Comic Timing: Team Fortress Celebrates Its 17th Birthday


Get your secret decoder rings out, make sure you have access to a librarian with a murky past, and would it kill you to put on some tweed? Team Fortress celebrated 17 years of being Team Fortress on August 24th, which Valve completely missed. To sort-of-but-not celebrate this occasion, they’ve made a new comic starring everyone’s favourite sky-diving CEO, Saxton Hale. Part one is long and here, and there’s more to follow. This is typically when Valve pulls some sort of trick on everyone, so I’ve saved the blogpost, and sent a copy via carrier pigeon to CERN. If they can’t figure out if anything’s been secreted away, then no-one can. Valve also added a new crafting tool into the game, and it’s pretty Strange.

It’s a Chemistry Set.

The new item drop works like all good chemistry sets do: you place specific items into in and it’ll output a Strangifier, an add-on that will allow you to modify a specific item in your inventory to create a strange variant of that item, making Strange Weapons out of ordinary, boring, beasts. It’s another inventory clearing and trading boosting addition to the game.

I find its position in the ever-expanding lore of the game very confusing, and wonder why the same function couldn’t be achieved using the current messy crafting system?


  1. Ac1dBuRn says:

    Because hats that’s why!!!

  2. ripclaw says:

    That comic is brilliant :)

  3. Kollega says:

    You know, there was a time when i would react positively to this. But not now. The aesthetic and story of TF2 are one big ungodly mess, the unlock system is even more grindy than usually because the results are random, the crates are basically gambling… no sir.

    And to add some actual substance to this comment… does anyone feel that Valve are actually incapable of writing decent stories? Half-Life is a series of protracted cliffhangers with zero explanations, Team Fortress 2 has turned from a hyper-focused Bond films pastiche to a world of weirdness where literally anything can happen as long as it’s nonsensical enough (seems Valve just thought that the spirt of their Jarate advertisement is better than the spirit of a spy-fi pastiche), Portal 1 was Orwellian-retconned just to make way for Portal 2 in which GLaDOS suddenly becomes hell-bent on revenge and calls you fat all the time… overall, it just seems that they just don’t care for consistency in their works.

    • Simbosan says:

      No, feel their storytelling is just brilliant. Honouring commitment, not so good

      • Kollega says:

        I agree that Valve’s storytelling methods are good. But the actual stories that they tell are pretty awful. For instance, back in the day TF2’s storytelling was done primarily through the “secret-bases-disguised-as-mines-farms-and-factories” level design, the characters’ lines, “Meet The Team” videos, and such. But when Valve decided to add the actual story to it, it all went south pretty quick.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Well for the Portal thing, Glados worked so well in #1 because she wasn’t obvious, her insanity progressed (or became apparent) as the game went along. You can’t replicate that in a sequel because trying to pull the same style again would not work (where’s the suprise when you already know what’s going to happen).

          Half life is spare on the “story” as you say, but that’s where a lot of the appeal comes from.

          So in short, it’s really down to how you like your story. I like the mystery of Half life, reminds me of lovecraft in a way.

          … Oh yeah … TF2 has story? I though it just had Lore.

    • Inzimus says:

      I agree wholeheartedly.

    • LionsPhil says:

      This TF2 comic was pretty lousy, yeah. Like the game, the narrative and setting have become one big bloated “throw it in” mess, and it’s only accentuated by the original being cut and polished down to a shining core.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      I can’t disagree too much with this. I feel that almost every single product they release is very good on its own, but taken in the context of a their broader storytelling series, the seams start to show, and it’s not all that pretty. The bits with incorporating Portal and the HL2 beta into the episodes are the worst of this that I’ve seen, but then, I don’t really follow the TF2 ‘story’ at all.

    • noom says:

      I find the comics funny. I couldn’t care less about the coherance of the story. I like all the extra weapons they bring out. I’m even happy to spend a couple of quid on keys every so often to gamble on a crate. I know, I’m a terrible person, right?

    • S Jay says:

      I find it pretty fun, so I like it.

      If I was looking for great storytelling, I would not be playing a game where you shoot people wearing improbable hats.

    • Magnusm1 says:

      “the unlock system is even more grindy”

      What. I just can’t.

  4. YogSo says:

    Many people will of course know this, but to those who don’t, the cover of the comic is a homage/parody to the classic John Romita’s splash page from Spider-Man #50 (1967), a story titled “Spider-Man No More!”

  5. Odoshi says:

    Misandric depiction of a half naked and sexualized man? No problem according to RPS. Way to go with the egalitarianism you gross hypocrites.

    • YogSo says:

      I think I speak on behalf of anyone who has more than a half-working neuron inside their brains when I say: Fuck off, troll.

      • Koozer says:

        Come on, no need to be that rude. It could be a light-hearted joke.

        • YogSo says:

          I have entertained that idea, Koozer, believe me, because I refuse to think anybody can be so thoroughly and genuinely stupid, but even if said in jest, it is still a trollish attempt to stir controversy mocking up real, serious issues.

          But you are right, no need to be rude, so I’ll rectify my words:

          @Odoshi: Shut up, troll.

      • Focksbot says:

        “I think I speak on behalf of anyone who has more than a half-working neuron inside their brains …”

        Yes, I think you do.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Yeah, you pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    • Bluenose says:

      Fully agreed Odoshi.

    • Snids says:

      The joke falls apart when you consider that he is not sexualised in the image.

      He’s not doing sexy poses, emphasising his sexy parts or performing suggestive acts.
      His muscles are large because he is written as a strong, physical character.
      Muscles are also not generally considered to be a part of the human body that are used for sexual gratification.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        “Muscles are also not generally considered to be a part of the human body that are used for sexual gratification”

        Gluteus maximus begs to differ.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Er, what? You can’t fuck a muscle, but you can certainly be turned on by one.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Quite a lot of girls i know will comment “ohh look at those muscles” and start making some quite inappropriate things when seeing a picture/Tv show of a half naked man with muscles.

        Obviously not at my muscles because i don’t have any :( (insert comments about bad body images here, i can see the pitch forks being raised and torches lit from here after mentioning that)

        “He’s not doing sexy poses, emphasising his sexy parts or performing suggestive acts.”

        Nor are quite a lot of the girls in a lot of things that gets everyone up in arms, but to say that the hyper muscled thing isn’t something that some girls like is incorrect. Yeah its not sexualised here but people are having a go at none sexualised depictions of females.

        I would continue but this is a topic that is impossible to discuss, simply because you cannot have a discussion without being pitchforked if you don’t take either the exact middle ground or one of the sides, if you lean even slightly over to the other side, even if its to make a valid point, then the pitchforks come out, the torches get lit and everything becomes a flame war.

        Personally I’m as i always have been on the side of equality, either both types of depictions (i.e anything the fuck you want) are ok or none of them (i.e everything should be completely desexualised and no major male or female traits that are not troupes in any way shape or form).

        But i’ve gone far past the point of caring any more which of the two it is, i used to be a everything goes as its far better kinda guy but am just fucking sick of the whole thing now. The gaming industry and community seems hell bent on screwing itself over in a way that makes sure no actual discussion or forward movement can be made at all by going into uproar over everything ever single time, and making mountains of molehills.

        This goes for all sides of the arguments tbh, everyone is as guilty of it, pitchforks need to be lowered not raised if anythings gonna happen… ever.

        • dE says:

          if you don’t take either the exact middle ground

          Nope, trust me, I tried. You just get nuclear bombed from both sides at the same time.

    • Quatlo says:

      He has manly moustache and chest hair while I don’t

    • Don Reba says:

      No one will ever take you seriously for complaining men could be objectified as means for getting sex/protection/money. If you can’t provide that, what good are you as a man, they will ask.

      • Focksbot says:

        No, they won’t. Because the only place that happens is in Mills & Boon novels, which no one takes remotely seriously. I can count the number of women who’ve sneered at me by because of my lack of money and power on the fingers of no hands.

    • Gwilym says:

      I think someone’s computer needs a malware scan

    • Piecewise says:

      No, no, see, you’re doing it all wrong. You can’t go with a “Look, a half naked man, how sexist”. We all know that men can’t be sexualized and even if they are, so what, right?

      No, what you should have said is:

      “Look at this disgusting portrayal of a female character in society’s hateful uniform of dress and bow. Look how she is show to be so weak and helpless before this great man, look how he grants her the right to live by simply deciding not to kill her. The wrongness of it all, of this forced assignment of gender roles to the horrifying frivolousness of her life before the patriarchy, it frankly makes me sick.”

      See? Much better to show the ridiculousness and stretching of the arguments via applying them to something that most would consider harmless. How anything and everything can be twisted to fit into someone’s very specific and biased interpretation and rhetoric.

    • minkiii says:

      Oh, here we go. Do you seriously believe anyone is finding this drawing sexy? Baring skin does not automatically equal sexualisation/ objectification. This character was not presented as being created solely for the gratification of women, you’re showing your ignorance by pretending it is comparable with feminist issues.

      • Totally heterosexual says:

        Hey. Saxton Hale is the perfect image of mustache daddy I wanna get thrown to the bed corner by. You can disagree with stuff all you want, but you do not talk shit about my Saxton.

        You have been warned.

      • jrodman says:

        He’s primarily comic, but mildly sexy, imo.

  6. GallonOfAlan says:

    Played TFC to death back in the day but never really got into TF2.

    • derbefrier says:

      Yup, same here. I never could quite forgive valve for taking away my concussion grenades.

      • LionsPhil says:

        They’ve thrown so many other “sure, whatever, might be fun” things into TF2 by now that they probably could just put back all the stuff they trimmed from TFC when trying to make it all tight and refined.

        Hell, perhaps the giveaway of this comic—the nebulous force Grey Mann is talking to—is the return of the green and yellow teams.

        And the football game mode.

  7. GreatBigWhiteWorld says:

    wth, I thought it was a Tom of Finland homage? (don’t google if you’re at work btw)

  8. BooleanBob says:

    The comic is fantastic, as usual. But, but! Turn to page 51: is this confirmation that Pyro is actually – whisper it – a he?

  9. TreuloseTomate says:

    I think the best way to play TF2 is to mostly ignore unlockables.

  10. Jenks says:

    Quake, how I miss thee.

  11. SkittleDiddler says:

    I’ll be celebrating TF’s 17th birthday by not playing it.

    • Dethnell says:

      Well you’ve already done that – it happened on the 24th August. Good job!

  12. Psykicko says:

    I really think that a lot of people have completely missed the point of comics and video games of this nature. Allow me to explain.

    I read up on the controversy surrounding Valve’s release of the Left4Dead games, particularly the second. The original release of this game was banned from several countries, as I’m sure most people will know, on the grounds that it was too realistic in the sense that there wasn’t enough to distinguish the shooting and hacking of the infected, and the gore splattering that ensued as a result, from shooting and hacking real human beings, and I think there were also some comments about the more scantly clad infected too. The point is, it was [i]too[/i] realistic.

    Now look at TF2. It strikes me that several people are complaining that this game is too [b]un[/b]realistic because of its incredibly goofy nature and abundance of silly hats.

    The two points I would like to make are as follows:

    1. I ask you this: is there [i]ever[/i] any satisfying you people? You seem to be yearning for some impossible balance between the realistic and the unrealistic, which leads me to my second point…

    2. As I said in my opening statement, people seem to have forgotten the fundamental point of this kind of media, and that is that it isn’t reality.

    Of course it isn’t reality. Do you really think that anyone that has ever picked a comic or a video game has done so thinking that they want it to be as similar to the real world as possible? Of course they don’t. In real life, people aren’t running around shooting zombies or fighting monsters or rescuing damsels in various degrees of distress… I could go on but you get the point. These kinds of media are meant so that we can escape reality and enter a world that doesn’t exist, where you [i]can[/i] run around blowing people up in a comical fashion only for them to pop into life again a few seconds later and do the same to you. It allows people to make their imaginations come to life, and it shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Do you honestly think that the people who designed Team Fortress 2 and the comics that go with it were sitting in their offices after the release dates thinking “Gawrsh I hope no one thinks we’re a bunch of sexist, violent, genocidal monsters with a fetish for fancy hats.”?!

    • Ernesto25 says:

      The reality is this for me: i buy a car and love it for a few years. then the manufacturer spray paints it pink , makes the horn into a chicken, replaces the wheels with triangles and gives it away for free. I am then told that im’ missing out and not having fun with the product i paid for but now everyone owns and was changed without my consent. “less is more ” was the mantra TF2 vanilla and what made it fun for me the hats were annoying but the constant unlocks and f2p model made the teamwork go out of the window where the vanilla version had the beautiful moment of making a server of public work together .

      So yeah i stopped playing and ignored but but now valve think this f2p model will work in csgo which boggles the mind and the memories of fun an disappointment come back to me regarding this game and how the numerous weapons update ruined the classes while asking for me to pay more money.

      The comics and stuff are fine but it adds to the feeling that once valve made f2p tf2 it was a “what can we get away with in our other games” rather than for the benefit of their customers.

    • Stupoider says:

      There’s a glaring tonal difference between TF2 then and TF2 now.

      To address your two points:

      1. I was very satisfied with TF2 upon release.

      2. Just because a piece of media is unrealistic doesn’t necessarily mean that it can descend into random madness. Just because Star Wars is science fiction/fantasy doesn’t mean that the crew of the Millenium Falcon should bump into a galaxy-wide stuffed Teddy Bear on their travels. There is such a thing as “consistency”, and upon giving the rules of a specific universe (TF2’s old submission guidelines would have a thing or two to say [as well as Robin Walker commenting on the Dangeresque Shades as being the furthest they could bend the TF2 artstyle]) it’s usually expected that those rules will be followed.

      TF2 jumped the shark, understand that people who bought the game might not like what it has become.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Wait, you do realise that the people who banned L4D for being too realistic looking, and those that complain that TF2 is too cartoony and unrealistic, might well be entirely different sets of people, don’t you?

      • BooleanBob says:

        Tosh! That isn’t how the internet works! Everyone knows every objectionable or contradictory thing you ever read was written by the exact same person or persons!

      • Psykicko says:

        To be totally honest, the day after I wrote this I awoke in the morning and thought “What the hell have I done…”
        I stand by my point about the intention of this sort of media to be unreal, but I do concede that those complaining about the realistic and those complaining about the unrealistic are two completely different groups, and I admit that I failed to acknowledge that in my rant.
        I would also like to say that I think Ernesto25 makes a good point about the development of an original desirable less whacky product into a less desirable whacky product. When I look at TF2 I see a game that was always a little goofy. I like the fact that a company like Valve could make a game like this that is fun for the pro-gamers but also fun for the more casual gamers because of the comic aspects to it, but even I know that there is a limit to how far it can go before it just gets too ridiculous. I suppose my threshold for “too ridiculous” is just that bit higher than the general consensus. =/

  13. huldu says:

    The best way to handle TF2 is to not play it at all. Thought the game was dead, going “f2p” with the micro-transaction store really disgusted me.

  14. Focksbot says:

    I still love TF2. Barely have any time to play it, but I like that they keep throwing more and more things at it. And the comic is brilliant – you don’t have to pay any attention to it if you don’t want to, but it’s consistently funny and doesn’t seem, to my mind, too out-of-kilter with the basic surreality of the premise. TF2 was always a whole load of different pastiches thrown in together – I mean, where does a Boston baseball player fit in with this supposed spy film pastiche?