Sunday, October 11, 2009

Psycho Punk Rock Ripper -- Buzzcock

At the risk of alienating myself from a good percentage of my readers, I’m going to admit right now that I’m not a big fan of punk music, nor was I part of the punk subculture that grew into existence during the formative years of my adolescence. In fact, as a teenager growing up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I looked rather askance upon the “punk scene,” at least as it was portrayed in the media and bastardized in the halls of North Olmsted Junior and Senior High. To my eyes, punks (as they called themselves) were ridiculous, posturing poseurs who dressed like clowns and listened to intentionally crappy music. I just didn’t get it, and although I have more of an appreciation for punk now, I still don’t truly get it.

Granted, I am biased. Coming from a family of musicians and studying music myself, I couldn’t help but look upon the punks’ poor musicianship and atrocious songwriting with a sense of scorn. To my ears, good music is about melody, harmony, and rhythm performed with expressive emotion and technical expertise. Good music -- even angry, loud, dissonant music -- strives for some sense of beauty.

Punk, as exemplified by bands like the Sex Pistols, didn’t strive for beauty. In fact, punk musicians and songwriters took the opposite approach. Their goal was the presentation of raw emotion and rhythm without the tempering of melody, harmony, and excellent musicianship. I worshipped at the musical altar of Mozart, Stravinsky, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Buddy Rich, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Yes. To my adolescent ears, the Sex Pistols, Ramones, et al sounded like crap.

Yes, I know. I didn’t get it, which is why Punk both stupefied and angered me. My disdain for the punk scene inspired me to create one of the Trademark Universe’s most despicable hybrid villains, Buzzcock. Like many of my early Trademark creations, Buzzcock went through quite a few character developments over the years.

Of course, his nom du crime is lifted from the British band of the same name. Even if I didn’t like punk bands, I still couldn’t help but dig some of the more clever band names. Buzzcock, as I originally created him, stood out among Maniac’s Götterdämmerung because of his over-the-top punk persona coupled with the space-time distorting guitar strapped around his shoulders. True to the anarchist, nihilistic ethos of punk philosophy, Buzzcock’s sole raison d’être centered on mass destruction, riotous chaos, and unrelenting terror. Given Buzzcock’s penchant for creating catastrophes, Maniac continually tried expanding the zone of Buzzcock’s reality warps in the hopes of destroying Earth itself. Fortunately, the Protectors, Irregulars, and other Trademark heroes were always there to prevent this.

The character of Buzzcock stayed fairly one-dimensional until I began exploring Buckshot’s origin in the series I discussed previously. Here I re-invented Buzzcock with his own backstory. I revealed in this series that Buzzcock really wasn’t a British punker named Charles Blaire, but rather an American teenage sociopath named Robby Prentice who merely affected the attitude and cockney accent of his idols from across the sea.

Robby Prentice met Todd Harper (Buckshot) in prison, where Prentice found himself doing time for stalking, kidnapping, raping, and murdering one of his high school classmates. An outcast in school from an early age, Prentice had transformed himself into a “punker” as a means of coping with his alienation. At this time, he developed an obsession with a popular cheerleader named Donna DeGenero, which eventually led to the aforementioned crimes.

Once in prison, teenage Prentice found himself both target and prey for the institution’s predators. Befriended by fellow teen inmate Todd Harper, Prentice survived his incarceration to escape with Darius Kilhausen’s “students” and then become Buzzcock. As Buzzcock, Prentice is able to live out his sickest, most depraved fantasies, and it is eventually his horrific crimes that turn Buckshot against Götterdämmerung and towards a life of justice and redemption.

In the opening scene of Worlds Apart, we encounter Buzzcock at his best -- or worst, depending on your perspective. Ultimately, it is Buzzcock’s reality-warping powers that set in motion the cosmological events yet to come.