Tragedy in The Protomen: Introduction

In the distant year 2009, a Nashville based rock band called The Protomen released a prequel to their 2005 debut album The Protomen. Their rock opera, dubbed Act 2: The Father of Death, is the band’s second, grim, tragic take on the classic Mega Man video game series. The story they tell is one of love, loss, regret, freedom, and futility that revolves around one noble, but deeply flawed figure and the city he tries to save.For those that don’t know what Mega Man is, it’s a series of 2-D, action-platforming games in which the title character, Mega Man, runs around and fights robots to save the world from the evil Dr. Albert Wily. Dr. Thomas Light built Mega Man pretty much exclusively for the purposes of being a hero to stop his crazed, egotistical former colleague and his robotic cronies. Overall, the games are pretty light-hearted and simple fun.

The Protomen uses these games as a jumping off point, creating a rock opera with the Mega Man characters Dr. Light, Mega Man, Protoman, Dr. Wily, and a couple of original characters in a dystopian city to tell a tragic story.  Their second album, Act 2: the Father of Death, follows some conventions of classical Greek tragedies to make a compelling story.

This article is the first part of an analysis of The Protomen’s rock opera, and will summarize the Protomen’s released albums The Protomen and Act2: The Father of Death.

Let’s start with the prequel, The Father of Death. it starts with a conversation between Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily about their robotic creations and how they should be used. Dr. Wily wants to use the robots for self-gain, while Dr. Light wants to use them to make life better for people and replace workers in dangerous jobs. Dr. Light’s motivations are pretty simple: after his father died due to mining work–probably due to a chronic illness–Light dedicated himself to learning about robotics to make life better for others. Dr. Wily thinks that his and Light’s sacrifices deserve not just recognition, but also repayment in some fashion or form. Either way, their disagreement goes unresolved, but they turn their creations online. Light goes home and finds his fiancee, Emily, dead and a strange figure leaving the apartment. The police arrive shortly after, and Light, acting from fear, runs away. What follows is Light’s exile and Wily’s rise to power. Approximately 20 years pass, and a young man named Joe decides to leave the unnamed city he lives in and which Dr. Wily now rules over. Joe meets Dr. Light and they plan to overthrow Dr. Wily, but their efforts fail with Dr. Wily declaring marshal law using an army of military bots. This leads to the actions in the Protomen’s first album, self-titled The Protomen.

The Protomen opens with an expository song explaining the dystopic world in which the characters now live. For twelve years, Dr. Light worked on his own robot built for combat, one capable of defeating Dr. Wily’s forces single handly. A…Protoman, if you will.

Once again, Dr. Light’s efforts fail. Protoman is overwhelmed, defeated, and unable to be found. In a fit of grief, Dr. Light builds one, last robot. This particular robot is meant to be the child, the son, the family, Dr. Light never got to have with his long-dead, much beloved fiancee in a world that he worked to save time and time again. This robot would go on to defy his creator’s wishes and follow in Protoman’s footsteps, ending in a showdown where no one but Dr. Wily wins.

With the summary and background out of the way, we’ll delve into Dr. Thomas Light’s character and some of the elements that make the Protomen’s rock opera a good, solid, almost-Greek tragedy.

And to give a better idea of what the Protomen sound like, here’s the music video to “Hope Rides Alone,” the first song from their first album.



Protomen – the movie. Tavent. Digital Art. Published on DeviantArt, 2013. Web. Accessed on 16 Dec. 2016. [Source Link]

We are the Dead. The Protomen, 2006. Song. Video from Youtube. Accessed on 16 Dec. 2016.


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