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

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Fighting crime to make Earth's space program flourish. note 

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 feel of the various characters.

The characters rebooted include:

As of Grant Morrison's The Multiversity, this universe has been officially designated as Earth-6 in the DC Multiverse. The characters would go on to have cameos and guest appearances in other work that involved the multiverse.

21 years after this continuity was established, a one-shot revisiting the Just Imagine universe titled Tales from Earth-6: A Celebration of Stan Lee was released, which had a multitude of authors writing new stories for Stan Lee's take on the DC heroes.

Tropes featured in this work include:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Superman is blond.
  • Adaptation Species Change: This continuity's version of Aquaman is a super-powered human rather than an Atlantean.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change:
    • Instead of being able to breathe underwater, communicate telepathically to fish and having the durability to survive underwater pressure, this continuity's Aquaman is able to transform into living water as well as manipulate the water around him.
    • Played straight with two of the three members of this continuity's Doom Patrol. Deathstroke can cause instant death with a touch rather than being a mercenary with superhuman strength and durability, while Parasite can fly and possess people rather than absorb energy from people while copying the powers of superhuman victims. Blockbuster is still a super-strong behemoth like his namesake in the standard DC universe.
  • Adaptational Villainy: This continuity's Doom Patrol is a villain team rather than a hero team (while the namesakes of the individual members Parasite, Deathstroke and Blockbuster were already villains).
  • Adapted Out: Martian Manhunter is the only one of the main Justice League roster who does not get a counterpart in this universe, presumably because a reinventing of him would've been more difficult to conceive than the other heroes' reimaginings.
  • Alliterative Name: Many (but not all) characters have names that are alliterations in this continuity, including Superman (Salden)- Wayne Williams (Batman), Maria Mendoza (Wonder Woman), Mary Maxwell (The Flash), Leonard Lewis (Green Lantern), Robert Rogers (Captain Marvel), Ramon Raymond (Aquaman), and Joanie Jordan (Catwoman). Not surprising considering this is Stan Lee we're talking about.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Superman just wants to go back home, and he figures he can turn humanity's minds toward space exploration once they're free of the distractions of war and crime.
    • Catwoman is vain and something of a kleptomaniac (much like the original!).
  • Ascended Fangirl: Mary/Flash was a big superhero comic book fan before getting her powers.
  • Badass Normal: Batman, naturally, has no actual powers and relies on mastering physical combat.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Inverted. Batman got out of prison knowing that Handz would be after him, so he shaved his head bald and turned his goatee into a handlebar mustache.
  • Big Bad: Crisis turns out to be behind all the conflict and serves as the final threat faced by the heroes in the concluding Crisis one-shot.
  • Bad Boss: Lady Zakara, who runs STEALTH, practically kills her minions on a whim if one so much as even questions her as well as failure. When she does get her hands on time travel, she kills even more just to keep the secert to herself despite one trying to warn her of the effects of said time travel.
  • Body Horror: The aptly named Furgo the Flesh-Crawler can basically cause somebody's flesh to animate and begin moving independently under his command. Whilst he mostly uses it to terrify people into submission, he can also kill people by crushing them in their own skin.
  • Cat Girl: Catwoman, natch. She can see in the dark, has cat-like reflexes and the ability to jump really far, and can change her fingers into elongated, claw-like talons.
  • 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).
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Lois Lane constantly tries to convince Salden to become this. He seems indifferent to the idea.
  • 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.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Handz has Wanye framed for robbery simply because he tried to fight him, despite 1) Handz pretty much made his point by nearly crushing Wanye's hands and 2) this came after Wanye had saved Handz' girlfriend from a drive-by attempt.
  • 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.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: The Flash's costume has ribbons of all seven colors attached at the back which makes her streak a rainbow.
  • 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.
  • Grand Finale: The Crisis one-shot serves as the conclusion of the series, as it has all of the heroes of the Just Imagine universe banding together to defend the world from Crisis.
  • Handwave: By his own admission, Stan admitted in a commentary bubble that Salden/Superman's picking up on speaking English really quickly due to its 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 warnings 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 to do anything 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.
  • Made of Iron: Zorgal of STEALTH. Zakara blows him up for no reason and he manages to survive unscathed. When the Flash tries to fight him head on, her punches barely do anything, and it takes having to actually electrocute him to stop him.
  • Mayincatec: Maria/Wonder Woman's culture can be summed up as this.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A book about reinvented DC heroes appropriately has a villain named Crisis.
    • Secret Files and Origins features a panel of Superman lifting a car that directly copies the cover to the first issue of Action Comics, Superman's debut.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: On Krypton, all police officers are genetically engineered to be super-strong and durable, except Superman. That's right; on Krypton, Superman was the Team Normal!
  • Not His Sled:
    • At the end of Wonder Woman's one-shot, a man named Carter and a woman named Saunders find a pair of hawk totems believed to grant powers to whoever drops them on the floor. They choose not to do anything with the amulets and pass their chance at becoming the Just Imagine universe's Hawkman and Hawkwoman.
    • Robin's one-shot has Batman offer to be partners near the end. Robin turns him down.
  • Once per Episode: Every issue features Reverend Darrk in what would be Foreshadowing had they been actual series instead of one-shots.
  • 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.
  • Practically Joker: Batman's story in the Tales from Earth-6 one-shot has him fighting a villain called the Choker, who is a very obvious imitation of the Joker, right down to having purple clothes, pale skin, green hair and stated to have the given name of Jack.
  • 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... Which, ironically, makes him at least partly similar to Bane.
  • 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 and Steve Trevor are black, Robin's Hispanic, and Wonder Woman is Peruvian and gets her powers from Mayincatec mythology. Whilst she never gets empowered in the comic, Dinah Drake is also African-American.
  • 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-Disposing Villain: Zakara who the Flash barely meets for ten seconds before she drops dead due to aftereffects of time traveling causing her to rapidly age. One of her henchmen did try to warn her but she stupidly kept brushing aside their concerns.
  • 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. Like Peter, he also uses his powers in professional fights to get some money.
  • Stealth Pun: Dinah Drake, whose counterpart in the normal DC universe is the superheroine Black Canary, is a black woman with a pet canary.
  • Stupid Evil: Lady Zakara randomly kills her own men at the slightest provocation or failure, then tries to kill Zorgul even though he has been effective and completely loyal so far, and refuses to listen to a warning from one of her men until it's too late despite him insisting multiple times. Zorgul himself somehow buys it when she tells him his attempted murder was an accident. And the Mooks as a whole still accept to follow Zakara despite her proving several times she is the worst boss ever.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lady Andrea Zakara from The Flash issue. Let's see, she blatantly ignores her own minions trying to warn her about the prolonged use of her time travel device, kills said minion for trying to warn her for a third time in a row, then she uses said unstable device for a long time and then she promptly suffers from Rapid Aging.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Handz, the main villain of Batman's origins, practically antagonizes Wayne just because he saved his girlfriend from a drive-by attempt. Seriously.
  • Uranus Is Showing: In the Secret Files and Origins one-shot, Superman gets pissed off at being asked if he came from Uranus before Lois Lane explains to him that that's the name of a planet.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Shazam keeps saying "Shazam" and is Brought Down to Normal each time.
    • Green Lantern is vulnerable to the color purple, which just happens to be the color of the energy he's fighting.
    • Anything Deathstroke touches dies, including himself.
  • Wolverine Claws: Catwoman has the ability to extend her fingers into elongated, razor-sharp talons. Much like how Aquaman resembles a heroic counterpart to Marvel's Hydroman, they make her look like a non-deformed version of Lady Deathstrike.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Handz, the gangster that kicks off Batman's origin story.
  • You Killed My Father: Batman says this to the gangster responsible for his father's death.