Sam’s cosmology

The pantheon.  Click for much larger view.

As we see, the Justice League takes up the top shelf, as befitting their status as supreme beings.  The order of the seven is taken from Justice League publicity materials, which always order them in this way. 

But then, curiously, the Justice Lords (the evil Justice League from an alternate time-stream) are placed on the same shelf, and in the same order (minus Justice Lord Flash [or Reverse Flash], who is not featured as a member of the Justice Lords proper [except for the false Justice Lords generated by the Luthor/Brainiac monster]).

Below the Justice League are the second-tier Leaguers: Plastic Man (a custom job bought on eBay), Vixen (posed below her current boyfriend, Green Lantern) Shining Knight (who should be posed beside Vigilante, who has not yet been acquired), Black Lightning and Isis (two more eBay custom jobs), Robin (Robin?  The hell is he doing here?), Atom Smasher (the lone Justice Leaguer who claims Jewishness as part of his identity in this otherwise areligious team), Green Arrow (mysteriously, not posed next to Black Canary), Aquaman (note that the Aquaman posed here is the one without the cape; this is the real Aquaman), Batgirl (partially obscured) (Batgirl?!), Huntress, Atom, Red Tornado, Hawk, Dove, Metamorpho and Zatanna.

(Sam is loath to place one character in front of the other — they are all equal [on their shelves] to each other.  It pained him to place Aquaman in front of Batgirl but he was forced to due to space considerations.)

Then, we have the third-stringers, or supporting characters: Supergirl (whom I would have placed in the second tier), Orion, Black Canary (another second-level hero, imho), Starman, Booster Gold (a third-shelfer, even though he has his own episode of JLU, Elongated Man (yes, the official Elongated Man is trumped by a custom Plastic Man, as he should be), Nightwing (Nightwing?) Steel, Wildcat, Waverider, Dr. Light (that’s Dr. Light II, not the rapist of Elongated Man’s wife), Aztek, Dr. Fate, Rocket Red, The Creeper.

I do not know what system Sam uses to rank these figures.  Black Lightning is a second-shelfer, even though Sam knows very little about him and has not seen him featured on the show, and while he’s never seen a Plastic Man comic and he is not featured on any of the Justice League shows, Sam somehow understands thathe outranks Elongated Man (comics fans, of course, know that Plastic Man did not begin his life as a DC hero, he was purchased from another publisher; Elongated Man was the pale imitation DC cooked up so they could have their own stretchy guy).  Isis has never been featured on the show or even in the tie-in comics; Red Tornado he finds compelling enough to put on the second shelf, even though the character only has the most passing moments on the show.  Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl get included, even though they are not part of the League (and are presumably either off with the Teen Titans or guarding Gotham City, dating Bruce Wayne (Batgirl only) (I think) and growing old while waiting for Terry McGuiness to take up the Batman mantle).  (And before anyone starts complaining about Robin and Nightwing being featured at the same time, the Robin featured here is Tim Drake, not Dick Grayson.)  The Green Lantern Corps (Katma Tui, Kyle Raynor, Arkkis Chummuck, Tomar Re, Kilowog), although they dominate several key episodes, currently reside in a bench on the other side of the room (presumably the bench is the same relative distance from the shelf as Oa is to Earth).  Vixen is posed beneath Green Lantern, but Zatanna is not posed beneath Batman, although they have been romantically linked.

The underworld.  Click for much larger view.

On the bottom shelf, crammed together, we have the villains, with the most powerful in the center, growing less powerful (or relevant) as we move to the edges.  Thus, Lex Luthor, Joker and Brainiac take center stage (with the Very Tall Darkseid, Doomsday and Bane behind), flanked by Poison Ivy, Amazo, Mr. Freeze and the ultra-lame Copperhead to the left, and Catwoman (seated), Sinestro, Two-Face, Bizarro, Harley Quinn (obscured by Bizarro), and the ultra-lame Mirror Master to the right.

Even casual Justice League viewers will note the preponderance of Batman villains here.  Strictly speaking, Joker, Bane, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn shouldn’t be here at all (although some of them put in a brief appearance in a couple of episodes).  It is, I’m guessing, their overwhelming importance to the Batman/Gotham City mythos that warrant their inclusion in the Legion of Doom.

I cannot explain Poison Ivy’s outranking of Amazo.  The Amazo character in Justice League is one of the key stories of the whole series, second only to the Justice Lords scenario.  We even have two other Amazo figures (one gold and one clear, symbolizing different levels of Amazo’s evolution), which have been banished along with the Green Lantern Corps (perhaps for similar thematic reasons — Amazo does, after all, leave Earth when it has nothing more to offer him).  Similarly, I cannot explain why Catwoman is seated; Sam is adamant about this point however and has corrected her posture on more than one occasion.  The Joker’s distance from Harley can be explained for character reasons (Joker seems to spend half his time distancing himself from Harley) (He’s even gotten Bizarro to hold her off).

Reverse Flash, who until recently lived between Harley Quinn and Mirror Master, now mysteriously resides in a box under the desk.
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58 Responses to “Sam’s cosmology”
  1. mr_rakshasa says:

    That’s a nice bunch of heroes. If I find Vigilante, I’ll let you know.
    Also, Plastic Man? Please. Ralph is also a detective.

    • mr_rakshasa says:

      Further – Hello!

    • Todd says:

      Vigilante, as well as Shade and other “VHTF” characters, are easily available on eBay. I am merely trying to teach my son patience and thrift.

      • mr_rakshasa says:

        Shade’s difficult to find? I think the only reason we haven’t picked one up for Tom is that he hasn’t seen Shade in any episodes. On the other hand, I’m having a hard time convincing his mum that he REALLY REALLY needs Metamorpho.

        He’ll help with chemistry and stuff!

      • mr_rakshasa says:

        I hear there’s a giant Hourman but we haven’t seen him anywhere. I (and probably I alone) like Hourman, dubious drug-message aside.
        Also, what’s your son’s feelings on the Atom? Tom hasn’t seen him in any episodes but he likes the idea that he shrinks and has come up with a lot of inventive uses for his shrinking (he gets blown by the wind up into the clouds and runs on clouds which he can do because he’s small). At the moment, he’s second only to The Flash, Batman and Superman in terms of cool as far as Tom goes.

        • greyaenigma says:

          If you zoom in really far, you might see a 1-2 pixel tall Atom.

          • Todd says:

            We do own several inch-tall Atoms (one comes with every “normal”-size Atom you buy), and I have often tried to display them along with the other toys, but this is unacceptable to Sam, as it destroys the space-time continuum. We can’t display the Atom twice, what the hell is that supposed to mean?

            • greyaenigma says:

              Just explain that it’s a quantum temporal illusion. He only appears to be in two places at once. Or that could be the dimensionally shifted Atom from another (possibly smaller) universe, since there’s no trouble with the Justice Lords being there.

            • How can you *not* understand???

              If Atom sees himself on the same shelf, albeit in a different size, it’s like… it’s like… if Marty saw himself in Back to the Future. I know it’s not a comics-related concept, but your son is right. You would be destroying the space-time continuum!

        • Todd says:

          I hear there’s a giant Hourman but we haven’t seen him anywhere.

          The Mattel Justice League Checklist makes no reference to an Hourman figure, giant or otherwise. There is, bizarrely, a 10″ Reverse Flash available, but even Sam thought that was too weird to include in his collection.

          Sam loves the Atom; he’s like Flash but with a different power. Ray Palmer doesn’t seem to get rattled by anything and he gets to sneak around places where others can’t. Plus Sam’s favorite issue of the Justice League Unlimited comic involves Atom leading a group of other heroes into the microverse to battle a tiny alien invasion in the Watchtower. In that story, Atom is supremely capable and authoritative, while Firestorm, Wonder Woman and Ice get sick, confused and disoriented. A perfect story for a small child, put the tiny hero in a situation where he’s the authority and the grown-up heroes have to be tutored and carried.

          He recently spent a six-hour car ride reading that issue over and over; it didn’t hurt that the layout and drawings (by Carlo Barbieri, one of my favorites) were fluid, dynamic, humorous and thrilling.

  2. eronanke says:

    Catwoman is seated, setting her apart from the villain – her morality is *always* in question due to her intimacy with Batman. Her placement distances her from the ‘real’ villains, and brings her closer to the viewer. Definitely a calculated move by your brilliant son to convey, visually, her separate placement on the good vs. bad spectrum.

    PS- I had the same type of set up, but with X-Men, of course.

    • Todd says:

      Catwoman is seated, setting her apart from the villain – her morality is *always* in question due to her intimacy with Batman.

      Of course. I should have guessed. I wonder what he would do with a Lois Lane figure, if he had one.

      • eronanke says:

        *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

        I would suspect a new catagory would emerge- “the non-powered, non-masked, but good”, or, perhaps, just a “non-powered, non-masked”.

        Going with the comparison to theology; if reverse-Flash resides in a box under a desk, there must be a trait or a alienating element that makes him wholly unnacceptable as a hero/anti-hero – his isolation from the rest of the group can be either paralleled by his desire to isolate himself, (like Amaterasu of Japanese mythology), or his exile (like Seth of Egyptian mythos). Either he is too powerful, (which The Flash *never* seemed to me, but is, perhaps, psychologically threatening to your son for some reason), or he is impotent in your son’s eyes.

        Then again, it’s all theory.

        • Todd says:

          Re: *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

          I asked him last night before bed, “Why is Reverse Flash in the box under the desk?” (that’s where doubled figures, extraneous props, and “ones with bendy arms” [which Sam cannot abide for some reason] reside). Sam looked confused and said “He is?” but did not make an effort to get him out.

          His confusion was a bluff. Reverse Flash had been on the shelf earlier and had not “fallen off” (as even superheroes do sometimes), he had been deliberately put into exile. The reasons for this (and Sam’s bluff) remain mysterious, but I imagine it’s something along the lines you suggest; the idea of an “evil Flash” run counter to Sam’s notion of the character; it’s an idea too horrible to contemplate and the figure must be kept apart even from the other villains.

          • eronanke says:

            Re: *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

            Is The Flash meant to be a younger, sweeter character? More innocent? Perhaps he identifies with The Flash, and therefore cannot abide The Reverse Flash.. it is the opposite of *him*!

            • Todd says:

              Re: *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

              I’ve been told that the Justice League Flash is Wally West, not Barry Allen, which apparently makes a difference.

              • eronanke says:

                Re: *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

                From the Wally West entry on Wikipedia, sectioned under “DC Animated Universe: Justice League Unlimited”

                His personality is more or less the same as it was from his appearance on Superman: The Animated Series, and his flippant attitude often annoys his teammates, most notably John Stewart, the Green Lantern. The Flash is often used to provide comic relief from the often intense nature of his fellow Leaguers, though there are a few episodes which he is the featured hero. However, in one episode of Justice League Unlimited, he complains to Elongated Man that he dislikes being viewed as the “teenage sidekick” even though he was part of the original seven.

                Sounds like a good evidence for my theory!

        • greyaenigma says:

          Re: *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

          I think it’s because he’s not a character. The Justice Lords are just the Justice League rotated slightly towards meglomania. (It’s worth noting they still think of themselves as heroes.) The Flash should be much more powerful than they let him be — it’s only in that one fight that he really reveals what he could do. Heck, a simple lesson in mass relatively would do him a world of good — instead of throwing pebbles or punches at super-speed, accelerating to superspeed while holding a rock, then throw it. Anyway.

          As Todd says, evil/Reverse Flash only appears briefly in one episode, and while he probably has a couple of lines, that’s probably not enough to set him apart as a character. I think the whole cosmology is based on how important they are as characters in terms of the Justice League.

          • Todd says:

            Re: *finally a use for my anthropology training!*

            The Flash should be much more powerful than they let him be

            His power in a fight still seems to be limited to the “spinning around” theory of physics — any force can be defeated if one spins around it long enough.

  3. greyaenigma says:

    that’s Dr. Light II, not the rapist of Elongated Man’s wife

    You know, I just started reading this story last night, and I was lamenting that I’d only the other day spoiled much of it for myself on Wikipedia. Except for that bit. Poor Sue. Poor Ralph.

    The LoD seems to be based on nemesistic quality, rather than sheer power. Lex Luthor and Joker are of course the classic, iconic nemeses, while Bane and Doomsday are the ones that brought the most physical harm to our heroes. For power’s sake, Amazo and Bizarro should have been right in the middle, but that doesn’t seem to be the scheme.

    I agree with e on the placement of Catwoman. I was first thinking she should be in the heroes, but this makes more sense. The only thing that was work better would be to have her dangling her legs down into heroism, but we could allow the villains to be above the heroes.

    I note that Robin is directly beneath Batman. And I recall Red Tornado appearing in several different credit sequences (if not the main JLU credits, which may inflate his apparent importance).

  4. craigjclark says:

    What’s on the shelf above the Justice League and Lords? I see numerous boots and capes.

    • Todd says:

      Above the Justice League is a shelf with slightly higher overhead; that is where his 6″ non DCAU DC figures live. They include Parallax (whom Sam [and I] knows nothing about, only that he’s Hal Jordan turned evil) Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Superman, two different Batmans, Robin, an Alex Ross Aquaman, a superb floating, glow-in-the-dark Spectre, and a Huntress from Hush.

      Atop the shelf unit, which has unlimited overhead, is where his 10″ Justice League lives. This group should include all the 10″ figures available, but, due to price and scarcity, only includes Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Batman, Green Arrow, Flash, Superman and Atom.

      • craigjclark says:

        I can only imagine what my toy collection would have been like if I had had shelves. My brother and I had a lot of action figures — mostly Star Wars and G.I. Joes — but we never had a place to display them. They were there for us to play with them and when we were done they were put away in the chest. After a while, we didn’t even care which gun went with each figure.

        At the moment, I have three to my name — a 6″ Moltar and “invisible” Space Ghost from Coast to Coast and a 5″ black and white Clerks “inaction” figure of Dante. All are still in their packaging — not because I’m ever planning on selling them, but because they’re easier to display that way.

  5. sean_tait says:

    Justice Lords

    The Justice Lords probably reside on the same shelf as the Big Seven because Sam realizes they’re not evil in the same way as the LoD. They are, after all, alternate selves of the founding League and pursued their twisted agenda because they were trying to do the right thing for everyone else, not the selfish motivations of Lex Luthor and Gorilla Grodd. The Justice Lord Batman redeemed himself by allowing his “good” self to escape, which indicates the rest could redeem themselves as well.

    Plus they’re cool-looking.

    • Todd says:

      Re: Justice Lords

      Plus they’re cool-looking.

      Man are they ever. All through that episode I kept thinking “Hey, whoever these evil Justice Lords are, they have a much better design sense than those garish Justice League losers.”

      • sean_tait says:

        Re: Justice Lords

        All of the superfluous bands and full-length leotards struck me as a nod to the design senses of Jim Lee and Brian Hitch (I’m convinced the Justice Lords are a pastiche of The Authority). I’d link to some snazzy pics to demonstrate my point, but I suck at the whole internets thing.

      • robolizard says:

        Re: Justice Lords

        Its odd, Bruce Timm has a much better sense of the superhero than the originals. It always struck me how much more human, organic and almost Daniel Clowes’ like in its akwardness sometimes [Disappearing Inque, Tim Drake’s status in ‘Return of the Joker’] it was than the Batman Animated Series. Fun stuff.

        He’s producing a film version of ‘The New Frontier’ right now. It’ll probably be amazing, but it would be nice to see him do more original work.

        • sean_tait says:

          Re: Justice Lords

          What do you know? I was right. That always surprises me.

          What would be really nice is for Bruce Timm to be able to do that Conan series he’s always dreamed of, or the Authority series for Adult Swim that I’ve dreamed of since 1999 (though I suppose there’s no way Adult Swim could afford it). I’m also looking forward to the new DC OVAs, but it’s frustrating that the last Bruce Timm-style project was the non-Bruce Timm “Superman: Brainiac Attacks.”

          • Todd says:

            Re: Justice Lords

            Is that the problem with that movie? Sam and I were watching it the other day and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. It doesn’t even have the original voices!

            • robolizard says:

              Re: Justice Lords

              Tim Daly voiced Superman in the Animated Series but left for his own show instead of doing Justice League. He comes back in this. Powers Boothe who’s Gorilla Grodd and Senator Roarke plays Luthor here, while Lois Lane was apparently a Kidnapped regular…weiiiiird…

              Its all direcrted by the guy who does ‘The Batman’. Its like the Earth-2 of the animated universe… everything makes sense… yet its eerily diffirent…

  6. robolizard says:

    Batgirl outranks Nightwing?….oooh… ouch…

    ‘Elongated Man (yes, the official Elongated Man is trumped by a custom Plastic Man, as he should be)’

    Damn tooting! Raargh! [Plastic Man was kind of on JLA, in name… and spirit… whoo…]

    Who made that sweet Legion of Doom sign btw?

    • Todd says:

      That would be Dad. There was once a Justice League Unlimited sign up above, taken from one of the toy packages, but it has become lost.

  7. robolizard says:

    This reminds me of something odd. When I was five I was living in the post USSR Ukraine, and I had a collection of Russia’s own ‘Justice League’ like characters, however they were characters from Russian children’s literature. This included the Russian version of Pinochio [Buratino], Cheburashka, the communist propaganda tool of the Italians Chipolino, Karandash, Somodelkin, amongst others. Due to lack of copyrights they absolutely could team up and fought thier own Legion of Doom, mostly the villains from thier own books. All of the figures were slightly larger than the tiny atom toy and made completely out of red plastic. It was probably the most intense fighting sect ever. Somebody beat Alan Moore and his extraordinary gentlemen to the punch.

  8. kornleaf says:

    where is the question?

    • Todd says:

      Ask Mattel. The Question waits to be placed in his proper place, as soon as they manufacture one.

      • kornleaf says:

        stupid bastages!
        i would totally get it if they had it.

        • ghostgecko says:

          They won’t . . . it’s something about how the rights got twisted up because the JLU tv show Question is actually kind of a combination of the comic Question and another character named Rorschach. I ended up making myself a custom figure.
          Believe it, it burns me too. I mean, a Huntress and no Question?!? They’re the only canon couple I like. The Question rocks.

    • greyaenigma says:

      Off discovering new flavors, no doubt.

  9. sheherazahde says:

    conceptual boundaries are arbitrary and indeterminate

    “I do not know what system Sam uses to rank these figures.”

    Not being a mind reader, or even having met your son, I do not know what system he is using either. But from your word choice you seem to feel that there is a “correct” placement for the figures (and that it relates to their status and frequency of appearance in the media).

    I suspect your son’s placement has more to do with his emotional response to their characters (or even their appearance). That emotional response is certainly effected by their status and frequency of appearance but it doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor for him.

    While I can understand that, a system of categorization based on cannon, appeals to reason and logic. Personally I see no reason why anyone’s personal collection should be filed by reason and logic rather than personal preference.

    • Todd says:

      Re: conceptual boundaries are arbitrary and indeterminate

      I suspect your son’s placement has more to do with his emotional response to their characters (or even their appearance).

      This is why character design is so crucial to the animation process. Bruce Timm’s sleek, fluid, dynamic characters are half the Justice League story to me, and to Sam those designs are the real characters, the others (the Fleischers, Chris Reeve, Brandon Routh, any of the thousands of comic book incarnations) are the variants.

      If that’s not a definition for animation success, that your designs claim preeminence for a generation, I don’t know what is.

      • greyaenigma says:

        Character design

        Not Justice League, but I’m curious to hear your take on these characters (alas, copyright Cryptic Studios)

        • Todd says:

          Re: Character design

          They seem fine, if occasionally derivative. I’d really have to see them in motion, though. I had no opinion on Lara Croft until I actually played Tomb Raider for 30 seconds; then I was hooked for life (or at least until the movie came out — that killed the character in my life for good).

          • greyaenigma says:

            Re: Character design

            Just curious: derivative of what? I wasn’t aware of any specific influences when I made them.

            • Todd says:

              Re: Character design

              I dunno, some of the design choices I feel like I’ve seen before, mostly in Marvel comics. Time Rabbit reminds me of Wolverine, Bianca Brrr reminds me of a number of X-Men characters (with the Marvel Captain Marvel’s logo on her chest), the Gynoid reminds me of Deadshot and Deadpool and a number of other faceless assassins. The Taikonaut looks like he might have been in Street Fighter or one of the other martial-arts games. The black leather-clad women remind me of the sixties-era she-wolf spies that Molotov Cocktease parodies.

              Mind you, I have no idea what these characters’ contexts are in the game they appear in; I don’t know how they function in the narrative. Nor do I know anything about game design.

              • greyaenigma says:

                Re: Character design

                Yeah, their actual powers make a lot of difference. Gynoid, for example, is actually a robot with gravitational control, not so much of an assassin. I guess I might not have had Bianca’s original costume up there, since it disturbed some other players, I defaulted to the more typically heroic costume.

                Time Rabbit is actually directly derivative (I now recall), but from an entirely different direction — we were building a team based on Alice in Wonderland, so I put a rabbit in a white hi-tech vest with the power to manipulate time. He worries a lot he’s not going fast enough.

                • Todd says:

                  Re: Character design

                  Character motivation means a lot with this kind of thing. The reason a game like Doom or Half-Life works is that the motivations are incredibly simple — you’re trying to live, they’re trying to kill you. But the simplest little wrinkle in that, like a character who worries he’s not moving fast enough — could bring a whole new character dimension to a game.

  10. toliverchap says:

    That is awesome. You’d need a B and C story to play with that many action figures. And with such a disproportionate number of good to bad guys he must play out the anti-hero v. hero scenario a few times aswell . . . though it still looks like he is missing Captain Marvel.

    • Todd says:

      There is no Mattel-manufactured Captain Marvel. We have a custom Captain Marvel (as well as a fine custom Blue Beetle) but he broke his cape and now lives in a ziploc bag in the closet (kind of a cryogenic chamber, where he will remain until a cure is found for his disease).

  11. edo_fanatic says:

    Dear Mr. Alcott,
    If you could have any super power what would it be? Thank you very much for your good work.

    Sincerely, Edo,
    wannabe super hero, Alcott society.

    P.s. Do you ever wish you could breathe underwater?

    • Todd says:

      If you could have any super power what would it be?

      Speed would be good. Also flight.

      Do you ever wish you could breathe underwater?

      Every time I find myself drowning.

  12. dougo says:

    Does Sam have OCD?

  13. robolizard says:

    So apparently the Question just died in 52….