DC Comics was the first huge comic book publisher, and with iconic characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, DC Comics has expanded well beyond comic books to television and movies, animation and live action. The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Edition is a 31-track sampling of the wide variety of the music (and, often narration) that has accompanies those sound-filled exploits.
While 75 years of music could easily fill several volumes, The Music of DC Comics (released in 2010) does a quite satisfactory job of showcasing the sounds accompanying their superheroes, from 1941's "Superman March" to 2009's "Green Lantern: First Flight." There are iconic numbers (such as the theme from the Batman television show or John Williams' Superman movie theme) and rarities (introductions to cartoons from the 1960s; the opening to the "Legends of the Superheroes" comedy roast; and who remembers the Swamp Thing cartoon, let alone its opening?). The first seven songs are all from Superman-based works, the next seven from Batman's body of work, then a variety follows.
The Music of DC Comics is a terrific trip down memory lane -- but it feels like two albums mixed together. The instrumental songs here are all very well done, quite dramatic and often very powerful. Then there are the narrated songs, which are often just a smattering of background music while a narrator extols the powers of the hero. (These are contrasted at the end of the album, where the dramatic instrumental from the end of the Wonder Woman animated movie is followed by the disco-inspired theme song from the live-action Wonder Woman show ("in her satin tights/fighting for her rights.")) Worse, there are no notes on how the album is put together, what determined which songs made the cut (like the intro to the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show) and what didn't (no Challenge of the Super Friends, though there are two other Super Friends songs). There isn't even an introduction by one of DC's writers or artists to talk about the impact these tunes have had on the heroes or on them.
But these complaints pale next to the very wide variety of songs collected here. The Music of DC Comics is far from complete and could have used more explanation, but what this provides is a neat trip down memory lane, a showcase of songs the listener hasn't heard before (I doubt even the most ardent comic book fan has heard all the songs here), and a pretty exciting soundtrack to go along with some of comic books' mightiest heroes (plus Aquaman and Hawkman).
Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch