Comic Book / Just Imagine... Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe

In 2001, Stan Lee was asked to re-write the DC Universe from the bottom up. Wait... Batman's the son of a cop? Superman's an Anti-Hero? Robin's a thief? How did all this happen?

Exactly What It Says on the Tin, Just Imagine... was a series started in 2001, when Stan Lee collaborated with DC Comics to reimagine DC's biggest heroes from his own storytelling perspective. Origins are radically changed (as are the causes for their powers) while still keeping to the basic mythologies of the various characters.

The characters were:

Tropes featured in this work include:

  • Cat Girl: Catwoman, natch. She can see in the dark, has cat-like reflexes and the ability to jump really far, and can shoot out really long claws.
  • City of Adventure: It's actually not New York, or a DC equivalent, this time. In this universe, Los Angeles is the superhero capital of the world.
  • Composite Character: Green Lantern in this telling looks like a mixture between Alan Scott (whose powers are based in mysticism) and Hal Jordan (strength of character and enormous courage).
  • The Dark Side: The purple side anyway. Reverend Darrk and his cult worship it and use the darkness to their own ends.
  • Disposable Love Interest: Steve Trevor for Wonder Woman.
  • Disposable Woman: Superman's wife Lyella, and possibly Cathy for Green Lantern.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Flash is female in this 'verse. There are female Flashes in the regular DC 'verse as well (Iris West and Jesse Quick), who may be inspirations for this character.
  • Elemental Powers: Aquaman is made of water. He's basically a heroic version of the Marvel villain Hydroman.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: After Guitez fuses with the dark entity, requiring Maria to kill him via Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Robin/Hawkman.
  • Freudian Excuse: Parasite was abused as a child.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: This is how Mary/Flash gets her powers. It's also stated that genetic engineering is needed to survive time travel.
  • Handwave: By his own admission, Stan admitted in a commentary bubble that Salden/Superman's picking up on speaking English really quickly * due to it's extreme simplicity compared to Kryptonian is this.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Doom Patrol falls to their own attempts to fight — Blockbuster is electrocuted by a loose wire caused by his fight with Batman and Wonder Woman, Parasite ascends to Heaven when she attempts to control Green Lantern and encounters Yggdrasil instead and Deathstroke is killed when he grabs himself trying to grab the faster Flash.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: This doesn't even begin to describe STEALTH. Their boss, Lady Zakara, constantly kills her henchmen at the slightest provocation and tries to kill her own Dragon even after he proved loyal and effective, ignores warning from her men about the dangers of Time Travel, and her men keep working for her despite all of this. In fact, by the end of the book, the Flash barely had anything to do in order to defeat them, because they did a pretty good job at destroying themselves.
  • In-Name-Only: This trope is a deliberate unifying premise in the series. Unlike Elseworlds, which is a re-imagining of a DC character that usually retains most of the core elements, this series attaches the existing names to completely different characters with different powers, costumes, origins, appearances, and personalities. Usually, the only common element is that they're metahumans (or vigilantes) in a modern setting.
  • Jumped at the Call: Catwoman and Flash are easily the most enthusiastic of the superheroes to fight crime.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Flash, by virtue of being the character to jump to the call, having the most optimistic personality, and being the youngest of the cast.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Superman names himself Clark Kent by seeing the words spelled out on a van and a street sign, respectively.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: When Maria/Wonder Woman learns that her father is Guitez's puppet.
  • Mayincatec: Maria/Wonder Woman's culture can be summed up as this.
  • Mythology Gag: A book about reinvented DC heroes appropriately has a Bigger Bad named Crisis.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: On Krypton, all police officers are genetically engineered to be superstrong and durable, except Superman. That's right; on Krypton, Superman was the Team Normal!
  • Pet the Dog: When Parasite takes over Green Lantern, she accidentally contacts Yggdrasil and it notices the harm and the pain she dealt with. He offers to free her from all of that and ascend to heaven. She happily accepts.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Part of Batman's backstory; after being framed for a crime he didn't commit, the skinny Wayne Williams started exercising strenuously until he had nearly doubled in size. He also spent a lot of time in the prison library, training his mind to match his body.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Aquaman injects himself with his formula to test if it will help him breathe underwater.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Inverted with Lois Lane in this 'verse. In every other incarnation of Superman's story, she's consistently shown as the Man of Steel's primary love interest, but here she's simply his agent who cares more for the money his superhuman abilities can bring.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: Batman is a massively popular pro-wrestler by day, and though the theatrics of wrestling are at the forefront, the "theater" part isn't.
  • Race Lift: Batman's black, Robin's Hispanic, and Wonder Woman is Peruvian and gets her powers from Mayincatec mythology.
  • Religion of Evil: The Church of Eternal Empowerment, led by Reverend Darrk. The not-so-good Rev. is basically an Expy of Brother Blood.
  • Self-Made Man: Whereas Bruce Wayne was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Wayne Williams is this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • An early sketch for Darrk looks like Emperor Palpatine. He also Vader-chokes a subordinate at one point.
    • Each source from the Line-of-Sight Name mentioned above had two names. Salden (Superman) chose Clark Kent, but another possible combination could be Peter Parker.