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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.
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on July 10, 2008
To anyone who is a fan of Dick Tracy, or just a fan of the old "adventure" comic strips, this series is essential! These are well bound, high quality printings, showing the complete run, no skipping a strip to save space.
In this volume you have the finish of the Lips Manlis/Bob Honor saga, in which Tracy tries to set a well known crook on the straight and narrow. You have the Purple Cross gang, Johnny Mintworth, and the first of Chester Gould's famous Grotesques, The Blank! This is crime-busting at it's best.
Throw in the introduction by Chester Gould's successor in writing the strip, famed mystery writer Max Allen Collins, and you have an enjoyable read, with the only downside that it leaves you impatiently waiting for the next volume to come out!
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VINE VOICEon July 28, 2014
The mid to late 30’s were a bit of a transition period for the United States as relates to gangsters. Their power and influence waned badly and the more famous outlaws were all either dead or in jail. Chester Gould found himself sort of stuck in the same mode even as the world was moving on. The book opens with the conclusion of the “Lips” Manlis/Mimi storyline from the previous volume which then moves into the Purple Cross Gang transitions into the Johnny Mintworth/Supeena story and finishes with ‘The Blank’. The faceless vigilante is the point where Gould started to move away from the more realistic crime dramas into the stranger characters that would become the staple of the series. ‘The Blank’ was also one of the main characters of the 1990 Dick Tracy film although his (her) reveal differs in this story.

Volume 4 is a good entry but it has to be some of the worst detective work I’ve seen from Dick Tracy. In the Purple Cross Gang story if Dick Tracy had done absolutely nothing things would have turned out nearly the same. He completely botches things by letting a member of the gang go because he’s feelings soft hearted but then later seems intent on giving the guy the electric chair. In the next story Tracy uses Dick Tracy, Jr. to get some info on some perfume crooks and as always it gets Junior in a world of danger. When will Tracy learn that putting children in harms way is a BAD thing. However it was in the Johnny Mintworth that Tracy came up with a plan to catch Mintworth’s oppressor that was so colossally harebrained that it was essentially guaranteed to fail and fail it did. Spectacularly. Later, Tracy uses Mintworth as a cautionary tale as the price one pays for getting in with the wrong crowd. However Mintworth was more of a sucker, it was Tracy who was directly responsible for his demise.

Chester Gould’s art continues to improve but he’ll never be the cleanest or most consistent artist. There are certain go to images of characters that he had perfected by this point but when he draws a character in an uncommon position it can sometimes be a bit odd. I’m thinking of a scene where Dick Tracy bites a woman’s hair and it’s a very strange looking image. Gould also seemed to have some difficulties with perspective although the books introduction claims this is on purpose. The point is the art has improved tremendously from the comics early days but it still lies behind many of Gould’s contemporaries. Gould’s true talent was in storytelling and although this is not my favorite volume thus far I wouldn’t have collected this many volumes if I wasn’t enjoying the series.
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on February 18, 2009
This is the fourth volume of the series that plans to reprint the complete run of the Dick Tracy comic strip. This particular volume reprints the strips from July 13, 1936 to January 20, 1938. This is great stuff, with the highlights being Tracy's battles with the Purple Cross Gang and The Blank (Tracy's first "grotesque" villain). If you are interested in old time adventure comic strips, you should read this.
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on November 28, 2009
I enjoy the stories well enough, but a number of Gould's panels impress me with the way they work as simple black and white drawings.
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on November 14, 2015
It is so interesting to catch up on these early adventures of Dick Tracy and the gang. Great reading!
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on September 18, 2010
I love these books. They include both dailies and Sunday comic strips from the past
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on April 6, 2015
It was a good volume but not enough shootings to death of these evil criminals.
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