Dick Tracy Stories – 1943

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Wreath Kidnapping (February – April)

Little Johnny Wreath is kidnapped from day care one day. It was done by his jealous father Nifty, who had never forgiven his wife for divorcing him and taking her son with her. He escapes with his son right into a blizzard. He forces a cab driver at gunpoint to take them across country, but the car wrecks and Nifty and little Johnny are separated. Johnny is found by a pair of local farmers who take him in, but when a freezing Nifty finds the house seeking warmth, he sees his son and escapes with him again. Tracy catches up to him at this point and the police arrest Nifty. Due to the blizzard, the squad car is stuck, so Tracy decides to take the freezing Johnny to town on foot. Tracy almost gives up hope a couple of times but finally makes it to the city. Johnny recovers from his ailments and Nifty and his ex-wife reconcile.

88 Keyes Gang (April – July)
Rich widow Mrs. Helmet pays 88 Keyes and his partners to kill her husband so she can get his life insurance money. Unbeknownst to his partners, 88 is wooing her so he can get his hands on a larger sum of money. When 88’s girl Jenny finds out his secret, he kills her, stuffs her body into a piano and puts it in storage. It’s about this time that Tracy has analyzed the murder weapon enough to arrest 88’s other partner, Tuner who confesses and rats out 88. Keyes leaves across country with Mrs. Helmet and the 200 grand she just received. 88 kills her as well and takes the money for himself.  Travelling over a period of a couple of months, Keyes would hook up with Red Bluff a navy deserter and a naive farm girl named Nellie Wheaton.  When Nellie realized they were crooks she purposely wrecked the vehicle.  Nellie would survive and 88 Keyes killed Red Bluff before escaping.  Tracy finally manages to catch up with him at a railroad shed and mows him down with a machine gun after a shootout.

Mrs. Pruneface (July – October)
Tracy is captured one night by a grotesque woman by the name of Mrs. Pruneface. She keeps Tracy prisoner and plans to kill him to avenge the death of her husband. She places him in the famous deathtrap where a plank with a steel spike is above his heart. It’s balanced atop two blocks of ice and on top of the plank is a refrigerator. The stove is opened and as the ice melts, the spike gets closer to impaling him. Luckily, there is a slant to the floor and Tracy is able to move the ice just enough to keep from being killed. When she discovers that Tracy is still alive, she hides out as a cook and eventually ends up working for the mayor. One night when some wild college students accidentally knock her into the pool, and her make-up is washed off. She panics, kills the student and goes to run off. Before she can, she is shot to death by the mayor’s invalid wife.

The Laughing Doctor (October – December) 
After Mrs. Pruneface, Tracy is plagued with headaches and pays a visit to a doctor. He walks in on the giggling Laffy and suspects something isn’t right. He checks up on him and learns that the real doctor is dead. Laffy had been in the office filling out prescriptions to himself. Laffy’s partner, Needles, knows about Laffy’s victim and wants to blackmail him. Instead, Laffy simply kills Needles and takes over the business. Tracy keeps an eye on Laffy’s business and ends up saving one addict along the way from committing suicide. Laffy hears this and laughs so hard that his jaw gets stuck. A sock on the jaw later makes it stick shut and Laffy slowly wastes away until he’s arrested by Tracy. He dies shortly after arrest from starvation.
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