Like her sister before him, Dick Tracy’s son Joseph Flintheart Tracy was born outside of the hospital in the midst of a kidnap situation when Tess and Bonnie Tracy and Vitamin Flintheart found themselves carjacked by Bony and Claudine. Quick thinking by Vitamin was able to save both Tess and Joe and provided a happy family reunion with new baby Joe. He was given the middle name Flintheart in honor of Vitamin. On their trip back to the city, Quiver Trembly hid a gun in Joe’s baby carrier for the duration of a plane ride but she was dealt with by Dick Tracy.
Despite his father’s line of work, Joe grew up fairly violence free and remained close with his niece’s Honeymoon and Jewel Plenty. Joe was around when the Land O’Plenty theme park was opened by B.O. Plenty. Unbeknownst to Joe and Tess, Tracy had been replaced by Putty Puss and was put on display in a museum diorama of a famous death trap. Joe noticed the “wax” on Dick Tracy seemed to be crying, leading to the discovery of his father.
Joe had a dog named Muggsy, a descendant of Tracy’s 1940 police dog Mugg. When Joe saw other dogs being captured by fake dog catchers, he and the Crimestoppers (a young group organized by Honeymoon) helped in catching the dognappers.
With changes in writers and artists, Joe’s age (like his sister again) began to move about and he began to age and enter school. Joe would later get into a fight with a schoolmate who was peddling pills which led to Tracy uncovering Little Boy’s network of drug dealers city-wide. Joe’s attitude began to shift as well and he became more disrespectful, referring to himself as “Cool Dude,” though he still helped his father decipher the statement of the disc jockey Wildbreath.
A Dick Tracy rumor is that the “Cool Dude” phase came about when Max Allen Collins was removed from the strip in 1991 at which point any use of characters he created required the owning Tribune to pay for the rights. The altering of Joe’s name to “Cool Dude” was a method of continuing to use Joe without reimbursement. Having not talked to Max, and uncomfortable with bringing up old wounds, the Depot does not know if this is true or not and it seems the current Dick Tracy team has permission to use any and all of the Tracy history.
Joe vanished from the strip for over a decade before the current Dick Tracy returned him to the strip and banished the name “Cool Dude” in tounge-in-cheek fashion. Joe has returned to the age of a young boy and still remains close to Honeymoon and Jewel, the three of whom were around for the capture of Phishface.