An elderly woman named Mary Steele (Junior’s birth mother) is struck and killed by a golf ball as she cared for two small children in a home bordering a gold course. The golfer, Tommy McConny takes the two kids with him and later releases them on the city streets. Tommy, who is using the alias Geo. Pardy is recognized as a local philanthropist and contacted by Dick Tracy when Pardy’s name surfaces as a possible golfer at the time.
At first, he denies having anything to do with the incident until one of the two children identifies him as the one who took them away the day the day the elderly woman was struck. Tracy takes note that Pardy (McConny) has mutilated fingerprints and has his prints taken and sent for proper identification, questioning why he would not report the golf ball incident since it was an apparent accident. In checking the prints, it was quickly found that Pardy is actually McConny who was convicted in 1921 of the murder of Police Chief Moyson. Before the sentence of death by hanging could be carried out, McConny escaped from custody. “The gallows is still waiting for you”, he is informed as Tracy, Sam Catchem and Pat Patton confront the fugitive in the second floor of his mansion home.
McConny quickly admits he is the fugitive, but he quickly fingers a remote control device which drops a bulletproof glass between him and the officers. McConny attempts to escape down the side of the house holding onto a wire from a lightning rod. However, as one of the stones on the structure breaks, he is thrown into ivy vines growing up the side of the house. McConny struggles, but becomes entrapped in the vines and they become twisted around his neck. Upon getting out of the house, Tracy is directed to the dead body of McConny hanging limp in the vines. “The ivy vine did in five seconds what the gallows couldn’t do in 40 years”, Tracy observes shortly before the body of McConny is removed from the building.¹
The Brush’s true-name was Jockie Lyceum and he wore a specially made wig that had hair coming down to cover his face. Jockie operated a phony racket called “No Inc.” claiming fall-out from the use of atomic bombs had caused his condition. As a result, over one million dollars in cash was mailed to his organization from unsuspecting donors. As the racket starts falling apart, The Brush kills his associate and escapes with a large bag of the cash, avoiding Tracy and other officers. He wanders the city carrying the money in the bag over his shoulder. Brush is eventually caught by Tracy while fleeing into the open countryside in a stolen laundry truck. He escapes from custody in a police car, but is killed when a dynamite trailer he is hiding in is struck by lightning. The money he was carrying had fallen from his truck as he fled, but was later recovered by Tracy on a nearby farm.¹
When the Brush fled with a million dollars in an old laundry truck, he almost collided with a vehicle hauling a horse trailer. As a result, bags containing towels on the top of the truck fell to the ground and one bag with money fell into the back of the horse trailer. The driver of the horse trailer continued to the farm of Mr. & Mrs. Grazer who are boarding the horse while the owner goes to Europe. After the horse is removed from the trailer, the bag, believed to contain just bedding with the horse.
Mr. and Mrs. Grazer lived on the farm with their two sons and an older woman who is only referred to as “Auntie”. Auntie cared for the eggs laid by chickens and almost immediately, it is noticed that the chickens are roosting on the bag and laying their eggs. She takes the bag from the trailer and discovers the money inside. Without a word to anyone about the contents, she moved the bag to the loft of the barn and spent many hours counting the money. Using detective work, Tracy & Sam check properties in that area, but get little co-operation particularly from “Auntie”. Lizz is placed undercover on Grazer farm, claiming she was hurt in an accident on the road in front. Lizz soon notices green stains on an apron that has been worn by “Auntie” as she was counting the money and at headquarters Tracy deduces the stains came from the money.
In the meantime, “Auntie” has been spending some of the found money for things such as a radio and a new hat. She claims she has just been spending her “egg money” but all of this is noticed by the local store keeper John Hoedy where “Auntie” sells the eggs laid by the chickens. Lizz soon finds that “Auntie” has placed the bag with the money in the barn loft. However, as she is leaving the loft, she falls on the ladder and is discovered by “Auntie” who takes her revolver and its bullets and moves the money to another location in the barn. “Auntie” leaves the barn, but is met by Hoedy and his nephew who have come to take the money. Hoedy and his nephew threaten “Auntie” and find the money in its new location while Lizz (who was just stunned but pretends to be unconscious) fires a derringer at the nephew. The shot misses, but stops him from hurting “Auntie”. The nephew tries to shoot Lizz, she fires the remaining shot from the derringer, striking him between the eyes and killing him instantly.
Hoedy starts to tussle with “Auntie” and Lizz goes after him. Suddenly, Tracy & Sam appear at the door of the barn with guns drawn. Tracy advises Lizz that she has left her two-way wrist radio in the transmit position since calling him early that morning. “Auntie” and Hoedy are taken to police headquarters where he is charged with robbery and attempt to kill. “Auntie” admits finding and spending a small portion of the money, promises to replay it and appears to avoid any charges. Police personnel start counting the money in the bag. It is never further mentioned what happens to it although Tracy had previously indicated the courts will have to decide what happens with it.¹
Dick Tracy leaves for an appointment with Diet Smith who is eager to show off his research laboratory’s newest creation, the Space Coupe! Designed by Engineer Dyne O’Matick, this cylindrical spacecraft is powered by amplified magnetism a million times more powerful than ordinary magnets. Diet, Dyne and Tracy take a test flight and Tracy is shown that as well as deep space flight, the coupe is capable of travelling to any place in the world in under an hour.
After the flight, Diet and Dick depart and engineer Dyne is approached by several men in form-fitting black masks and torso shirts adorned with a patch that looks like a playing card. They are members of the 52 Gang, a major criminal organization with member code names based on playing cards. At knife point they force the engineer to fly the Coupe for them while they assassinate enemies of the gang.
The first man to be killed is the head of a World Law Enforcement group named Orner Jamison. They jettison Jamison into orbit around the Earth, followed by Jimmy Gander, a gambler tsar whom they hang from the top of a steeple on the Northdale Union Station. Finally an editor named Gomets from Bolivia is picked up in the United States after a speech promising revelations about crime between the two nations. They drop his corpse on the steps of his newspaper office in Bolivia 35 minutes later and Tracy knows the Space Coupe must have been used.
The 52 Gang’s emergency activities cease and the entire gang gathers on a mesa plateau where they plan to party and relax. A small two-man prop plane flies over the plateau and a look out, Six of Diamonds fires his handgun at the plane. This stupid display endangers the gang and so they throw Six over the edge to the coyotes. The two men flying the plane were taking scenic pictures and report the shooting to police. When their pictures are reviewed the Space Coupe is seen in one.
Dick Tracy is called in and parachutes down to the mesa plateau in the dead of night, killing Ten of Spades and putting on his black shirt and mask, taking his position. While posing as Ten, he is approached by the Queen of Spades who has a relationship with Ten. He feigns the loss of his voice due to partying and waits for an opportunity to retake the Space Coupe.
Attending a meeting, he learns the gang is led by the Ace of Spades with leadership descending in the Spade suit below that. The gang planes to use the Space Coupe to expand their organization world-wide and the Ace and King plan to take the Space Coupe to Hong Kong to check up on an import business. By this point the Queen of Spades has become suspicious of Tracy, who is not acting like the Ten of Spades. She listens at his door and overhears his report back to headquarters. Dick however notices her shadow at the door and pulls her inside and renders her unconscious.
Tracy stows away on the Space Coupe, still flown by Dyne O’Matick with the Ace and King. In flight he tries to arrest and battles the pair and the King of Spades is jettisoned into orbit while the Ace is taken prisoner and returned to headquarters with the Space Coupe. The Ace of Spades is revealed to be the criminal Little Notting.
The detectives return to the mesa in a helicopter, shoot up the gang’s helicopters with a tommy gun and demand their surrender. The Queen of Spades refuses and fires on the helicopter, which drops napalm in response, setting the plateau ablaze. The Queen continues to fire on the helicopter, ruining her men’s chance to surrender and the chopper goes down with a safe hard landing. Everyone on the plateau either jumps to their death (or are shot jumping by a furious queen) or burn on the rock. The gang has been wiped out.
- The Recovery of Orner Jamison (December)
¹ Special Thanks to John Perin for several of the stories from 1962.