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- "You can always ignore your conscience."
- ―Doug Rattmann[src]
Portal 2: Lab Rat is a comic made to bridge the gap between Portal and Portal 2. Expanding the history of Aperture Science, its main protagonist is Doug Rattmann, also known as "the Ratman". This is his first formal appearance after indirectly appearing in Portal and the Portal ARG.
The first part of the comic was published April 8, 2011; the second part was released April 11, 2011.
Lab Rat is a full in-house production that was entirely supervised by Valve. It was drawn by Andrea Wicklund (main story) and project leader Michael Avon Oeming (layouts and flashbacks), while Portal 2 writers Erik Wolpaw, Chet Faliszek, Jay Pinkerton, and Ted Kosmatka were in charge of the story.
- Doug Rattmann
- The Weighted Companion Cube
- Two unidentified Aperture employees
- Cave Johnson (Prerecorded message only)
- The Party Escort Bot
- Sentry Turrets
- Dead Aperture employees
- Charles Cardoze (name only)
- Phil Konig (name only)
- Christopher M. Pham (name only)
- Arsenio Navarro (name only)
- William D. Kent (name only)
- Al Anderson (name only)
- Emily Naransky (name only)
- David C. Self (name only)
- Doug Hopper (name only)
- Marc Meaux (name only)
- Brenda Bogenschutz (name only)
- James Murray (name only)
- S.J. Nye (name only)
- Lazarus Grey (name only)
- Leve Rage (name only)
- Robert C. Knoll (name only)
Part 1 follows Doug Rattmann as he is tracking Chell through the Enrichment Center. He is having a monologue about reality and how the mind sees it and is shown to be psychotic, forced to take ziprasidone [sic] to curb the effects of his schizophrenia. Throughout the story, he carries a Companion Cube that "talks" to him and gives him advice. The main story is spotted with flashbacks to a time in which GLaDOS was still being built, revealing Rattmann's involvement with the project.
Soon after discovering Chell, it becomes apparent he has not taken his medication for a while, and despite disapproval from the Companion Cube, he takes his last two pills. A first flashback is shown, depicting a younger Rattmann overhearing two colleagues claiming they put cameras in the cameras, something that an unidentified person is not to suspect. While present Rattmann runs through the facility and a mural on the wall, Chell reaches Test Chamber 19, and finally GLaDOS' chamber, where she destroys her.
Another flashback set in GLaDOS' chamber is shown. There, Rattmann is seen working with his colleague Henry, who compares their breakthrough with GLaDOS to Einstein discovering relativity and NASA reaching the Moon. Rattmann expresses his doubts about GLaDOS' reliability citing her persistent attempts to kill everyone when powered on.
Back to reality, Rattmann scans the surface in hopes of locating Chell. By the time he finds her the Party Escort Bot is already dragging her back into the facility.
A third flashback depicts Henry as he shows Rattmann a newly designed Morality Core made to tame GLaDOS' urge to kill.
Again back to reality, the Cube tells Rattmann to run away while he is outside, but feeling he is responsible for the whole mess, he instead goes back inside to save her.
Part 2 opens with Doug Rattmann traversing the innards of the facility. The Companion Cube informs him that the anti-psychotic he took in Part 1 is starting to take effect as it slowly grows silent as a result. Doug finds Chell in her Cryo-Chamber in the Relaxation Center where the Party Escort Bot has placed her. He decides to try and save her by getting to Cryo-Control, but the Sentry Turrets block his way. Locating a panel in the wall, he quickly realizes that GLaDOS' destruction blew the main power grid and that all the Cryo-Chambers including Chell's have gone off-line as a result. Doug then attempts to run past the Turrets but is struck down.
A fourth flashback takes place after GLaDOS has flooded the Enrichment Center with her neurotoxin. Rattmann, apparently the sole survivor, is taunted by GLaDOS in regards to his schizophrenia as he escapes from the main testing facility. While GLaDOS continues to taunt and manipulate him, Rattmann manages to reach the file room where he locates Chell's file, declaring that she's "the one". He then proceeds to move her to the top of the Test Subject list.
Back to the present, Rattmann is seen lying on the floor, wounded by the Turrets, reaching out to his Companion Cube before he loses consciousness.
A fifth flashback begins, in which Henry is having a conversation with GLaDOS. During the conversation, she tells him she has lost all interest in killing after the installation of the Morality Core and that she would like to perform a recreation of the Schrödinger's cat experiment during "Bring Your Cat to Work Day". She says that added to the boxes and the cats, she needs a little neurotoxin. Harry, unaware of her malicious intentions, accepts, "as long as it's for science", sealing the fate of the Aperture employees.
Doug regains consciousness, and his schizophrenia has returned. The Cube begins to talk again and inquires about Chell being "the one" and to how Doug knew she was, to which he admits it was just a hunch. The Cube then tells Doug to patch Chell's Cryo-Unit in the reserve grid and restart her life support, which works but keeps Chell in an everlasting sleep until she is woken up, "both alive and dead, until someone opens the box".
Exhausted, Rattmann crawls into the bed of a Relaxation Vault and presumably falls asleep. On the floor, Chell's files lay scattered, claiming that she should not be tested as she is abnormally stubborn and "never ever" gives up.
- The binary code shown in panel 8 can be translated as "The cake is a lie".
- In panel 7, a book titled "Art Therapy - The Bennett Way" can be seen. This is possibly a reference to Walter Bennett.
- Panel 13 features the first visual appearance of the Party Escort Bot.
- Panel 13 also features several references to the Half-Life and Half-Life 2 story arcs: an HEV and Health Chargers from Black Mesa can be seen on a wall, a Gravity Gun can be seen on the table where Doug is working on an ASHPD, and a Combine Health Charger can be found on top of a shelf. These lead back to the story arc in which Black Mesa and Aperture Science are rivals. Black Mesa later steals these items.
- In panel 26, the "both alive and dead until someone opens the box" is a reference to Schrödinger's cat. This in itself is also a reference to Chell's cryogenic state while inside the Cryo-Chamber.
- While "Lab Rat" is originally a reference to animal testing, it is also a Portal achievement, requiring to acquire the fully powered ASHPD.
- The last line of page 10 is somewhat foreshadowing the events of Portal 2, as Chell and the Cores are sucked into space via a panel on the moon.
- In the comic, it seems that the "party escort submission position" is wrong, as GLaDOS said to place the device on the ground, then lie on your stomach with your arms on your side, as opposed to the comic in which Chell is depicted lying on her back. (Though the Party Escort Bot may have accepted either position with Chell being unconscious.)
- Portal 2: Lab Rat on the Official Portal 2 Website
- Expanding the World of Portal 2 (chat with project leader Mike Oeming) on IGN