Pete Riske had just been fired from his third casino job. You’d think they’d stop hiring him for these jobs! Still, he interviewed well, and things just seemed to fall into place for him. Once in awhile, that is. Usually, they fell out of place. People had always pitied Pete for his bad luck, but he just didn’t see it that way. Sometimes, things just don’t go your way. He wasn’t worried. In fact, he’d just gotten information about some medical testing that he could sign up for - it was supposed to pay big! That would at least keep him on his feet until he found another job.
Turns out, that medical testing was run by some chap named Baron Blade. Weird guy, really. Short temper, too. But, he assured Pete that the hoses and wires and vats of weird goo were entirely normal and up to whatever local standards might apply. Plus, he got to stay in their cushy facility for a couple weeks during testing! Look, all the cable channels ever might not be that big of a deal to you, buddy, but not everyone has that kind of access. Just sayin’.
So, the couple weeks went by, and the doctors (at least, they claimed they were doctors…) were all freaking out about what was going on with other test subjects. Sure, Pete never saw any other test subjects, but he hoped they were ok. He was feeling great! Never better, in fact. I mean, all his hair fell out, so that was kind of a bummer, but he was looking good and feeling good. He’d gained about 20 pounds of muscle and was stronger and faster than ever! He’d never been a terribly athletic guy, but now he was confident that he could run at least a 5k! That’s far, right? He’d say you can’t put a price on that, but apparently the Baron could, and the price was not leaving the facility for a lot longer. Additional testing or something like that. Well, Pete had another job lined up, and he really was getting bored of the same blank walls, cable access or no. He had noticed the doors were usually locked at night, but one night, they weren’t, and he just walked right out! Go figure, right?
That’s when things really started to get strange. Just when Pete was starting to feel like the luckiest guy ever, everything fell apart. He slipped and sprained his ankle on the way home, knocking over a trash can, which rolled into the street and caused a major pile-up. Key government officials on the way to an important meeting were held up by the delay, and as a direct result, the new reservoir didn’t get built in time, and hundreds of basements were flooded! Of course, that didn’t happen for a few more weeks. In the meantime, Pete got back home, only to learn that his apartment had burned down while he was away for the medical testing! And he missed his interview he had lined up. Great.
As he was sifting through the ashes, hoping to find some remains of his lucky bottlecap collection, he looked up and realized he was surrounded by big guys in blue and green armored uniforms. They parted to let a guy in a labcoat through - it was Baron Blade! Yeesh, what did HE want? Turns out, Pete’s newly found physical prowess was exactly what the Baron was looking for and he was not too thrilled to lose his one successful test subject. Things were looking tense, but then, a giant metal robot fell out of the sky and started throwing the blue and green guys around! Actually, it wasn’t a robot at all, but a guy in a mech suit who called himself Bunker, and he just happened to be flying by in his transport helicopter. What a coincidence!
So, now, Pete has been hanging out with these Freedom Five people. They’re pretty cool. The fast lady called him a bit of a setback, and he liked the sound of that. They didn’t seem too keen on the idea, but Pete calls himself Setback now, and he helps out where he can. You know, just doing his part, right?
- From Springfield, MO. Raised by single-mom Patricia, older sister Sarah, dog Abbie (golden retriever) - I'm guessing on name spellings. Unremarkable childhood.
- When he was a high school sophomore, starts dating a new student a year ahead of him transferred in from Arizona, Gabrielle Adhin (Kismet!). Later that year her family is moving again and he takes it surprisingly well (just kind of assuming that they're breaking up, not trying to do the long-distance thing), which makes her mad at how blasé he is about it. From his perspective, it's just how "relentlessly optimistic" he is about things - he figures that everything will turn out great for everybody, so why try to sugarcoat the goodbye. She "curses" him, in a typical high-school way, not knowing that it'll actually be effective, with "the misfortune of the coyote" a specific old saying in her family. He thinks of Wile E. Coyote-style, "oh, he can just bounce back from getting an anvil dropped on him, so that's cool" shenanigans, which frustrates her more as he's not getting the implication, so she continues with "When anvils are falling, Pete, I wish you the best of luck." She's not aware of the power of her words, but because of his interjection the whole curse is that he will have the worst luck until when things are at their roughest, at which point he will have the best luck.
- He doesn't really know what's happening with this "curse" that was said by some girl he dated for 8 months in high school. There's no Uncle Ben "With great power..." memory of the curse happening that shapes his life. His natural optimism about everything kind of prevents him from really noticing that anything's going on.
- Gets a full ride to his college of choice, during final prep (choosing class schedule) he called up the school and found that they had no record of him or this scholarship anywhere in the system (due to a spectacular computer glitch) and nobody really remembers how conversations with him went because there are so many students and the computer is supposed to keep track of this stuff.
- Just decides to stay in town and get a job/apartment. While waiting tables he once brings the mayor's wife the wrong plate, setting off her terrible nut allergy. She survives, but Pete got fired.
- Shortly after that, one of the old cooks calls him up to ask him to help cook at the new pizza place he's opening. So, hey, having a job just fall into your lap is nice. One of the assistant managers was embezzling money, though, but shifts blame to Pete when the owners figure out that money is going missing.
- He gets a job at a copy shop. He's there for a few weeks, having a good time. One busy afternoon, he sees a guy at the back of the line with a lot of files and whatnot who's obviously impatient. He finishes helping a few other customers, but then notices that the impatient guy has left, but had dropped some files. Pete picks them up, and tries to find the man outside real quick, but can't. Takes the files inside and opens a few to see if there's a way to identify the man from them (policy would be to put them in lost-and-found or on the manager's desk, but he's trying really hard to help). The pages are marked F.I.L.T.E.R. at the top and are redacted heavily - not knowing what that means he winds up just putting them on the managers desk. When he goes back to work the next morning, the whole shop has been demolished, company out of business, etc.
- Then starts dealing blackjack at a casino. Then another. And another. They consistently lose money when he's dealing, but they can't see how he's "cheating" for the players' benefit.
- He's then waiting to hear about more job interviews when he sees a flyer looking for participants for medical testing. They provide food and he stays there for the duration, so it'll cut down on bills. It's a Revo-Corp building, he goes in and does the paperwork, and eventually goes into a room with a guy in a lab coat who speaks with a thick Latvian accent who seems very angry that Pete's there. Somebody shows Pete into the room he's supposed to be in across the hall.
- While he's wired up in a tube of goo, he overhears people talking over an intercom that's been left on by accident about how the other test subjects are all sick, but he feels great. Sure his hair fell out, but he's put on 20 pounds of muscle. At this point he's been there for about a week and a half and expects to be leaving soon for those job interviews but the staff member he's talking to tells him at this point that because of his results, they're keeping him there. They won't let him leave, but offer to double the rate of pay for the study. He's starting to think there's something shady going on, though.
- One day, he notices that his door is unlocked, which is weird. Nobody is in the hall, so he just keep meandering around, still not seeing anybody. Eventually just walks out the front door, having not run into anybody on his way out, but is still just in a hospital gown.
- He finds his apartment has burned down - he had a candle that he'd blown out before heading to the testing facility, but this one had a production error where the wick was the kind used in prank birthday candles that can't be blown out. While he's looking for his prized bottle-cap collection he's ambushed by the Blade Battalion and that guy with the lab coat and goggles. That's when the Freedom Five shows up to fight Baron Blade, while Pete has a Jackie Chan-esque tussle with the Blade Battalion members and saves the Wraith from Blade's death ray in the process by crumpling part of it as Blade fired it, the resulting explosion covering Blade's "escape".
- In reality, the "Baron Blade" he ran into when first becoming a test subject and who came to recapture him were robot decoys Blade had put in place before his capture to keep his various schemes running while he was imprisoned. The exploding death ray destroyed the robot as well (Letters Page Interlude 3).
- Pete wakes up in Freedom Tower (I'm guessing this was a misstatement as the original HQ wouldn't have been blown up yet), meets everybody, an off-hand comment from Tachyon is the source of him using "Setback" as a name. This post-high school stuff is all just origin story - Mystery Comics #212 (if Christopher remembers the issue right). Becomes intern/sidekick/mentee for the Freedom Five - their first trainee - for a while.
Variant: Originally released during the 2013 Holiday Season
While things deteriorated more and more in Rook City, the heroes who regularly patrolled the failing city grew increasingly concerned about the disappearance of Mr. Fixer. Three of the those heroes joined forces: Expatriette, Setback, and Nightmist. They worked together to protect Rook City and to investigate the loss of their friend.
When Amanda told Pete that they were going to team up, he had reservations. Of course, he was excited to help, but that was exactly the problem. He knew how things go for him - he didn't want Dark Watch to have any major setbacks. Even still, you can't help if you don't try, and Pete was very good at trying. When working with Dark Watch, Setback often leads the charge. He likes getting up close and personal with his opponents and also far enough away from his allies that he can't accidentally trip them up. Though he does like to spend as much time with Amanda as possible....
Dark Watch summary from Tactics preorder:
The hero team known as Dark Watch has gone through a lot. They were originally formed by Expatriette, Setback, and NightMist who were seeking to uncover the truth behind the events of the death of their friend, Mister Fixer. So, it was a bit of a rough start that the first major threat to Dark Watch was a mystically revived Mister Fixer! They managed to survive and even helped him reconnect his mind and body, so Mister Fixer became the fourth member of Dark Watch, fighting alongside those who risked everything to save him.
This information is from the Miststorm Universe, one of two branching timelines. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Tactics (and expansions). Prime War (and expansions)
Part of the indefinitely delayed Battle For Broken City set
Setback has always been the heart of the team. Passionate, upbeat, and eager to help, Peter Riske's bad luck is balanced by his indomitable spirit. His favorite place to be is between his friends and danger, working to prevent any harm from befalling those he cares for. Knowing that what he does makes a difference, even given his propensity for disaster, is the best heroic motivation that he could imagine.
- They also do a duo thing, but Dark Watch is larger. Mister Fixer is kind of the "sensei" of the whole thing. Harpy is the eye-in-the-sky. Setback and Expatriette are the boots on the ground. They've worked together long enough that Expatriette actually has a good feel about how his luck is going to go and can use it to their advantage.