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Bernard Breakdown

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Bernard Breakdown
Breakdown01

First Appearance:

June 14th, 1980 (from behind)
July 19th, 1980 (fully revealed)

Known Associates:

Gaunt
Paunch

Created By:

Max Allan Collins &
Rick Fletcher

Can Be Found:

Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles Vol. 3

Bernard Breakdown had worked as the Head of Security for Diet Smith Industries. He had dark hair and typically wore a wide-striped 3-piece suit.

Revenge on Diet Smith Edit

Breakdown lost his job when he demonstrated a tendency to collapse under pressure. In situations where he felt threatened, criticized or had to adapt to the unexpected, Breakdown would often become a quivering wreck, muttering "I can't cope...I just can't cope..." Even though he would quickly regain his composure, this unprofessional behavior proved to be a liability in the security field.

Breakdown became embittered towards Diet Smith, and plotted revenge. He enlisted the aid of two thugs, Gaunt and Paunch, and arranged to kidnap Diet Smith and hold him for ransom. Using single-shot stun pistols, Gaunt and Paunch incapacitated Smith bodyguards and took him to Breakdown's hideout. There, Breakdown taunted Smith about having been kidnapped so easily and mocked him by feeding him cereal with refined sugar (contrary to Smith's diet). When Diet was defiant, Breakdown had several of his characteristic nervous collapses.

Breakdown recovered and explained his plan to Smith. He had Gaunt contact the police and demand $1,000,000 ransom to be delivered by Dick Tracy, whom Breakdown also disliked. Breakdown believed that Smith had always compared him unfavorably to Tracy, and Breakdown intended to humiliate both men.

Disrupted by Willie Wheeler

Tracy obtained the ransom money and met Gaunt in the arranged spot. Before the hand-off could take place, the suitcase with the ransom money was grabbed out of Tracy's hand by Willie Wheeler, a roller-skating purse snatcher who had been operating in the area.

Gaunt held Tracy at gunpoint and took him back to Breakdown's hideout where they explained what had happened. Breakdown contacted Mark Wright, an upper-level executive at Diet Smith Industries who had been handling the ransom. Breakdown insisted that the money be recovered and delivered to him in one hour or else Tracy and Smith would be killed.

Willie discovered what was in the suitcase and realized that it must be the ransom in Diet Smith kidnapping, which had been highly publicized. He found Lizz on a city street and told her what had happened. Using his skates, he was able to get through the crowded city traffic and deliver the money in time. He then held on to the back of Breakdown's getaway car, and was able to inform the police where the hideout was.

Breakdown gloated over Smith and Tracy, detailing his plan to seal them in an underground hideout with enough water and provisions to last a week. He would then contact authorities and tell them where the pair could be found. Assuming they survived, Tracy and Smith would be publicly humiliated.

Foiled by Tracy

Breakdown02
Before he could put his plan into action, however, Tracy was able to get his hands free and employ a tear gas cuff link provided by FBI Agent Jim Trailer. The police then arrived, and Breakdown fled to the roof while his associates were taken into custody. During a tense showdown with Tracy, Breakdown lost his nerve and was unable to draw his gun on the officer. He was arrested.

The incident with Breakdown took place during a time when Tracy and Smith's relationship had become strained following the case of Dr. Zy Ghote and the "clone" of Mumbles. By going through the ordeal together, the men's friendship was mended.

Notes


  • BreakdownRG
    Despite his quivering, there is no evidence that Breakdown is related to Shaky or the Trembly family.

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