Dick Tracy Stories – 1944

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Flattop (December – May)
“Ace Killer” Flattop and his gang of three hoods is hired by a trio of black marketeers to eliminate Dick Tracy for a fee of $5000, which is five times his regular rate.
 
Flattop proves his value by quickly orchestrating a successful setup involving an argument over money to capture Tracy in the killer’s car, to be transported somewhere where he can be murdered undisturbed. Fortunately for Tracy, Flattop stops just short of doing the deed when he realizes that if his employers are willing to pay such a high price for Tracy’s death, then they would surely be desperate enough to pay much more. As such, Flattop decides to blackmail his employers for an additional $50,000 lest he release the detective with the information Tracy needs to arrest them.
 
Hiding in a boarding room while the transaction is completed, Tracy learns that a resident living with her mother downstairs downstairs is a WAC who is learning morse code. Taking advantage of an available piano in the room, he plays it and stamps on the floor in code as if keeping time to his music, hoping that the WAC below, Margie Elong, will recognize the call for help. Sure enough, Elong and her mother get the message and alert the police.
 
However, even as Tracy’s partner, Pat Patton, is preparing for a rescue; Flattop, having closed his blackmail deal, prepares to shoot Tracy while he’s surrounded by his henchmen. On Flattop’s count of three, Tracy interrupts the assassination by lunging at the killer and wrestles for his gun. In the struggle, Tracy manages to kill a henchman with a Tommy gun, using it to kill the rest of Flattop’s gang even as the police were storming the hideout. While the police tend to Tracy, the detective suggests that it be publicly announced that he was found dead, anticipating that Flattop’s employers would contact the killer soon afterward. The black marketeers take the bait, call Flattop’s number to invite him for a celebration and the police quickly arrive to arrest the lot.
 
However, Flattop escapes and becomes a hunted fugitive hampered by his extremely distinctive appearance. This leads to a long chase, during which Flattop stays in a boarding house while being extorted by the crooked child Bud Jenkins hiding him. Bud drowns in a lake while skating with expensive new skates he buys with the blackmail money. This leads Tracy to the boarding house, forcing Flattop to flee. In a comic relief episode Flattop decides to hide his $5000 in an old family album which he has hollowed out; when Tracy visits the boarding house to question the dead boy’s mother about her son flashing $50 bills around town, a reporter in need of a good picture of the deceased finds the money in the album.
 
Flattop is caught in a chimney and stung by bees in a hive he disturbs there. He murders a street hawker to fake his own death and to steal his victim’s ration cards, Flattop hides out in a hotel, but the ration cards blow out a window and betray his location. In desperation as the police officer reports this to headquarters, he hides in the room of Vitamin Flintheart, an aging actor.
 
After attempting to explain his trespass, Flattop assaults Flintheart and uses his makeup supplies for a disguise. Tracy, Patton and Flintheart continued the search and battle Flattop after almost being fooled by a child to whom Flattop had passed off his disguise in hopes of making him a decoy. Flattop is severely wounded, but successfully treated in custody.
 
Flattop then escaped from custody, taking Flintheart hostage and hiding out in the harbor area.  Tracy is led to them when Vitamin throws out one of his old prescription bottles. Tracy arrives and Flattop tries to escape by swimming under a replica of the Santa Maria. On the way, he gets his coat hung up on an old spike and drowns.

 The Brow (May – September)
When the Summer Sisters try to pickpocket Tracy, he ends up watching their every move, especially after they make a fool out of Patton. So when they get involved with the naval spy, The Brow, it’s not long before Tracy is on The Brow’s case. The Brow has the Summer Sisters play courier for him, making one run the errand while the other is strapped to his timed spike machine, guaranteeing that the other sister will come back. One of them manages to get the gun that they lifted off of Patton, kill Brow’s men and put the wounded Brow in the spike machine. He escapes and is on the run for a couple of months, killing the Summer Sisters along the way, until he finally gets shot up and ends up in the hands of Gravel Gertie. She nurses him back to health and hides him from the police. Unable to see, The Brow begins to fall in love with her, enchanted by her voice. When he finally sees her though, The Brow is horrified and sets the house on fire. Tracy arrests the both of them and while they’re in the top floor of headquarters, The Brow tries to escape. Tracy hits him with an ink well and the shock knocks him out the window and he’s impaled by a memorial flagpole on the way down.

 Shaky (September – December)
When Snowflake Falls accidentally shakes down Tracy and not the intended victim, Tracy is forced to arrest her. While she’s at headquarters, former-captor and confidence man Shaky kidnaps her, putting the police on their trail. Snowflake manages to escape by drugging Shaky and breaking his hand. She soon meets Vitamin Flintheart, and soon the two are in love. Shaky meets Vitamin and convinces him that he’s a rich senator and wants to host their wedding reception. The two arrive shortly after the ceremony, only to result in Snowflake being kidnapped again and thrown in the freezing wintry ocean. She’s saved just about the time that Shaky’s apartment catches fire. The police are called and Shaky manages to escape to the pier. He hides out underneath the pier and the freezing waves crashing over the opening soon seal it shut, and Shaky suffocates to death.
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