When a bomb was found in a post office, it was taken to police headquarters and set off. The shrapnel inside was newspaper lettering, which led Dick Tracy to Pearl Erad ("Dare" spelt backwards), a.k.a. Black Pearl. She and her gang had a criminal enterprise that involved stealing government blueprints for war machines such as tanks. Pearl would then produce and test prototypes and then sell the finished models to the highest bidders, which were usually hostile foreign powers.
Pearl kidnapped Pat Patton and Tracy and forced them to test one of her new war machines at her mountain proving grounds. Tracy and Patton were held hostage until they transmitted a warning in Morse code to a local water plant via a water pipe. It summoned the local police, who were able to subdue Pearl's forces.
Pearl herself was captured by the undercover FBI agent Jim Trailer.
Black Pearl does not appear in 1990 "Dick Tracy" feature film. However, she is a character in the follow-up novel Dick Tracy Goes to War by Max Allan Collins. Her characterization bore little resemblance to her comic-strip counterpart, more closely resembling Texie Garcia. She is also depicted as far more attractive than she appears to be in the strip. However, like her strip counterpart, she is an enemy agent in a time of war (though. during her strip appearance, the U.S. was not yet in the war that was raging in Europe and Asia).
Black Pearl was a member of Mrs. Pruneface's subversive organization (along with B-B Eyes, Shaky, and the Mole), though Pearl was motivated more by self-interest than ideology. When a rift developed between Dick Tracy and Tess Trueheart, Black Pearl attempted to seduce the detective in order to increase the separation and gain information about police activities.
Eventually, Keyes kidnapped Tess and Mrs. Pruneface made a mask in Tess' likeness. Black Pearl used this mask to impersonate Tess and plant a bomb at Diet Smith's aircraft factory where Tess was working. The plot was discovered, and the bomb was diffused before exploding.
Black Pearl was later killed during Tracy's raid of the Stage Door Canteen, and Tess was rescued.