Ms. Tree #13 Cover (Nov 1984)

Ms. Tree #13 Cover (Nov 1984)
by Terry Beatty (1958-), assisted by Gary Kato (1949-)
and written by Max Allan Collins (1948-)
11 x 17 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Beatty and Collins co-created the hard-boiled detective, Ms. Tree, in the early 1980s.

Max Allan Collins, a career mystery writer, says that the Ms. Tree character was inspired by Velda, Mike Hammer’s secretary (like Dick Tracy’s Girl Friday) a tough, gun-toting, six-foot tall brunette (and Mike’s lover). According to Collins, the basic premise of Ms. Tree was, “What if Velda and Mike Hammer eventually got married, and on their honeymoon he was murdered?”

The overarching story in the series is Ms. Tree’s revenge on the Muerta crime family for the murder of her husband.

The book was steeped in commentary about social issues, always providing questions without easy answers rather than preaching, on topics ranging from homophobia to abortion [and bombing of abortion clinics], devil worship, child pornography, date rape and incest.

The book first appeared in 1981 (publisher: Eclipsed) as “Ms. Tree” (6 issues) and “Ms. Tree’s Thrilling Detective Adventures” (9 issues, with the title switching back to “Ms. Tree” at issue 4). The numbering was continued its second publisher (Aardvark-Vanaheim) for 6 issues, before moving to the Aardvark-Vanaheim/Renegade imprint (3 issues) and then Renegade (issues 19-50 and a few specials). The series ended at DC in 1990-93 with 10 quarterly issues. There is talk of a reprint collection coming out soon.

This is the cover from issue #13 at A-V from 1984 (the version with the overlay of the logo is shown below).

It’s a nice representation of the detective “putting the pieces together” for the climax of a mystery story.

When Ms. Tree figures out the killings relate to an incident that occurred when she was in high school, she is able to track down the serial killer in “Sex and the Singles Slasher” and “Jigsaw,” chapters seven and eight of the 8-part “Deadline” saga.

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