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‘Dick Tracy #1’ (review)

Written by Lee and Michael Allred
Illustrated by Rich Tommaso and Michael Allred 
Published by IDW Publishing


Dick Tracy was my dad’s favorite comic strip.

As a kid, it was always front and center on the Sunday funnies section of the local newspaper. It was also on TV in cartoons and Saturday afternoon movies and there were toys and games and puzzles and Big Little Books and…

Yeah. I grew up with Dick Tracy.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s my dad and I bonded over sharing the numerous book collections and the Blackthorne comic book reprints.

In more recent years, Mike Curtis and Joe Staton have revitalized and modernized the daily and Sunday Dick Tracy into an award-winning comic strip for the 21st century.

Most of Tracy’s long career in comic books has consisted of newspaper strip reprints, but every once in a while someone has a dream to do THEIR version of the world’s original super cop.

Without casting any aspersions, let’s just say these reinterpretations always seem to come out…flawed.

I’m not sure that IDW was really itching to do a Dick Tracy comic book. They may have just jumped in when Archie Comics’ announced Tracy series had to be canceled suddenly due to a rights issue. Whatever the reason, though, we now have the first issue of IDW’s Dick Tracy.

And it’s interesting.

Mike Allred is the showrunner here and editor Denton J. Tipton wisely lets him run rampant. Mike writes along with his brother, Lee. He inks and finishes the stylized pencils of Rich Tommaso, and his wife Laura, one of the great colorists in modern comics, makes sure our hero’s traditional yellow coat and hat stay shiny.

This is not the elder statesman detective of the current comics. This is, in fact, a reimagined, younger, cocky but incorruptible detective who gets fired in the first few pages, apparently for the umpteenth time. Moving on to another city, he does his research before accepting the position and arrives with warrants already in his pockets.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to like this. Chester Gould’s Tracy was already one of the ultimate stylized strips so the concept of doing it some other way—which had failed several times in the past—seemed doomed.

But it hooked me. More the writing than the art. It’s unrealistic, sure, but while Tracy was always violent, no one ever accused Gould of being realistic. There’s just something reassuring about a policeman you know is on the side of good no matter what.

Some interesting backstory on the comic is included and we’re teased about Tracy’s infamous rogue’s gallery coming along quickly. I have to say I think my dad would have liked it.

Booksteve recommends.


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