DC Comics is on a roll right now. Since revealing new trailers and clips for Wonder Woman and the Justice League movie at Comic-Con last week, the excitement for the DCU has been at an all-time high. Fans of the comic book publisher and Warner Bros. films are marking their calendars and getting their ticket money ready for the new wave of DC superhero movies. The new material looks fantastic and a lot of us are all very eager to see what’s going to happen next.
Detective Comics has been around for a long time now. The first issue was published in March of 1937, and the brand has since gone on to be arguably the greatest comic book publication ever produced. To mark the 75th anniversary of the company in 2011, WaterTower Music released a compilation of songs and themes from the movies and shows that had been adapted at the time. Now after five years the follow up has been released, and it is just as good if not better than the original.
The first Music of DC Comics collection featured title tracks from the Batman and Superman movies that had been released up until then and many of the opening themes from each of the different versions of the TV shows produced. The Justice League of America, Super Friends, Teen Titans, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and even Swamp Thing and the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show openers were present on the album. It’s a solid mixtape of theme songs and greatest hits.
Music of DC Comics: Volume 2 is very similar to the first compilation without feeling like a retread or cash grab. Many of the songs featured on the new album are from familiar characters and adaptations, but one element that stands out is how many of the tracks are solid deep cuts that are not always given credit for helping define the characters on screen. Not every song is worth listening to on repeat, though many of them are worth hearing at least once to see how each property was heavily molded by the era of pop culture at the time.
The album is divided up in a few ways on how the listener can approach it. The first way this collection can be heard is by the obvious track listing which guides us through different superheroes one at a time. It all starts off with Superman followed by Batman, then a couple of tracks are dedicated to villains like The Joker, Harley Quinn, Lex Luthor and The Penguin. The later part of the record begins with Justice League and Super Friends tracks and follows through with themes from Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Wonder Woman, and oddly Metamorpho who had a song written about his character history and abilities in 1966.
Another way to approach the Music of DC Comics: Volume 2 album is to listen to the songs grouped by the era they were released in. The tracks sampled from the 1940s come from the golden age of radio plays when adventure themes, sound effects, and intense hosts would hook audiences with bold tales of mystery and action. Aside from the fun Adventures of Superpup intro, the next phase was all about the swinging 60s when Batman villains would freak out over cheesy surf rock. Some of the songs are not particularly good, but all are fun, amusing and full of energy.
The themes that stand out the most come from the 70s and 90s eras starting off with the John Williams compositions for Superman: The Movie and the Danny Elfman themes written for Batman and The Flash. This album definitely benefits from having Lex Luthor’s Lair and The Flying Sequence/Can You Read My Mind? songs on it, even though the beat poetry style voiceover from Margot Kidder has aged poorly. The compilation then wraps things up with new material from the current DCU shows that have been released in the last five years. All are very similar in style and owe a great deal to Hans Zimmer’s work on The Dark Knight and Man of Steel scores.
Music of DC Comics: Volume 2 is a great compilation and companion piece that covers eight decades of superhero movies and shows. Some of the album’s best highlights are the Challenge of the Super Friends intro from the 70s, the Superman and Batman animated series, Harley Quinn’s Mischief Theme from Infinite Crisis and of course the always great Wonder Woman title track by Charles Fox and Norman Gimble. The whole listening experience is like a good walk down memory lane that brings us to the present and it absolutely helps affirm just how great all these characters still are to this day.