Like its 2010 predecessor, The Music of DC Comics Volume 2 is a curious beast. It’s perhaps never been so obvious how diverse DC’s long history of superhero adaptations has been. Take Superman for example. As you’d expect, we have selections from the big blue boy scout’s cinematic outings, with Han Zimmer’s atmospheric theme from Man of Steel and Margot Kidder’s frankly cringeworthy rendition of ‘Can You Read My Mind?’ from 1978’s Superman.
Then we have Supes’ small-screen adventures. We go from the sublime (John Williams’ iconic movie theme matched with the classic opening narrative of The Adventures of Superman for the 1988 animated series) to the barking mad (the opening of The Adventures of Superpup, an unaired 1958 pilot featuring actors in comedy dog suits with suitably pun-laden names such as – shudder – Bark Bent!)
Perhaps wider still is the shift in tone in Gotham City over the years. We have ‘Fight Night’ from Batman vs Superman followed directly by camp nostalgia in the form of the 1966 Batman Theme. As if that wasn’t extreme enough, Danny Elfman’s re-orchestrated theme for Batman: The Animated Series contrasts sharply with the faux-Western ‘Ballad of Batman’ from The Brave and The Bold (“Grey and Blue, Grey and Blue, the man from Gotham wore the Grey and Blue!”) and Mark Hamill singing ‘Jingle Bells, Batman Smells’ from Christmas with the Joker.
The good news is that the future seems bright in terms of diversity. Twenty-first century television is catered for in the shape of themes from Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and ‘The Flash vs Arrow’, while gamers are treated to Harley Quinn’s theme from the Infinite Crises videogame. Even DC Super Hero Girls, the animated web-series aimed squarely at younger fans, is included with its feel-good pop anthem, ‘Get Your Cape On’.
But kudos should also be made for the inclusion of some rare and frankly obscure tracks that never even made it to the screen, small or otherwise. ‘Joker is Wild’, ‘Penguin’s Umbrella’ and ‘Robin’s Theme’ all hail from Batman and Robin, a 1966 concept album by the Sensational Guitars of Dan & Dale. The same year also saw the release of Songs and Stories of the Justice League, represented here by the wonderful kitsch ‘Metamorpho’ (“This is the story of the Element Man!”) and ‘Theme of the Justice League of America’ (“Here they come, look out chum, it’s the Justice League!”) Glorious in their cheesiness.
Verdict: Covering all aspects of DC Comics’ long line of radio, film and TV adaptations, this is a fun collection that can’t help but put a smile on your face. 8/10