Some time ago, I wrote a blog on image songs and assigned them to the core cast of Descendants. In the interest of retreading the same old thing with a new face, I’m doing the same again with some of the series’s iconic bad guys.
Vincent Liedecker – Johnny Cash – Man in Black
Though remembered as a country singer, Johnny Cash was way more of a rock star, especially when you look at the messages in his songs. Mercy Seat is anti-death penalty for example, far more progressive than what most would think of when they think ‘country. The same can be said of Man in Black, a protest song advocating for the poor, downtrodden and victims of injustice.
In a superhero comic context, it isn’t hard to see another allegory in the song; the classic story of a hero who needs to be seen as a villain for the public’s own good. And from his point of view, this is the story of Vincent Liedecker.
As will become more evident when the Liedecker: Life and Times Part 2 starts running, but Liedecker took such through control of criminal activity in Mayfield to put down the uncontrolled violence and destruction caused by rival gangs. He’s clearly the lesser of two evils; providing actual protection for protection money, funding the Liedecker Institute, and directing the minds of mad scientists to useful ends via the Solomon Center.
But never forget that this man remains ruthless, fearless, and will not shy away from killing anyone that threatens his hard won balance. Unlike Johnny Cash, he’s not actually that much better than the category he’s pigeonholed into.
Brother Wright – Rolling Stone – Sympathy for the Devil
I must admit that after introducing the main concept of Brother Wright’s shtick, I let it fall by the wayside in favor of the Ace’s High stuff. Originally, he was based on the New X-men: Academy X villain Kingmaker, whose ‘superpower’ was being incredibly well networked, dealing in favors between people to make himself powerful socially, financially and politically.
Volume 6 will see him return to this, hopefully, but he’s always been like that to me: using everyone around him like pawns in his game. So for his theme, I picked a song that sounds like the first lines of every Faustian Bargain worth a damn. He makes no effort to hide that he’s going to benefit greatly from what he’s doing and even brags about it.
But just like the Devil in the song, he gets right up to the point of telling you what’s going to happen to you, who he really is—and stops. It’s that sliver of hope, that narrow space where arrogance slips in and says ‘I’m no ordinary chump! I can beat this and get all the good but none of the bad! That makes the Faust trope work and I try to keep it in mind whenever I write Wright.
Special note here: this is also the song I think Thunderhead would pick for himself and he’d think he was clever for it.
Vorpal – Megadeth – Sweating Bullets
The song is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde affair that puts the listener in the Jekyll role, having to listen to their bad side berate them and gloat about its evil with absolutely no recourse.
No, I’m not saying that Vorpal hears voices. She doesn’t get that excuse. But I do have this idea in my head that she is always on the outside looking in on her actions. She’s in control, but not connecting with the moment correctly. That, and she’s driven so hard that she’s convinced herself that she doesn’t have a choice.
Like the Liedecker entry up there, this is mostly a song about her point of view. Vorpal has tried to separate Zoe Macnamara from Vorpal in her head and this is the kind of fiction she uses to promise herself she can eventually ‘come back’. The question then becomes if she would give up being Vorpal given the choice?
Mad Mad Madigan – The Hunchback of Notredame ST – Hellfire
There’s really no a lot to say here. Mad Mad was created based on this song. I actually could have given Disney Villain songs to all my bad guys, but I’m trying to show some restrained.
For those who haven’t heard seen Hunchback (a film that I could write an entire rant on), the central villain is a man using religion as a catspaw to work his will and in the course of the movie, becomes so obsessed with one woman that he destroys everything he built.
That I a nutshell was the genesis of Mad Mad. I thought to myself ‘what if he wasn’t just using God as an excuse? What if he basically was a god? Initially, he was much, much scarier, but I found that after making him such an asshole per-powers that he was more fun in a comedic role Matbe later I’ll do a story with a very scary jerk with the power of a god.
Morganna – Beck – Loser
I’m not calling her a loser, obviously, but Beck’s hit song in and of itself embodies what it’s like to write Morganna. If you haven’t heard the song, allow me to offer a sample lyric:
In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
Butane in my veins and I’m out to cut the junkie
With the plastic eyeballs, spray-paint the vegetables
Dog food stalls with the beefcake pantyhose.
That feeling in your head is what going mad feels like. Those words make no sense together, but when you hear them sung, they sound and feel like they should make sense—which makes even less sense. And somehow this song has a chorus that ties back to the title.
And that is Morganna. She has a clear theme (gaining magic power) and she’s working toward that aim, but her content, everything that comes out of her mouth only looks like it makes sense. Notice how she wants all this magic power, but has absolutely no idea what to do with it afterward.
And that’s it for now. I didn’t include anyone from Project Tome on the list because I think I can get a whole post about them later. That, and the song I’m thinking of for Talbot would be a huge spoiler for something I’ve had planned for him since the beginning.
Until next week folks!
And if you want to comment on this topic, or suggest a future topic, there’s now a thread in the forum just for that purpose.