differences. The humor is a little more juvenile, probably since Edlund was a teen (a smart and witty one, apparently) when he started the series, and he doesn't rely so much on having a few other archetypes (Die Fledermaus & American Maid; Bat Manuel & Captain Liberty) to play Tick and Arthur off. The opening arc with Oedipus and the ninja is particularly good. The art's rough at times, but it gets the job done.
I reread this for the first time in a decade, and it still holds up - particularly the first six issues featuring Oedipus, Clark Oppenheimer and the ninjas. The road trip feels unfocused and the Tick and Arthur's adventures in New York have a few decent gags, but the riffs explored in those issues (the sidekick lounge!, Barry the other Tick, The Terror) are handled better in the various TV incarnations. But those first six issues - top shelf, grade A great comics. And Edlund's art is better than I remember - enough to make me wonder how great a cartoonist he might've turned out to be if he'd stuck to comics. Hopefully he'll get the Tick picked up for another TV revival, because Amazon's cancellation of the most recent series is a big disappointment. It was a fun show.
Profile Image for Paul Shillinger.
8 reviews4 followers
May 29, 2013
TL;DR: A great comic, and perhaps one of the funniest I've read. Leaves out a section that many readers felt was racist.

This was the first comic book to make me laugh out loud. I picked up the first issue at my local comic shop back in the 90s and I laughed so hard at one of the sight gags that I literally had to set the comic down and walk away for a few minutes. Ben Edlund's offbeat sense of humor isn't for everyone, but if you "get him," you love him.

My only disappointment with this edition was the omission of a fairly large chunk of material concerning the mascot of a corporatized ninja clan. The mascot was a small, chubby ninja named "Li'l Nip," who spoke with stereotypical "engrish" pronunciation and grammar. (e.g. he pronounces his own name as "Ri'r Nip.")He appeared in the "million-zillion ninjas" storyline, mostly in fake ads for various ninja-themed products and Ninja World, a ninja theme park that Tick later destroys.

At the time it was published, the character created quite a bit of backlash against Edlund, with readers accusing him of overt racism. It was pretty clear that Edlund meant the character as satire of the way corporations like McDonald's & Disney were co-opting other cultures to produce "ethnic" products. (c.f. Disney's Pocahontas, McDonald's short-lived "Asian" menu.) I thought it was pretty clever, myself, and never felt that Edlund was trying to promote racist stereotypes. Nevertheless, Edlund apologized in a later issue, and it seems the publisher has chosen not to risk controversy again.

The Tick remains one of the funniest books I've read. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the short-lived TV series or cartoon, or anyone who enjoys parodies of superhero archetypes.
Profile Image for Kevin.
256 reviews8 followers
April 5, 2016
Ben Edlund's uproarious superhero spoof is chock full of wonderfully absurd humor. The Tick is a mysterious, nigh-invulnerable muscleman who breaks out of an asylum and makes his way to The City, thirsting for injustice in need of rectifying. He makes life hell for mild-manner reporter/ secret alien superbeing Clark Oppenheimer, tangles with hapless theme-park ninjas alongside ninjette heiress Oedipus, and finally finds a consistent foil (and sidekick) in office drone Arthur, who begins to crack up in the face of The Tick's unflappable superhuman stupidity. It's fun seeing the art evolve from the crude but inspired renderings of The Tick's debut to the cartoony house style the strip assumed. And Edlund has a knack for writing the most perfect one-liners, which, uncharacteristically, I shall not share with you now, so there.
Profile Image for John Shaw.
917 reviews6 followers
June 1, 2016
One of the first independent comic series to
garner widespread acclaim
if not widespread success
The original run of
The Tick!
from New England Comics (NEC)
was fraught with hardship
the book could never seem to come out on
anything the resembled
a regular schedule.
But for those fans who stuck with it
it was amazing
A unique look at super heroes
and the often ludicrous world they live in.

The Tick never did have much success in print
but it spawned not only 1 live action series
with another on the way from Amazon
but what was one of the best cartoons ever.
Profile Image for Doug.
83 reviews3 followers
June 3, 2014
I love The Tick! Ben Edlund's creation is a work of crazy genius. There are 13 issues in this complete volume. The first 12 are amazing, but unfortunately, the final one doesn't seem to feature the same quality of art and the writing feels like a rough first draft. It's a rather drab conclusion for what is otherwise a stellar series! I'm still rating this 5 stars because the previous 12 issues are so damn good!
Profile Image for Grond.
146 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2015
It occurs to me that the term 'Gonzo' applies to the 'Tickverse'. Indeed, take the superhero trope and set Hunter S. Thompson to the task of tackling a comic book. Surreal, weird and just plain funny the Tick goes right after the fact that superheroes would pretty much all be one flavour of insane with the Tick himself leading the charge. Fun stuff, and based on the multiple iterations of the Tick that have appeared in 'media', weirdly compelling.
Profile Image for Jeff Powers.
693 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2016
An all time classic. The original Tick comics are some of the best super-hero parodies ever made. Edlund's ridiculous humor and fantastic art really shines in this complete collection of his run on the series he created. If you are a fan of the Tick, this a must own collection, especially if you loved the animated series, which drew a number of episodes from this original run. Filled a lot of laugh out loud moments.
Profile Image for Wesley Johnson.
22 reviews4 followers
April 5, 2015
The Tick is one of my favorite comic book characters; if you've only seen the live action or animated shows, you haven't had the FULL experience. This particular book compiles creator Ben Edlund's original 13-issue run. It's a must-read for anyone jonesing for a good super hero satire. Trigger warning: book contains lots of puns.
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