Hearts & Minds issue 2
|First published||June 30, 2010|
|Cover date||June 2010|
|Written by||Max Brooks|
|Art by||Howard Chaykin "Firefly"
Antonio Fuso "Tripwire"
|Color assist by||Aburtov "Firefly"
Lovern Kindzierski "Tripwire"
|Letters by||Robbie Robbins|
|Assistant editor||Carlos Guzman|
Firefly explains the secret to success as a saboteur; Tripwire remembers a lost love.
Entering an office building, a man in a plumber's uniform hands over his ID card to the receptionist, distracted by a baseball game. As a security guard leads him further into the building, he notes a "no smoking" sign on the wall, and thinks about the task ahead...
The point of sabotage isn't destroying machines, he thinks; it is, through finding weakness, getting machines to destroy themselves. All machines have them — the more complicated the machine, the more flaws there are; and the best ones are the simplest, the ones most likely to be overlooked.
The guard, uninterested in discussing the President's speech on education reform, shows the "plumber" to the broken toilet. Opening it up, he cheerfully continues to ramble on about American schooling, causing the guard to zone out.
Small flaws: crossed wires, broken seals, frozen o-rings... or, in the case of his current task, a grouping of pipes that places a gas line next to an an air system connecting every floor in the building; pipes that he has now spliced together, based on plans made from the building's schematics. He knew that the guard would be bored by politics from an overheard conversation on the subway, that the receptionist would be engrossed in the game from an observation in a sports bar... and that the twelfth floor contained a secretive smoking room from a look through the windows, through a high-powered scope. It's all about finding the flaws... and there's no machine as flawed as a human being.
The man cheerfully says that the toilet is good as new. He retires to a cafe several blocks away... and as one of the office workers lights a cigarette, the building explodes in a ball of fire.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"It's about finding the flaws. All machines have them. And the more complicated the machine... the more flaws can be found. And there's no machine on our Earth... as complicated... or as flawed... as a human being."
In the Middle East, bomb disposal specialist Skoog stands over a car bomb, having been unwilling to wait for the remote drone; something that, much like his quips about the terrorists "buying American made", hardly pleases his commanding officer. He unscrews the detonator casing, revealing a cellphone inside, but his mind is elsewhere...
He thinks about the color of her eyes, the color of her hair; her favorite song, her favorite painting. Her favorite candy, her love of sketching; the time they spent together in parks and museums, and walking by the Thames.
Examining the phone, Skoog realises that the destruction of a cell tower by a separate group of "bad guys" the previous night has stopped the bomb from receiving the detonation signal, but there's a backup detonator: a deeply old-school one, complete with timer and red-and-black wires. While he deliberates, the squad's lieutenant tries to order him to withdraw, but his superior officer overrules him. As the counter ticks down, Skoog considers...
In an office, the specialist explains his logic in cutting neither of the wires to a general: had he cut either wire, the bomb would have detonated and the terrorists would have killed an experienced US military asset; with the bomb undetonated and undamaged, it must by treaty be given to local security forces, from where it will inevitably be "lost" into the hands of the terrorists once again; a no-risk scenario for the "bad guys". The general admires his logic, but asks what would have happened if he was wrong.
If he was wrong, the bomb would have gone off... and he would be with her again.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"If I was wrong... then we'd be together again. No risk."
- Tripwire previously appeared in the thirteenth issue of the ongoing G.I. Joe series... though, if we're being honest, this story doesn't really seem like it was written with that one in mind.
G.I. Joe references
- "Tormod Skoog" is the classic Tripwire's name. Though it's never given in the issue, we're assuming his first name is the same here, because, well, come on.
- It takes a bit of squinting, but given that they're both fatal flaws that inhibit his bomb-disposal skill, Tripwire's death-wish could be taken as a heavily re-imagined counterpart to his classic self's chronic clumsiness.
Real life references
- Smarties are a British candy similar to M&Ms.
- Tripwire makes reference to the first episode of Blackadder Goes Forth.
- The name of Imperial College London is given as "Imperial College of London".
- The explosion that killed Tripwire's girlfriend was presumably supposed to be the 7/7 London terror attacks; however, the bus drawn is the distinctive AEC Routemaster, which is not the model of bus that was destroyed during the bombings.
- Cover A: Firefly, by Howard Chaykin.
- Cover B: Tripwire, by Antonio Fuso.
- Cover RI: A wrap-around cover featuring both the A and B cover art.
- Barnes and Noble exclusive cover: Firefly's cover A art on a red background, with Max Brooks' name highlighted at the top.