ENTERTAINMENT

The Superhero For The People Who Love Superheros, 'The Tick' Is Back

"SPOON!"

01/09/2017 1:17 PM AEST | Updated 01/09/2017 3:59 PM AEST

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an almost indestructible mentally unstable man in a bright blue tick costume screaming his catchphrase "SPOON"? Yeah, yeah it is.

For the uninitiated, The Tick was created 30 years ago by Ben Edlund, he began developing the character of The Tick while he was still in high school and over the years developed the satirical superhero into a comic book series while he was still in college.

In 1994 The Tick was turned into an animated series lasting three seasons, with Edlund serving as creator, writer and producer. The animated series lasted three seasons but garnered a cult-following. Then in 2001, a live-action series starring Patrick Warburton as the titular Tick debuted and lasted for nine episodes. Again, Edlund was on board as creator of the new iteration, writer and executive producer.

Well The Tick is back in a brand new live-action series for Amazon Prime Video, and Edlund is still close to his creation all these years later. The new series stars Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick and Griffin Newman as his partner-in-crime fighting, Arthur Everest.

Set in a city called The City, 'The Tick' sees the superhero ready to fight crime alongside his somewhat unstable new bestie, Arthur. Arthur meanwhile is a paranoid accountant who, after seeing his father crushed to death in the detritus of superhero battle as a child believes the long-dead villain responsible for his father's death, The Terror, may still be alive.

'The Tick' isn't just a tongue-in-cheek series that pokes fun at superhero tropes, but subverts and comments on what's happening in superhero media at the time of its creation. With each new iteration of The Tick, Edlund is commentating on a different landscape.

"There was a crazy number of superheros out there, an immense saturation," Edlund said to HuffPost Australia, "and it was asking for comment"

"The Tick functions in a lot of ways as a commentary about superheroes, so it felt like it was time to do that again. It also just happened to be that a lot of people who had grown up with or had The Tick play a part in their lives at some point were feeling like they wanted to see it again. People in positions who buy The Tick at Amazon were actually fans of it from previous moments."

Amazon Prime Video
Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz as Arthur and The Tick, the unlikely duo.

The 2017 version of The Tick isn't just a commentary on what's going on in the world of superhero films and series, but also now has a more met a commentary on this new revival culture we're seeing on our screens.

"I think there used to be this idea where if you messed something up it was your one shot to make it," Griffin Newman said.

"Now they're rebooting stuff a year and a half later, trying to resume TV shows that ended a decade earlier."

While 'The Tick' is both playing on that nostalgia and reboot culture, it's also playing into it and while it's doing that, is also making changes to the style of the show in order to comment on the current landscape.

The animated series took on a lot of styling cues from 70s animation, while the 2001 live-action had a more 'Seinfeld'-esque take on things because, at that time they were working without a real framework.

"I never realised it before," Newman said, "but it was more riffing on adaptations of cartoon shows than it was live-action superhero shows because there was no real template for how that looked.

Amazon Prime Video
Jackie Earle Haley as The Terror in 'The Tick'.

Newman noted that in the first decade of the shift toward superhero films and series there was a reluctance to truly lean into the more absurd or "comic book-y" elements when adapting.

"Like let's get the X-Men in black jumpsuits, the colours are too much or let's make Galactus a cloud, they won't buy a guy in the sky."

"Now we've gone so far beyond, we make 'Guardians of the Galaxy', there's a rocket and a tree -- who cares! Buy it! Buy it! And that creates a landscape where we can have The Tick on a street corner in New York City and we don't have to contextualise it to the audience. They've seen straight-faced movies present things that are equally ridiculous. It's just in the tapestry of the visual language we all know."

Speaking to Edlund and Griffin you can see where the series gets its intelligence from. They're completely cavalier dropping incredible insights into the industry and their interpretation of how 'The Tick' fits into the wider narrative.

But this is a Tick for 2017, and with that comes some overhaul. While the series still has a cartoonish aesthetic, with Tick's bright blue suit and Arthur's moth costume bounding around the vivid streets of The City, they're working in a more serious world than prior years.

"We had to allow more darkness in," Edlund explained, "because that's what is on the screen as a superhero standard, more angst, more darkness more reality."

"So many superheroes out there, such a proof of concept that people are willing to take them seriously. We're trading on that too, wanting people to take the Tick and Arthur seriously and their story seriously."

'The Tick' is available now on Amazon Prime Video.

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