CD: DC Showcase – Superman / Shazam! The Return of Black Adam (2011)

August 30, 2011 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: La-La Land Records  / Released: April 12, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 39 tracks / (59:43)


Special Notes: 12-page colour booklet with liner notes / 1000 copies.


Composer: Jeremy Zuckerman, Benjamin Wynn (aka The Track Team)




In addition to their animated feature films, DC Comics spun off a series of shorts, ranging from 15-25 mins. in length, starring some of their top characters, and La-La Land Records’ CD covers four in the DC Showcase series, featuring music by The Track Team – composers Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn.

Superman / Shazam! The Return of Black Adam comes with a full orchestral design, featuring classically written action cues with light synth sweetening, and the suite’s best section actually lies near the end where the composers are able to go beyond straight-stomping battle cues for more melodic works featuring a great triadic motif of triangle chimes (“The Subway Ride / The Wizard Shazam”) reminiscent of Philip Glass. “Gods and Ants” is a short but beautiful little crescendo of menace, and the suite closes with a quick set of action and character theme cuts.

As the composers openly state in the CD’s liner notes, Jonah Hex has deliberate nods to Ennio Morricone. The fun suite includes an old time piano rag, a great central theme on acoustic guitar, plenty of bell chimes, and sustained chords. The composers’ own spin on their mini-homage is to occasionally switch to a frenetic action style, such as the texturally rich “Jonah Tales Care of Business.”

Not unlike DC Comics’ Green Lantern animated film (which was scored with heavy percussion by Robert J. Kral), the style for Green Arrow is all rhythmic textures, and if there are any thematic statements, they’re still goosed by textures based in electronica. “Late Again / Tension at the Airport” and “Merlyn and Green Arrow Duel” use vintage synth emulations (eerily close to Tangerine Dream’s Dead Solid Perfect), whereas the longest cues – “Assassination Attempt / The Princess… The Quenn” and “The Conveyor Belt” is all pounding percussion.

The last suite, The Spectre, is largely rooted in vintage Lalo Schifrin’s urban jazz, with congas, mysterious tinkling piano, loose bass drum hits and delicate keyboard strokes reminiscent of Dirty Harry.

Incredibly, the composers also return to vintage Tangerine Dream synths in “Costumes” with a repeating rhythm and spiraling tones and taps. “Heading to Mexico” is particularly evocative of Miracle Mile, and switch between electronics and urban jazz actually works, largely because the two styles converge, with varying dominance in cues such as the lengthy finale “An Old Friend / The Secret.”

La-La Land’s CD is crisply mastered, and the suites – while short – are fun little musical vignettes. It would be really interesting to hear the composers apply their skills and sense of humour towards a feature-length production with longer action sequences, and a wider diversity of characters.



© 2011 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

IMDB (Zuckerman/ Wynn) — Soundtrack Album — Composer Filmography (Zuckerman / Wynn)


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