Team Fortress Comic #6: Hype And The Fandom
On January 9th, Jay Pinkerton (writer of the Team Fortress comics) posted the cover image for the long-awaited comic #6 that fans have been waiting for since the release of #5 back in August of 2015. As with the covers for the previous issues, all of them are parodies of existing comic book covers, and this one is no exception.
To preface this, I am writing this article in two segments: before the comic’s release and after I’ve read it. This article contains lots of major spoilers. If you haven’t read the comics, check out the TF Comics at http://www.teamfortress.com/comics.php Even if you don’t play TF2, the well-written, crazy, and amusing storyline can easily amuse those who haven’t played the game. The characters and the world of TF2 is surprisingly complex and detailed. Seriously, go read it. If you don’t care about major spoilers or are caught up, read on.
Before the comic’s release:
Immediately after seeing the cover, I proceeded to freak out (as quietly as possible because it was late at night and people were sleeping) while frantically messaging my fellow fanfic-writing Steam friend about it. We exchanged ideas of who we think was responsible for killing Medic, why, and how. The best theories we came up with were the more likely option of Team Fortress Classic (TFC) Heavy (also called Cheavy) punishing Medic for his betrayal, or the heart-wrenching possibility of him returning to his original team only to be shot down by TF2 Heavy by accident, bringing us to the cover image. Despite the gaping wounds in his chest, I want to believe he’ll somehow be okay. The Team Fortress universe is overflowing with ludicrous things ranging from bread monsters to Australia-shaped chest hair, and with technology such as the Medi Gun and the life-extending properties of Australium, it may be possible. This friend and I even speculated that maybe the absent TFC Medic could show up and save TF2 Medic, possibly to spite his old team.
The cover leaves many questions unanswered, but it has also both devastated and revived the fandom. I hopped onto Tumblr after the announcement and I’ve seen numerous short comics about Medic’s death (including one where Merasmus the wizard revives him), happy pictures of a living Medic petting his doves, pictures of him with Heavy (dead and alive), and lots of comments about wanting Medic to live. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the fandom adores Medic possibly more than any of the other mercs; implying that he dies in #6 has sparked quite the response. I’ve also seen comments about the masses of people returning to the TF2 fandom, which is to be expected after such a major update. TF2 was trending on Tumblr even before the update went live.
While the fandom is in distress about potentially losing their favourite mad doctor, I also noticed a sudden burst of fanart featuring Heavy and Medic as a couple, along with the hope of revealing their possible relationship. Granted, I’m biased because I ship Heavy/Medic, and following the announcement of Overwatch’s Tracer canonly being lesbian and having a cute girlfriend named Emily, I’m starting to think it could happen. Sadly, I doubt it, but I guess I can have my dreams. Showing Heavy being more distressed than anyone else and the way he’s holding Medic’s body and screaming at the sky just solidifies all the possible evidence from the past five years since the ship took off after 2012’s Meet The Medic video. Even if Valve doesn’t include the ship (which an overwhelming majority of the fandom likes), I am at least looking forward to seeing how they interact in the comics, considering they haven’t really interacted in them before, possibly with the exception of a short scene from Shadow Boxers.
Overall, the teaser has created quite the buzz in the fandom as fans express their excitement and fear about what they’ll see in this next issue. Even more so, Jay Pinkerton announced a few months ago that this would be much longer than previous issues. The hype has done its job as I am refreshing the website hourly and am planning to re-read issues 1-5 before I read the new one when it’s released. Speculation about the fate of Medic, the possibility of my OTP becoming canon, and considering what The Administrator is planning to do with her hoard of Australium has me on my toes and I can’t wait to see what happens!
After the comic’s release:
Thankfully, the comic was released the next day because “this week” is Valve time for “tomorrow”. I decided to start from the catch-up comic and read it all, leading me to notice small details I missed before.
A lot happened in this issue. It made canon just about everything on my headcanon list except for Heavy/Medic.
As of this issue, Spy is now canonly Scout’s dad, Scout is confirmed to be illiterate and also has a Tom Jones tattoo on his chest that says “Sex Bom”, he went to heaven for a bit, and Scout showed sincere care for Miss Pauling. Medic apparently fixed Demoman’s eye eight times and it kept returning as Monoculus on Halloween, the baboon uteruses he implanted in the TFC mercs were used to produce a baboon baby that he’s now the proud father of, and Medic went to hell and sold someone’s soul for a pen. Heavy genuinely cares for Medic and even killed a guy for him. (Sadly, Heavy/Medic still isn’t canon.) The reality of Soldier being part of Heavy’s family is finally touched upon. Lots of honey-covered nudity and funny moments with Soldier and Zhanna. Saxton Hale and Maggie seem to be getting along, implying they might get back together. The Administrator used the last of the Earth’s Australium to settle an unknown debt; her plans seem sinister and she won’t reveal them to anyone. Oh, and Scout’s name is Jeremy and he’s 27; Medic is named Ludwig.
Here are some examples of what happened in this comic. Please remember that all these ridiculous things are canon.
That’s just the brief summary of what happened. Reading the comics from the start helped me catch a few jokes I had missed (such as the Tom Jones neck snap scene) but it also highlighted an interesting thing about The Administrator’s unrevealed plans. While she hasn’t said who this “old debt” of hers needs to be settled with, she confidently used the last of the Australium to prepare herself for it. She insisted there was more despite Engineer saying otherwise. Yet, at the end of #5, it was revealed that the rest of the remaining Australium exists in the blood of the people, namely Australians. This could mean that she plans to massacre a ton of people to reach her goal. To make matters worse, Gray Mann said that she has plans worse than he did for the Australium. Not much else is known otherwise, but it doesn’t look good so far.
In terms of humour, this comic felt fresh and was filled with surprises. For a series as old as TF2, this is quite impressive. I dare to say that this comic is my favourite in the series, considering how it balanced angst with humour as well as being filled with nudity and violence. Seeing so many headcanons become canon was also very exciting. While some of the previous issues were a bit slow in terms of action (as they focused on regathering the team), this issue was filled with drama. The jokes were at a minimum as funny as before: something vital to anything in the canon TF2 universe. In case you needed more examples of the quality of humour in the comics, take a look at these panels:
Going back to some of the new information revealed, it’s slightly baffling as to why the fandom cares so much about having the mercs’ names revealed. This detail is actually really quite telling of the TF2 fandom as a whole. While a portion of people may only play the game casually and don’t even know about the comics, there is a group that goes beyond the gameplay. TF2 started out as simply a game about middle-aged men with guns, yet it slowly developed into the lore-filled universe fans have come to appreciate. It goes beyond being a war-themed hat simulator with ridiculous taunts and items. The canon comprised of the videos and comics shows the surprisingly complex personalities of the mercs which are otherwise not explored in the game. Those who have checked out the story behind the game have come up with incredible theories, created stunning artwork and SFM animations, and written many thoughtful fanfiction works. Fans band together online to explore who these nine men are in a truly impressive way, using their creativity to show their love for this fandom in remarkable ways. This is why I’m proud to be a TF2 fan, even as the game turns 10 years old this year.
What makes this game special is how it builds the lore, yet the game itself is challenging and fun to play, able to appeal to both players interested in gameplay alone and those interested in the story as well. Rather timeless cartoon graphics aside, I would say that the appeal the game holds on a fandom level (and its success with viral memes) have been what has kept the game current for as long as it has been. Without the loyal fans who are devastated at the suggestion of Medic’s death and the joy at watching the father/son relationship develop between Spy and Scout, TF2 may have been forgotten years ago. It is the attention to the little details like name reveals, the creative plot, and appealing characters that keep fans interested, and it is truly a special thing.
Here’s the big father/son reveal:
While a number of us are still waiting for Heavy/Medic to hopefully become canon in the final issue (and for them to raise the baboon baby together), issue #6 was a huge success. The attention it has gained reveals just how dedicated this talented fandom is and how, despite all the rumors, TF2 isn’t dying anytime soon. The new comic breathed some much-needed life back into the fandom and highlighted just how fantastic the fans are for not starting wars over the new canon. Now we can only hope that issue #7 will be released by next year.