(W) Mike Allred & Lee Allred (A) Rich Tommaso (C) Laura Allred
There are few comic characters as iconic as Dick Tracy. Sporting a bright yellow trenchcoat and a smartwatch before smartwatches were a thing, Chester Gould’s creation is perhaps most remembered for the 1990 movie of the same name, starring Warren Beatty and Madonna. However, since that movie underperformed – both critically and commercially – Tracy has been largely absent from pop culture. But thanks to IDW and the creative team of The Allreds and Rich Tomasso, Dick Tracy is back in a big, bold way.
Before getting to the story, let me first say that the artwork is perfect for Dick Tracy. Rich Tommaso is one of the medium’s best cartoonists, with a style that combines vintage aesthetics with modern nuance. As a result, few artists are better equipped to bring this pulp-inspired hero to life. There is fast and furious action that is portrayed as equal parts serious and campy. Tonally, Tommaso’s art seems to strive towards a feel reminiscent of the 1960s Batman show, which makes for a light, enjoyable read. Laura Allred’s colors are mostly great. Tracy’s bright yellow coat (and matching hat) pop brilliantly off the page against the grays, blacks, and browns of the city. However, there’s an unexpected lack of vibrancy in the book. Sure, Tracy stands out, but aside from him there’s very little color variation. Call it a personal nitpick, but I do think the book could have benefited for a more varied palette.
Lee and Mike Allred take Dick Tracy in an interesting and unexpected direction. Despite his array of fanciful gadgets, Tracy has always worked within the law to bring down crime. However, the Allreds have reinvented the character into a rebel that doesn’t play well with others, much in the vein of other pop-culture cops such as Martin Riggs or “Dirty” Harry Callahan. While this change may be jarring at first, it becomes welcome over the course of the issue. What helps is that Tracy’s familiar supporting cast – including Junior and Tess Trueheart – are notably absent. The lack of these familial characters explains his aggressive, steely demeanor.
Dick Tracy #1 suffers from being a bit too formulaic. The rough and tumble attitude of the protagonist results in a series of tropes seen in numerous law enforcement stories. Turning in his badge. Transfer to a new city. Unable to be bought by the corrupt powers that be. In many ways, Dick Tracy has been transformed into Jim Gordon from Batman: Year One. But with that said, Dick Tracy leans hard into these tropes and familiar scenarios to an extent that borders on entertaining parody.
This new chapter in the history of Dick Tracy is off to a sound start. This is the type of comic Rich Tommaso was born to draw, and his work is only elevated by collaborating with one of the medium’s all-time great creative families. The story itself, while pedestrian on its own, appears to be laying the groundwork for bigger things to come.