Three short weeks after Blizzard Entertainment rolled out its 14th Overwatch comic, the Junkrat and Roadhog-centric issue “Wasted Land,” the studio has released one featuring the Russian heavyweight Tank hero Zarya and everyone’s favorite smooth-talking Offense hero Sombra. But that’s not all: It also features the game’s first gender-nonconforming character.
Entitled “Searching,” the latest comic is the third installment in the second volume of Overwatch comics, and the 15th in the entire publication collection. “Searching” is a direct sequel to the game’s animated short “Infiltration,” released last November, and follows Zarya on the hunt for Sombra on orders from Volskaya Industries CEO Katya Volskaya. As she travels the world to find the illusive and charismatic hacker, Zarya meets up with the omnic cyber-criminal Lynx Seventeen. Once the pair team together in a joint effort to locate Sombra, she’s able to track Sombra down to Dorado.
But who in Dorado knows where Sombra is? The young girl named Alejandra, who was once just a face in the Soldier: 76 short “Hero” released in May 2016 around the time Overwatch officially launched. Zarya and Lynx Seventeen end up face-to-face with Sombra, who hacks Seventeen and rigs the entire building to explode into smithereens. It’s then that Zarya must make a difficult choice: Save her newfound partner, or capture the target she’s been searching for all along.
Those interested in finding out which option Zarya chooses can head over to the Blizzard website to read “Searching” for themselves. Written by Andrew Robinson and Joelle Sellner, with artwork by Kate Niemczyk, “Searching” proves that Zarya will likely never be the same again after this high-stakes mission.
Beyond the tension and excitement packed into “Searching,” the comic also showcases Overwatch‘s first gender-neutral character, Lynx Seventeen. The omnic’s gender is never explicitly mentioned in the comic (Zarya refers to Lynx Seventeen as “it,” while others use “robot” or “hacker”), but Overwatch lead writer Michael Chu gave a clear explanation. “In the ‘Searching’ comic, Lynx Seventeen is gender neutral,” Chu said. “Lynx would prefer you refer to them with ‘they/them.'”
This follows after another big reveal, when Tracer became the first queer character in Overwatch last year through the reveal in the game’s comic for Christmas. Blizzard did this quite casually, introducing the British hero’s girlfriend, Emily, in an issue titled “Reflections.”
Blizzard has repeatedly suggested that there are multiple LGBT characters in the game, with Chu stating that that decision is one made “early on.” He said in November, “We want these stories about characters’ relationships — and not just romantic, but familial relationships and stuff like that—to come out in the course of stories that we feel really do them justice.”
Looking forward, Overwatch fans have plenty to get hyped up about. With details about a potential Halloween event leaking, Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan teasing a possible 26th hero, and the recently released Junkertown map now available for play, it doesn’t seem players will have to do much “searching” for awesome new content.
Overwatch is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.