Dick Tracy Stories – 2013

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Sweatbox and the Mole (January – February)

The story begins with national bank robber Blackjack escaping from federal prison using a Pez Dispenser and giving Dick Tracy a courtesy call, promising to see him again soon. Tracy is unconcerned and visits the Mole and the homeless families he’s hosting in the underground tunnels of his old hideout. That hideout has come to be called Toad Hall, after a little girl nicknamed Toad who lives there with her mother, Rose Spencer. Tracy gives the Mole a free family dinner at a restaurant named Lowery’s and the Mole takes Toad and Rose as his guests.

Meanwhile nearby Lake Freedom is drained to work on a dam and long forgotten buildings emerge from the lake bed. These buildings belong to a Japanese internment camp build during World War II. Now explorers and mudlarks are out on the lake bed looking for artifacts and an air tight box is discovered with a 70-year-old murder confession and a bloody hand print inside. This confession is connected to a 70-year-old murder when Stephen Baux was arrested for murder but died in prison, however the hand print is not Stephens. His brother, Simon Baux, aka Sweatbox (due to his constant work out routines) is questioned but has no information for the police.

Tracy contacts George Tawara, an American of Japanese heritage who was interred with his family in the camp when he was a child. George can map out the layout of the camp, but can provide no leads. The needed lead produces itself. While playing softball, young Toad Spencer hits a home run through the window of Stephen Baux’s crypt where many skeletal bodies are found. The place has been the tomb of many murder victims.

Sweatbox is upset but again doesn’t have any information that could help the police. In a creepy move, Sweatbox heads out in his car and picks Toad up off the street, luring her into his vehicle with talk about a Softball team. Toad is quickly found to be missing and the Mole tracks down the Pouch and forces the information broker to help him find her. Pouch tells him where police have sighted Sweatbox’s car the Mole races to find them. Simon has made a demand of George Tawara that he take credit for the 70-year-old murder confession, forgetting George was only 7 at the time. While waiting to hear that confession on the radio, the Mole yanks open his door and the two men brawl in the mud and rain while Toad escapes her bonds. Sweatbox’s eye is bloodied and when Dick Tracy and Lee Ebony arrive in a squad car he leaps into his vehicle and takes off. Tracy chases but Sweatbox, unable to see because of the blood and the rain loses control and crashes and his flipped vehicle is destroyed by a train.

In a wrap up we learn Simon Baux has been a serial killer for over 70 years and after his first murder, his brother Stephen was convicted of Simon’s murder. Stephen’s wife forced Simon to write the confession, but she disappeared a short time later.

The Jumbler (March – April)

A colorful man with numbered sunglasses (with the numbers 1 and 3) begins leaving Dick Tracy video riddles on U-Tube and the answer to the first riddle, “I am a Scottish Rummage Sale” is “Jumble”, implying the man calls himself “The Jumbler”. The Jumbler’s next message, “I am a Medieval Pastry” is a clue to his heist of $50,000 at the 10th Annual Madrigal Days Renaissance Fair at Locher Auditorium. With the help of his pooch, Crypto, the Jumbler pulls the robbery as the police are late in solving the puzzle for this crime.

While Plenty girls, Jewel, Sparkle and Gertie sign to sing as the Sounds O’ Plenty with radio show host Montana Joe (hosted by Sunny Wheat), the Jumbler releases his second clue, “Will you join me for some light reading, see you in the funny papers.” The MCU gets a hint that this crime will take place at a local comic shop that recently discovered a cache if lost vintage comic books. Sam, Lizz and Dick arrive at Old Finley’s Pharmacy to find the Jumbler posing as an appraiser looking through the comic books. The Jumbler knocks down some construction scaffolding and escapes through a back room that used to be a vault.

Tracy’s team figure out the Jumbler’s targets have been tipped by the theme of the day for the local Jumble puzzle in the paper and talk to the Jumble team who tell Dick that the tipped Jumble’s were not made by them and their original Jumble’s must have been replaced. The MCU waits for the next altered Jumble to come out and get a jump on the next heist, which will occur during a jewelry store event searching for a diamond studded watch in a pool of jewels.

Catchem and Lizz wait in the crowd during the event, but when the ower tries to remove the valuable watch from a floor safe they find it empty. The Jumbler has stolen it from beneath the building and boards a city bus with an advertisement for “The Jumble” on its side. Luckily, Dick Tracy is waiting on board and arrests the clever thief and his little dog too. In the wrap up we find out The Jumbler’s real name is K.T. Hunter and he is a frustrated cryptographer who wanted the job at the paper of writing their Jumbles and had worked at both the previous pharmacy and the jewelry store.

During an intermission between cases B-B Eyes, Doubleup, Mumbles and Stiletta Jones meet in a Dark Corner of the City discussing their situation. The three men have gotten off by Mr. Kleen and now work directly for the Apparatus while Mrs. Flattop tells the boys all she wants is to settle her score with Tracy and then head back to Europe and she nearly skewers Mumbles when he bad mouths the late Flattop. Blackjack arrives at the end, wanting to rub elbows with the rogues but they disapprove of his playful style.

Moon Maid Unmasked (May – July)

In an abandoned discotheque named the Apollo, located in the waterfront district, minders Stellaluna and Retik discuss their charge Mysta (Moon Maid) who takes every opportunity to leave the hideout to fight crime. Stellaluna and Retik are working with Dr. Tim Sail, a genetic researching and Dr. Zy Ghote, known for faking a clone of Mumbles in the late 1970’s. Mysta, whose face has been bandaged following a surgery wants many things, including visits to see husband Junior, daughter Honeymoon and to return to the Moon. Her minders also want to return to the Moon, having been instilled with a passion for the celestial body by their parents. Of course Diet Smith has long ago grounded his Space Coupe fleet.

Elsewhere in the city, Dick Tracy is finally devoting time to investigate the Moon Maid sightings. First he finds Notta Chin Chillar, who has served her time in jail for stealing a Space Coupe with her brother years ago. Notta is now a caregiver for a nearly brain-dead Purdy Fallar after his resuscitation from freezing by Dr. Klipoff in 1968. Notta is unaware of any unauthorized use of a Space Coupe to bring anyone back from the Moon and is not happy to see Dick Tracy again.

Finally Mysta’s facial bandages are removed and Moon Maid’s face is revealed. Dr. Sail visits Diet Smith and tells the Industrialist he once worked with Oliver Warbuck’s on his Lazurus Project and has replicated a woman from the Moon using DNA from the car bomb that killed Moon Maid. He admits to his partnership with Dr. Zy Ghote, whom Diet finds hard to trust. Diet calls Dick Tracy, who contacts Oliver Warbuck’s himself and find out the Lazurus Project was about reviving depleted oil fields and had nothing to do with genetics.

Meanwhile, Mysta has slipped away again to track down Sparkle Plenty, whom she believes has stolen her husband and child. After a Montana Joe radio show, she zaps Sparkle with her powers and Sparkle is knocked unconscious before waking severely disoriented and crawling into the back of a pickup truck. She then goes to see her daughter Honeymoon in a touching meeting. They discuss Honeymoon’s loss of lunar powers (her magnetic fingers) and Honeymoon brushes Mysta’s hair after she gets upset at what the Earth has done to her daughter. Junior arrives and Mysta flees before they can talk. Honeymoon has cleverly taken a strand of the Moon Maid’s hair and a DNA test proves it is Lunarian and related to Honeymoon.

With Junior worried because Sparkle has gone missing, Diet and Tracy meet Mysta, Stellaluna, Retik, the Doctors and an “associate” named Bardoll at Smith Industries. Dick asks Mysta what she remembers and she admits to having no memory from before the car explosion. While interviewing, Bardoll slips away and shoots a security guard in the Moon Suite and boards a Space Coupe, hoping to steal it. Tracy races to the Moon Suite while Retik and Stellaluna stay behind.  Realizing they are being used by the doctors and Bardoll, the pair help Mysta escape. Diet Smith uses a remote control to active the Coupe’s magnetic field, disarming Bardoll who leaps from the vehicle and flees to the facility roof just ahead of Tracy. The running man ambushes the detective on the roof, using a choke cord to strangle the dective but Dick turns the tables and flips Bardoll over the edge of the building. Bardoll falls to his death.

Sparkle on the Farm (July – August)

Following the attempt to steal the Space Coupe at Diet Smith Industries, Mysta Moon Maid’s former minders, Stellaluna and Retik tell the police their story. The pair’s parents worked on the colonization of the Moon prior to the Moon Governor banishing all humans after the car bomb that killed his daughter, Moon Maid. Dr. Sail and Dr. Zy Ghote recruited the pair to care for and watch over Mysta as she recovered from medical procedures. In return they were promised positions as emissaries when she returned to the Moon. Elsewhere at police headquarters the two doctors are in a holding cell and bickering with each other.

Sparkle Plenty still has not been found after she was zapped by Mysta and we finally find her on the farm of George “Pop” Wheaton. Sparkle is suffering from amnesia and now calls herself Gertie. Pop and his daughter Nellie have taken “Gertie” in until she recovers. Pop and Nellie are return characters who previously appeared in the 1940’s 88 Keyes case. While working the farm, Sparkle and Nellie come across Mysta, exhausted, scared and sleeping in a car near an old granary after escaping the chaos at Diet Smith’s. Sparkle and Nellie kindly offer Mysta help and a place to stay for a few days. The possible Moon Maid wears a headscarf to hide her identity.

Pop Wheaton’s farm is also wanted by the criminal group, the Apparatus, who want to sell it to an oil pipeline group. They send a man named Hy Pressure to force Wheaton to sell his land and Pressure threatens Pop’s daughter Nellie with an accident to ensure the sale. Pop finally acquiesces but Mysta overhears when Pop tells Nellie he will have to sell and takes it upon herself to deal with Hy Pressure. Mysta stakes out Pressure’s office, intending to zap his memory away but her powers fail. Terribly upset and thinking she is losing her powers like Honeymoon has, she calls Retik and Stellaluna.

Trying to keep his mind off Sparkle, Junior takes a side photography job for a book on his adoptive father. He is taking pictures of famous sites in Tracy’s career and he and Honeymoon visit an old demolished granary where Dick and the deadly criminal Mordred sought shelter during a storm. This granary coincidentally is on the Wheaton farm and Sparkle approaches the pair, asking what they are doing! Junior and Honeymoon are overjoyed and Junior acts quickly when he finds his wife has no memory. He calls Dick Tracy, who brings parents B.O. Plenty, Gravel Gertie and daughter Jewel to Sparkle. Surrounded by family, Sparkle’s memory immediately returns.

Showdown at the Wheatons (September – October)

Retik and Stellaluna convince Mysta to talk to Dick Tracy about her situation and the trio arrive at police headquarters for a revealing interview. Mysta explains she can only remember waking up at the Apollo hideout with Dr. Sail and Zy Ghote. They explained to her that she had been rebuilt after the car bomb and told her about her life before. Mysta could not explain why her face was damaged and required a mask but she does tell Tracy about the threat at the Wheatons.

Hy Pressure, who has been recovering from a plot delaying stomach bug is ordered by the Apparatus to finish his deal for the Wheaton farm. Apparatus enforcers B.B. Eyes, Doubleup and Mumbles are sent to make sure Pressure finishes the deal. Little do the know, Dick Tracy is setting up a string for Hy and has Sparkle and Mysta back at the farm to help sell the sting.

Released from temporary lockup, Dr. Sail and Dr. Zy Ghote meet the dead Bardoll’s replacement, Méliès (the Man in the Moon), who works for the Consortium, a competitor criminal organization to the Apparatus. Méliès has Zy Ghote place a call to Diet Smith where he claims to have split from Dr. Tim Sail and wanting to reveal Mysta’s secrets in return for Smith’s support in his genetic work. Smith agrees to the meeting and after he learns the truth about Mysta immediately wants to go see her, taking Zy Ghote and the Space Coupe to the Wheaton farm.

Pressure arrives at the farm in the middle of a torrential downpour and once again threatens Pop Wheaton when he refuses to sell his farm. Tracy steps out from a doorway, telling Hy he’s under arrest. A lightning strike knocks out power and in the dark Hy tries to take Sparkle and Nellie hostage but is zapped badly by Mysta, whose powers respond to her distress. Junior is forced to grab Mysta to keep her from killing Pressure.

Meanwhile outside in the rain, Consortium enforcer Méliès is waiting with the Munro brothers, Sputnik, Rocket, Flash and Satellite for the incoming Space Coupe. B.B. Eyes, Mumbles and Doubleup approach the group and the situation quickly devolves into a shootout which is noticed by Tracy in the Wheaton house. With Dick distracted, Pressure runs outside, directly in to Doubleup who asks if the farm has been sold. Hy tells Doubleup the wrong answer and is killed by the whip-wielding enforcer.

Out of nowhere the Space Coupe comes in for landing and Dr. Zy Ghote and Diet Smith hop off, going in opposite directions. Diet is looking for Mysta and Ghote runs in to Mumbles, who promptly shoots him in the arm because he of their history. Mumbles and B.B. Eyes then split the scene with Doubleup while Dr. Sail and Munro brother Flash grab Dr. Zy Ghote and hop aboard the Space Coupe and take off. Diet tries to regain control of the Space Coupe with his remote control but claims he cannot and that he may have lost the Coupe. Tracy doesn’t believe him and the Space Coupe is seen flying into deep space with its helpless passengers.

Diet gathers Mysta and the Tracy family and explains to them that Mysta is not the original Moon Maid. Mysta is in fact Glenna Ermine, daughter of racketeer Posie Ermine. Glenna placed second in a Moon Maid look-a-like contest many years ago and was taken by Dr. Sail and Dr. Zy Ghote to fake the cloning. Instead they used Moon Maid’s DNA and superimposed it over Glenna while performing plastic surgery and implant horns to change her face. Advanced brainwashing techniques were used to reprogram Gelnna with Mysta’s personality but some of Glenna’s demeanors have remained. Diet offers to return Glenna to her former self, but she asks to remain as Mysta, which is all she knows. She will be Mysta Chimera.

Finally Diet purges all Moon Tech from his company, scrubbing hard-drives, dismantling and destroying hardware. The original inventor Dyne O’Matik died several years ago and so nothing can be rebuilt from memory, effectively ending the space coupe era. We get a final glimpse of the Space Coupe, Doctor’s Sail and Zy Ghote on board with Flash Munro on a collision course with Jupiter and are teased with four shrouded Moon people visiting Moon Maid’s grave.

Kadaver’s Murder Mansion (October – January)

Following the events on the Wheaton farm, the Major Crimes Unit takes down an Apparatus drug lab with Lee Ebony operating undercover. Lee has learned that the Apparatus is being edged out by a new organization called the Black hearts which readers learn is led by a hidden woman named Venus. After the raid, Tracy takes a short fishing vacation with Tess and young Joe Tracy. Their cabin neighbors appear to be Olive and Popeye.

In the state prison, mass murderer Abner Kadaver is found dead of a heart attack in his cell. Kadaver is of course not dead, and his “body” is picked up by a gothic woman named Rikki Mortis. Mortis arranged Kadaver’s escape with the help of Méliès who recruits Abner into the Black Heart organization. His first contract is the elimination of all remaining Apparatus operatives in the city, including B-B Eyes. Kadaver instead recruits B-B Eyes to the Black Heart organization.

While Kadaver goes about killing lesser Apparatus members in his “Murder Mansion”, Mayor Armstrong orders Tracy to do a SBN news profile to re-establish public trust after the Mr. Crime and Simon Baux scandals. Christmas Early does the interview which is quite revealing on Tracy’s history. We learn Tracy’s parents were Chster and Edna (an homage to Chester Gould and his wife) and his brother Gordon died long ago during a chase after a criminal named The Lame One. This is a reference to the 1937 Dick Tracy Serial. Dick also has a living sister named Jean (Gould’s daughter) and two nephews.

Christmas Early then brings on several surprises for her interviewee. Daughter Bonnie returns home, her teaching contract on the Yakima Reservation ended. She is no longer with boyfriend Joe Sampson. Tracy’s minister and uncle, Ray Tracy makes an appearance and Sparkle and Junior announce Dick will once again be a grandfather.

Back at the murder mansion, Mrs. Flattop, Stileta Jones hires Kadaver to kill Dick Tracy. The Early interview is recorded by Rikki Mortis and Abner arranges for uncle Ray Tracy to be given a free dinner at the Queen’s Pub and carriage ride. He invites Bonnie along and the two are gassed to sleep and kidnapped. Kadaver then sends Tracy a personal message to come to him alone, trading his life for Ray and Bonnie.

Tracy of course accepts these terms and is picked up by Rikki driving the dark horse and carriage. Rikki delivers Tracy to Abner at the Murder Mansion where Tracy is forced to face three deadly challenges. Dick attempts to broadcast his location with his wrist wizard, but Rikki intercepts the signal.

The first deathtrap is a retracting floor with a pit of water and very hungry alligators. Tracy pulls his handgun and dispatches each with a single shot to the back of the head. He proceeds to the next room which is trapped with closing, spike covered walls that looks to have been well used. Tracy uses his telescoping baton to stop the walls. Finally the third deadly room is a floor trapped with wet, soup like concrete. Dick slowly swims the quicksand to reach the final exit.

Abner Kadaver is waiting when Dick emerges, covered in wet cement. Tracy raises his firearm, but Abner doubts it will fire and unsheaths his sword cane which is surprisingly shot from his hand. Kadaver calls it a lucky shot and charges Dick, attempting to dispatch him with a dagger. Tracy flips Abner into the wet concrete and the villain is gone, only his hat remaining on the surface.

Tracy then turns and asks that Blackjack reveal himself. The happy-go-lucky bank robber steps out with a smile, having been the one to shoot the sword cane from Kadaver’s hand. Blackjack admits he has been tracking Dick with a wrist wizard he stole in an earlier case and while he considers Tracy a foe, Tracy is a foe he wants to meet on an even a fair playing field in the future. Blackjack has also rescued Uncle Ray and Bonnie as Abner and Rikki intended to kill them as well.

Next Year

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