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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Soundtrack Review: #TheMusicofDCComicsV2

The Music of DC Comics, V2 is an odd outpouring of superhero love.

Review by Matt Cummings

In the 100+ year history of film, the recent rise and popularity of superhero movies and television shows has represented a relatively small blip on the radar. And yet, the music behind them have in some cases been around since the advent of television. In 2010, that history was celebrated in the exceptional The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection. A greatest hits collection, the disc mined themes from both animated and live-action television, as well as film. And while publisher WaterTower Music is hoping for the same success with this month's release of Volume 2, it's more confusing and not-that-impressive than a must-buy collection.

Composers from across the genre are represented here, from John Williams and Hans Zimmer to Arthur Kobb and Blake Neely. Among my favorites are the unearthing of The Justice League of America by Hoyt Curtain - a take-off to his theme for Battle of The Planets - as well as Danny Elfman's terrific theme for Batman: The Animated Series. But there's also a serious amount of terrible music here: Korb's The Ballad of Batman John Williams' Flying Sequence, Korb's The Theme of The Justice League of America, and at least a dozen others. I'm not kidding that some of these themes should have been left in dusty corners of DC's vaults, because they really are terrible.

Take a track like Robin's Theme by Sun Ra and the Blues Project. While I love me some freeform jazz any day of the week, its inclusion here as some sort of historical retrospective just doesn't work. Fans of these types of collections want their favorite themes in one place so they can video- or board-game, assemble their figures collection, or engage in other sorts of nerd-dom. This collection isn't going to achieve that, unless you've been unable to find a couple of rare gems that have been lovingly preserved here. One of them is definitely not The Adventures of Superpup

But just when you think the album is a total loss, Track 23 - DC's Legends of Tomorrow Theme by Blake Neely - arrives to save the day. It's short (only 50 seconds) but apparently it was created specifically for this album. Let's hope Neely will get the chance to release that series' exceptional music at some point. For now, we are treated to several of his themes including Supergirl and a couple of battle pieces from Arrow. But then it's back to the blahse, including Track 24, 1966's Metamorpho and Get Your Cape On from Supergirl. No wonder it was moved from CBS to CW. It's just bad. Granted, 11 of these tracks have been unreleased up to this point, but they're really only good for historical purposes.

WaterTower's The Music of DC Comics, V2 is really only for the biggest of superhero fans who want to learn about the diversity of themes that have permeated the timeline. This is certainly not as good as the 75th Anniversary Collection, but there are a few great pieces here that might be worth single downloads. I'm not sure I can recommend this collection, even though we're treated to a few rare gems and several of the recent themes from CW's properties. We've been gifted so many great soundtracks in 2016 that you're advised to purchase one of those and limit your spending here to single tracks.

The 29 track Music of DC Comics: Volume 2 is now available on CD and digitally. A double-vinyl version of the album is coming soon.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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