This tribute to my two favourite comic duos was originally meant for the 2000AD Xmas Advent Calendar, but it got delayed. Having treated myself to some new pens I threw it together this evening, and thought I’d share it.
Winner of the last 2000AD forum short story competition, Tales from the Clara Pandy, and printed VERY late (my fault, sorry) with the author’s permission, we give you…..
“You ratted me out?”
“You dirty rat!”
“Enough,” squeaked Weil to his brothers before tightening his tail tighter into the knot for reassurance. “Look, it doesn’t matter if they never have a good word to say about us. Right now, we need their help. I am dying.” Weil lifted his chin briefly from the cushion. “And if I die before we get help”—he coughed blood—“our knot will undo and you’ll all become like Algernon.”
“How dare you,” squeaked one of Weil’s brothers, though Weil’s mind was clouding and he could not place the squeak. “Algernon was a mouse; I am no mouse!”
Weil let his tail go limp and held his breath and lay still, and his brothers all gasped and gnashed their teeth and clawed at the cushion.
“See—you’re all frightened of losing Our mind,” squeaked Weil. “There is nothing to fear from humans; they’ve always been helpful. They build sewers.”
His brothers warmed to that.
“And grain silos.”
“And garden sheds.”
“And garbage bags.”
“And alley ways.”
“And the Hoop.”
“And nail technician boutiques!”
“Err, no—that’s just you, Hanta.”
“I do find dealing with humans distasteful,” squeaked Weil. “They travel the stars as they once traveled the seas, always thinking that everything is about them, never bothering to learn anything else’s language, never thinking that they have to share with the rest of us.” He spat more blood. “Such ignorance. You have to squeak at Johnny Primate slower and louder until he finally realises that you’re squeaking to him—and even then, Johnny Primate won’t listen or even try to listen: he’ll just scream and run off and call pest control and bring poison and death.” Weil rolled his eyes. “Pest control, indeed.”
His brothers tittered.
“It’s almost like they don’t realise that they’re the pests,” went on Weil. “Pollution, war, extinction, Gaiacide—all uniquely human to life on Earth.” Weil paused, struggling for breath. “The Cetaceans are taking us to Pototoplec for a reason: pest control, to cull the humans before they steal and ruin and destroy and, well, humanise the place.” Another pause, then, “My legs feel cold,” then, “I feel so cold,” then, “Hanta has bio-engineered a virus so potent that humans will flee the place—”
Hanta clacked his manicured claws, as if to prove the point.
“Assuming they survive long enough to flee,” squeaked Weil. “Then the Cetaceans will quarantine the planet for the humans’ safety.”
“We’ll get the blame,” squeaked one of his brothers. “We always do.”
“Listen: there’s a human coming,” squeaked another brother. “Let’s squeak for help. Remember: squeak louder and slower to get its attention.”
Weil’s head lay tired and heavy on the cushion. He watched as the human came into the Rat King’s cabin. He didn’t notice her shocked face. He saw only that she had a tail. He dipped her a nod and closed his eyes for the last time.
He’s back, with a bullet….well ten types of bullet.
There will have been two reactions to that opening, “Who’s back”? and “Hey, it’s Major Magnum, I remember him”! Yes, I gave in to my younger self and built me a deranged ranged weapon. I built myself a Lawgiver some years ago…..
I just can’t shake that inner eight year old, I still want what was unobtainable then, I also built three Federation blasters from Blake’s 7, until I finally got it right. These days I find Blake’s 7 unwatchable, but my inner child still longs for that blaster. But nowhere did my imagination live more than in the pages of 2000ad, and I really really wanted some of that hardware. I built figures of the Gronk and Ro-Jaws, out of plasticine and painted them, which worked better than you might imagine. And decades later, when my eldest wanted to dress up for a con, we ended up shuffling round in cardboard Judge costumes.
But still I want what can’t be had, so I build it, Brit Cit badges and the Major. In fact I’ve made a kit of Major Magnum with a number of improvements, contact me if you want one…email@example.com
And I will build more, Gunnar is being planned, and remember the VCs? Because before the multiplexed, online, entertainment on tap world we enjoy today, those of us who are of a certain age, devoured, studied and loved 2000ad. Far from having a house style, 2000ad encouraged diversity and individuality among the many artists, and many of us know their work at a glance. I am delighted that my MM looks like he was drawn by Brett Ewins, always a favourite, maybe I should do some Bad Company hardware.
Cheers Tharg, you’ve been a huge influence on
so many of us. It’s appreciated.
Martin W. Currie