Blood in the Water
|Blood in the Water|
|Comic Strip Info|
|Released:||October 2, 2014|
|Number of pages:||113|
Maren Marmulla (cover)
|Writer:||Jay Pinkerton & Erik Wolpaw|
The comic starts with a flashback of Miss Pauling giving instructions to Soldier, Demoman, and Pyro somewhere in Teufort, shortly before the trial of Spy and Scout in Unhappy Returns. Running off on her own tasks with Pyro, Miss Pauling reads a piece of paper instructing her to be at "… alley, middle of 7th and Main …" at noon. She rushes there to find a woman hiding in the shadows of the alley, concealing a greatly aged appearance under a heavy coat and broad hat, whom Miss Pauling uncertainly addresses as “Administrator?” After sharply telling Miss Pauling to stay at a distance, the woman briefly expresses, with difficulty, seemingly sincere appreciation for Miss Pauling. She then explains that she has painstakingly accumulated the entire world's store of Australium over the six months prior, except for one last cache. She hands Miss Pauling another slip of paper with the coordinates at which to meet her when she and the mercenaries gather this last cache.
Cut to the present day in Australia, where Scout is driving a motorcycle through the outback, Heavy riding in back: They are traveling to the final cache, but Heavy believes that there will be no Australium there, and is very suspicious of what methods the Administrator used in order to gather all the other caches, whereas Scout couldn't care less. Attempting to make further conversation, Scout brings up the fact that Heavy's father is dead, adding that his own father disappeared. Heavy makes the laconic observation that Scout's father "disappears often". Scout is disturbed by this statement and then insists his father is dead.
Meanwhile, Demoman and Miss Pauling have arrived at Sniper's parents' house. They are surprised to find the house messy and boarded up as if it had been abandoned long ago. When they go in to investigate, Sniper sneaks out of a corner and stabs Demoman in the neck with a syringe.
Outside an Australian naval base, Soldier and Zhanna are drawing an attack plan in the dirt. Soldier, believing they will almost certainly die against the Australians, gives Zhanna a necklace with a pair of human ears, at which point she begins making out with him. Spy arrives, claiming that he has been scouting ahead and is ready to go. Shoving aside their "plan" and calling them morons, Spy leads the pair into the base. Not seeing any opposition inside, Soldier accuses Spy of stealing all the kills and taking the keys before he and Zhanna ever got a chance. Spy clarifies that the sailors, who are standing rather passively in the next room at the end of the corridor, gave him the key with no killing whatsoever. Screaming that they have fallen into a trap, Zhanna and Soldier snap the first sailor's neck they can get their hands on, together. Spy shoves them aside, and asks one of the men to give him their submarine. He gladly complies. Zhanna, mad about the lack of excitement, orders a man to fight her and he gladly complies, though none of his attacks have any effect on her at all and she ignores him. Spy notes that the base's Australium supply ran dry long ago, and the men are therefore powerless. The snapped-neck naval man confirms this, and Soldier laments over the fact that he snapped a neck unjustly and unsnaps the fellow’s neck, much as it defies everything he believes.
Heavy and Scout have since arrived at their destination - Ayer's Rock [sic], deep in the outback. Heavy informs Scout that, despite outward appearances, the rock is truly made of Australium. Scout, thinking Heavy an idiot, punches the rock, and it slides immediately without protest. Scout jumps back and announces that he has suddenly become super-humanly strong, but Heavy crushes his fantasy by opening the hidden entrance and revealing that it's made of balsa wood and Styrofoam. Inside is a giant abandoned Australium mine, and Heavy notices footsteps leading down the scaffolding. As Scout leans over the railing, a bullwhip swings up and grabs him by the neck, pulling him downwards. Heavy jumps down after him and there they find Saxton Hale and Mags (Margret). Maggie instantly frees Scout, mistaking him for a "little boy", which Scout protests. The pair both perceive Scout as something less than a true man and refuse to talk to him directly, to Scout's frustration. Saxton plans to fight the two mercenaries, but they reveal that they are in his employ. Saxton asks if the Administrator had sent them, and Heavy confirms Saxton's suspicion. Saxton reveals that the mine has been stripped dry, and announces that he and Maggie will team up with Heavy to find the thief (he is, of course, still ignoring Scout).
Back at Sniper's parents' house, Demoman and Miss Pauling are tied to dining-room chairs, Demoman just having woken up from the injection he had received earlier. As Demoman begins planning to free them, Sniper sticks Demo again and begins to explain himself to Miss Pauling. He revealed that his parents had passed away six months earlier [shortly after Mann Co. was taken over], and had learned soon afterward that they were not actually his real parents. He has no idea who his true parents are, but believes Miss Pauling must know. He plans to interrogate her, but Miss Pauling explains that they came specifically to get him to come along to visit his real parents. While leaving the house, Pauling critiques the graves in which Sniper had planned to bury them, and the pair exchange theories on body disposal methods on the way out.
Meanwhile, Engineer, wearing a BLU team uniform, is performing a medical procedure on an old woman. He removes the previous Australium life-extender that was embedded in her forearm, and replaces it with what he calls the "mark five." This new device supposedly uses much less Australium, extending the remaining Australium he thinks they have. He somberly reveals that, since the Australium supply is running out, she will invariably die when this supply is gone. The woman, then shown to be quite elderly, but with a resemblance to the present Administrator, explains that she only needs a little while longer, "to settle an old debt."
Cut to Miss Pauling and the rest of the team, traveling through the deep in the submarine that Spy's team had secured earlier. Pauling voices concerns to Soldier that Zhanna simply isn't trustworthy, citing the ear necklace that Soldier had given her earlier. Unfortunately, Soldier had failed to convey that Zhanna was fluent in English, and she in turn voices similar distaste for Miss Pauling. Miss Pauling explains that the lost country of New Zealand had been different from Australia, having been populated by great minds even without Australium to aid them, and they had sunk their country to the bottom of the ocean in order to isolate themselves. She goes on to confirm that this is where she expects to find Sniper's parents, and the sub then travels through a hole in the nation's glass dome, and then pulling into a small port inside an underwater cave with a large air pocket. As soon as the team empties out of the port, Sniper in the front, Sniper's dad makes his appearance.
Many years ago, Sniper's dad, far younger, spoke to a council of New Zealand leaders. He says that he urged them to listen to him and move the country underseas, but that they ignored him. The council corrects saying that they did everything he suggested and were, in fact, underwater, but that the supposedly looming catastrophe that drove them there never occurred. Sniper's father attempts to claim that this actually validates his claims, and that he is as right now as he was then. His new plan is to send the country into space. The council, referring to him as "Bill-Bel," rejects his plans and ejects him from the council room. Bill-Bel flees back to his home and explains to his wife, holding an infant Sniper, that the council rejected him, and reveals a one-seat rocket with which to travel to space, securing their people's future despite the council's unwillingness to act. Obviously, he himself is the best candidate to preserve their people. His wife, Lar-Nah, disagrees and they begin fighting about who should get to take the rocket. While they are distracted, a curious Sniper crawls into the rocket and it launches, breaking a hole in the dome of the city and crash-landing in Australia, where his new parents discovered him. Meanwhile, the nation of New Zealand drowns thanks to the break in the waterproof dome.
Back in the present, a perpetually drunk Lar-Nah goes on about Bill-Bel's responsibility for everyone else in the country dying a horrible death, and Bill-Bel complains about the nature of their relationship. As Sniper finally begins to grasp who he is, Miss Pauling interrupts the reunion to ask about the Australium. Bill-Bel reveals that, ignorant of its true potential, he used it to paint his new rocket, and all the rest to paint the since-destroyed prototypes. In despair, Miss Pauling accepts a glass of wine from Lar-Nah.
Sniper explains to his father that he never made it to space and instead crash-landed on Earth, explaining that the earth has not, as Bill-Bel believed, flooded in magma. Bill-Bel is still unconvinced and is certain Sniper actually returned from the farthest reaches of space. Lar-Nah has meanwhile climbed into the Australium-covered rocket, which launches and actually makes it to space this time, rendering the last cache of Australium out of the team's reach. Unfortunately, the launch punched a hole through the cave roof, and it quickly begins flooding. The team rushes to the submarine, however Sniper insists on going back for Bill-Bel, who has gotten separated from the group. He doesn't have to go far, as Bill-Bel steals the submarine and leaves the team stranded.
Just as it seems like things can't get any worse, a submarine pulls into the port and surfaces. Sniper, thinking his dad has had a change of heart, rushes out to greet it, only to realize something is very wrong, and then is shot twice in the chest. Medic and the Team Fortress Classic mercenaries are on the submarine deck, and the TFC Heavy demands answers from the team. To be continued....
There were some deleted pages where Demoman frees himself from the ropes, turns towards Sniper as if to exact revenge, only to inject himself with the needles and then passing out. The artist claims it didn't make the cut because Valve "felt like it was too random of a moment to insert when they needed to just wrap the scene up."
- The title page is a reference to the cover page of the ninth issue of Batman.
- While the car on page 2 is similar in color, make, and model (perhaps a 1968 Ford Falcon XT) as the car the Miss Pauling was driving in Ring of Fired, this car is an undamaged 4-door sedan while the earlier car was a 2-door coupé, last seen with fender damage from hitting a veterinarian's sign.
- Heavy's line on page 17 ("Yes, your father disappears often") may be a reference to Spy's cloaking ability, which in turn is a reference to Scout's dream in A Cold Day in Hell and the popular fan theory that Spy is Scout's father. It could also be in regards to Meet the Spy.
- On page 22, Demoman holds up a photo of the Sniper's house showing two windows on the side. However, in Meet the Director there were no windows on the side of the house.
- On page 33, in the last panel in the background, there appears to be a Lo-Fi Longwave helmet resting on a spool.
- On page 41, Scout says "Ayer's Rock", but the correct spelling of the name is Ayers Rock.
- On page 73, the first panel is mirrored (Demoman's patch is over his right eye, Pyro's secondary respirator is on the left side of the mask, Sniper's hat is bent on the right).
- On page 97, the Demoman is shown with two eyes.
- Sniper's original mother calls Sniper "Mun-dee". This is a reference to how the Sniper is called "Mr. Mundy" in previous comics.
- Sniper's origins, including the imminent demise of a people and a one-man rocket used to save a single baby who is raised by a childless farm couple are all in reference to the "Superman" franchise.
- The separation between two syllables in his name (and his parent's names) is also yet another reference to Superman, whose real name is Kal-El.
- His mother's name, Lar-nah, is also a reference to Superman's mother, Lara
- New Zealand being underwater may be a reference to the city of Rapture from the Bioshock video game series. In both series a city was built underwater to escape from the rest of the world and their laws, instead aiming for their own paradise. Both fell in a rapid turn of events. It also shares some similarities to science-fiction interpretations of the legend of Atlantis.