The Tick, a goofy, bright blue superhero with a pair of suggestively wiggling antennas, is as difficult to eradicate as his Lyme-disease-carrying namesake. Beginning life in 1986 in a newsletter for a comics store, the cult-favorite character has gone on to star in his own comic book, a 1994 animated television series, a 2001 live-action TV series and now a fancy new online series, coming to Amazon Prime on Friday.
The Tick’s creator, the cartoonist and writer Ben Edlund, has been just as persistent. He was in high school when he first drew the character, and he’s gone on to be a writer and producer of all three TV shows (each named “The Tick”).
Given yet another shot, he hasn’t written a sequel. He’s given us a refurbished version of the basic “Tick” story, a deserved do-over after the truncated 2001 series, which made its debut on Fox two months after Sept. 11 and lasted just nine episodes.
Now that we have all that straightened out, here’s a suggestion: binge the 2001 series first. (It’s $7.99 at iTunes.) It won’t spoil your enjoyment of the new show, but the reverse might not be true.
The new “Tick,” based on six of its 10 episodes, is bigger in just about every way than the old. It has more back story, more exposition, more special effects, more (and more graphic) violence. It’s more knowing, more layered, more self-conscious.
Where the 2001 show was a quirky, low-fi, episodic lark, the new show is an up-to-date serialized dramedy that feels an awful lot like all the other 10-episode streaming series out there — take away the laughs and it could be a Netflix-Marvel production.
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