Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Drawing a "Blank" marks a key turning point
on May 11, 2008
This latest collection showcases the landmark appearance of the first major "grotesque" villain in the "Tracy" pantheon: "The Blank," a.k.a. Frank Redrum, a disfigured killer who's engaged in getting revenge on the members of his gang while wearing a piece of cheesecloth (and no, Ralph Kramden, it's not French, so far as I know) that renders his face a featureless tabula rasa. "The Blank"'s almost matter-of-fact approach to his gruesome business makes him seem twice as creepy, at the same time as it demonstrates just how well Gould could characterize his bad guys. Compared to the faceless felon, the rest of the adversaries in the volume are positively mundane, though The Purple Cross Gang, a bunch of bank robbers who wear masks and quasi-Fascist uniforms and have the titular emblem tattooed on their tongues, skirts the edge of grotesqueness in their own way. (Wiping away the story's air of conspiratorial, secret-society goofiness in one fell swoop, the gang's leader tommy-guns his compadres, a la the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, after they get a little too uppity regarding a fairer division of the loot.) Wastrel rich kid Johnny Mintworth provides the obligatory cautionary tale, getting mixed up with a crooked lawyer and an insurance scam before coming to his senses and helping Tracy and the cops nab the atrocious attorney, losing his life in the process. Tracy's weirdest "case" of all (and calling it a "case" is putting it kindly) runs him up against a bunch of comely female crooks who siphon expensive perfume from department-store shelves for sale on the black market. Tracy frees himself from their scent-sational clutches by snagging one member's hair with his teeth until she unties him. Yowtch! Other features in the volume include the standard intro by Max Allan Collins and a piece on the earliest "Tracy" film projects. An obvious must for "Dick Tracy" fans.