This is Alvaro/Lance welcoming you back to another installment of the secret origins of TMW! Last we left, I wrote about issues 0-6. Now, things take a turn for the dramatic in the “Breakdowns” storyarc! And yes, the very few friends who actually read this storyline either got teary-eyed at some point or cried at the end!
As I mentioned in the last blog, to me #6 was the WORST story I’ve ever done (according to myself, anyway) and felt like maybe I had run my course with Warlord. Before that, though, I was curious as to how a dramatic story would work in Warlord. I caught on TV one day “Indecent Proposal” and also had seen the series finale of “Mad About You” (which also influenced a later storyline…). It was actually “Indecent Proposal” that the inspiration for Jane’s ex-boyfriend Charles came from. The rich boy who thinks he can pretty much buy or get anything he wanted and usually did. Also, I wanted a more human foil for Fred and not just super villains all the time, I wanted to give more complexity to Fred’s personal life as well.
And that’s when mid-way through the “Fishnet” storyline I started wondering “what if Jane had a boyfriend that in a way is everything Fred is not? What if he came back to try to win her back? What if he had a deep, personal hate towards Fred as well? And what if she decided to go back to him? And those possibilities actually really excited me.
Where I feel I failed was I guess the balance and the pacing of issue 6 trying to set up that next storyline and in a way frustrated me. Also, by that point, I honestly didn’t like any of the characters, except for maybe Exorcist. I felt the characters weren’t very relatable and even likeable at some points. I even hated Fred at one point during the “Fishnet” storyline. So, when I finally decided to gather up the courage to experiment with the “Breakdowns” storyline, I named it like that not just for the emotional toll on the characters this story would have, but also because I was almost literally breaking down every major character and almost building their personalities up from scratch. I wanted to have a sense of growth for these characters which I felt were pretty much the same since I created them back from 8th grade.
Well, with the inspiration behind this storyline out of the way, let’s dive right into the “Breakdowns” synopsis!
Fred Peterson, Warlord #7- Breakdowns Part 1, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”, August 1996
So, the story begins with Tom arriving at the Cult City airport where he hits on a girl that works at the terminal of the airport (in a way similar to his introduction in the webisode, where he arrived at the airport to Puerto Rico, but instead Jon was there to pick him up).After mysteriously arriving to Cult City (and getting the girl’s phone number while he was at it)he goes of to find Fred and Jane. After Fred has a dream about Jane he wanders to the roof top of the apartment building he lives at, which he tended to do throughout the series whenever he was pensive (in the webcomic that was replaced with his couch). When he walks back into the apartment he runs into Jane! They get into a big argument which results in both of them saying harmful things to each other, to which she leaves in tears after they said their “final” good byes. Meanwhile, Exorcist is involved in a subplot I really can’t spoil right now since this subplot is one of the few that survived from this original story and is going to be a big part of the webcomic. Sorry.
We transition back to Tom looking for Fred, and he actually runs into Akuma in his civilian mode! Of course Tom has no idea who Akuma is, Tom just asked for directions and casually Akuma says he knows who Fred is and tells him where to find him! As Tom is about to say thank you and introduce himself, Akuma vanished! We see Fred is working at a mini-market (a concept that somewhat survived in the webcomic, long time readers know he works at a supermarket). There Tom finally encounters Fred in hopes of meeting Jane as well. Just as Fred was explaining the current state of his relationship with Jane, trouble is afoot!
A familiar villain was robbing the mini-market…Scan-Man, who readers have seen referred to as Robi in the webcomic, he’s the sharpshooter hitman for Fatfish in the webcomic version. In the original version he was almost all completely cybernetic and was just insane. A sharp contrast to the cold, collective, though sometimes cocky tuxedo versio of the webcomic. The only thing that I kept as an homage was the somewhat cybernetic monocle on his right eye and his fighting/shooting abilities. Also, for those who have kept asking about this character in the webcomic, yes, he is in fact homosexual. I thought it was pretty obvious in chapter 11 and later in chapter 13. I haven’t come out and said it directly within the webcomic because I don’t want to have him be a token homosexual character and have everybody point out he is, especially since very few characters within the story do not know this, so in a sense he’s a closet homosexual within the story. If that makes sense.
So, he’s robbing the mini-market and Fred and Tom try to stop him. Meanwhile Jane is getting re-acquainted with Charles mansion. As the fight progresses at the mini-market, Fred as Warlord starts having hallucinations about Jane and gets distracted, so Scan-Man takes advantage and he knocks out both Fred and Tom. The issue ends with a taunting Scan-man hold up both Warlord and Dark Avenger by their necks. Is this the end of our heroes!?
Fred Peterson, Warlord #8- Breakdowns Part 2, “Easy Come, Easy Go”, August 1996
We go to Fred’s apartment, where Tom is doing an exposition dump about the demigod baby in Fred’s care, when he gets attacked by the puppy Fred saved in issue 6. You know, comedy! As this is happening Fred receives a visit from Exorcist and someone else I can’t disclose right now. They all decide to go and hang out at…the mall. Yes. A mall. Meanwhile, we are introduced for the first time ever, that curvy ninja assassin from the Otomo clan in the webcomics, Tempest! One of the very first characters created specifically for the Warlord comic, as well as the Otomo jakuza. Here in this iconic debut, she’s in training killing off other ninjas and ends up arguing with her brother. Afterwards, we see that surprise, surprise, Charles and Jane are at the mall! And another side of the mall, Fred has come to the decision that since he’s alone and knows nothing about raising babies, much less a demigod one, he entrusts the care of the baby to Exorcist and the undisclosed person, to which they accept. Everybody is happy, until Fred and Jane are suddenly face to face at the mall! The issue ends with the look of shock on everybody’s faces, including a shocked, yes, shocked Akuma who of course had been stalking Fred! How awkwardly delicious!
Fred Peterson, Warlord #9- Breakdowns part 3, “Party Time!!!”, September 1996
Then it’s nighttime as we are back at the Flavor nightclub where Tom had convinced Fred to go to take his mind off of things. There Fred runs into Tempest who’s there as a civilian scouting the place again. She randomly leaves and the place is suddenly attacked by ninjas! Fre and Tom stop them as Charles receives a mysterious call saying the ninjas made a failed attack at the club…..The issue ends when people at the club thought the whole fight was staged and part of a show and Fred and Tom decide to just stay and have a good time.
Fred Peterson, Warlord #10- Breakdowns Part 4, “Broken pieces”, September 1996
The next morning, Fred is hung over from the night before, when suddenly Charles comes knocking at his door! Charles in front of Tom even confesses he’s truly not really interested in Jane. He had been harboring a big resentment towards both of them and just decided to drive a wedge between them out of spite! He challenges Fred to go to a party he’s throwing at his mansion as he taunts Fred. After that, the undisclosed person see’s the news on TV that Exorcist is fighting a huge group of ninjas and Tempest at a park! Fred and Tom also see this and they all rush to him to help. A huge brawl ensues at the park when they arrive to help Exorcist and they save him, but he’s badly wounded from his fight with Tempest who was on the verge of killing Exorcist. Fred feeling guilty because he found out Exorcist has earlier been looking for him to help him patrol the city, runs off and encounters a mugger, he he beats the pulp out of. Out of control, the detective that randomly appears in the webcomic runs into the scene and calms Warlord down before he does something he would’ve regretted. The issue ends with Fred alone at the rooftop of his apartment building, thinking about everything that had gone wrong, when suddenly he get’s his strongest dizzy spell yet that forces him to fall to his knees. It ends with Fred screaming at the sky asking why the hell all these things are happening to him at once.
Fred Peterson, Warlord #11- Breakdowns Part 5, “Picking Up The Pieces”, October 1996
Fred Peterson, Warlord #12- Breakdowns Finale, “Fulfilled Dreams”, November 1996
We flashback to the cemetery where Fred is visiting the grave of his grandfather. Afterwards he’s at the apartment getting ready to go to Charles party. The next scene is the actual party with rich people acting and talking all obnoxious, you know, how rich people act at a party! LOL! Jane is in a corner thinking to herself and worried still about Fred. Meanwhile, Fred arrives at the party where he runs into old college friends (some who have appeared in the webcomic, actually). He also runs into Tom, who’s there undercover! Tom reveals to Fred why he was in Cult City, he was sent to protect a crystal that is in Charles possession. And the reason why they went to the nightclub was because they were safeguarding it there for a while and the Otomo clan found out, so they wanted to steal it before Fatfish and his men did so. So, now he crashed the party undercover because th crystal was there as well. Suddenly, Tempest in her civilian manner appears! She starts talking with Fred and finds herself actually really liking Fred! But she suddenly leaves when she remembers why she was there to begin with. As they were talking, Jane sees Fred is there and talking with a girl! Jane asks Charles why is Fred there, to which he replies he invited him to show no hard feelings (yeah, right).
Charles walks away to present the crystal to the guests, as Jane goes to talk with Fred. As they are talking, they are interrupted by ninjas and Tempest storming the party! Fred and Tom run off to transform into Warlord and Dark avenger, and they fight to the point of where the issue started with Warlord facing off with Tempest. As the flashback ends, Warlord is struggling to get to his feet, but behind him an already recovered Tempest is about to impale him with her sword, but Jane saves tha day by knocking her away. As Warlord warns her people could see her, Jane says most everybody evacuated the place and Tempest vanished, having to retreat. Warlord has a heart to heart talk with Jane where he confesses he still had feelings for her, to which Jane at first doesn’t know how to respond. Warlord pretty much has given up at this point and says goodbye to her, convinced it was truly over between them. After that, Fred goes to that small gazebo type thing at the beach that was actually the same place that was used for the Book 1 Prologue of the webcomic. Fred is wondering about how to reclaim his life now without Jane, when she suddenly appears behind him. They continue their heart to heart talk and Fred reveals he had her engagement ring in his pocket. The storyline ends with Fred slipping the ring back on Jane’s finger and them getting back together. Actually that gazebo on the beach and the ending as a whole was inspired as I mentioned before earlier on this blog by the movie “Indecent Proposal”, so that was a bit of an homage to that
Fred Peterson, Warlord#13- “Home Coming”, December 1996
At the advertisement company, Fred earns the job on the spot, and discovers he;s going to be working closely with another new employee that was just contacted….Tom Blair!!! Yes, this issue marks Tom as a regular cast of the series. He decided to stay in Cult City, but being a secret agent needed a job to keep people not suspicious of him so by chance (yeah, right) he is now working with Fred at the same place! What are the odds? Back at the house Jane and her mother are getting into a heated argument. She is offering Jane one last chance to leave Fred and go back to their home. Jane says no and more arguing ensues to the point Jane gets slapped in the face by her mother! She leaves angry at Jane. Afterwards, it starts raining and Jane has to put buckets all over the place because there apparently are small holes all over the place on the roof and many leaks! Jane decides to cook something as Fred arrives. He sees an explosion coming from kitchen and as he goes to see what happened, in true Dick Van Dyke fashion he trips over the buckets plummeting to the ground! As he’s getting up Jane says the kitchen “attacked” her and they look over the damage. The issue ends with them leaving together to go eat out
Fred Peterson, Warlord Mini-Comic #1- “Freeze Frame”, October 1996
Well, that’s all for this set of stories I did all throughout 11th grade. Thank you for reading and join us next week as we look at issue #14-19, which includes a Christmas issue, the famous wedding issue, and the first volume of one of the bigger storylines in the notebooks, “Heroes At Last” which also introduces ‘Dita/Rocker as a regular part of the cast as well! Again, thank you for reading, and stay safe!
~Alvaro “Lance Danger” Cortes Ortiz Jr