Review – Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer(s): Lee & Michael Allred
Pencils: Rich Tomasso
Inks: Michael Allred
Colours Laura Allred
Letters: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 19th September 2018

Dick Tracy makes the biggest collar of his career and loses his badge in the process. An unexpected job offer that seems too good to be true takes him to “the city by the lake” where he’s charged with cleaning up the streets at any costs. Unfortunately for the people that employed him they haven’t counted on Tracy’s single minded and unflinching pursuit of justice.

Dick Tracy is one of the most recognisable comic book characters of all time and he’s also one of the oldest having first seen life in print in the Detroit Mirror in 1931. In the last almost 90 years there have been many evolutions of the hard-nosed detective, including a foray into space during the ‘70s which saw him chasing villains on the moon. It’s about time then that we got a new look at this character and IDW have handed this responsibility to one hell of a creative team.

Writing this series are brothers Michael (iZombie, Madman, X-Statix) and Lee Allard (Bug!, Fantastic Four, Batman ’66) and in this first issue they bring us a 21st Century take on a PopArt classic. This is very much the classic Dick Tracy we all know and love but with a subtle modern twist. We even get to see the return of crime boss Big Boy. After 90 years it’s very hard to take a character like Dick Tracy and come up with something new to say and the stories can be very formulaic, but I really enjoyed the way this issue panned out. The darker twist this story takes is refreshing and guaranteed to inject new enthusiasm for this franchise into even the most jaded of readers.

Michael Allred provides the pencils for this story and Rich Tomasso (She Wolf, Perverso, Dark Corridor) brings his skills with the inks. The style is very cartoony and stylised which might not be to everybody’s taste but I think it fits well with honouring the 1930s origin of the character without restricting the team’s attempt to bring the story into a more modern setting. Laura Allred (Madman, It Girl, iZombie) provides the colours and they couldn’t be more perfectly pop art; it’s a really refreshing change to see art that jumps off the page.

Shawn Lee (Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek/ Legion of Heroes, Transformers) provides the lettering and is pitch perfect throughout, from the vintage style newspaper to the dialogue to the old style action prompts à la 1960s Batman (you can never go wrong with a good quality KA-BOOM), everything just chimes with the art and the colouring to help give an overwhelming feeling that everybody is bringing their A-Game.

At the end of the day, Dead or Alive is a fun, action packed, nostalgia-filled romp with a modern twist that should delight new readers and old.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏


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