After receives a name change last month, Overwatch‘s Cole Cassidy has made her debut in a new digital comic book series. That first issue of a series in five parts by Dark Horse Comics, with the title New Blood, sees the cowboy struggling with his past as he embarks on a journey to become another. It’s impressively deep, where Cassidy becomes existential all over, and it left me with foggy eyes.
For those who are out of the loop, Cole Cassidy was previously called Jesse McCree, named after the now-displaced developer of the same name who participated in the controversial and extremely unprofessional “Cosby Suite” meetings. Publisher Activision Blizzard is is still dealing with several lawsuits concerning its toxic workplace culture, and the name of Overwatch‘s cowboy was a turning point in the widespread conversation. It led Overwatch Stay together to scrap his moniker and renew his past. It also made Blizzard promise to never call characters in the game for real employees again.
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Overwatch fell a new biography for the grade on October 22, the same day as the announced name change. But New Blood is our first look at Cole Cassidy in Overwatch lore. It sees him exploring not only his past “running as a mercenary” but also his future as a potential team leader.
New Blood starts with Cassidy talking to himself about “something big on the way” before riding off to meet Overwatch veterinarian and support hero, Ana Amari, in Cairo, Egypt. They catch up on drinks, remember the things old friends do. But at several points in their conversation, there are hints as to how Cassidy does not want to “repeat the past” from before his Overwatch the crew was disbanded. Ana begins to dig through her past lives – the Deadlock Gang, Blackwatch – before the two are thrown into a kind of epic exchange of gunfire against some indefinable soldiers, drawn by the artist Irene Koh.
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“Despite your actions, I could tell you felt trapped by the life you wanted to live,” Ana tells Cassidy during the shootout – probably the worst time to examine anyone’s psyche. “You can change, too,” she says later, when things die out outside, leading him to her new hiding place. “You could use this opportunity to do something good, put together your own team. On your own terms.”
“The old days got sour,” he ponders to himself. “But what if things could be different?”
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The whole thing is really powerful stuff. What makes us human is our ability to adapt and evolve, to assume new identities and give up old ones, to embrace a new version of ourselves.
That does not mean we should not be held accountable for our past lives. We carry the complicated story with us, whether we are proud of it or not. But who we were tells who we are, allowing us to become someone new. Without space to grow, space to reflect on and revisit the past, we can not hope to imagine a new future for ourselves, let alone the world.
This reinvention is something I have done many times in my life life, something I do myself now as I embrace a new version of myself in New York, a city I have only dreamed of living in. The secretion of the skin, all snake-like, is necessary for growth. And it’s an important growth for Cassidy to become another.
Do I think the same should apply to the real McCree? I want to say “no”, but I honestly do not know. It is incredibly difficult to apply these principles once people have crossed certain boundaries, how to balance a desire for reformation with a desire for accountability. It’s a question that this cartoon makes inevitable.
Dark Horse Comics’ New Blood coincides with one Overwatch in-game event running until November 23rd. Dubbed Cassidy’s new blood challenge, it gives you the opportunity to unlock the Sandstorm Cassidy skin, the same outfit he wears in the cartoon. It’s just as one would expect, with Cassidy in a primarily brown ensemble and a scarf wrapped around her neck. There are also other unlockable rewards for those who see hours of Overwatch Twitch streams, including sweet sprays by Ana, Cassidy and Pharah.
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