Not too long ago, I found myself wandering the Toys “R” Us action figure aisle. I was looking for something to bring to a Holiday Yankee Gift Swap and I stumbled upon a large spread of Justice League Unlimited figures. I was, in a word, psyched!
A few years ago, I decided that the only toys I would buy were the Justice League Unlimited action figures. The line was based on the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm DC Animated Universe comprised of Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited. Timm and a crack team of artists (including Darwyn Cooke) designed all the characters in each series with a dynamic simplicity, catching the essence of each and every character they approached with clean lines and a distinct vision.
When Mattel, the DC Super Heroes action figure manufacturer, decided to expand the Justice League Unlimited line to cover all of the Dini/Timm series and characters as well as some other DCU favorites (Doom Patrol, anyone?), I realized that this was the only line I would ever want to collect. It has EVERYBODY in the DC Universe.
While looking through the figures on the pegs, I noticed they were mostly peg-warmers. This particular assortment in the series was made up of Captain Atom, Superman Red, Superman Blue, Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter and Ultraman. I only needed Superman Red and Superman Blue. Martian Manhunter and Captain Atom were the peg-warmers here.
Mildly disheartened, I continued my search for a gift until I saw three unopened cases of JLU figures sitting on a shelf high above the pegs. I quickly looked around for a stock person.
“Excuse me,” I said to the nearest person in a red shirt and a nametag, “could it be cool if I looked through those Justice League boxes up there?”
The guy turned around. He was maybe 19 or 20 and had at least 5 inches on me.
“Sure,” he said. “Let me guess,” he said with zeal, “you’re looking for Deadpool!”
“Heh, no. I will take a Deadshot if he’s in there though.”
He looked at me funny.
“He’s a DC guy.”
“Oh, OK.” He eyed me suspiciously and continued, “Here, let me get those down for you.”
True to his word, he got the boxes down from the shelf and placed them in a nearby, empty shopping cart. We delved into the first box like buccaneers in search of buried treasure. Apparently, someone already rifled through the box because it was filled with previous peg-warming champion, Batman and runner-up, Martian Manhunter.
“You looking for all of these?”
“Nah, the only ones I need from this assortment are Superman Red and Superman Blue.”
“A red Superman and a blue Superman. They’re from a really funny, old 60s story where Superman got split in two and got to get his life together. It’s really wacky stuff.”
“Oh, OK, cool!”
He seemed genuinely enthused. Perhaps my excitement was contagious?
He grabbed the second box and we delved in with gusto. It was a virgin box. I could tell since the tissue paper between each figure was pristine, untouched! We were lucky bastards!
I now had Superman Red and Superman Blue in my possession. My collection of obscure 60s variants was that much closer to complete (they now stand proudly next to my “new look” Batman variant, Barry Allen Flash, Abin Sur, and original Doom Patrol figures).
As he put the boxes back, the jolly stock boy said, “Let me ask you something. Alliance or Horde?”
“Alliance or Horde? You play Warcraft, I can tell.”
“No. I’m sorry, I don’t.”
“Oh, dude! It’s awesome! You have to play!”
“Nah, my friend tried to get me to play. It’s not my thing.”
“Oh, dude! He probably gave you a shitty character. You have to get the right class. Tell you what, do you want to be a human or an orc?”
I know very little about the World of Warcraft and I’d like to keep it that way.
That said, this guy was nice enough to take an interest in my geeky obsession, so the least I could do was at least let him explain why he likes Warcraft, right?
Ten minutes later…
“So once you level up your weapon and armor class, you can do some serious campaigning, maybe even hang out with my guild! We’re pretty powerful and we like helping out…”
“Excuse me,” I said as my phone rang. Oh Sweet Christmas! Thank you, kind and benevolent Lord! A phone call!
I politely thanked the gentleman in red and excused myself, indicating my phone.
As I grabbed a very cool Frankenstein Mego reproduction for the party, I walked towards the register and pondered what just happened.
Why was this guy able to get genuinely interested in my JLU hunt, but whenever he mentioned his Horde or the forthcoming Cataclysm, I felt a migraine coming on?
Is it because I’m grumpy? Set in my ways? Prefer records to MP3 files?
Maybe it’s because he’s younger, more inclined to get into something new?
Or maybe, just maybe, that’s just what makes being a geek fun. There are so many different, fun things for those inclined towards nerdery to get into. There are all kinds of strange, new worlds, robots in disguise, stoned, lost plumbers and caped crusaders for us to explore. Just because some of us like one thing, that doesn’t mean we all have to like it.
What do you think, Dear Reader?