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Dick Tracy: Dead Or Alive #1 (IDW Publishing) Comic Review

    Ian Jane

  • Dick Tracy: Dead Or Alive #1 (IDW Publishing) Comic Review

    Dick Tracy: Dead Or Alive #1
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: September 19th, 2018.
    Written by: Lee & Michael Allred
    Illustrated by: Rich Tommaso
    Purchase From Amazon

    The first issue of this new four-part mini-series opens at the Bay Area Corporate Airfield at 3am. Here we see software mogul G. Pepson Peepers running through the dark, panicked, with a case full of cash. He boards a plane hoping to make it to his private island only to get kicked down the stair ways by none other than Dick Tracy! Peppers promptly faints.

    Cut to the chief's office where Tracy is being reprimanded for arresting the most powerful man in Silicon Valley - 'some people you just don't arrest' he's told. Tracy jokes about it but the man behind the desk is serious and he asks him to hand in his badge. Tracy's not in this for the pension, he's in this to see that justice is served… so if that's the way it's going to be, fine! He hands in his badge and heads out to meet his pal Sam at the bar. This isn't the first time this has happened to Tracy, and he knows he's old fashioned, the kind of man who believes in the rule of law that they don't seem to make anymore. But for now, he's out of work.

    In the American Mid-West at the 'city by the lake' a man referred to as 'Big Boy' - the guy who owns the guys who run the city like the mayor and the police commissioner - holds a meeting with the city's top brass. It seems that the public voted in a Governor who isn't on their payroll, and they can't control her and she's making good on her promise to clean up corruption! But Big Boy has a plan: they get an honest cop, feed him a few easy cases to make him look good and make it look like she's doing her job, and once the public stops paying attention… she sleeps with the fishes. And their perfect patsy? One Dick Tracy of course. The Police Commissioner knows Tracy and wants no part of this, and so Big Boy uses him as an example to get the others to fall in line.

    Two weeks later and Tracy arrives in town to a parade of newspaper men with a whole lot of questions. The mayor and the chief get him to work right away but what they don't know is that before he arrived on the scene, Tracy had a pow-wow with the Governor and managed to get warrants for their arrests! But of course, there are complications… lots of complications as a matter of fact.

    Lee and Michael Allred, with this first issue, set into motion a pretty entertaining series of events. Playing up the hardboiled aspect of the character's past, their Dick Tracy is a no-nonsense tough guy, the kind of cop who cannot be bought and whose singular purpose, at least in this first issue, is to bring the bad guys to justice. He doesn't fool around, he isn't interested in the semantics, no… he's a law and order man of the highest degree. They write the character well, bringing him into the modern age (there are cell phones in this issue) while still absolutely retaining the classic 'feel' that has made this iconic character a pop culture staple since he debuted way back in 1931. He's the consummate good guy, chasing criminals down while clad in his instantly identifiable yellow overcoat and matching hat. He doesn't have any nifty gimmicks this issue, but there are three more to go. Have faith in the Allred's to do this right, it's the type of quirky, retro property that should completely jibe with past work and match beautifully. So far, at least, so good.

    The art from Rich Tommaso, beautifully colored in a bold pop-art style by Laura Allred and inked by Mike Allred, is perfect for the story. It's wonderfully cartoonish without overdoing it, exaggerated without being too exaggerated - it just works. When Tracy kicks Peepers down the stairs on the second page and Peppers yells out 'DICK TRACY' (the big red letters and THOK sound effect jumping off the page at the reader), we're sold. Little details like the skull coming off of Tracy's head when he's angry and interrogating Peepers, the bubbles around Sam's face when he's had a few too many shots at Mikey's Pub or the cloud of purple smoke that fills the room to the ceiling in Big Boy's boardroom - they all help to really just give your eyes plenty to ogle on pretty much every page. This isn't hyper-detailed but it's super stylish and it really works just seamlessly with the story being told.

    There's also a page of background information on the character that the series is named after and the creative team as well as a script page, a page of layouts, a page of inked but uncolored layouts and then finally a third page with the colors to really show fans the process that goes into bringing this book to its finished stage.

    All in all, a perfect first issue - here's hoping that the creative team keeps the standards just as high for the next three chapters. It might sound weird to be seriously excited about a property as 'old hat' as Dick Tracy but the Allreds and Tommaso have breathed new life into the property in a big way. This issue was a blast from start to finish.

    • Scott
      Intellectual Carrot
      Scott commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh wow I didn't know this was a thing! Man this looks cool. I'll definitely get the trade when it drops. Rich Tommaso has a really great style. His SPY SEAL is a wonderful pastiche to Hergé TINTIN and spy stories of the '60s.

    • Ian Jane
      Ian Jane
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah, Tommaso's art is great and it really gels nicely with the Allreds' writing. This first issue was way too fun.
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