In this past Dick Tracy story, Coffyhead kidnapped TV presenter Dot View to ensure her boyfriend Tonsils would deliver a drug package. Tonsils worked with Dick Tracy to get the cops to bust Coffyhead, but Coffyhead had swapped the packages so there was nothing to hold him on. Except kidnapping Dot View, you’d think, right?
What happened was Dot View refused to press charges. Coffyhead explained, to one of his henchman, that he suspected she wouldn’t want the scandal of a trial. And he called it correctly. We learned Coffyhead’s explanation over a week after (reader time) his release, so it has the air of a retcon to answer reader complaints. But that’s impossible given the lead time in comic production. Mike Curtis and Shelly Pleger had the explanation in mind and saved it, is all.
It’s a little surprising Dot View would regard it as scandalous to be the victim of kidnapping. But while Dick Tracy takes place in a fantasy universe where magnetic spaceships fly people to Jupiter and cops rush in to dangerous situations to save lives, it’s not so much of a fantasy as to depict the law-enforcement system treating violence against women as a crime. (And, as a more direct explanation, she may have wanted to avoid her boyfriend having to testify about his transporting drugs.)
So this should catch you up to late May 2022 in Mike Curtis, Shelley Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy. If you’re reading this after about August 2022 there should be a more up-to-date plot recap here. Thanks for reading.
13 March – 28 May 2022.
My last plot recap coincided with the start of a new story. This simplifies my giving of backstory. Vitamin Flintheart signed a Matt McCuller, an up-and-coming “tribute performer” to Tonsils. The original Tonsils, introduced and killed in 1952, was a singer forced by Mr Crime to try killing Dick Tracy. Everyone calles McCuller “Tonsils”, so I’ll go along with that.
New Tonsils doesn’t need to be pressed into crime. He’s trying to get out of drug-running in favor of his singing career. Coffyhead, a coffee-themed villain from 1947, is annoyed his new supplier is quitting on him and vows to teach him “some manners”.
Coffyhead recognizes Tonsils when he sings on the Dot View Show. (He hadn’t known his supplier’s name.) Tonsils’ performance with Dot View goes great despite tensions: the original Tonsils had a fling with Dot View. She has a similar relationship grow, quickly, with the New Tonsils. Several strips this sequence are about View’s issues having a duplicate of her relationship from back in the Truman era. And Dick Tracy is annoyed with Flintheart for making him interact with the spitting image of someone who tried to kill him. “But Richard,” Flintheart protests, “there are over 50,000 people on the eastside of the city alone who’ve tried to kill you!” Tracy grants the point but, still, the stuff he has to deal with, you know?
Coffyhead, pretending to be a new nightclub owner for Flintheart, hires Tonsils to sing. When Flintheart realizes there’s no such nightclub opening he tips off Dick Tracy. But Coffyhead has already grabbed Dot View to demand Tonsils deliver drugs. And this is where Tracy explains enough of Original Tonsils to the new that readers have any hope of understanding the backstory. New Tonsils goes along with the sting, which fails, as Coffyhead gets the packages switched somewhere the cops can’t find. And Dot View declines to press charges for kidnapping.
The cops figure out where Coffyhead’s drugs are coming from anyway. Sam Catchem tears open antique chairs at Cawlie’s Furniture to find the bundles hidden inside. The cops manage more precise hits on Coffyhead’s drug deliveries, driving him up the wall figuring out where the leak is. We readers learn it’s “Stuntman Mike” passing information along, but not who that is. Coffyhead reasons it out and figures it’s the delivery guy whose shipments keep getting nabbed by the cops. The delivery guy is Bronko, who was also in the original 1947 story introducing Coffyhead. Back in ’47, Coffyhead abducted and tortured Tracy Junior and Bronko, trying to smash the Junior Crimestoppers Club. It’s weird that Bronko would go work for someone who’d abducted and tormented him years ago. And weird that Coffyhead wouldn’t ponder that more. But as he interrogates Bronko, Dick Tracy breaks in, and grabs Coffyhead. We learn Bronko is, of course, Stuntman Mike. He grew up from the Crimestoppers Club to join the FBI, and was working undercover against Coffyhead.
So that’s all a happy ending for everyone besides Coffyhead, who probably should have stuck to running that San Francisco coffee shop he’d opened after leaving jail. Maybe he was gentrified out of business.
And that, the 15th of May, concludes that story. The current story started the 16th, with someone using hypnotic glasses to rob a guy at the ATM. And, after that, using some kinds of implants to clean out ATMs. This appears to be Mr Memory, an owl-keeping new addition to the comic strip canon. (He appeared, played by Victor Buono, in the pilot for the 1967 Dick Tracy TV series.) He lives near B O Plenty, and gave Tracy’s pal a ride into town. Also, the Cinnamon Knight, another “caped superhero” like are running around all the comics these days, gives Tracy two bits of news. One is that he and his wife are retiring from costumed-superheroing, since they’re expecting a child. The other is that the bank his real-life’sona works at got cleaned out in a robbery last night. And that’s where we stand.
Have Rufus and Joel made it to Hollywood yet? Have a trio of unbearably adorable moppets busted up a shoplifting ring? Are there even more Dick Tracy appearances out there? I answer “yes” three different times, but in more words, when I look at Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley next week, if all goes well.