One of the great benefits to using a music streaming service is the ability to listen to playlists made by friends, family, or strangers with excellent taste. Whether the playlist is created by Rob Gordon or Star-Lord's mother, the sharing of a playlist forges a special bond between the listener and the creator. Lately, comic-book artists and writers have been expanding upon the fans' experience with the written page by curating Spotify or YouTube soundtracks that enhance the printed story, and in doing so, unlock a new element to the character's mindset or environment. Depending on the comic-book creator, the soundtrack may further explore the characters' milieu or build upon the atmospheric, creating a mood that follows the tension of the events. Here is a list of the greatest comic-book soundtracks of 2015.
Hawkeye: David Aja (User: Greyrabbit)
As editor Sana Amanat said in the final issue, "Hawkeye signaled a shift in the way (they) told comics at Marvel. Not only stylistically, but story-wise as well." David Aja wanted to extend the reading experience by tailoring Spotify playlists to each issue. After each issue, he released a Spotify and YouTube playlist on his blog. Playlists were primarily jazz with sprinklings of Frank Zappa tunes, movie soundtracks from Rosemary's Baby and Dirty Harry, and the occasional late-1950s pop song. And as for the famous sign language issue: Only 60 minutes of silence could suffice.
The Wicked + The Divine: Kieron Gillen (User: MissAdaLovelace)
Created by one of the most music focused writers working today, both Phonogram and The Wicked + The Divine showcases influences of Britpop, glam rock and, well, Prince. Unsurprisingly, Kieron is one of the most active writers on Spotify. While he doesn't create soundtracks to each individual issue, he does maintain and update playlists for each of his current projects, including a Darth Vader playlist that features "The Imperial March" on repeat (probably what Darth rocks out to on a regular basis). The Wicked + The Divine playlist is especially impressive, with 294 songs and over 21 hours of music that is updated frequently. Prepare to cancel your weekend plans and find your next favorite band.
Descender: Jeff Lemire (User: Jefflemire171)
Jeff Lemire's Descender playlist is psychedelia mix smeared with pop loneliness that includes songs from The War on Drugs, Canoe and Young Liars before culminating in the frenzy that is Future Island's "Long Flight" and David Lynch's "Good Day Today." It accurately highlights the expansive emptiness on the forgotten moon, especially in Mark Ruston's beautifully haunting "Beneficial," as well as the fear and dangers that are destined to arrive. These songs display an arc that we can see reflected in Tim-21's current state of alienation with a frantic ending that leaves us speculating as to what may come.
Rebels: Brian Wood (User: brianwood72)
In Brian Wood's latest historical fiction, he takes on his own local history. As a native of Vermont, Wood's Rebels highlights the politics and discontent behind the Revolutionary War with a soundtrack that contains both fiddles and war marches as well as rousing bluegrass tunes from Gillian Welch and Bruce Springsteen. It's a playlist that sings Americana from high up on the Appalachian mountain trail and a perfect accompaniment to a tale about the country's distinctive beginning.
Southern Cross: Becky Cloonan (User: Beckycloonan)
The Alan Parson Project's "Sirius" has a familiarity and intensity that perfectly accompanies the beginning of Southern Cross as Alex Braith starts retracing her sister's steps to the refinery moon. Cloonan expertly acclimates the elements of mystery and supernatural in Southern Cross with Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Russian Circles before ending the mostly instrumental soundtrack with an explosion of devilish otherworldliness from Neurosis, Enslaved and, finally, Black Sabbath's "The Sign of the Southern Cross." A word of caution from the creator: This playlist is so heavy, you might be crushed by the weight of it. You are warned!
Wytches: Scott Snyder (User: 125752375)
Filled with southern rock from Drive-By Truckers, Sturgill Simpson and Shovels & Rope, as well as independent classics from Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement, Scott Snyder's Wytches soundtrack thoroughly inhabits the woody terrain of Litchfield, N.H. These alt-rock songs not only provide ambience to the small town but also a look into the alienated mindset of Sailor and her father as they try to accept what is happening to them. As with all Snyder's horror stories, there is a psychological element to the fear that works as a reflection of the monsters surrounding the characters to the pain within the heart of the story's protagonist, and these songs provide an excellent additional layer of understanding to both their situation and journey.
Fresh Romance: Janelle Asselin (User: 1221344675)
Straight out of a kickstarter campaign, Fresh Romance is exactly what the name implies, an original, fun and fresh look at a high-school love affair. This time around, the high-school romance takes the two women who are vying for the guy and makes them actually in love with each other, playing roles to keep their love affair a secret. Asselin creates a massive 270-song playlist that might be the best comic soundtrack ever to dance to. Beyonce, Meghan Trainor and even the Spin Doctors round up a list that fans can groove on all day.
Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: James Roberts (User: Unknown)
A fresh and entire original take on an established brand, James Roberts's IDW's Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye is exactly what the title suggests. The comic is beginning to establish a cult following, landing has been on multiple best comic series lists of 2014. Before each issue comes out, writer James Roberts lists a couple of songs (as well as lists of references and notes) that accompany the story in the IDW Publishing Forum. These have been compiled on Spotify by fans of the comic and add to the fun of one of the most underrated comics currently being produced.
Spider-Gwen: Jason Latour (User: Unknown)
Spider-Gwen has become one of the biggest hits of 2015, with Jason Latour creating not only a fresh new character, but one with an awesome outfit to match. Latour accompanied the hot release with a playlist for Paste Magazine that includes commentary for each song. Since Gwen is an ex-drummer in New York's hottest indie band, it's only fitting that Latour compile a vigorous, rocking soundtrack with kickass tunes from The Runaways, Pixies and Wu-Tang Clan to match the energy of fast-paced comic. This soundtrack has some major street cred numbers on it that reflects the comic's rebellious tone and may be the best soundtrack to break out on a regular basis.