Rock Holmes is a reoccurring character from the Osamu Tezuka Star System. He originally debuted in the 1949 manga Boy Detective Rock Holmes as a lawful good young protagonist, but over time became one of Tezuka's darkest villains. He has appeared in different forms throughout various Astro Boy series.
Rock was originally named after Sherlock Holmes, created by Tezuka to be a detective and boy hero that young readers could identify with. Tezuka had also created Kenichi as a purely good boy hero, and became more interested in keeping Kenichi as his token boy hero. In contrast, Tezuka begun to further experiment with Rock's moral alignment in his roles over the coming decades.
Rock often appeared with the name Rokuro Makube: "kuro" means "black" in Japanese, and "Makube" was adapted from Macbeth. Rokuro appeared in Black Jack as the childhood friend of the titular character who grew up to be a crime boss. In Vampires, Rock was a vengeful teenager who tried to use a werewolf to help him take over the world. Rock became progressively more evil with each appearance until his 1971 appearance in Alabaster, where he was so detestable - to the point of violently assaulting a female character - that numerous fans wrote to Tezuka and complained. Tezuka took note and drastically softened Rock's character; some of Rock's roles include a shounen-style protagonist in Marine Express (1978), a clumsy time traveler in the 1980 Astro Boy series, and a hapless entertainment reporter in Say Hello to Bookilla (1985).
Rock is one of Tezuka's most popular characters, with a large number of international fans. He still appears on merchandise, and in new Tezuka franchise media.
Rock's design is very simple but iconic, with heavy bangs and sideburns, and a heart-shaped face. Usually his hair is either brown or black, but he has been blonde in very early roles. He often wears sunglasses and slick formal suits, and long jumpsuits when he plays futuristic roles.
Rock appears in the 1980 Astro Boy series as a detective from the future, who travels through time to talk to Astro and Dr. Black Jack. He needs Astro to stop a time traveling wizard from taking over the kingdom of Moravia, and Black Jack to save the life of a young prince. However, Rock is the one who got the prince injured, when he landed his time machine on a log that knocked the prince off his horse.
Rock, Astro, Uran, Black Jack, and Pinoko work together to stop the wizard and to ensure the prince survives his surgery. In the end, it turns out the prince was forced to live as a man because his kingdom refused to let women rule. Black Jack takes the gender ban as his "payment", letting the princess live and rule freely. Rock is also able to capture the wizard, who turns out to be Osamu Tezuka himself.
Rock appears as a villain again in the 2003 anime. He was born with psychic powers, and as a baby, he was given up by his mother to a research institute. While she only meant to protect him, he wound up miserable and psychologically abused in the institute's sense training program. He ran away in his early teens, feeling he was rejected by his birth mother, and used his psychic powers to manipulate his way through the criminal underworld.
A scientist named Dr. Saruta was trying to keep a shapeshifting alien named Tamami alive, but couldn't do much because of his worsening radiation poisoning. Rock convinced Saruta that he could provide the space rock that keeps Tamami alive, but wound up using Tamami to shapeshift into various animals to pull off robberies. After a mishap on the moon that leaves Tamami frozen in stone, Rock is pulled into a dimensional portal. While floating through time and matter, Rock encounters the Phoenix, who tells him he can become a superhuman if he goes to the Moon Tower and touches the superhuman door. He is warned not to use this power for ill intent, but goes ahead with luring Astro to the Moon Tower so he can harness Astro's energy in bringing the tower down from space. Upon finally touching the superhuman door, the Phoenix punishes him with enormous electric shocks, until Astro is able to pull Rock away and suddenly unlock his hidden memories of his birth mother. Rock experiences a change of heart, and allows himself to be taken in by the authorities, with hopes he can reform someday.
NOW! Comics series
Rock appears with a very different hairstyle in issue 18 of the American comic series. He is named Captain Delta, and plays a human spacecraft captain whose crew was abducted by a race of super robots called the Cybots. After Astro begs the Cybot king to let humans go, Delta is chosen to lead an escape mission to bring the humans back to Earth. Their flight back through deep space is originally expected to last six years, but through a very risky maneuver, the crew activates warp drive and just barely reenters their time continuum.
Captain Delta's appearance is directly based on Rock's appearance in Phoenix: Future, but with the curls of his hair inverted in direction.