[News Item: Walt Disney Co., the world’s biggest media company, outflanked Hollywood competitors while enhancing its film lineup with the $4 billion acquisition of comic-book pioneer Marvel Entertainment Inc. (source: Bloomberg)]
The clubhouse was in an uproar as the new members filled the meeting room. It took a full twenty minutes of jockeying, shoving, negotiating, and wheedling before everyone found a seat.
Then followed the traditional opening call-and-response:
Phone: Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?
Antiphone: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!
As soon as the cheers began to die down, Mickey pounded the gavel. “This meeting of the Mickey Mouse Club will now come to order,” he announced. Despite its squeakiness, his voice conveyed years of authority… authority that, on occasion, had demanded enforcement. Pegleg Pete, standing by the door with an ominous-looking club in his hand, caught Mickey’s eye and winked, receiving a barely perceptible nod in acknowledgement.
“First item on the agenda. Will Donald please read the minutes of the last meeting?”
Fifty sets of eyeballs rolled heavenward almost at once. Everyone had already received the minutes by e-mail, but this was Mickey’s cruel whim… to make everyone listen to the Duck quack them out, word by painful word. The aftereffects of a laryngectomy, undergone in late 2006 to excise a fast-growing vocal cord sarcoma, only made it worse.
A hand shot up, a heavy steel hammer clutched in its fist. “I move… that the minutes be approved… as written!”
“Thor, you can’t make a motion to approve the minutes… you Marvel guys weren’t here last month.” Christ, thought Mickey. All that drama. Those italics! And the guy was as dumb as a sack of Mjolnirs, at least in his Thor identity. Yeesh.
Goofy made the motion in place of Thor, and Minnie seconded. A quick vote ensued and the minutes were accepted.
The rest of the meeting proceeded without issue, except for one near-fracas that got started when the overhead lights kept reflecting off the Silver Surfer’s metallic skin and shining in the Hulk’s eyes. Only the tag-team intervention of Snow White and Cinderella prevented a violent incident.
As things began winding down for the evening and the closing ceremonies began, the “toss Mickey in the air and catch him” ritual was more exciting than usual, as the new members of the Club took their places. The Hulk was a little overenthusiastic on the third toss, and Mickey sailed straight up through the skylight a good two hundred fifty feet. But Reed Richards – Mr. Fantastic himself! – averted possible disaster by whipping out an elastic arm, catching the Mouse, and depositing him, slightly shaken, safely on the ground.
Memo to self, Mickey thought. Wait until the Hulk reverts to his Bruce Banner persona. Then, have Pegleg Pete kick the crap out of him. The Dwarves can help – they’re masters of the “padlock in the athletic sock” trick.
As the clubhouse emptied out, Mickey, still a little shaken from his unexpected aerial adventure, fell into step alongside Donald, Goofy, and the silent Pluto. There was a certain amount of comfort in being there with the Old Guard, the cadre that had been together since the bad old days of the Three Little Pigs Putsch back in ’32. The Mouse, the Duck, the Dawg, and the Dog.
They walked silently for a while before Goofy spoke. “Shore is different with all those new guys. H-hyuk!”
“Yeah,” said the Duck. “But some things never change. Did you see the way Princess Ariel was eyeballing Ben Grimm? Musta thought he was some kind of animated chunk of coral.”
“She’s gonna have to go through Beauty to get to him,” observed the Mouse. “She had him in her sights since she first got the news about the merger. And I gotta admit, the ‘Beauty and the Thing’ angle might be worth following up on. Look into that, willya, Goofy?”
“Shore, Boss! Hu-hyuk!”
Mickey rolled his eyes. I love him like a brother, he thought. But why does he have to be so damned stupid?
In the gathering darkness, a few hundred paces behind Mickey and his Old Guard friends, Doctor Doom trudged along beside Spider-Man and Captain America.
“As sure as I breathe, I shall not continue to vow fealty to a filthy rodent!” he hissed from behind his sinister-looking metal mask… the very mask that had inspired George Lucas as he created the immortal Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith.
“Cool your jets, Doc,” said Spider-Man. “The walls have ears… and around here, the trees probably do as well. Ix-nay on the edition-say!”
Captain America nodded. “Spidey’s right, Doc – we all feel the same as you do. But let’s get the, ahhh, lay of the land before we make our move, OK?”
Doom grumbled his reluctant assent.
“Say, you wouldn’t happen to have any more of that Latverian brandy, would you? I think we all could use a drink.”