Mr. Bribery was a murderer, drug smuggler, pickpocket, influence peddler, and blackmailer. He was also the leader of a criminal operation which he ran with the aid of his loyal sister Ugly Christine. He was a thin, bespectacled man with short, thinning hair that he wore slicked back.
One of the most eccentric and ghoulish villains that Dick Tracy ever encountered, Bribery had several bizarre habits, including talking to roses, allowing his pet cat Kitty to smoke cigars, making decisions with the aid of a Ouija board, branding his underlings on the forehead with the letter "B", and decapitating people and shrinking their heads.
Bribery's Early Schemes[edit | edit source]
Bribery had been a mentor and patron of the criminal Matty Square, and devised the death trap for Tracy that ultimately cost Square his life.
Bribery also employed the Ecuadoran native Nah Tay as a front for his criminal enterprise, and used Nah Tay's skill at shrinking heads to intimidate his associates. Bribery made an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap Honeymoon Tracy shortly after she was born, and he and his sister were rescued by Nah Tay after Moon Maid paralyzed them with her laser powers.
Bribery then assigned Nah Tay to murder Dick Tracy. When Nah Tay refused to kill Tracy, Bribery arranged for Nah Tah to be kidnapped with the help of the Space Coupe pilot Maay. Bribery's men loaded a thoroughly intoxicated Nah Tay onto the Coupe and ejected him into Earth's orbit (2/2/1966).
The Stolen Space Coupe[edit | edit source]
Later, Bribery arranged for the theft of a Space Coupe. He attempted to double-cross his twin pilots, but they managed to gain an advantage on Bribery. In the process, $100,000 cash (supposedly the twins' pay for the theft) was ejected into space and went into orbit around Earth (7/3/1966).
The stolen Space Coupe returned to Earth and was put in a secluded hiding spot. The twins held Ugly Christine hostage while Bribery arranged for another payoff. Christine and Bribery managed to surprise the twins and killed them, depositing their bodies at a construction site.
When Bribery and Christine attempted to return to the hidden Space Coupe, they attracted the attention of Dick Tracy, who had found the stolen vehicle and was waiting for them. Tracy followed the pair back to their hideout, and discovered evidence of their many crimes. Ugly Christine was taken into custody, but she quickly committed suicide by throwing herself from a magnetic Air Car and falling into a fiery chimney. Meanwhile Bribery, his cat, and his secretary Miss Deal escaped.
Later, Miss Deal inadvertently led police to their new hideout. Bribery attempted to kill her as punishment, and she kicked him in the face. Bribery was eventually apprehended by Tracy (10/25/1966) and sent to the State Prison, where his prisoner number was 620. His cat (which he had taken custody of after the death of Matty Square) gave up cigars and become part of the Police Department menagerie.
Alliance with the Chin Chillars[edit | edit source]
While incarcerated for various crimes, Bribery enlisted the aid of George Chin Chillar and his wife Notta in recovering the $100,000 in cash that was still orbiting the Earth. At some point, the Chin Chillars were able to help Bribery escape from prison and replace him with a body double named Joie Packet (7/26/2015). The exact circumstances of when and how the switch took place have not been revealed.
Later, the Chin Chillars stole a police Space Coupe, and with the help of the corrupt prison Warden, George and Notta used the Coupe to break "Bribery" (the body double) out of jail. They attached a special wire cage to the Space Coupe that the body double had constructed in the prison workshop, which was then used to capture the orbiting $100,000. Thereafter, the Chin Chillars gave champagne to the body double until he passed out. They returned "Bribery" to prison by dropping him from a great height through the roof of the prison carpentry shop. "Bribery's" body was not discovered until the following morning, and was so disfigured that it was not immediately recognizable (6/26/1967). The Warden was dismissed from his job for letting "Bribery" escape (7/2/1967). The $100,000 was later destroyed when the Chin Chillars were escaping from the police. "Bribery's" death (9/13/1967) allowed the real Mr. Bribery to continue his life of crime under the new identity of Mr. Bigg.
The Return of Bribery[edit | edit source]
As "Mr. Bigg," Bribery became the leader of criminal organization known as The Black Hearts. He continued his practice of branding the high-ranking members (such as Venus and Apollo) with a letter B on their foreheads.
Bribery returned to Dick Tracy's city and adopted the upper floors of the Ace Tower as his base of operations. He worked closely with T-Bolt, his driver and bodyguard, who was later revealed to be the police officer Lee Ebony (working deep undercover).
Bribery's operatives kidnapped the industrialist Diet Smith, planning to use him to gain access to a Space Coupe. Smith was brought to Black Hearts headquarters, where he recognized Bribery and was surprised. Shortly thereafter, the building was raided by the combined forces of the city's MCU and the FBI. During the raid, Bribery had a brief encounter with Mysta Chimera (who had arrived at the Black Hearts headquarters by helicopter), during which he took credit for her creation. He then escaped in an Air Car that had been concealed in one of his offices.
Bribery later commissioned the creation of a computer program with an artificial intelligence that he dubbed "Matty Squared," after his deceased subordinate. He also agreed to aid (from a distance) Notta Fallar in her revenge scheme against Dick Tracy.
While Abner Kadaver was tracking down Dick Tracy in Europe, Rikki Mortis committed several contract murders at Bribery's behest. The targets were high-ranking members of The Apparatus, indicating that Bribery still intended to challenge that organization's supremacy in the criminal underworld. When Rikki sought revenge for the presumed death of Abner Kadaver at the hands of Tracy, Bribery confronted her via satellite. He ordered her to cease her actions, but she refused. This presumably soured Bribery's relationship with her, and by extension with the other members of Bribery's criminal organization.
Bribery's Comeback[edit | edit source]
Lee Ebony later reported to Dick Tracy that Bribery had contacted her (in her identity as T-Bolt), but she was not fully aware of his ongoing plans. Bribery remained in hiding in Europe, where he was shown visiting his niece Ugly Crystal at a finishing school. Bribery soon returned to America with Crystal and met with Sawtooth, a killer he had hired to eliminate Dick Tracy.
Sawtooth was unsuccessful in his attempt to murder Tracy, but Bribery was soon distracted by the Moon Governor's appearance on Earth. Bribery arranged for Sawtooth to abduct Mysta and the Governor and bring them to his compound. Once there, Bribery revealed his intentions to plunder the Moon's gold and insisted that the Governor transport him there. When the Governer revealed that the Moon's oxygen supply had dissipated and mining would be impossible, Bribery became unhinged. In his rage, Bribery took no notice of the police that had arrived at his compound and were dismantling his criminal operation, or that his associates were being arrested or abandoning him. Bribery was taken into police custody.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Unlike many of the other successful criminal figures depicted in the strip (both before and since), Mr. Bribery does not seem to have been at all connected to The Apparatus, or any of that group's ancillary operations. His organization appears to have functioned completely independently, with Bribery answering to no higher authority. It is possible that some of the corrupt public officials that Bribery influenced later became beholden to The Apparatus as well. It is reasonable to presume that the remnants of Bribery's organization became the original foundation of the Black Hearts, and that Bribery was consistently at odds with that other group.
- The revelation that Joie Packet was Bribery's body double calls into question the accuracy of information that Pat Patton had read in an official police report which identified "Joie Packet" as Bribery's real name. Bribery's niece Crystal addressed him as "Uncle Bribery", creating more ambiguity about his actual name.
- Bribery was dismayed by the death of his sister, and while he has shown animosity toward Tracy and the MCU, it doesn't seem to be motivated by a desire to avenge his sister's death. Bribery would therefore not qualify as a Revenge-Seeking Relative.
- Bribery's long stint in Europe while presumed dead in America is reminiscent of the Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn (aka The Green Goblin), who was considered "dead" for over twenty years before it was revealed that he had faked his death and had been living in Europe.
- Mr. Bribery is featured on the cover of IDW's The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 22.
- At 14 months (from his first appearance in July 1965 to his first capture in September 1966), the first Mr. Bribery storyline surpassed the record for the strip's longest sequence, which was previously held by the first Mr. Crime story.