Miss Pauling, are you braced? Because you will
need to brace yourself for what I am about to show you.
— The Soldier
Shadow Boxers is a comic released on December 19, 2012 to coincide with the release of the Mecha Update.
The comic opens with the RED team discussing the latest defense job against the robots in a dark room in Coal Town with Miss Pauling. Miss Pauling tries to figure out which of the many Mann Co. buildings the robots will invade next, and when. The Soldier claims that he knows the exact time and location, since he supposedly infiltrated Gray Mann's robot base the day before, but no one believes him. After some shenanigans which involve keeping the Soldier thinking that all of his teammates are American, he mentions the eagles that raised Gray Mann, something that only Miss Pauling and the Administrator should know, thus clueing to Miss Pauling that he may be telling the truth. The Soldier reveals that he used his cardboard robot costume to sneak into Gray's facility and eavesdrop on their plans. Miss Pauling asks him to keep the disguise on and, moreover, make a disguise for herself so that she can infiltrate Gray's facility with him. Heavy insists on going, too.
Soldier’s tactics are effective; a week later, in Gray Mann's facility, the robots report that the humans were waiting for them at the last five attack sites. Gray Mann is slightly frustrated at his robots' stupidity; how they have a problem with security leaks due to a "tactical mastermind" in the human’s ranks. Gray states the he has found a solution to the problem of his robot’s incompetence and unveils his newly-built Mecha-Engineer. The new robot activates and quickly detects the trespassers.
- Page 1
- This marks the first time an official Valve Miss Pauling model can be seen clearly.
- A Pyro Robot is holding a red Flame Thrower despite holding a blue one in-game.
- A Demoman Robot can be seen wielding the Stickybomb Launcher on this page, despite them never doing so in-game.
- The building depicted in the background is the same building from Mannworks with the Gray Gravel Co. logo added.
- It is also Full Moon, which activates the Tin Soldier in game.
- Page 9
- Before showing Miss Pauling his robot costume, Soldier is convinced that his teammates are all American; and when Miss Pauling starts to correct him, Heavy interrupts and says he is American. Despite this, Soldier has many voice lines that show he is aware of his foreign teammates' nationalities.
- Page 12
- Soldier casually shows he knows of the secret past of Gray Mann, which some of his teammates reject out-of-hand. Gray and his brothers were born in England, where he was abducted by an eagle; see Blood Brothers, page 24.
- Page 4
- The team is examining maps that reveal two views of the Badlands area, tying the Storyline to real life locations.
- The Top Map is an illustration of the geography of the greater Badlands area north and west of the Badwater Basin Pipeline, with Miss Pauling standing to the north.
- The corner of a partially Covered Map reveals a stylized map of the actual region surrounding Valles Caldera National Preserve with some additional fictional markings.
- Page 5
- The perspective has changed to the right; basically from Engineer’s viewpoint. Soldier, Heavy, Miss Pauling and the maps are in the same relative positions as in the preceding page; however, the content of the Top Map was not rotated with the change in perspective; south is still oriented towards the reader. Focus is drawn to a location on the map that is relatively central to the previously published Map of Badlands (the area generally between Gravel Pit and Pipeline).