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The Treehouse Warriors is a Smoking Cat Productions superhero team created by writer and artist Jonathan M. Sweet. Members of the Warriors first appeared in The Belch Dimension Comics #1 (May 2005). Although hardly the first super-team comprised of teens and preeteens (this honor goes to the Legion of Superheroes), this is the first both comprised of stick-figure characters and based on actual people (all relatives, friends and onetime schoolchums of the writer).
The Warriors' stories usually feature basic, tried-and-true comic book conventions such as scheming supervillains, time travel, aliens from other worlds, cyborgs, ghosts, devils, and beings with supernatural powers and peternatural talents. The book contains a number of classic cartoon homages as well as judicious doses of fantasy, horror, and science fiction, perhaps more than most American comic books.
The Warrior team is also known for its large and rotating roster, which includes roughly a dozen minor and major characters.
A common visual associated with the group is its leader Jon standing at the forefront of the team, while the other members--in suitably heroic stances--stand behind him awaiting the order to charge forth into the fray.
The Warrior team has 14 members total, divided into three factions: core, specialty, and reserve.
- Jonathan M. Sweet, team leader and founder. When he was eleven he recieved, through an explosion of chemicals, a number of superhuman abilities that include super-strength, invulnerability, and shapeshifting. He decided to become a force for truth and justice and thus assembled a team of like-minded individuals, most of which he'd known from childhood, to help him.
- Joshua Cline, second-in-command and founder. With his vast knowledge of chemistry and electronics, he is responsible for many of the team's scientific advances and sophisticated weaponry.
- Angela Larkin, third-in-command and founder. Feminine, yet tough; demonstrates skills in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat. She has had a crush on Jon for years, although for years he seemed not to notice. The two have been dating since the events of "Cross-Country Vacation".
- Benjamin Sweet, brother to Jon. He is able to move at high speeds using his Tasmanian Devil Double-Back Barrelhouse Cyclone Spin, and his powerful crushing jaws allow him to safely consume a wide variety of objects.
- Larry Clayborn. Jon's bodyguard, and one of Jon's oldest friends. The only African-American on the team, Larry is trained in hand-to-hand combat.
- Chance Hoskins. Jon's bodyguard, and the Warriors' weapons and munitions expert. He is one of Josh's friends, whom he vouched for when he, Jon, and Angela began assembling their team. Chance is trained in hand-to-hand combat, and wears portable laser cannons mounted on each wrist.
- Jason The Gibbon. A cousin of Josh and Billy who was turned into a gibbon by one of Hiss Hole's spells, Jason most often is used as reconaissance or as club "messenger boy".
- Jimmo. A half-alien mage, Barbaeus Jimmo-Xur harbors the spirit of the dead Flungarian elder Barbaeus. He was once merely a boy named James "Jimmy" Segal, and an old friend of Jon's. Jimmy moved away from Jon's neighborhood when his parents were killed in a car accident, whereupon he was raised by his elder sister Penyem. The two became reaquainted after ten years, shortly after James--now having taken his alien benefactor's name--was abandoned by his sister, who was terrified by his strange new form. Jimmo can cast simple spells and heal minor injuries with his magic.
- Molina. She is an empath who can read auras and is knowledgable on psychic phonomena. Her own past, ironically, is the sole mystery she cannot solve. She was Angela's childhood friend, and her pick for the team.
- Gene Sampley, aka "Fingers". An accomplished code-breaker and lock-picker, usually employed when a mission requires safecracking or disabling locks.
- Billy Cline, brother to Josh.
- Timothy Sweet, brother to Jon.
- Flunger, extraterrestrial refugee from the destroyed planet Flung. Distinguishable characteristics include a prominent snout, coarse brown fur, and a height of about three feet.
- Gort, extraterrestrial refugee from the destroyed planet Flung. Distinguishable characteristics include a prominent snout, coarse blue fur (though red about the chest and head), and a height of about three feet.
- SweetTart. Was made an honorary team member in "Strange Bedfellows".
The Warriors usually fight crime in the perameters of their native Jigaboo Junction, although not exclusively. Occassionally a mission will take them to places where conventional local constabulary has no jurisdiction, such as international waters (in their battles with Captain Maggot) or when it requires crossing county or state lines. In issue #23, "Family Ties", Jimmo goes on a solo mission to Biloxi, Mississippi, where his estranged sister Penyem is attending school at Fulkes University, Other more exotic missions have actually taken the team to other epochs--thanks to a time machine invented by Josh--such as prehistory, ancient China, and the day George Armstrog Custer was killed at Little Bighorn, Montana.
Most often, though, a typical mission takes place in the city, and frequently in the slums and alleys of the warehouse district (a typical refuge for the comic's criminal element). The battle scenes are often marked by insults thrown about, violent fistfights, gunplay, and rampant property destruction. It isn't uncommon in the series to see a building completely destroyed by an explosion, either accidentally or deliberately set by either villain or hero. Usually the only casualties are abandoned or ramshackle old buildings, hardly likely to be missed--although they've also included a college research lab, a motel room, and even a pirate ship (which possibly resulted in some crew casualties, as only three survivors--Hiss Hole, the captain, and Tony Moneran were seen afterward).
The Rogues' Gallery
The adversaries the Warriors face range from the gruesome and monstrous to the surprisingly human, the virulent to the benign, and from the lowest caste to the highest echelons.
Perhaps their most enduring and frequent foe is Snakeman, aka Hiss Hole. Jon first mentions his enemy's name and former occupation--Dr. James Allen, a brilliant young scientist--in "A Girl And Her Chair" (#9). This story was expanded on in #19, "Demi-Jon", in which is was revealed that Hiss Hole used to be a grad student at Jigaboo Junction State University, before a mishap with a cobra and an untested antivenom made him a half-man, half-snake monstrosity. Jon first encountered Allen when he was nine--half-mad, bandaged from head to toe, and standing over the body of a girl he had shot in the street. The "mummy-man", as little Jon called him (recounting to his friend Josh two years later in a delirious fever and fugue caused by radation poisoning), was holding a strange crystal egg in one hand. Jon grabbed the egg and broke it, then stabbed Allen in his chest with a shard of glass. Jon blocked out the memory; however, Allen--now calling himself "Snakeman"--remembers their meeting well, and it has caused many bitter battles between them. In "Demi-Jon" (#19), Hiss Hole kidnapped Jon' sister Marcie and tried to turn her into a snakelike monster just like him--and soon the first of many, as he planned to release a mutagen rain on the city. Hiss Hole then called forth a demon from another world to inhabit his body and used its strength to beat Jon nearly to death. In a last gasp of strength, Jon pushed Hiss Hole through his own portal, and thought him gone for good. However, Hiss Hole reentered our dimension in a bolt of lightning--the scene which kicked off the series--and the old emnity began anew.
The Warriors have frequent run-ins with a local tough named Tony Moneran, the neighborhood bully. However, Moneran (or "Monty", as Jon often calls him) is seen as best a nuisance. However, no one remembers how they met. Monty hates Jon and Ben perhaps the most--although will also argue with Josh or Angela if the opportunity arises--and is usually seen laying traps or hatching schemes to hurt or embarrass one or more of the team's members. These invariably backfire. In the first issue, Jon and the team have to work together with Monty after Hiss Hole returns to Earth and takes over the Mauler's clubhouse. Afterward Monty attempts to double-cross Jon, though a miscalculation causes a net he tries to have dropped on Jon entangle him instead.
Perhaps his nastiest moments in the series are when he is needlessly cruel to those who can't defend themselves--such as making fun of a girl for being handicapped in "A Girl and Her Chair", or in "Stoopid!", when he puts down his friend Mugsy and throws out of the club over a silly accident. Although he is shown the error of his ways and ostensibly seems to change, by his next appearance he has reverted to his old bumptuous, boorish ways.
Often a foe comes along who is Warrior-specific, or seems to despise a particular team member most (though will happily fight them all). Dr. Ichabod Freely forced Flunger 's wife Khani to perform in his show and would often physically abuse her. Demi-Jon is a clone of Jon created to annihalate him. Molina was attacked, possessed, and put in a coma by the ghost of sadistic killer Malice Jiggs, who then tried to kill Josh and Jon. The evil "wizard" Rasputin was defeated by Jimmo, who was immune to his influence (though arguably it was Jimmo's sister Penny who really put the kibosh on him).
There is also a thriving underworld element in the city, populated by powerful, wealthy crime lords whose businesses include gambling, prostitution, and the protection racket. Two of the city's most powerful bosses, Reginald Montenegro and Duke X. Machina, first appeared in "What A Drag!". Others include Franco "Frankie" Malpezzi and Shen Zhi-Nu, the head of the premier Chinese Mafia organization The Brown Lotus .
Most of the daily threats, though, come from black gangs, nameless punks, and largely disposable minions.
See also this list of minor baddies.
When not fighting crime the Warriors generally enjoy down time by watching hours of mindless television, eating junk food and Libido's Pizza, and taking trips. They also attend school regularly and earn money by holding down part-time jobs (though not well).
Many of the shorter stories, which appear in the even-numbered issues or as filler/B-stories in the same issue as the odd-numbered "mission" tales, deal with the day-to-day lives of the Warrior members and showcase their interests, hobbies, and personal interactions. A frequent running gag involves Josh, Ben, and Jon either going on trips by travelling underground, in the fashion of Bugs Bunny and invariably taking a wrong turn, usually winding up somewhere miles from their intended destination and/or making a new enemy. This is noted by Gort in "Whacky Dracky", who wonders aloud why, if Jon can fly and Josh has a driver's licence, do they travel below ground like moles? Another recurring storyline is their attempt to land the perfect after-school job, or to start their own business, which they seem to lose through their own inexperience or gross incompetence. The minor Warriors' personal lives are less developed outside the "mission" stories, though we do see occassional glimpses. In the very funny short "The Foul Stench of Doom!", the "second-stringers"--Chance, Jason, and Jimmo--encounter a perspective villain called The FartKnocker. They tell him that there's a waiting list, and he has to be on the "gold card recurring baddies" list to fight Jon. FartKnocker is a "noob" who is only entitled to a "starter package" defeat with them, complete with a brochure containing a price list. This sardonically suggests that the lesser Warriors' main job is staging tryouts to recruit villains just to make the hero look good (perhaps a shot at some of the frequent silly, gimmicky, and largely now phased-out villains of the DC and Marvel Silver Age)!