"The Secret Weapon" was a story printed in the second issue of The Twilight Zone comic published by Dell.
After World War II came to a close, the search to seek out and bring to justice Nazi war criminals began. Jess Mallard was one of the best Nazi hunters around. Yet, he wanted more. He wanted to find the masterminds of the operation. His supervisors told him this was impossible as most had been reported dead. Mallard was not so sure. He intended to continue his search, and where it would lead would surprise everyone.
Cast of characters
- Allied guard #1
- Allied guard #2
- Allied scientist #1
- Allied scientist #2
"There are men who hunt the savage lion, and some who hunt the firce tiger. Jess Mallard hunts the most dangerous of all--Man!"
Story summaryJess Mallard was an agent working for Allied Intelligence at their headquarters in Germany. His job was tracking down Nazi war criminals and he was good at it. He was still unfulfilled, however. Jess dreamed of capturing the big names of the Nazi party, like Bormann, Muller, and Hitler—nevermind that Hitler was reported to have committed suicide and the majority of the others were reported dead. Mallard was convinced that these claims were tricks and rumors that couldn't be believed. One rumor that he did believe, though, was that Hitler and his other top men were all alive, in hiding, and planning a comeback! He had investigated the rumor and found that all of the missing men were last spotted in the town of Altdorf. The Chief could not believe the rumor could possibly be true, but he trusted his investigator's instincts and authorized his mission.
Two days later, Jess Mallard arrived in the scenic mountain village of Altdorf, Germany. He interviewed dozens of people with no headway and was starting to lose faith that the mission was any more than a rumor. As he walked the streets that evening, a quaint shop belonging to the wood carver Hans Keller grabbed his attention. Its window display was filled with magnificently carved wooden soldiers. As he peered in the window, he noticed that the silver-haired owner looked familiar. It was Eric Meister! He recognized him from his files. He burst into the shop and accused the man of being Meister! The old man denied it, saying that his name was on the window; he was Hans Keller. Mallard had studied his dossier too well to make such a mistake. After some badgering, the shop keeper relented and admitted it was true. The man before him was Eric Meister, one of the world's foremost nuclear physicists!
He shared with Mallard that he had been working for Hitler on an atomic project during the war, but once he witnessed the destruction caused by detonation of a nuclear bomb he knew that he could not allow his employers to possess such a potent weapon. He escaped to Altdorf and set up a shop carving wooden soldiers, preferring to create toys for children rather than armies. Jess complimented the old man on his fine work. Then, suddenly, he noticed something strange about the solders in one of the cases. The carvings were incredible replicas of top Nazi officers! Bormann, Muller, Hitler—all of the men at the top of Mallard's list!Jess attempted to lift the case to examine it more closely, when he found he couldn't. Meister anxiously explained that those soldiers were made from a special wood that was extraordinarily heavy. He quickly ushered Mallard away from the case, saying that the statuettes in the case were his masterpieces and were irreplacable. Jess could understand the artist's concern, but he was fascinated by the carvings. He offered to buy them from Meister but he declined. Mallard understood, but wondered why a man disillusioned with The War would put such an effort into carving statuettes of Nazi officers. The elderly gentleman explained that he only wished to preserve the memory of the evil that these men had done and not their greatness. He then offered this potential customer any other object in his shop, but Mallard's only interest was in collecting the Nazi soldiers—much as in real life.
That night, back in his hotel room, Jess Mallard could still not forget about those Nazi wooden soldiers. He didn't buy that any type of wood could be that heavy, especially when used for such small objects. It also seemed odd to him that each ot those wooden statuettes happened to be the very war criminals for whom he had been searching. It was too much of a coincidence for Mallard and he decided to investigate a little more.
He arrived at the toy shop and saw no one around. It was taking a big chance, but he had to find out the truth. Jess broke into Meister's store! He went to the display case that had mystified him and tried to move the statuettes only to fail. Suddenly, a scurrying noise behind him and he went unconscious.When Jess awoke, he found himself tied to a chair by Eric Meister. He had assumed the Allied agent was too suspicious to let the matter rest, so he waited for him and subdued him with a club. He then explained the truth. It started during the war, when he had been attempting to discover a weapon that would guarantee success for Germany. His desperate experimenting led to a magnificent discovery. It was a gas that had the ability to condense the atomic structure of any living organism and enter it into an indefinite state of suspended animation. This chemical formula could be used to shrink and disable their enemies, only able to be revived when the antidote is applied. He demonstrated the gas on a monkey for Hitler and he was overjoyed. He ordered Meister to develop the gas for mass production.
It would take the scientist several weeks to develop the chemical as ordered, but the Nazi military became impatient. Their forces were crumbling on all fronts and they were looking for anything that could prevent their defeat. Meister had only been able to produce a fraction of the gas that had been requested in the time he had, but he presented the commanders with a plan. He would use the chemical concoction on them, shrinking the men down to the size of a figurine and placing them in suspended animation to await the day when Hitler's Third Reich could rise again! The statuettes that Mallard had seen were not replicas at all, but the actual men that he had hoped to find!Mallard had been loosening his bonds as the scientist had been talking. He was nearly free, but stalled for time by telling his captor that he was mad. The ego of the silver-maned mastermind would not allow this indignity to not be answered. He defiantly insisted that it was true and he would prove it by using the gas on Mallard! He did not pass up the opportunity to intimidate his prisoner first, however, and sprayed the gas from the canister on a stray cat that had wandered into the store. Strangely, the cat did not shrink! The scientist was bewildered at the failure and as he turned to inspect the cat, Mallard broke free and rushed at the old man! Meister threw the canister at his attacker, knocking him backward. Jess stumbled and fell right into the case that had held the Nazi bigwigs, splintering the figurines into thousands of tiny fragments. The old man collapsed, distraught. His beloved masters had been destroyed. His dream for the future was no more and it was all his fault.
Jess Mallard called the Chief and let him know what had happened, as hard as it was to be believed. When reinforcements arrived, they took Eric Meister into custody and the distraught man was sent to a sanitarium. The fragments of the figurines were collected and taken to a lab where they were analyzed by Allied scientists for clues to how Meister had achieved his ingenious feat, but they were never able to discover the secret. Only Meister knew how to do it and how to undo it.
"But Eric Mesiter is hard to reach! For though his body is safe in a nearby sanitarium, his shattered mind somewhere out in the Twilight Zone!"
Response and analysis
- The 1936 film The Devil-Doll featured a similar premise, in which an imprisoned mad scientist developed a formula to reduce people to 1/6 of their original size. In the film, however, the technique is used to take revenge on enemies of the scientist's associate, rather than to protect allies.
Notes and annotations
- Ben Oda - Letterer
- Dell - Publisher
- Cayuga Productions - Production Co.
- Originally published in color
- Printed on newsprint, 10 pages
Notes and references
- Bob Klein and Mike Tiefenbacher. "The Twilight Zone no 2 (1961 series)." Grand Comics Database. Retrieved: July 14, 2009.