This is Alvaro "Lance Danger". August is a very charged month. It's my mother's birthday. My best friend's mom's birthday. Actually, my birthday is in August too. And it's also the anniversary of my webcomic, "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord", which turns six years old as a webcomic. But it wasn't always a web/print comic. Many of it's characters has it's roots dating back to seventh grade school notebooks. And in honor of that, you will read over the following weeks on Wednesdays the secret origins of the characters of this webcomic as it all developed since 1992.
I have lost throughout the years many of my old notebooks from that time, including this one time my mom threw away many notebooks and artwork trying to help tidy up my room. And more got damaged to the point they had to be thrown away when hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico in the late 90s.
Some of the images aren't the best since they are pretty old, but if you click the image, you will see a bigger version to see a bit clearer, like this image here to the left that features "classic covers" to some of the "Super Wars" and "Cyber Wars". Those stories were from eighth grade while this particular image was done I believe in ninth grade. But, what are the "Super Wars" and "Cyber Wars", and what does that have to do with Warlord? Glad you asked....
The Super Wars- 1992-1993
It all began in 1992. It was towards the end of the semester. I used to own a pencil case that to me, was the coolest thing ever! It had so many secret compartments and small things that it was like the Swiss army knife of pencil cases. And to top it all off, it had the illustration of a mecha on it that was just tooooo cool! So cool, that it inspired me for the first time really, to just draw. So I drew that mech, and a close friend of mine by the name of Heimdall saw the drawing I had made.
He looks at it. And stares. And glares. Now, he too was a big comic and anime buff, and he did draw a lot. A lot more than me at that point. And he simply goes (and I'm paraphrasing because I really don't remember the exact words) "...Crap. That really sucks. I can do better. Who's that supposed to be?". I promptly replied in an ironic way I guess that he was "The Peace Robot" (Robot de la Paz as you can see in the illo to the right, which by the way is not the original drawing. This is the Peace Robot circa 1994).
So, of course since I had named it the Peace Robot, he stormed to his desk, and he drew up "El Robot Nuclear", or "The Nuclear Robot", and proceeded to tell me point by point how it was superior to anything I could create. It was on.
We both created spin-offs of those characters and decided we should have a war... a Super War! We made small stories of the fights, and even re-enacted it in the school yard. But summer vacation came upon us, and there really was no clear winner. We didn't keep much in contact during summer vacations because we lived relatively far from each other, but we, as we would find out, were brainstorming during those summer days.....
During that summer, it was the most time I had ever spent drawing and creating characters. Many of it didn't have to do with Heimdall and our one-up-manship, but more like finding a new outlet for my creativity. As far as characters related to TMW, the very first character I created from that particular universe was actually Exorcist. He was basically a combination of comics I was reading at the time, namely Batman, The Black Hood, and a villain from The Comet named The Hangman I believe his name was. At that point, he was my favorite character I had created and many stories revolved around him. He was pretty much the first character I actually made an effort to give him a bit of a personality and some story behind him.
I created other characters here and there but they really don't reflect upon TMW really. And then, summer vacation ended. And of course, the first thing Heimdall and I do are show each others creations, and once more, The Super Wars had resumed, deadlier and more ferocious than ever, and this time, we had an entire school year ahead of us!
The next characters created that dealt directly with TMW are brothers Jon and Jeff Gardner, aka Rising Star and Fallen Star from the team Danger Zone. Two of the team members quite didn't make it into the webcomic. This team concept really was born out of my love for G-Force (Battle of the Planets), Voltron, Robotech, and when I was also getting into X-Men at the time. Actually, not much has changed for either Jon or Jeff in terms of personality traits or even looks. Jon/Rising Star of course was and is the leader of Danger Zone. Around that time I created a different character that was introduced not too long ago in the webcomic.
Ah, Tom Blair, The Fantastic Dark Avenger! He's always been kind of a secondary character, pretty much playing the foil to the more serious faced characters. He was born out of my favorite X-Men character at the time, Havok, as redesigned by Joe Quesada. I always kind of wanted to use him more as a central character but for some reason I never really felt I could tell interesting stories for him solo. His personality also remains almost entirely intact, arrogant, cocky, but at times kind of sympathetic, even if he himself doesn't admit it. At this point I realized I had too many male characters, and decided to do something Heimdall hadn't done yet....create female characters.....
And this is Janemarie Jackson, or simply Jane as most of you know her. Here she only had her codename, "Space". She was actually sort of going to turn into a "Phoenix" from the X-Men type of character more or less. But I pretty much shelved her concept for a little while. This illustration to the right was done like a year maybe or a couple of months after I had created her and already had connected her to Warlord's story. And speaking of Warlord.....
Here he is, the man of the hour, Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord.This was the second time I had drawn him. The first was accidentally thrown away by my mother. The character was inspired by an ad for the Robocop vs Terminator comic. I just rally liked the pose of the Terminator. So I drew just the pose and got to brainstorming. "What if he had Deathstroke The Terminator's mask on him, they're BOTH Terminators in a manner of speaking!" And later "What if he was wearing an Masamune Shirow's Appleseed type of outfit?", and almost by accident, there was Warlord.
He just immediately became my favorite character I created. And he became the favorite character of many of my friends, and even Heimdall swallowed his pride and admitted to liking him. I drew Warlord all the time back then toward the ending of eighth grade. As I began to flesh out the character more and give him more back story, our friend and eventual collaborator Alfred jumped into the fray, and he created his own characters to fight against both Heimdall and me. Thus, ended The Super Wars, again no real clear winner, due the arrival of a new challenger.....
The Cyber Wars- 1993-1994
A new challenger arrived in the form of Alfred. For the remainder of the year the three of us waged war in a distant future from The Super Wars, and we were all in deep into The Cyber Wars! But as the school year started winding down and summer vacation once again looming close, something different happened. Alfred and I were discovering we had a ton of stuff in common and wound up talking more. To the point summer vacation came and we started brainstorming over phone stories and character ideas. For one story where I finally wrote down the origin of Warlord, that's when I created the most polarizing character to date in the webcomic: Cheryl Smith/Gravity.
I am going to be honest here. She was a character I created to just kill off. I really didn't have much of a back story to her. She was just a new member of Danger Zone and that's it. There are 4 different variations of Warlord's origins, and in all four she dies. Sorry, Cheryl fans! The only real character development she had was in the webcomic, because she always got killed pretty much in the beginning of the original stories.
As a result of that story in a way, we are introduced to Liri Reeves. She is one of my favorite characters, but unfortunately, she won't be introduced into the webcomic until we are well under way the last storyline in book 2 of Warlord. I even had to crop off the top of the page to not give away spoilers to who she is exactly. But needless to say, she becomes a very important character to this story of Warlord. Quite a few characters that didn't make it into the webcomic were created and The Cyber Wars were about to wind down since Alfred and I were invested in doing stories straying away from the concept and Heimdall was losing interest really. And so, without fanfare, just before summer vacation, the legendary Cyber Wars came to an end. The three of us were in a private school, and all three of us were going to different schools after ninth grade, so ended The Cyber Wars with again no clear winner (though if you ask Heimdall, he'll always say he won).
But...how did all these characters even come together in the first place? And what exactly were Alfred and myself writing and brainstorming well into high school despite being in different schools? Come back next week for TMW: Secret Origins Part 2- The Armageddon Death Trilogy.....
~Alvaro "Lance Danger" Cortes Ortiz Jr