Crime doesn’t pay, and one guy who means to keep it that way is Dick Tracy. Follow him on a new case in the classic style in Dick Tracy Forever #1 from IDW Publishing.
Writer: Michael Avon Oeming
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Colorist: Taki Soma
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 24, 2019
Previously in Dick Tracy: The detective with the squarest jaw in town is always on the job, trying to bring law and order to the city and keep the gangsters in check.
STEPPING RIGHT INTO A SNAPPY STORY SET IN 1931
Dick Tracy Forever #1 features a couple of short stories with an epilogue that ties back into the first one, so I get the impression there is a longer plot involved. It begins with Tracy finding out that The Brow is out on parole already, and planning to keep an eye on him. With some snappy dialogue, Tess Trueheart reminds him that tonight is their date night. The plan is to see Chaplin’s new movie, City Lights (which indeed came out in 1931). Before Tess can even leave his office, another case lands on his desk. But it’s just a simple robbery, he assures her.
Off he goes to the mansion of the wealthy Mr. Rackman, whose butler tells him of a strange goon he saw, who was wearing a mask – not a face mask, but a mask of a face over his own. He was also kitted out in straps and ropes and, when spotted, went flying out the window. It seems odd, and Dick Tracy suspects a kidnapping attempt. Rackman brushes this off – what does he have to fear; he owns much of the town! But Tracy follows him, ironically to the theater where City Lights is playing. Spotting Tess in the audience is a momentary distraction, and when he looks around again after meeting up with her, Mr. Rackman has been kidnapped.
Tess pulls her car around, and they’re off on the chase! The kidnappers shoot at them, but it’s clear they’re only doing warning shots. Tess cuts them off and they crash, and that’s when Tracy finds out they’re all veterans of the Great War, terribly wounded, hence the partial face masks for some of them. Rackman leases apartments to these men, but he’s been jacking up their rent. They had a wild scheme to kidnap him for money they could use to buy the building from him. Clearly, they’re in the wrong with the kidnapping, but Rackman’s corruption gets Tracy thinking he could be up to worse. To me, this feels like a very classic detective story of this time period.
There’s another short story with a brief mystery, a dream sequence, and the conceptual origin of the 2-Way Wrist Radio – or even TV, plus a short story that ties back to Rackman. There’s also a crossword puzzle and a maze. The whole book has a great flavor. I love the dialogue and the slang that’s used, which is appropriate to the time period.
FAMILIAR WITH A NOIR FLAIR
Dick Tracy Forever #1 has familiar characters and villains with their classic caricature-style looks. Tracy’s chin is so sharp you could cut yourself on it, but that’s the look we’re used to. It just feels right. And there is no doubt this is a sort of noir police procedural. The art is full of strong shadows and contrast and it looks great. The characters are somewhat stylized, but full of emotion and expression, and there is some lovely use of silhouettes in panels.
I love the scenes of the city. Again, everything fits the time period we’re in and there is good attention to detail. The signs look right, the cars look really cool, the men are wearing hats. The color palette is dark and gritty as well.
In the second story, where there’s a science fiction dream sequence, this is in black and white. I kind of like this – not only does it set this aside as not being in the real world, but it really draws attention to the line work and the very retro look of the futuristic city. I particularly love the flying cars with propellers.
BOTTOM LINE: A STRONG CLASSIC TAKE ON AN OLD CLASSIC
If you know Dick Tracy, you will feel at home with Dick Tracy Forever #1. If you aren’t familiar with him, this story is a great introduction to the world, getting right into the action and not overwhelming you with characters. We get a good sense of who everyone is and a strong connection to the time period which hold everything together.
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Dick Tracy Forever #1
If you like some two-fisted action with your law and order, Dick Tracy Forever may fit the bill.