In honor of today being Free Comic Book Day 2017 I am posting my top ten favorite songs based off of comic book characters! I have also taken the time to provide an analysis of the song. The analysis is of course my opinion of what the song could mean. There are some songs where I have more input than others. Many artists leave songs open for interpretation so that the listener can form their own relations or opinions of songs. Feel free to comment below with your opinion of the songs or to share some of your favorite songs that are based on comics books. I have limited each artist to one song in order to prevent an overabundance of songs by certain bands. There are many bands that have released companion comics such as Soilwork, Within Temptation, KISS, Alice Cooper, etc. but these are songs that are not based off of comics and often times the band bases the comic off of the songs. There are some songs that have become synonymous with certain characters (looking at you Iron Man by Black Sabbath) but the song is actually independent of the character. These are also songs that I personally enjoy and from genres that I normally listen to.
10. Our Lady Peace – Superman’s Dead
This song was of course inspired by Superman. It also takes a hard look at bullying, societal expectations, and media messages. I love the grunge feel of the song. Multiple times it broaches the subject of ordinary not being good enough. Superman is dead according to the POV of the song and thus he unable to save us from ourselves or from others. Perhaps we will just have to laugh instead, laugh in order to keep from crying. The lines, “are you worried about your faith, kneel down and obey” seem to bring attention to the idea of religions pushing their agenda and expecting their congregation to follow unquestioningly. The ending, “doesn’t anybody ever know that the world’s a subway” could be relating to the idea that on a subway everyone fends for themselves. Another way to take the ending, which correlates with the idea of the song exploring dark media messages is to take into account the amount of subway advertisements there are. I don’t live in a city with a subway but during some of my travels I see a lot of billboards trying to sell us sex, gambling, materialistic obsessions, etc. I can only imagine how one might be bombarded with these messages when a ton of advertisements like those on billboards are crammed into a subway system.
9. Black Lab – Learn to Crawl
This song is inspired by Spiderman. It was featured on the soundtrack to the Spiderman movie starring Tobey McGuire. I believe that it specifically is about Peter Parker’s infatuation with Mary Jane. He is in love with her and in a way, it was a love at first sight which relates to the lyrics, “I could feel you like the spider sting”. In the same way that Peter is learning how use his powers responsibly he is also coming of age and exploring a relationship with Mary Jane. At the start, Peter mainly kept his distance from Mary Jane and watches from afar with admiration (or like a stalker depending on how you want to look at it).
8. Charles Fox – Wonder Woman Theme
This song was the main theme to the 1970’s Wonder Woman TV series. It is a great mix of rock and funk. Yes, it has the lines, “In your satin tights, fighting for your rights” but that is one thing that comics are equal-ish on is that heroes and heroines wear satin tights. Albeit they usually portray the women in comics with more skin revealed. It is almost a testament that Wonder Woman just might be the only character on this list that gets an almost sexism debate. Overall I still really enjoy the song though! Even the latter half of the line reference above calls out Wonder Woman fighting for women’s rights which is unfortunately something that women still have to do today because of the society we live in. Wonder Woman as an icon today is a great proponent in the battle for women’s rights. I love the lines in the song, “Stop a bullet cold, make the axis fold”. Wonder Woman has a history of fighting the Nazi’s. The Nazi’s and the Axis of Evil were quite possibly the worst of humanity. Wonder Woman in contrast is one of the best of humanity or would it be super-humanity? Either way I think we can all agree that Wonder Woman is awesome! As the end of the song goes, “You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!”
7. 3 Doors Down – Kryptonite
This song is inspired by Superman. If you know of Superman then you probably know of his weakness which is the mineral from his home world of Krypton, commonly known as kryptonite. I absolutely LOVED this song when it came out. I would have probably put it higher on the list but it fell victim to the radio effect (incessant overplaying to the point that the next time the song plays it has the effect of kryptonite or igniting a Hulk-like rage). The first part of the song goes like this, “I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind, I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time, I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon I feel there is nothing I can do, yeah” I believe this to be from the POV of a hero but it could theoretically be from the POV of anyone struggling with coming to terms with the state of the world. The latter part suggests a feeling of helplessness as to whether or not anything they do can actually help. Now I want to explore the lines, “I really don’t mind what happens now and then, as long as you’ll be my friend at the end. If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman, if I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand. I’ll keep you by my side with my superhuman might, Kryptonite”. The POV character is coming to terms with their inability to affect the outcome sometimes and feels like they will be ok as long as their friend is with them through it all. They pose questions to their friend asking if they will there for them through the times when the POV character feels insecure or losing their mind and if the friend will be there for them when things are going great as well. The POV character further expresses their desire to have the friend by them through thick and thin by stating that they will keep them by their side with their superhuman might. The POV character then in my opinion calls the friend Kryptonite as if to say that their relationship with them is a form of weakness for the POV character but they don’t mind.
6. Queen – Flash’s Theme
This song was made for the movie Flash Gordon. Queen was actually responsible for most of the soundtrack to the movie. I am not real familiar with the source material and I have never seen the movie but I did really like theme that I stumbled across whilst listening to Queen’s discography. I am a fan most of Queen’s music, especially Bohemiam Rhapsody, The Show Must Go On, I Want to Break Free, etc.
5. Drowning Pool Featuring Rob Zombie – The Man Without Fear
This song was made for the movie Daredevil. The movie sucked. God, it was awful. However, the soundtrack was good. Especially this song by Drowning Pool which is a band that I kind of like and Rob Zombie who is a legend. My favorite lines are, “Everything was shapeless, is clear now, I visualize with a drop of sound, I am the man without fear”. The lines are of course referring to the accident where Matthew Murdock lost his sight and gained his ability to visualize practically everything around him with sounds. He becomes hyper-aware of his other senses and uses those abilities mixed with training to fight crime. The Netflix series does a much better job of capturing the character and is why I chose the video above featuring scenes from the show instead of the movie that the song was made for.
4. Megadeth – Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
This song is inspired by The Punisher. The beginning of the song chronicles a war, possibly a war that Frank Castle was involved with. I’m not sure if that was the intention of the writing of the song but that is how it feels to me. By the end it evolves into the classic characterization of The Punisher where he wages his own war on organized crime and especially those responsible for the death of his family. One of the lines is literally, “Killings, killings, killings, killings” which is apt for character who in the name of vengeance kills, kills, kills, and kills.
3. Ron Wasserman and Shuki Levy – X-Men Theme Song
This is one of the greatest instrumental tracks of all time. Your childhood was not complete if this song wasn’t a part of it. There are too many shows that they have done to list here but some of the notables are this one, Dragonball Z, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, etc. The flow of the song captured the action theme of the series perfectly.
2. Danny Elfman – Batman: The Animated Series
Danny Elfman has been involved with many movies and series over the years. One of the best of which was his composition of the Batman: The Animated Series theme. This was an instrumental piece that captured the character. The theme was dark like the Dark Knight himself. It would give me chills down my spine sometimes. The series itself was one of the greatest animated series of all time and it definitely helped that the score was up to par with the quality of the show. This was another theme that made my childhood. When I heard it start up I knew it was Batman time. If it was Batman time, it was time to shut the fuck up.
1. Iced Earth – Question of Heaven
This song is inspired by Spawn. Spawn (Al Simmons) is my favorite comic book character of all time and imagine my surprise when I found an entire damn album based on the character. Iced Earth’s Dark Saga album is inspired by the character and has Spawn on the cover. The entire album is great but the standout song in my opinion is Question of Heaven. Spawn is stuck in a war between Heaven and Hell. Hell creates hellspawn by making deals with the deceased. They wanted Al Simmons to be a general in their army but they deceived him with lies that he would get to be with the love of his life again. He gets to see her, but she has moved on after his death. If he had known it would be too late to reunite with his love then he would have never taken the deal. He would rather just be completely dead but he is denied this due to his status as a hellspawn. Instead of following Hell’s orders he goes off on his own often playing the role of a anti-hero. My favorite part of the song is, “I did what I thought was right, all for the love of my life, I know it’s sad but true. Something is very wrong, condemned to suffer so long, for a love so true. The question that lies within, is so hard to understand, it still tears at me. And in my dying breath, my heart holds no regrets, I wouldn’t change a thing. My spirit, begins to rise to the heavenly skies, just to be shunned away by you. Now all I want is to die, no streets of gold in the sky. And I wash my hands of you”. Spawn feels betrayed by both sides. He knows that he hasn’t made the best choices and hasn’t lived a perfect life but one thing that he has always done consistently is loved. He doesn’t want entry to Heaven, he just wants it all to end. Finally he asks the question of Heaven, “Why won’t you let me die?”