The Apparatus is a well-organized and powerful underworld organization with worldwide influence. Apparatus leadership has generally been depicted as a shadowy council, though at times local leaders have been uncovered by Dick Tracy.
Starting with the first city-wide criminal kingpin, Big Boy, Dick Tracy has learned there were crime cartels operating at a national level. Big Boy for example brought in Stooge Viller from New York City in an attempt to kill Dick and years later after Big Boy’s arrest a professional killer named Krone was hired by an organization called “Crime, Inc.”
By the 1950’s Dick Tracy was facing down a series of crime bosses, “The King”, “Mr. Crime” (George Alpha), Odds Zonn and Willie the Fifth Millyun. At this time, the group these bosses led was called “The Syndicate”.
The Apparatus Named
In 1969 the term, “The Apparatus” was first used to describe a cartel hoping to extend its criminal empire to the Moon. It has never been made clear if the previous Syndicate had morphed into the Apparatus organization or if they were different entities entirely. The Apparatus put a contract out on Dick Tracy’s life, hiring Two-Finger and Nick the Assassin for the job.
Tracy escaped death after his house was fire-bombed and then turned the tables on a gunman in the park. During the park shootout members of the Apparatus’s leadership council were observing from a car and then killed attempting to escape.
Big Boy’s Contract
In the late 1970’s Big Boy was released from prison gravely ill and with only months to live. It was revealed at this time that Big Boy’s city-wide gang had been a piece of the Apparatus with Big Boy as its leading member. However, at this time, due to his illness and long incarceration, Big Boy was reduced to a simple member status.
Big Boy craved revenge on Dick Tracy and longed to see him dead before he himself succumbed to his disease. Big Boy placed an open one million dollar contract on Tracy, bypassing the authority of the Apparatus.
Several attempts were made to kill Tracy, one of which resulted in the death of his daughter-in-law Moon Maid and Dick vowed to wage “open war” on the Apparatus. The Apparatus was deseperate to escape Tracy’s wrath and hired contract’s on any assassins’ hired by Big Boy but it was too late to do any good.
Tracy investigated both Big Boy and Apparatus activity and fought with Johnny “The Iceman” Snow, a free-lance hitman enamoured with taking down the ultimate target, Dick Tracy. Tracy mortal wounded Iceman in a shoot-out and Iceman revealed everything he knew about the Apparatus including a police informant. Alas, Big Boy escaped justice by dying in his dead before he could be arrested.
Shooting Of Pat Patton
The Apparatus continued to coordinate criminal operations and a few months after Big Boy’s death an Apparatus agent worked with the art thief Art Dekko to arrange the sale of several pieces of stolen art.
In Dick Tracy’s city, readers learned the organization had the District Attorney and members of the Police Commission on their payroll. When Chief Patton announced his retirement and intention to reveal this corruption in a book he was shot. Deputy Chief Climer took over and dismantled Tracy’s unit due to their investigation into the corruption. During this time Dick became a private detective.
Times were tense, but Patton eventually recovered, Tracy returned and the Apparatus loyalists were purged from the police force. While weakened, the Apparatus was revealed to still be operational when one of their operatives was involved in an attempt to extort money from those around actress B.U. Tiffil.
When the new Mr. Crime appeared in Dick Tracy’s city, he arranged a meeting with its upper-echelons with Crime announcing he was taking over the local city “Outfit”. When a member of the Apparatus protested, Mr. Crime’s enforcer Doubleup killed him with a whip. Mr. Crime was later killed in a massive shoot-out but his surviving crew (B-B Eyes, Mumbles, Doubleup) became enforcers for the Apparatus.
Apparatus agents began to clash with a new organization called “The Black Hearts” or “The Consortium”, who appear to be led by a woman named Venus with her primary enforcer Mr. Melies. Criminal plots for the two groups collided on the George Wheaton farm in 2013, resulting in a shoot out between most revealed members. There were no casualties however and the underworld war continued.
The Black Hearts recruited the former Apparatus assassin, Abner Kadaver to their cause and Kadaver was then able to recruit B-B Eyes and his crew to the Black Hearts. This leaves the Apparatus without any known leadership or muscle in Dick Tracy’s city.