While rewatching The Big Bang Theory for my DVD review (the set is out today!), I started cataloging the various comic book references I noted.
Vintage DC comics decorate Sheldon’s bedroom walls, especially ones that feature the more scientific heroes of the Silver Age — Green Lantern and Strange Adventures. In later episodes, they’ve changed to Superman and Lois Lane, with Flash and Secret Origins also making appearances.
The longest sequence in his room takes place in episode 11, where we also see his reading comics, stored in magazine boxes, with Tempest, The Spectre, and Flash issues visible next to a shelf full of Showcase reprint volumes — Superman, Superman Family, Atom, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Metamorpho — as well as a House of Secrets poster. And I have never felt more geeky than freeze-framing that scene and comparing the books with our own shelf to be sure of the IDs. The odd selection of stapled-format comics is likely due to the set dresser heading down to the local quarter bins.
Sheldon also frequently wears DC character/logo t-shirts. Here’s the list:
- Flash, episodes 1 and 14
- Flash logo, episodes 3 and 8
- Superman logo, episodes 2 and 12
- Green Lantern logo, episodes 7 and 13
- Different GL logo, episode 10
- Aquaman, episode 8
- Flash (maybe Captain Marvel?) lightning bolt, episode 15
- Really interesting Justice League shirt featuring the Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Red Tornado, Dr. Fate, and Green Arrow, episode 16
They’re often the distressed/older-looking versions, in keeping with the focus on the Silver Age characters. And you’ll notice that they wear the same clothes in different episodes, like real people do. Howard, meanwhile, shows his geek chic through his belt buckles, with a bat-logo in episode 9 and a Flash image in episode 15.
The most visual reference comes from the Halloween episode, the sixth, where all four of them dress up as the Flash, with built-in muscles. They resolve to change to different costumes, but Rajesh suggests instead that the four of them walk behind each other all night and look like one person going really fast. (Shades of Infantino!)
In the second episode, there’s a lengthy conversation as the boys are just getting to know their new neighbor:
Leonard: “Would you like to join us for Thai food and a Superman movie marathon?”
Penny: “A marathon? Wow, how many Superman movies are there?”
Sheldon: “You’re kidding, right?”
He goes on to discuss the scientific inaccuracies of the films, even assuming a man could fly, and winds up talking about Lois Lane falling out of the helicopter and getting sliced into three pieces by Superman’s arms of steel. He concludes, “If he really loved her, he’d let her hit the pavement. It’d be a more merciful death.” That’s Sheldon, always practical.
In other episodes, there are small bits, like in episode 5, where the guys reenact their version of the Civil War at dinner with table condiments serving as army forces, superheroes, gods, and the characters from Lord of the Rings.
In episode 8, Sheldon has trouble fitting his honorary Justice League membership card into his new wallet.
Episode 9 has Penny trying to help Leonard select an outfit. He has a model of the Bottle City of Kandor in his closet that he has to explain. He ends up muttering to himself, “It’s a lot cooler when girls aren’t looking at it.”
In episode 13, Leonard gives Sheldon an impressive Batman cookie jar (it looks Jim Lee-designed) to make up for him being kicked off the quiz bowl team.
The next episode, Leonard decides to sell all his collectibles to “Larry at the comic book store”, including his Golden Age Flash figure, which Howard and Rajesh fight over to complete their Justice Society collections.
In episode 15, Leonard’s Superman logo boxer shorts are made fun of.
And the last reference I noted, in episode 16, Penny threatens Sheldon that she will draw a smiley face (in ink!) in one of his bagged mint comics in order to convince him to go along with her plans for a surprise party.
All of these add to the realism of the geeks’ interests being part of their daily lives.