The Tick New Series #2 (New England Comics)
By Benito Cereno & Les McClaine
Desperadoe steals a mystic jewel that supposedly has the power to make someone fall in love. As the Tick and Arthur chase her in a mad race across the city, Chairface is making plans to spring himself from prison. Although the two storylines in this issue are relatively simple and self-contained, the laughs are huge. Cereno does a bang-up job of spoofing the conventions of the superhero genre, as the Tick’s comics have always done, but he takes it a step further. The Chairface scenes are a great spoof of prison break stories, specifically those that are kind of dependent on guards who lack common sense. We get a series of really strong gags that lead up to a goofy-yet-ominous last page. McClaine carries his part of the comic too, with plenty of great sight gags and highly expressive faces — especially on Arthur. This team is really proving itself worthy of taking over the reigns of one of the funniest superhero universes out there.
Title: Haunted Halloween Hootenanny
Writers: Clay & Susan Griffith
Art: Nathan MacDicken
Publisher: New England Comics
Let’s close out October here at the Back Issue Bin with one look into the relatively far past of comic books, with the Tick’s first-ever Halloween special from back in 1999. In “Haunted Halloween Hootenanny,” the Tick gets it into his head that he and Arthur need to buy a new house to serve as their headquarters. As they head to an “open house” in the middle of nowhere, Arthur begins to notice that some of the other denizens of the house don’t seem to be all among the living.
Although I didn’t really get into the Tick until the cartoon series, in more recent years I’ve become a devoted fan of the character. His total obliviousness to the world around him is not only funny in its own right, but the perfect send-up of some superhero comics that just can’t seem to have fun with the sillier aspects of the genre. Arthur works nicely, as always, as a counterpoint to the Tick’s lunacy and as a stand-in for the reader, who more than likely is aware of just how ridiculous the situations we’re presented with in these comics usually are.
The Halloween aspects of this issue are classic – lots of Haunted House tropes – and perfectly suited to the Tick. Stories like this one prove that these characters aren’t just good for satirizing superheroes, but actually work very well as commentators on any sort of speculative fiction. This works just as well as a horror movie satire as it does of superhero comics, and the writers even manage to work in a dash of Edgar Allen Poe. Arthur, for a change, is the focus of the villain’s ire in this story, giving the comic a nice little twist on the usual Tick formula as well.
Happy Halloween from the Back Issue Bin, folks! Hope you’ve enjoyed the recent avalanche of creepy comics, and tomorrow, we’re back to business as usual – including a new Somebody’s First Comic Book. Be safe out there!