|Comic Strip Info
|December 4, 2013
|Number of pages:
|Heather "makani" Campbell
|Jay Pinkerton & Erik Wolpaw
Unhappy Returns (also known as Team Fortress Comics #2) is a comic released on December 4, 2013. It is the second part of a six-part comic series, picking up where Ring of Fired left off. When this issue was published, the series was changed from bi-monthly releases to tri-monthly.
The story begins with a young Saxton Hale and his girlfriend Mags, fighting panthers in the jungle. Saxton vows never to leave her, and claims he won't take his father's position at Mann Co. However, Charles Darling shows up and forcibly takes the panthers, so that he can create his crazy idea, called a "zoo."
The story cuts to an older Mags and Saxton, standing outside a prison. It is revealed that Saxton had been arrested for burning down most of Darling's zoo. Saxton admits that he had planned to ask Darling for help in taking back Mann Co., but his grudge had gotten the best of him. Mags and Saxton leave, with Mags offering to help Saxton retake his company.
The scene changes to Scout and Spy in prison, discussing their imminent hanging. Scout practices his defense, while Spy urges him to take the public defender, as he pulls out most of his teeth. Scout whines at this, remembering the time Soldier was his defense, and an even earlier case in which his defender was, of all things, a lamp. Spy keeps calm and eats a ridiculously tiny dinner, which supposedly consists of miniature Cornish game hens. A fellow inmate tries to murder Spy as he's eating, but the assailant mysteriously winds up dead with a makeshift knife in his back. Scout panics, thinking they are in more trouble now, as the mayor of Teufort comes to visit them. He makes small talk and claims he will miss the mercs, offering Scout a pie with a nail file in it as a joke.
Demoman suits up in a civilian disguise along with Soldier, who is reluctant to pose as a civilian, but eventually agrees. Soldier and Demoman set out to find the courthouse where the trial against Scout and Spy will take place. Soldier attempts to interrogate an old woman, but Demoman is much friendlier and gets the location easily, discovering that the hanging will take place soon. Outside the courthouse, people are clamoring for the mercs' death; some even going as far as hanging dolls which resemble the mercs on a pole with ropes around their necks. The mayor delivers a guilty verdict, but promptly discovers the trial hasn't even started; while the public defender explains that the trial was missing almost every figure of the law needed to hold a fair trial. Soldier volunteers as public defender, not realizing they already have one. He murders Scout's lawyer and demands that Scout be sent to the electric chair for choosing a different lawyer, shedding his disguise and inadvertently ruining Spy's attempt to escape in the process, leading the onlooking jury to demand impromptu hangings of the Soldier and Demoman.
Meanwhile, Miss Pauling explores the library, burning the Administrator's genealogy records while there, as Pyro burns the library's textbooks. The comic cuts to a flashback taking place 5 and a half months before, in which Spy plans to depart from Teufort and lay low after the Administrator's disappearance, having a jet set to depart in 50 minutes. Scout nervously begs Spy to drive him to the Teufort bank, explaining that all of his savings are in the bank. At first, Spy refuses, but reluctantly agrees after Scout proclaims that it would kill his mother to find out that he lost his entire savings. At the bank, Scout reveals that he traded his entire savings in exchange for twelve cubic yards of Tom Jones memorabilia, planning to sell it for a fortune upon his death. Spy remarks that the idea is terrible, claiming that the chances of Tom Jones' death are incredibly slim and that the man is virtually immortal, deciding only to take the lightest pieces of the memorabilia to his car. The final parts of the scene are shown through the bank's security footage, with the police finding Scout and Spy in the vault and locking them within. With the end of the security footage, the mayor concludes the guilt of the mercs.
The execution has begun, and the ropes are about to tighten. The mayor is slightly sympathetic toward the mercs, but claims that they must pay for their lifetimes of ridiculous crimes, such as rezoning a school. These accusations are revealed to be untrue by Miss Pauling, who bursts onto the scene exclaiming that the mercs had to be innocent, because their "crimes" were actually unwittingly done by the mayor himself. She shows everyone a pamphlet she found at the library outlining mayoral duties, and it explains that mayors cannot hang criminals. The mayor realizes that the mercs hadn't even committed the crimes they were accused of, and attempts to pardon them, but the book says he cannot do that either, so Miss Pauling sets them free. The mayor leaves in order to learn what mayors do, and the townspeople follow him. The mercs are now free, and set out to find the others.
Meanwhile, Mags leads Saxton Hale to Darling's house, where it is revealed that she has been working for him all along. Darling presents Saxton with an unseen proposition.
The scene then cuts to the Dzhugdzhur Mountains in Siberia, where Heavy walks up to an old woman's shop to get a box of supplies, despite the stormy weather. She presents him with a slip of paper, stating that he had received a phone call from a distressed Miss Pauling. Heavy proceeds to walk back out into the snow, leaving the note behind.
- Pages 2-12
- 1957: Saxton Hale is in a relationship with Maggie, Saxton vowing never to leave her to replace his father as CEO of Mann Co, suggesting the time frame for Bilious Hale's retirement or death and Saxton filling that position, since by 1962 (page 15), Maggie had married someone else.
- These pages also suggest the origin for Hale's clothing style.
- This is Saxton Hale's introduction to the fact has that his mentor Charles Darling has begun collecting animals for a zoo, a story arc introduced in Bidwell's Big Plan.
- Page 24
- The Scout is reading GHOST. D.A., which was introduced as a television show watched by the Demoman and Eyelander in Ring of Fired, page 55.
- He is reading the "Young Readers Edition", continuing a running gag where he is shown having trouble with reading.
- Page 31
- "I've only been on the outskirts." (2Fort)
- "I'm great with old ladies." (See Ring of Fired, pages 30-40.)
- The Old Lady becomes a recurring character.
- Page 38
- The Scout refers to the events of A Smissmas Story and there is a hyperlink on the page to said comic. A Smissmas Story featured BLU mercenaries; this refers to to fact Scout was originally BLU before the teams merge and he is hired by Saxton Hale to fight for Mann Co. This is shown in A Fate Worse Than Chess and again referenced in Blood in the Water when Scout and Heavy finds Saxton Hale in Ayer's Rock.
- The Scout says that the Soldier got them the chair, when they were actually sentenced to community service.
- The Soldier's Civilian status is general knowledge of the team.
- Page 45
- Scout's broken arms date the Soldier's eviction from Castle Merasmus (mentioned in Ring of Fired, page 44) to the time of Gray Mann's takeover.
- Page 48
- The Scout invested in Tom Jones memorabilia, hedging on the singer's death. Tom Jones' death was portrayed as occurring months later in the preceding comic Ring of Fired, page 40.
- Page 2
- The African veldt is actually a wide open landscape covered in grass or low scrub.
- Page 12
- Young Saxton Hale's dialog shows "Zhou" in quotation marks instead of the correct word "Zoo". This is a reference to the ending of Soldier's lecture on Sun Tzu in Meet the Soldier, with an erroneous assumption that "Tzu" and "Zhou" are both pronounced like "Zoo". In standard Chinese, "Zhou" is pronounced similarly to the English name "Joe".
- Page 14
- Saxton Hale walks out of Millhaven Prison. This shares the same name as the prison/base in Left 4 Dead the survivors are sent to in The Sacrifice.
- Page 22
- The miniature Cornish Game Hen the Spy removes from his false tooth is a reference to one of his taunts.
- Page 48
- "He's in his twenties!." Tom Jones was actually 31 years old in early 1972.
- Page 59
- As the team's dimwit, Soldier expresses surprise at the team being provided bottled water, suggesting that he, like the rest of the town, has been drinking from Teufort's contaminated water supply.
- Page 66
- The sign in front of the building Heavy enters reads "Магазин Джугджур," which loosely translates from Russian to "Dzhugdzhur Shop".