Comic Book: WE 3


WE 3 is a 2004 Vertigo Comics miniseries by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely. It has been described as a combination of The Terminator and Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, and it was well-received for being dynamic and innovative in both art and story.

The story follows a trio of animals—a dog ("Bandit" or "1"), a cat ("Tinker" or "2"), and a bunny ("Pirate" or "3")—that were cybernetically enhanced by The Government to work on covert military operations. When the project is scrapped, the animals—who have escaped from their military handlers—have to fend for themselves and escape the soldiers sent to destroy them.

The writing is notable for the innovative way the animals speak: their suits electronically translate their thoughts, and rather than sounding like human speech, the animals can only articulate on a very simple level. Each one even has its own speech patterns, determined by their intelligence; the dog has the closest thing to "normal" human speech, while the rabbit is only able to manage single-word concepts. The art is notable for being drawn by Frank Quitely in fine form.

The story is unusual for Morrison, in that despite the originality of the concept, it does not devolve into his usual habits of Breaking the Fourth Wall, Author Filibuster, and other Writer on Board eccentricities. The story's emotional impact is full of Morrison's belief in animal rights, though. It will hit you a lot harder if you're an animal lover.

Featured Tropes:

  • Big Fat Future: Even if it is only Twenty Minutes into the Future, every human character with the exception of the homeless guy, the little boy and some of the soldiers ranges from slightly overweight to disgustingly obese.
  • Bittersweet Ending: 3 dies, but there is an investigation going into the military project and public outrage, and 1 and 2 find a loving owner with a kind homeless man.
  • Cats Are Mean: 2 dispatches birds and humans with the same disinterested aplomb.
    • A general with a force sent out to eliminate the robotic pets loudly hopes the cat gets killed during a small, ultra-violent skirmish.
  • The Chick: The rabbit, 3.
  • Cyborg
  • Deadpan Snarker: 2 manages this with only the most basic vocabulary.
    "1 KNOW 0"
  • Development Hell: The movie adaptation.
  • Double Meaning Title: It's supposed to stand for Animal Weapon Three. The animals decide it means We Three.
  • Eye Scream: Bullets, fragments, claws...
  • Flechette Storm: 2's weapons.
  • The Government: The people vivisecting animals in the name of creating super-commandoes seem to have government affiliation (or are, at the least, contractors operating 'above the law' with government approval.)
  • Hellhound: 4 more or less resembles a mechanical version of the Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Hero: The dog, 1.
  • Heroic BSOD: 1 reflexively kills a man with a rifle after the man takes a shot at 3, and spends quite a while afterwards sitting on the side of the road, saying "Bad dog. Bad dog."
  • Heroic Dog: 1 certainly wants to be, or maybe just a "gud" dog.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The animals are the first three iterations of Weapon Plus from Morrison's run on X-Men.
  • Killer Rabbit: 3.
  • The Lancer: The cat, 2.
  • Mature Animal Story
  • Misplaced Sorrow: The military and most of the scientists involved with the project are much more concerned about the soldiers dying trying to apprehend the animals, rather than the fact that they are sending soldiers to their deaths against three animals who wouldn't hurt anybody unless they are threatened. Animals that they had experimented on and forced to kill, which they planned to terminate without a second thought.
  • The Movie: In 2010, Morrison discussed making a We3 movie — here is the interview — but so far, no other information has surfaced about the project.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or, specifically, a cyborg canine Rambo, a cyborg cat ninja, and a cyborg bunny demolitionist.
  • Not Good with People: Dr. Roseanne Berry very much prefers the company of the animals she works with to that of the other researchers.
  • Painting the Medium: 4's only speech is an entirely black word balloon with nothing in it. Somehow it's horrifying.
  • Pet the Dog: Inverted. 1 proves himself to be a "gud dog" by protecting some cops from 4's rampage.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: All of the animals, who don't really know what to do with themselves after their escape.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most of the people involved with the program, particularly the head scientist and general. Both are honestly trying to protect the lives of soldiers and want the animals killed because they pose a serious threat to the civilian population. When the recently-deployed 4 almost eats a policeman, they self-destruct it before it can do so.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
    "There's a big reward — sorta money you could use. Guy like you."
    "Yeah. Yeah. I sure could. But...nah..."
  • Secret Project Refugee Family
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: How 4 is eventually killed. The general in control of it self-destructs it when it nearly attacks a policeman.
  • Shout-Out: In the opening scene of issue #2, the three animals (probably unintentionally on their part) yell out the lyrics to the song Run Rabbit Run while fleeing through a field with a number of wild rabbits.
  • Shown Their Work: Grant Morrison did a lot of research on animal behavior and psychology, the result of which is that the protagonists are definitively non-human.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: The team speak only in broken English that is more akin to Leet Speak than anything else; this is because the animals only think in short, simple concepts.
  • Taking You with Me: Attempted. 4 attempts to eat 3, who detonates the bombs his suit carries. Unfortunately, 4 is almost indestructible.
  • Theme Naming: The actual names of the three animals (Bandit, Tinker and Pirate) are all occupations on the fringes of society, indicating their outsider status.
  • Weaponized Animals: Played for pathos and for horror.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The central trope, made much more interesting because the animals aren't written like people in tiny furry suits. All three have distinctly non-human thoughts and emotions. It might be better phrased here, "What measure makes a human necessarily better at all?"
  • Xenofiction