Sal Monella was a criminal who operated in Dick Tracy's city and New York City. He was initially depicted a large man with prominent lips, whose head was a bald on top with long white hair on the sides. His appearance later changed.
At some point, Sal Monella had been arrested in (or near) Tracy's city for selling beef that was tainted with Mad Cow disease.
The Fake Food Operation[edit | edit source]
In 1998, Monella had established a laboratory/factory in New York City, where he produced cheap snacks for a discount airline. These products were mostly made from recycled garbage with artifical color and flavor added by his "food scientist" Runs McGoo. Monella wanted to expand his operation, and began an extortion scheme where members of his gang would threaten local restaurant owners if they did not buy food from Monella.
Some of Monella's airline snacks were consumed by Dick Tracy, who suffered memory loss because of it. Aided by his friend Vitamin Flintheart, Tracy regained his memory and traced the tainted snacks to Monella's factory. Monella discovered Tracy and Flintheart and locked them in a freezer. Monella soon decided to dispose of the two men by placing them in a pair of industrial meat grinders.
At this same time, Monella had run afoul of local crime boss Grappa "Big Grouper" Grababo, for whom Monella had been laundering money. Grababo and his gang arrived at Monella's factory just as Monella and his men were fleeing. Tracy, attempting to stop the meat grinders, created an electro-magnetic pulse that shorted out the electricity in the building. Big Grouper's men continued to shoot blindly, inadvertently killing each other. Any survivors were picked off by FBI Agent Kelley, who had been attempting to track down Tracy and had arrived on the scene just as the power went out.
Tracy, Kelley, and Flintheart followed Monella and his gang to the landfill where Monella had been burying money that he skimmed from Big Flounder. Monella and his men hid inside a trash compactor, which Vitamin accidentally activated (not knowing that there were people inside). Unbeknownst to Tracy and his friends, the Monella gang was crushed into cube-like shapes and mixed in with other trash. They were never discovered and Monella was presumed deceased.
The Cold Case of Sal Monella[edit | edit source]
Years later, Monella was revealed to be alive. His appearance had been altered by the trash compactor, and he was seen re-establishing his connections in the criminal underworld of Tracy's city. He contacted Big Ed, owner of a corrupt waste management company, and arranged to buy garbage from him.
At this same time, Detective Frisk was examining cold cases from Tracy's department, looking for some case would help strengthen her reputation. She found the file about Monella, and decided to investigate since his body had never been found.
Frisk went to the dump where Monella had last been seen, and was surprised to discover Monella there himself, retrieving money from his stash. Frisk did not want to risk Dick Tracy becoming involved in the case (and possibly upstaging her), so she began to monitor Monella on her own.
Monella recruited a new gang from the city's homeless population. He purchased musical instruments for them and rented a stadium as a concert venue. Promoting the band as "The Municipal Slime", Monella filled the stadium with garbage from Big Ed's trucks. The cacophonous music, foul smell, and anti-establishment nature of the event appealed to the city's youth, and the concert sold out.
As the band "played", Monella was approached by Big Ed, who wondered what Monella's scheme was. Monella revealed that there was no criminal plot at work, as he had now made a large fortune legitimately as a concert promoter.
Frisk arrived in the stadium offices and confronted Monella and Big Ed. She drew her weapon, stating that the two men were under arrest (as Monella was still wanted on previous charges, and Big Ed was apparently an accessory). Shots were fired just as Tracy and other members of the MCU arrived. Monella was handcuffed, but his slimey hands were able to slip through the cuffs. Grabbing a gun, Monella escaped with Frisk in pursuit.
Monella jumped into a passing garbage truck and Frisk followed. Additional shots were fired before the truck's contents were dumped onto a scow on the river. The scow then dumped its load before Tracy could arrive and learn Monella and Frisk's fate (March 8th, 2004).
For the second time, Sal Monella was declared missing, presumed deceased. Detective Frisk has since been revealed to be alive and she claimed that Monella had drowned.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Sal Monella's name is derived from "salmonella", a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning (among other illnesses).
- Sal Monella's appearance changed dramatically between his first and second storylines. When he re-appeared in 2004, his head was much more square-shaped, and his complexion was mottled. This may be explained by the effects of the trash compactor. However, he also seemed have regrown the hair on the top of his head, which is not so easily explained.
- The 1998 storyline was one of only two times that writer Mike Kilian used the character Vitamin Flintheart (followed by the storyline involving Moonrock the Magician in 2005).
- In the 1998 storyline, Monella's food factory is clearly stated to be located in New York City, with the landfill that he hid Big Grouper's money in being located within driving distance. When Monella re-appeared in 2004, the landfill is located in Dick Tracy's city. This contributes to the ambiguity about the exact location or real-world analogue of Tracy's city.
- Monella's scheme in the 2004 storyline is somewhat removed from reality, as it relies on the idea that people would be willing to pay $100 (the price shown at the box office) to see a band that they had never heard of play in a stadium full of garbage. Monella apparently made $8.8 million (before expenses) from this operation, meaning that 88,000 people would have paid to get in (to put this in perspective, Yankee Stadium has a maximum capacity of just under 55,000, while Wrigley Field has a maximum capacity of just over 42,000).