Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #4 is here and it is the end of the road for a certain character. Could it be curtains for Dick Tracy? He was held at gunpoint by Tess at the end of issue #3. Could Yesterday Knewes meet his fate? Is Big Boy alive after all? And who the hell is Janus? There’s a lot to tie up in this last issue. Can the Allreds and Tomasso put it all together?
What’s the book about?
As I said, Tracy is being held at gunpoint by Tess. But come on, Tess isn’t going to turn on Tracy like that. They were romantically involved! In fact, we find out that Tess is actually an undercover U.S. Treasury Agent. Tess’s goal is the same as Tracy’s: shut Janus down. Now the two are working together, discovering clues, and trying to piece this enigma together.
They discover a secret hospital in the depths of a club run by a sleaze named Scorpio. While down there they find a list that has names of “dead” people that had procedures done. Plastic surgery does wonders for criminals that want to return topside. Now with the information in their grasps they have all they need to bring Janus, Knewes, and every other crook to their knees. But is it too late?
Lee and Michael Allred’s writing is spectacular in this final issue. They somehow managed to conjure up a solid ending with all the loose ends that had me scratching my head at the end of the third issue. I guessed one thing correct, but anyone that knows Dick Tracy can see it coming miles away like I did in the first issue. And I was fine with my prediction being true. It didn’t disrupt the story, it was expected. What I didn’t expect is the sci-fi twist. I would love to talk about it and share my thoughts on it, but it is a huge spoiler, so obviously, I won’t ruin it.
I like how throughout all four issues, the Allreds have kept the characters true to form. The technology was switched up for our modern world and they made it work. The characters’ personalities were straight out the 1930’s comic strip. None of them came off fake or unnatural and for a classic character like Dick Tracy; this is a necessity. I applaud the creative team for innovating changes while keeping the source material. Not many have pulled that off in my recent memory.
Rich Tomasso and Laura Allred’s artwork has been dynamic throughout this series. In this issue, I noticed more presence of the old school comic action sounds. Tess throws Tracy with a “Judo Throw” while Tracy knocks Tess down on her butt with a “thump.” Gun sound effects are in full force throughout and even outlines of missing characters. It’s the little details Tomasso adds to the issue that connects it all. Allred’s colors bring Dick Tracy’s world to life. There are panels where her bold colors pull you deeper into the narrative and has you cheering for Tracy and Tess by the end. And you gotta love the club owner, Scorpio, who could easily be moonlighting as a James Bond villain.
The Verdict: That’s right, no bad or ugly here.
I have enjoyed Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive. It’s bittersweet that it has come to an end. The team of the Allreds and Rich Tomasso have done an amazing job bringing Dick Tracy into the modern world. They kept the essence of the character true, while throwing in an interesting science fiction twist. This is a caper that all Dick Tracy fans need to add to their collection. I hope one day that this creative team get together once again to send Tracy on another great adventure.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!