Dick Tracy: Forever #3 Review - Black and white in a world of gray
Updated: May 1, 2020
• IDW (Publisher) • Get it now (Hell Yes)
Dick Tracy Forever has been an uneven series so far. The art is superb but the problem has been the story structure. The story has either been broken up into vignettes or paced to read in less than 5 minutes. The book will probably be great in a 9.99 trade, but the floppies haven't really felt like a great return on investment.
That changes with this issue. The story is set current year. Dick Tracy and Tess Trueheart are dealing with their son Junior's coma. He's been diagnosed with an unnamed disease. All seems lost to save their boy aside from a genome altering drug that has been banned and fallen into the black market.
The drug GEK (Gene Altering Kit) may save the boy, but many of the users become hideously deformed. Dick, Tess and the rest of the police force plan a raid involving GEK. Tess wants to use the drug to potentially cure Junior. Tracy says that it's simply too dangerous to chance. Tess replies you mean illegal.
During the raid, Tess gets her hands on the GEK and tries to convince him to see that the drug is their best chance to save Junior. What follows is a fundamental break between the couple with Tracy being unwilling or unable to bend on the rule of law, which puts them in conflict with each other.
This story was great and I think highlights one of the weaknesses of Dick Tracy and many other golden age characters. They work great during the times they were created. The good guys were simple and the villains were clearly defined. In a world where the moral choice isn't quite black or white characters like Dick Tracy suffer. This isn't a knock on the character, it just highlights how much comics have evolved since the 1930s and by extension just how ugly our world has become.
The arguments presented by Tess and Tracy are both equally valid. Tess is concerned that Junior may never wake up. Tracy's motivations aren't as clear, but he doesn't want to risk using the drug on Junior. I suspect that the underlying issue though is that Tracy simply cannot break with the law even if doing so may benefit his family.
I think back to Rorschach at the end of Watchmen. Even with the world saved Rorschach can't live with the cost. I believe Oeming is making a similar statement with Tracy. Flat-Top robbing a bank is simple. Big Pharma possibly profiting in the black market by putting GEK on the streets is infinitely more complicated.
The story is set in modern times but the art is just as timeless. Tracy doesn't appear out of place and the changes with technology blend well with the character. The last page of the issue hints at what may be going on and why there have been so many time jumps in the series.
I recommend the book whether you've been reading the series or simply as a one-off issue. The issue stands on its own and is a must-read if you're a fan of the character.