FCBD 2015: The Phantom vs. The Tick


It’s time for two old favourites, although for a current generation of comic book fans may not have heard of either of them.

These two unlikely veterans are both stalwart heroes of their respective realms and eras: The Phantom is The Ghost Who Walks and a heroic adventurer who protects the jungle, created in the 1930s even before other masked heavyweights like Batman and Captain America. The Tick was a comedic hero who protected the world from the not-so-good, created in the 1980s and he became a cartoon and live-action superstar.

But does either of them still have what it takes?


The Phantom:

These are a series of reprints from various eras of the character’s existence, and while the colouring is of the standard of the day the art is better than many of the comic books on the shelves today. With the classic introduction of For whose who came in late…, here we’re first shown the character’s origin just to bring new readers up to speed.

The first real story is The Tournament, an amusing tale of an escaped convict who steals The Phantom’s costume while our hero goes swimming. Little does the convict know that The Phantom is supposed to take part in a wrestling tournament later in the day and the winner will become the lord of the land. The Phantom has won countless times before, but that year’s challenger is determined to win and the convict has no clue about what he’s doing.

The second story (with art by comic book legend Jim Aparo!) is The River That Never Ends. It’s a two-part story – both parts are complete here – in which The Phantom gets sucked into a whirlpool and discovers an underground cavern from which there’s possibly no escape. But can he get out, and stop some poaching pirates from stealing the local ivory in the process?


The Tick:

Providing a much-needed injection of humour this FCBD, The Tick bombastically bounds from one non-adventure to another with gusto and an absolute lack of brainpower. For fans of the character this is exactly what they’ve been craving and at times is laugh-out-loud hilarious, while each story is self-contained too.

The first story, The Ghosts Of Sidekicks Past, deals with The Tick and his stalwart sidekick Arthur debating about why they haven’t evacuated while the city is being destroyed around them. For no reason whatsoever, The Tick gets visited by the ghost of a former sidekick and struggles to figure out how to blow a kazoo. Yes, it’s that mad!

Fade To Black And Back is a new story continuing an old story that has no bearing on anything. In this one we learn the untold tale of how an unconscious Tick was used as a skateboard ramp, a weapon against a goo-monster, a uvula-smacking device in a sea creature, an extra passenger for a vehicle in the car-pool lane and a guest at a Hobo Tea Party. What?!

The final story, You Gotta Ave Art… well, Arthur wants to take The Tick to an art gallery. Don’t ask why. The Tick is okay with it, because he thinks an art gallery is The Flintstones. After five minutes of waiting in line The Tick is going stir-crazy. Thankfully there are subterranean rock people to battle, a tsunami to punch, cats to rescue from trees and villains to skateboard against. Definitely, as The Tick points out, a series of adventures truly worthy of a montage!

Honestly, this isn’t even a contest. Not because one is better than the other, but simply because they’re both brilliant and both mean so much to the fans. Seeing Lee Falk’s The Phantom amongst the new titles was a refreshing breath of fresh air and a must-have for those who love the classics. The Tick was an essential for anyone who wanted a laugh on FCBD, and it still stands as one of the best parodies of the superhero genre. The contrast of these two against today’s standard-bearers of grin and gritty tales is huge, and you couldn’t ask for better.

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