The man known as Rhodent was a criminal who lived in Dick Tracy's city. He was slightly heavyset, and had a prominent nose that brought his hairy face to a point. He had small eyes, and often wore small round eyeglasses. In spite of his poor eyesight, Rhodent was an excellent marksman. At some point in his life, he had worked as a commercial artist.
The Hardly Fortune[edit | edit source]
After E. Kent Hardly inherited a fortune in coins from his criminal brother, Rhodent was informed by his associate Hillis that the money was being guarded poorly. Rhodent paid Hillis $5,000 for this information, but when Hillis demanded a larger cut of the money once it was acquired, Rhodent had two members of his gang kill the informant.
Soon thereafter, Rhodent and his men were able to extract all of Hardly's fortune from the submerged basement in which it was thought to be secured. The criminals were transporting the bags of coins to their secret hideout, when their heavy truck collapsed a weak bridge as they attempted to cross. Rhodent, who was following the truck in his car, sent his two henchmen to a nearby farm to enlist the aid of the farmer and his tractor.
The farmer, a man named McDonald, arrived with his tractor and his daughter, the ironically-named "Fatty". Fatty saw Rhodent sitting his car and took note of his unusual appearance. Before the criminals' truck could be extracted, a thunderstorm rolled in, and the truck was struck by lightning. The lightning caused the truck to catch fire. Rhodent's henchmen, who were seated in the truck cab, were burned to death, and the payload of silver coins was melted and fused together. Rhodent fled in his car.
Keeping a Low Profile[edit | edit source]
Rhodent returned to the city and kept abreast of the case's developments by reading the newspapers. When it was reported that Fatty was providing a description of Rhodent to the police, Rhodent determined to act. He visited his elderly parents and stole $400 cash from his father's wallet.
Once a police sketch of Rhodent had been created and circulated, Rhodent took to wearing women's clothing as a means of concealing his identity as he moved around town. This included a hat with a veil that covered his face.
Rhodent the contracted the desperate killer-for-hire Halffa Millyon to murder Fatty. Rhodent paid Millyon $30 in advance, with the promise of another $30 when the job was done. Millyon was killed by Lizz, who was acting as a decoy for Fatty at the McDonald farm. Once again, Rhodent learned of this via the newspaper.
Kidnapping Fatty[edit | edit source]
The newspapers reported that Fatty was interested in pursuing a career in modeling. Rhodent created a false letterhead, and sent Fatty a letter claiming to represent a talent agency. The two corresponded briefly by mail, and eventually Rhodent was able to arrange a time for Fatty to wait for him at her family farm. When Rhodent arrived in his car, Fatty recognized him (despite his disguise). Rhodent pulled the girl into his car and shot and killed her father, who witnessed the incident. Rhodent then bound Fatty's arms and legs and fled.
Rhodent was observed leaving the McDonald farm by the local sheriff, who contacted Dick Tracy. Cars were deployed to block Rhodent's route, and his car was observed by a police helicopter. Desperate, Rhodent turned his car onto railroad tracks, where he collided with a stopped freight train. The train began moving, with Rhodent's car stuck to the back of it.
Rhodent was pulled along as the freight train began to pick up speed. The bumps and friction of the track began to shake his car apart. At one point, his gas tank impacted against the track's rail and was ignited by a spark. Rhodent's car was engulfed in flames and he burned to death (August 30th, 1959). It was later discovered that Fatty had been thrown free of the car before the fire began. Rhodent's involvement in the death of Hillis was also later established.
Appearances in Other Media[edit | edit source]
1990 Feature Film[edit | edit source]
Rhodent is a character in the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film. He was played by actor/stuntman Neil Summers.
Tie-In Comic Book[edit | edit source]
In the comic-book tie-in, Rhodent was shown to be a low-level extortionist for Lips, who often worked with Shoulders.
Tie-In Video Game[edit | edit source]
- Nintendo Entertainment System- Rhodent appears in Dick Tracy's mug shot file. He is described as a "weaselly henchman".
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Rhodent's full name was not revealed. "Rhodent" was established as his last name, and his mother addressed him as "Roddie", indicating that his first name could be "Rodney" or "Roderick".
- Rhodent's parents seemed happy to be visited by him, and were apparently unaware of his criminal activities. They were shocked and angry when they discovered that he had stolen from them, implying that it hadn't happened before.
- Rhodent's name remained unknown to Dick Tracy and the police through most of this storyline, and they referred to him only as "the rat-faced man".
- Rhodent has sometimes been confused or conflated with the Mole, due to their similar appearance and the origins of their names (although moles are not technically rodents).
- In much of the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film tie-in material, Rhodent was referred to as "Rodent" or "The Rodent", indicating that this was a nickname or alias.
- The Playmates Toys action figure package identified "The Rodent" as having the real name of William Wilson, though this does not appear anywhere else.
- Introduced in 1959, Rhodent was the most recently-created character to appear in the 1990 feature film, other than those created specifically for the film.
- In the 1990 film, Rodent appeared to dislike cats. He called a stray cat over to him during the card game, then grabbed it and tossed it away. His Playmates Toys cardback listed "animal cruelty" as one of his crimes.
- The Rhodent storyline contains an especially egregious error in judgement from Dick Tracy. After the failed attempt on Fatty's life by Halffa Millyon, Tracy allows the girl to return to her home on the farm. This happens in spite of the fact that Rhodent is still at large, has yet to be identified, and knows where Fatty lives. Her return home is even reported in the newspapers. Tracy assumes (mistakenly) that Rhodent will not make a second attempt on Fatty's life, and allows her (the only witness who can identify Rhodent) to leave protective custody with no additional guards or security at the farm.