“I can’t believe I agreed to this,” Bruce muttered, as he locked the front door of Wayne Manor.
“Hey, Bats!” a cheerful voice exclaimed from behind. Bruce turned.
“Peter,” he grumbled at the young man standing in the driveway. “I told you not to call me that when I’m out of the suit.”
“Sorry, Bats! Forgot,” Peter Parker replied merrily.
Bruce groaned inwardly. Here we go again, he thought. “Peter, what are you doing here?” he asked.
“I came to keep you company on the drive!” said Peter. “Plus, you know… Alfred thought if I didn’t, you might not come.”
“So… you came all the way out here just to turn around and go right back?” Bruce said wryly, walking to the car.
“Well, you know, it’s quick when you’re swinging through the air with the greatest of ease.” Peter grinned. “And Aunt May also thought it would be a good idea for me to get out of the house for a few. I think she’s kind of sweet on Alfred, actually.”
“Oh, well, you know. I could be wrong,” Peter said mischievously. “But they were looking pretty cozy over the turkey earlier.”
“Yargh,” Bruce said in a strangled voice. “Uh… well… let’s get going, I guess.” He slung a bag into the back seat and slid into the driver’s side. Peter hopped into the passenger seat.
“How ‘bout some tunes?” Peter asked, pulling out his iPod as Bruce pulled out of the drive. He turned on the radio. “Gah!” he shouted as music blasted; then he laughed. “Wagner? Really, Bats?”
“It’s Bruce, remember?” said Bruce. “And I like Wagner.”
“Yeah, who doesn’t love Ride of the Valkyries? Nothing overdramatic about that.”
“Did you come just to make fun of my musical selections?” asked Bruce.
“Of course not! Alfred said you’ve been feeling kind of down about the whole superhero-ing thing. Like you thought maybe you’re not making much of a difference and nobody appreciates you. So… I dunno, I thought you could use some positive reinforcement. Nobody wants an emo Batman.”
“Emo… ?” Bruce spluttered.
“I’m just sayin’,” said Peter, holding up his hands in mock surrender. He plugged in his iPod. “Anyway, I asked Harry to put together a list of all the songs people have written about superheroes, so we could listen on the drive. You know, to show you how people really do look up to us and we do make a difference. Wanna hear?”
Bruce sighed in defeat against Peter’s incessant good spirits. “Sure, whatever.”
“O-kaaay! Let’s see what we’ve got,” Peter said, pressing play.
“This isn’t bad,” Bruce said after a few seconds. Then the lyrics continued. Peter glanced over at Bruce, who was now glowering at the wheel.
“Hmm… let’s try another one, maybe?” Peter said.
“Excellent plan,” Bruce replied dryly. “I have to admit I like the music, but I’m pretty glad it’s just a song. I really prefer not to think about Superman being dead.”
“Uh, yeah,” Peter said. “Let’s try again.”
“Eminem. Now that I wasn’t expecting,” said Bruce in surprise. “… Although the lyrics aren’t exactly heroic, are they?”
“True; but a) it is so cool that you recognized Eminem in two seconds flat, Bats; and b) he’s a total superhero fan. Or so I hear,” said Peter. “Oh, hey hey! This next one’s about you, I think.” They listened in silence for a minute.
Bruce winced. “Did you even listen to these when Harry gave them to you?”
“Well, okay, I didn’t have time, and I grant you it’s not the greatest song ever… but at least Gotham has its own theme song!” Peter chirped.
“Yeah, somehow I don’t think it goes with the actual ambience of the city,” Bruce deadpanned. “Next.”
A jaunty tune filled the car.
“‘So long, Superman’? Seriously? Catchy, but are you sure Harry isn’t on one of his Evil Goblin kicks again?”
Peter scrunched up his nose. “Well… I mean, he seemed really enthused about the playlist idea.”
“Yeaaaaah. I bet,” Bruce drawled. “Also, why are there so many songs about Superman? What about the other half of our sometimes-team-up. Namely, me? Why the inequality?”
“Dunno, Bats. ‘Once again it’s a mind bender.’“
“… Did you just vaguely mis-quote Method Man?”
“I can’t believe you got that reference. But it’s appropriate! The Wu-Tang Clan loves superheroes.” Peter scrolled down on the playlist. “Looks like Snoop Dogg does too.”
Bruce listened as they drove along. “Well, Peter, I like the rhythm… but I’m pretty sure I’ve never told Alfred to have ‘barbecued buffalo wings and a pitcher of Kool-Aid on chill.’“
“Okay, so maybe they put their own spin on things. But still! They loved you enough to make a whole song about you!”
“With sound effects and everything. I’m honored.” Bruce said, a bit sarcastically.
“Okay, okay, well hey, you know, here’s a different take,” Peter said, hurriedly pushing buttons. “I bet you love this one, huh?”
“… Is this… Prince? Prince did a Batman song? What’s this called?”
“Seriously? You’ve never seen the Batdance before? Bats, you need to get out more.”
“Oh-em-gee; I can’t wait to watch the video with you. YouTube, here we come!”
“Nice try, Peter, but I am not letting you suck me into the bottomless pit that is YouTube again.” Bruce grumped. “It’s almost as bad as TV Tropes.”
“We’ll see.” Peter hit the button again. Bruce listened in silence for awhile.
“Huh – I actually really like this one. What’s it called? Maybe I’ll have Alfred download it for me later.”
“That’s the spirit! It’s The Ballad of Barry Allen by Jim’s Big Ego.”
“That’s a ridiculous name for a band.” Bruce paused. “Good song though. Let it play.”
[3 minutes later]
“Okay, this one’s the whiniest thing I’ve ever heard. What’s it called?”
Peter squirmed a little. “Uh – Spidey’s Curse?”
Bruce laughed. “Talk about emo.” He laughed some more and Peter thought he heard a snort. “Your theme song is one long whiny drone!”
“It’s not my theme song, Bats! Anyway, I much prefer Dashboard Confessional’s take. If I had to pick, I’d go with Vindicated,” Peter said, skipping ahead again.
“Okay,” said Bruce. “I’ve actually heard that one and shockingly, I’d have to agree.”
“And you’d also have to agree that this is awesome,” Peter said, skipping to the next song.
“Well everybody likes this one. But I mean, Harry does realize it’s not actually about Tony Stark, right?”
“You know,” Peter said thoughtfully, “it’s not, but somehow it is.”
“Touché,” replied Bruce. At the beginning of the next song, he grunted. “Another Superman song? Really?”
“Yeah, but this one’s really good. I think Harry likes these next three as much as me – he put them all in a row.”
“So we could get sick of Superman getting all the good songs faster? Hey, did he put Jimmy Olsen’s Blues on there? Now there’s a song I can sympathize with.”
Peter looked over at Bruce. “Wow, Bats. Are you… are you jealous of Clark? I mean, suave billionaire that you are, I wouldn’t have thought it.”
“Of course not, Peter. You know Clark’s like a brother to me. He’s just… a little unreal sometimes, is all. I can sympathize with Jimmy. We’re only human.”
“Fair point. Ooh, here, I like this one,” Peter said, scrolling to Weezer. “Kinda makes me feel like I’m back in high school.”
“What, like yesterday?” Bruce snarked.
“Ha. Ha.” Peter replied.
Bruce swung the car into a familiar driveway to the end chords of In the Garage.
“Oh hey! We’re here. Aunt May’s going to be so happy to see you! Betchya ten bucks she tries to get you to eat something within the first three minutes.”
“No bet,” said Bruce, smiling as the door opened on Aunt May and Alfred.
“Happy Thanksgiving!” they both exclaimed, as Aunt May took the bottle of wine Bruce was holding out and gave him a big hug.
“Glad you could make it, Master Bruce,” said Alfred, as Aunt May said, “So good to see you again, Bruce. Come in, come in!”
Aunt May bustled away with the wine, calling over her shoulder, “I bet you’re hungry – but never fear! I have some mini quiches with your name on them!”
Peter and Bruce exchanged an amused look. “Thank you, Aunt May, that sounds delightful,” Bruce replied politely as they stepped inside.
“So, Bats,” Peter said quietly as they stood for a moment watching Aunt May and Alfred hurry around setting food on the table, “what did you think of the music? All those people inspired to write about us in their songs; wanting to be like us, or looking up to us, or even just thinking about what our lives are like?”
“It does lend a different perspective, I’ll admit,” Bruce replied. “Also I’ve now learned that rappers really love comics. Was that the whole playlist?”
“Nope! Guess we’ll just have to save the rest for the ride back to Wayne Manor.”
“Oh, joy,” Bruce said. But he was smiling when he said it.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Bruce.”
“Happy Thanksgiving, Peter.”
Spidey and Bats’ Infinite Playlist
Our Lady Peace – Superman’s Dead
Eminem – Superman
R. Kelly – Gotham City
Firewater – So Long, Superman
RBX, Snoop Dogg, & The Lady of Rage – Batman & Robin
Prince – Batdance
Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen
Black Lips — Spidey’s Curse
Dashboard Confessional – Vindicated
Black Sabbath – Iron Man
3 Doors Down – Kryptonite
Crash Test Dummies – Superman’s Song
Five for Fighting – Superman
Spin Doctors – Jimmy Olsen’s Blues
Weezer – In the Garage
Drowning Pool – The Man Without Fear
Method Man – The Riddler
Big Head Todd and the Monsters – Resignation Superman
Lemon Demon – The Ultimate Showdown for Ultimate Destiny
The Kinks – Catch Me Now I’m Falling
Me’shell Ndegeocell – Poison Ivy
Suicide – Ghost Rider
Saving Jane – Supergirl
Dangerdoom – Space Ho’s
moe. – Captain America
The Traits – Nobody Loves The Hulk
Sufjan Stevens – The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
Rancid – Side Kick
Rush – Ghost Rider
Remy Zero – Save Me
Panic! at the Disco – Mercenary
Bow Wow – Batman
Anthrax – I Am the Law
Black Lab – Learn to Crawl
R.E.M. – Superman
The Brunettes – Hulk is Hulk
They Might Be Giants – Particle Man
Laverne Baker – Batman to the Rescue
The Ramones – Spider-Man
[Author’s note: Yes, yes, I crossed the streams. Sue me. But you know in a perfect world Spider-Man and Batman would be oddly fantastic friends. Anyway, Happy (slightly belated) Thanksgiving, everyone! And I hope I’ve maybe added a bit to your nerdy playlists this week. Servo Lectio!]
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold