Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dick Tracy Tips His Hat

Broadway Bates, as depicted by
Chester Gould in 1932.
Mike Curtis and Joe Staton have been breathing new life into Dick Tracy. Their imaginative blend of new, relevant stories and homages (but not slavish imitations of) the strip's rich past, as I've noted before. In the current continuity, one of Tracy's earliest villains returns.

Broadway Bates first appeared in 1932. He was also one of the first to torture the detective by applying a blowtorch to his bare feet. Over time, Tracy's foes would become increasingly outre in their appearance (like Pruneface and Flattop), and their torture methods would also become more exotic. (click on images to enlarge)

Curtis and Staton have brought the confidence man back in a story about costumed crimefighters and criminals coming to Tracy's city. And if you think Bates bears more than a passing resemblance to the Penguin, that's not an accident. There's been a strong suggestion in the strip that the Penguin is one of Bate's brothers (mentioned by first name only).

The other nice thing about this sequence is the reference to Fletcher and Collins. Artist  Rick Fletcher and writer Max Allen Collins took over the strip from its creator, Chester Gould in 1977. The team continued working on the strip until Fletcher's death in 1983.

It's just a throwaway line in one panel -- and a nice nod to the past for Tracy fans.

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