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Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy Volume 20 Hardcover – May 31, 2016
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About the Author
Chester Gould (1900–1985) was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma, the son of a newspaperman and grandson of a circuit-riding preacher. He attended Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) before transferring to Northwestern University in Chicago, from which he graduated in 1923. He produced the minor comic strips Fillum Fables and The Radio Catts before striking it big with Dick Tracy in 1931. Originally titled Plainclothes Tracy, the rechristened strip became one of the most successful and lauded comic strips of all time, as well as a media and merchandising sensation. He was twice accorded the “Cartoonist of the Year” Reuben Award by his peers. Gould continued to write and illustrate Dick Tracy until his retirement in 1977.
Top customer reviews
We have several longish stories in this one.
First off, we get an interesting mystery to solve. Junior gets kidnapped by masked criminals and made to draw the portrait of someone and let go. The gang then gets Pantsy to go get him. The target has a record, one of 3, which contains clues to a million dollar treasure left behind by a criminal who is now in jail for life. Strangely, none of the others in the gang is ever named. Tracy and co. get the other 2 records, and are able to get the treasure, then allow the records to drop in the hands of the gang to catch them trying to get the treasure. Kind of a neat little tail.
The next story is pretty long and complicated. We start at Sunny Dale Acres when the Plentys find a fighting cock. This soon brings in the owner, Mrs Egghead, a Cuban criminal. This also bring in Wunbrow, a Cuban detective who Tracy will work with. The story soon takes Tracy to Cuba for a run in with Mrs Egghead and some other criminals (Chicory and Dropper) who strand Tracy on a desert island to die. But a hurricane soon hits Cuba, so will the criminals get away in the confusion? And is Tracy rescued? (well the last of course!)
Then another long story with several players. We get Headache, who is allowing his factory to be used to build gambling machine. His business gets bought out by Mary Jane (Mommie), who brings along her daughter, Popsie, who loves lollipops. But Popsie convents her Mom to break away from the Syndicate that is behind her. Her mistake, as she is picked up by the 4 leaders and is killed. They soon grab Headache as well and you'll have to see what happens. But Tracy is now on their trail. We soon learn that the Syndicate are the four Hardly Brothers, working for their crooked father. They get their just deserts.
We then get a silly and a little too long sequence with their relative, E. Kent Hardly, who inherits the money from the Hardly: over a million in pennies, dimes, nickles, and quarters. Which he keeps (thanks to his dominating wife) in coins in a basement. You'll have to read it to see how it all turns out.
But, this story does introduce the next villain: Rhodent. We'll see the rest of his story in the next volume!
Overall, a pretty decent volume. Was not aware of any of these storylines before this, so this volumes was all new for me.
The Noana story was a bit silly. About half way through Dick Tracy has an abrupt mental breakdown and appears to commit suicide. Chester Gould does cheat a bit to convince the reader that Dick Tracy is truly cuckoo and later a mysterious bomb maker named Pete Reppoc shows up. The bomb makers name is a bit too clever and to the best of my knowledge this is the first time Gould uses his reverse name trick; something he would employ often in the future. The next story introduces Gould’s failed attempt at a humorous character, Brighton Spotts. When it comes to gritty detective stories there few who can match Gould but when it comes to comedy Gould is a bit lacking. This is another story with a lot of brutality but I had to laugh at some of Dick Tracy’s detective work. A desperate thief named Jojo Nidle ends up backing into the wet paint of a door frame and Tracy removes the frame to take it back to his lab for analysis. What makes it so funny is that there can be no doubt that the fellow who was in the just painted room was Nidle so all that detective work Tracy did was entirely superfluous. This is not the only time in the book where Dick Tracy’s detective work has been gratuitous and time wasting. I felt bad for the poor guy who had his door frame hacked up so Tracy could learn something he already knew.
The next story is thus far my favorite in the series. Dick Tracy tangles with a villain named Karpse who’s using slave labor to create chemical weapons to sell to foreign governments. Dick Tracy ends up getting badly injured and with his plan revealed Karpse decides to lay low and reinvent himself as a legitimate baker and ends up working for Tess Truehearts mom at her bakery. This is where the story gets very interesting as Karpse becomes quite popular as a talented baker and comes of as perhaps a legitimately decent fellow. After getting badly burned in a cooking accident Karpse is put into the same hospital as Dick Tracy but neither knows the others identity. Of the 5 volumes I’ve ready I probably enjoyed this section most of all. The next story where Dick Tracy goes to a health spa and gets entangled in a jewelry heist involving the son of the health spa owner is also a personal favorite.
The second to last story features a watershed moment with the introduction of Scardol. Scardol is very reminiscent of future villains with a distinctively appalling appearance. With dark beady eyes, a bizarre squared off chin and grotesquely huge pock marked forehead he looks as hideous outwardly as he is inside. The name Scardol, although not a description of his physical features as later villains would commonly have, is a strange name to go with this strange, ruthless villain. Like just about all Dick Tracy villains he doesn’t survive the end of the story but he is one of the most memorable villains we’ve seen. There is some silliness in this volume but it may well be my favorite thus far and I look forward to starting volume 6.