It’s 2031 and the rich are uploading their minds to the cloud in an elusive search for immortality. A pity, then, they didn’t bring along a firewall to stop their secrets, and their minds, from being hacked and controlled by an unknown criminal mastermind. Enter, Dick Tracy! Will he find out who is behind these digital thefts? Find out in our stunning Major Spoilers review!
Writer: Michael Avon Oeming
Art: Michael Avon Oeming
Colorist: Taki Soma
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Denton J. Tipton
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: August 7th, 2019
Previously in Dick Tracy Forever: After an adventure in the 1930s, then jumping forward to the 1960s, then to our present day, Dick Tracy leaps to 2031, where brains in jars and immortality via the cloud are the norm. Even though the future is bright, shiny, and digital, the grime of crime persists, and Dick Tracy, as ever, is on the case!
Dick Tracy Forever #4 is a find send off for this entertaining mini-series. From the outset, writer Michael Avon Oeming continues to embrace the series’ idea of seeing Tracy through the prism of past, present and future.
Set in 2031, Tracy emerges from a period of unconsciousness, where he has lived the same life through different time periods, via the medium of virtual reality. This meta-narrative gives an explanation for the different periods we saw in previous issues, and neatly links into the plot of Dick Tracy Forever #4. Surrounded by faithful friends (some in robotic and brain-in-a-jar incarnations) Tracy is soon onto a new case.
The central mystery revolves around the hacked consciousness of trillionaires who have signed on to have their minds/memories uploaded to the Forever Cloud. Their very essences being held hostage by an unknown criminal mastermind means that Tracy is soon on the trail. The future setting and the 1% elite involved in the story allows Oeming to weave a pinpoint (if wordy) story that satirises our own era of capitalism (and its excesses) with shots at the mega-rich seeking to escape the chaos their industry has helped create.
If I have one complaint about Dick Tracy Forever #4s story, it’s that it feels a little rushed and choppy in places, particularly towards the end. Oeming spends a lot of the front half setting up the situation, so much so that I think the end isn’t given the room it needs. This is a minor quibble in an otherwise entertaining and fun story. Despite the futuristic setting, Tracy still relies on his radio-watch to circumvent technology that blocks modern communications, and his earnestness and fight against crime harks back to more innocent days.
Oeming doesn’t miss a trick with his artwork, which is features strong, bold line work, and panels that are full of storytelling tricks, such as the brain-map early on that demonstrates the way the upload to the Forever Cloud works better than words can. A lot of his artwork is set against shadows or dark backgrounds, which serves to make the foreground characters bolder.
This is especially so with Taki Soma brash coloring. Against the futuristic backgrounds and general gloom, Tracy’s yellow coat really punches from the page, adding to his iconic look and silhouette.
I really enjoyed the design work on the robotic Chief Preston and the brain-in-a-jar Brilliant Smith. Here, Oeming is carrying on the work of those who came before him who created visually memorable characters for Tracy to go against and interact.
BOTTOM LINE: REALLY ENTERTAINING
You reviewers sole interaction aside from general background knowledge of the character was the (slightly) ill-fated movie from the late 80s. I’ve been enraptured by the series overall, and Dick Tracy Forever #4 carries on the high standards of the previous issues. Light years away from its comic strip origins, Oeming has re-created a character still made up of his essentials – doggedness, willingness to fight crime anywhere and everywhere, and a general sense of decency missing from many crime fiction characters.
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Dick Tracy Forever #4
Apart from an ending that feels a little rushed, Dick Tracy Forever #4 is a story that is up to the minute in terms of its satire, yet feels true to the essence of this timeless detective. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we will be getting more from this creative team. If we don’t, we’ll always have Dick Tracy…Forever!