Wednesday, January 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW! THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY VOLUME 14 by Chester Gould (Library of American Comics, 2012)

The DICK TRACY series rolls on and leaves your senses in about as good a shape as General Sherman left Georgia! The final part of the Crewy Lou saga finally wraps up with Bonnie Braids not only getting discovered by Crewy but slapped about a few times as well...of course that's before the brat's abandoned in Tracy's vehicle and Crewy falls to her death after being holed up in a Forest Ranger tower! Of course things don't exactly improve for Bonnie when after Dick takes her and Sparkle Plenty out for a motorboat ride the frustrated Johnny Ray wannabe Tonsils shoots Tracy in the head and knocks him outta the boat with Sparkle and Braids going around in a frightening pace before crashing into a hidden inlet. With all of these childhood traumas plaguing the pair, you'd think that the two of 'em would be holding down plenty of couch time at the local psychoanalyst given the near-scrapes and traumatic experiences they've encountered even before reaching the tender age of four!

The question of where Tracy got the money to build his million dollar house and drive an expensive Cadillac is finally answered, and the hard way when all of the fingers begin pointing at Tracy because of some missing valuables that have been poached from the police vault. Also Junior, who was about eleven when we last looked, falls hard for this post-high school gal he met at the roller rink named Model Jones who's supporting not only her alkie parents but a no-good brudder by working in a department store. The two actually elope (I guess he didn't tell her he was only eleven!) and even take a short bus trip outta state before...well, you'll have to read this 'un, dragged out in the slowest possible way by Gould who really knew how to milk a good disaster when he felt like it!

Gould really is at the top of his slag heap here. especially in the way he teases and leads you on one way then switches gears when the story needs a little zap. It's a known fact that Gould and his assistants planned storyline developments only a few weeks in advance, and that's undoubtedly the reason why certain characters such as BO Plenty and Gravel Gertie were originally written in as villains yet because lovable close friends of Dick, and why Tonsils, the dumb yet affable crooner, was originally pegged as a sorta good guy who eventually is forced into killing Tracy thus making him a bad guy if only because of circumstance. You really never can tell, which only makes Gould's assertion to none other than R. Crumb that "If you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys, then you're one of the bad guys!" rather strange considering the conniptions he has some of his characters going through! But it all works out OK, since BO and Gertie continued in the strip as a fun if white-trash couple for ages and Tonsils gets tossed to the Crime Boss' pet barracuda even when the bad guys believe he succeeded in his dastardly task!

A beaut of a book both artistically and phonetically (especially when you read it out loud!)...they really do need to get these volumes out at a swifter pace dontcha think?

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