Premiering in 1988, Ben Edlund's The Tick has been an enduring and consistently funny parody of superheroes. As any great satire must, it also stands on its own as an epic and has introduced a host of memorable characters. While Edlund's heroes and villains are almost universally absurd, they also have unique personalities and discernible motives. They feel like real people facing a bizarrely chaotic world.
In some ways, Edlund has moved on to other successes. He's been a key creator associated with many beloved shows-- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel, and Supernatural-- but he hasn't let given up on the Big Blue Bug. Over the decades, The Tick has created an extended universe. It's been a comic, an animated series, a Sega Genesis/Super NES game, and two different live-action series. In every incarnation, The Tick's tone has been different, but each version has introduced marvelously weird, fleshed-out villains. These are the greatest of that odd lot.
10 Clark Oppenheimer
Also known as The Caped Wonder, Clark was The Tick's original comic book nemesis. Perhaps he wasn't a traditional villain, but by the time Tick was done with him he was well on his way to Brightburning the world.
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Clark is a straightforward Superman pastiche-- straightlaced reporter, glasses, unstoppable. There's a subtle reference to Doctor Manhattan, and The Manhattan Project's director, in his name as well. Clark wasn't prepared for The Tick to enter his world like a malicious Daffy Duck and start ruining everything. This was a Tick without Arthur's stabilizing influence, trying to forge a connection with another superhero, but endangering Clark's secret identity, Fortress of Solitude, and career. Clark became homicidal after Tick squished his car into an ashtray, hissed that The Tick was "like Woody Woodpecker," and tried to murder the Blue Bug. Clark would've succeeded if it hadn't been for his stupid "hypnotic" glasses.
9 The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight
The real menace in the animated episode "The Tick vs The Tick," this villain only made one real appearance, but DANG is he memorable. A babbling maniac, this spindly-legged weirdo turned up at the superhero hangout spot "The Comet Club," constantly muttering and chanting his own name alongside phrases like "Bad is good!" and "Yeah, baby, yeah!" While everyone was watching The Tick and Barry Hubris square off in a namesake battle, the Bomber was sticking timebombs to every conceivable surface. If it hadn't been for Tick's sidekick Arthur, with his general awareness of actual reality-- a legit superpower in Tickworld-- it would've been a superhero midnight massacre.
After The Tick stopped harassing Clark, he fell into a conflict with a huge squad of incompetent ninjas. They were the perfect enemies for The Tick at this stage in his career. They were numerous, but constantly shocked by Tick's strength and nigh-invulnerability, and posed no physical threat to him. However, they were a multi-layered enemy, with their local boss The District Manager proving to be an able strategist (and proprietor of the local Ninja World theme park), and his boss, Sagin the Wolf, was a terrifyingly deadly ninja master. This is the first time we see Tick's desperate need for a tether to reality, in this case, provided by ninja-girl Oedipus (not Elektra) and the hyper-focused Paul the Samurai.
7 The Breadmaster
A villain from the animated series, The Breadmaster was some sort of baking terrorist who hated mass-produced bread and pastries. To punish The City (as opposed to Anytown, USA), this black-hatted baker created time-activated loaves ("baked bads") that expanded to enormous size. His ultimate plan was to create a "city-smothering lemon souffle." Tick and Arthur managed to defeat him, but he and his slippery sidekick Buttery Pat returned more than once for an attempt at vengeance. Amazingly, this character was originally voiced by acting legend Roddy McDowell.
6 The Chainsaw Vigilante
This villain never made it from the printed page to the screen, and it's a real shame. With his motorcycle leathers emblazoned with the phrase "KICK YOURSELF," his cardboard smiley face mask, lanky frame, and of course CHAINSAW, he would cut a dashing figure on the big or small screen.
The Chainsaw Vigilante is notable in that he's crazy in a slightly different way than his world is crazy. An anti-vigilante vigilante, he sees an America overrun with "pajama police," and has vowed to forcibly retire superheroes wherever he finds them. He defeated the original Civic-Minded Five single-handedly with just a few superficial nicks from his saw, but then encountered The Tick who handed him his only significant defeat. He was last seen in his own mini-series (written and drawn by Zander Cannon) facing a hapless giant who strongly resembled the Amazon series' Very Large Man.
5 The Human Ton (and Handy)
Weighing in a 2,000 pounds of evil, it's the Human Ton! Transparently based on Marvel's villain The Blob, this fat, dumb, toon is strong enough to take on The Tick. This makes him a perfect henchman for The Terror, who knows talent when he sees it. The bizarre twist here, though, is he's also a parody of Batman's villain, The Ventriloquist. The Ton has a homemade green sock puppet with googly eyes named "Handy," whose catchphrase is "Read a book!" Sarcastic, intellectual, and erudite, Handy is the only villain in the animated series that Arthur managed to defeat. To the inexplicably intelligent toy's credit, he did deliver a righteous blow to the sidekick's jaw first.
4 Barry Hubris
First seen in the comics, Barry is the OTHER Tick. A rich playboy vigilante with a Tick Cave under his mansion, he met The Tick at the Comet Club. The two battled for name-retention rights and with his gadgets-- including a tick-shaped shield with "super crushing" powers-- he almost defeated The Tick. However, the Big Blue Bug of Justice triumphed and was declared the REAL Tick by the Tri-State Superhero Commission. Tick legally inherited all of Barry's gadgets and vehicles, while Barry began a descent into madness that reached its nadir when Barry called The Terror. He set a trap for Arthur and Tick, hoping to destroy them and regain his Tick mantle.
Barry appeared in the animated series as well but didn't translate well. Voiced to sound like a drooling imbecile, he was just an obstacle for Tick & company to overcome, not a complex nemesis.
The Tick's original mastermind villain, Chairface Chippendale came from the comics and was more fully-realized in the animated series. Essentially a narcissistic James Bond villain, Chairface was also a parody of Dick Tracy's gallery of grotesques. With an army of henchmen varying from bruisers like Pineapple Pokopo, gunsels like The Forehead, and geniuses like Professor Chromedome, Chairface's most notable achievement was using a light cannon to write HALF his name on the moon. The resulting "CHA" was consistently there in night scenes for the comics and the animated series, leading to speculation that (this author's cousin) Charro was secretly responsible.
2 The Terror
The only villain with the distinction of appearing in all 4 major iterations of The Tick, The Terror is the oldest supervillain still operating in his world. In the comics, he was the leader of the Evileers. He returned to this station in the animated series, but also had a history as Teddy Roosevelt's arch-nemesis, and attacked Mt. Rushmore with a giant boxing glove in an attempt at revenge on the late president. In the Warburton/sit-com live-action series, he appeared as an apparently comatose prisoner Tick and Arthur babysat. His greatest role, though, was as the Amazon series' Big Bad. Unpredictable, hilarious, and homicidal, this champion of the underworld killed the Flag Five and almost destroyed The City in his quest to destroy Superman-analog Superion.
1 Ms. Lint
The Terror's lightning-powered lieutenant in the Amazon series, Ms. Lint showed huge potential from the start. Calculating where her mentor was manic, the frustrated Lint appeared bitter, tired, and terrifying in turns. She showed great comic timing, and murderous intelligence throughout, and her turn as the pseudo-hero Joan of Arc demonstrated a surprising potential for antiheroism as well. All that said, the fact that Arthur defeated her static-electric powers with a dust-filled vacuum cleaner bag deserves some sort of special award on its own.