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The Most Dangerous Places in Comics
Superhero comics are nothing if not thrilling reads. These books feature colorful heroes battling equally colorful villains. The fate of the world is always at stake, whether threats come in the form of alien invasions, robot uprisings, or clones. It's exciting to read these stories, but we can't imagine it's very fun for the fictional people who inhabit these universes. What must it be like to head off to work every morning not knowing if Stilt-Man will have crashed through your window by the time you get home?
Naturally, some comic book locales are more dangerous and deadly than others. In this feature, we count down the top 10 most deadly spots in superhero comics. It's tricky estimating how many times each place has been destroyed. After all, there are decades of stories to consult, and some places face multiple simultaneous threats across numerous books. Still, we think this list is a handy resource for knowing what stops to avoid on your next tour of the Marvel and DC universes.
Location: US East Coast Notable Defenders: Superman, Supergirl Times Destroyed: Approximately 500 (Daily Planet building), 0 (the city at large)
Forget New York, Metropolis is easily the premier American city in DC's version of Earth. That makes it a prime target for all sorts of crime and supervillainy, not to mention the odd alien invasion. Things could be terrible on the ground, but Metropolis is lucky to count on Superman and his extended family for defense. Superman has prevented wholesale destruction of his city countless times. That said, the Daily Planet must be nearly bankrupted by all the times it's had to replace that damned spinning globe.
Countries Included: Latveria, Symkaria, Transia Notable Defenders: Doctor Doom, Silver Sable Times Destroyed: 1 (Not that Doom will admit it)
Mirroring our own world, there are certain regions of eastern Europe in the Marvel Universe that are constantly plagued by war, military uprisings, and general civil unrest. Exacerbating matters is hat the region is also home to several super-powered monarchs. Doctor Doom rules the tiny nation of Latveria with an iron fist. Life is actually pretty swell in Doomstadt if you don't mind being watched by Doombots all day long. But even here, Doom's paternal gaze didn't prevent the murder of thousands when the Marquis of Death came calling. Neighboring Latveria are other small, fictional countries like Symkaria and Transia.
Location: Westchester, NY Notable Defenders: The X-Men Times Destroyed: Once for every issue of Uncanny X-Men ever published
While this feature focuses mainly on cities and whole countries, we can't ignore the fact that one particular landmark in the Marvel Universe seems to be deadlier than any other. If you dwell within the X-Mansion, prepare to have your room blown apart and your neighbors melted into slag by Sentinels. The X-Mansion can barely last a week before being torn apart by Juggernaut, The Marauders, or some other band of villains with a grudge against Charles Xavier. It doesn't help that the building is shaped like a giant X. It's like Chuck wants his house to be a giant target visible from orbit.
The X-Men finally wised up and headed west, leaving the ruins of the X-Mansion behind. Sadly, it seems the curse has followed them. Their San Francisco facility was battered by Norman Osborn's Avengers, and the island nation of Utopia has already suffered several debilitating invasions. Maybe a nice, simple condo next time?
Countries Included: Umec, Kahndaq, Bialya Notable Defenders: Black Adam, Isis Times Destroyed: 4
If Eastern Europe is the source of much turmoil and warfare in the Marvel Universe, DC's Middle East is much the same way. Plenty of harsh, bloody battles have been fought in this region. But just as DC favors fictional cities over real locales, so too do most of its Middle Eastern countries not actually exist in real life. Take Umec, for instance. This country's name is actually an acronym for "Unnamed Middle Eastern Country". It's the go-to spot for any political turmoil or random Checkmate ops.
DC's Middle East rose to prominence in recent years thanks to 52 and World War III. If those stories taught us anything, it's that you absolutely, positively do not want to tick off the super-powered king of Kahndaq. Several million peasants in neighboring Bialya learned that the hard way when Black Adam ripped them limb from limb.
Location: California Notable Defenders: Hal Jordan Times Destroyed: 2
Coast City was once one of the more pleasant cities on America's west coast. Then Mongul and Cyborg Superman showed up one day and blew the place to hell. Millions perished instantly. Even in a world that's used to major, wide-scale disasters, it was a day that would live in infamy. Years later, Hal Jordan is back and the city is thriving once again. But that past tragedy casts a looming shadow. Coast City may now be crowned "The City Without Fear", but that only entices Hal's many enemies to make the city a primary target. Coast City already suffered the brunt of the Black Lantern uprising. What's next for these sunny streets?
Location: Central Atlantic Ocean Notable Defenders: Namor, Namorita Times Destroyed: 2
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. That goes double when that head also has billions of gallons of salty ocean water weighing down on it too. Atlantis has suffered from two cataclysmic disasters, both of which fundamentally changed the entire society. This highly advanced nation used to exist as a large island floating between North America and Europe. Then it sank, and the Atlanteans were forced to learn very quickly how to breathe underwater.
The Atlanteans recovered and thrived again, at least until the superhuman Civil War. Namor's whiny kid showed up and helped cause the obliteration of the entire kingdom. Namor took his surviving Atlanteans into hiding. Now they've set up shop beneath the X-Men's home on Utopia. Big mistake, Namor. Haven't you ever read an X-Men comic? Those people can't turn on the toaster without the whole building catching on fire.
DC's version of Atlantis is no Sunday picnic either, but at least Aquaman and his ilk have managed to prevent the kingdom from collapsing entirely.
Location: New York or New Jersey (depending whom you ask) Notable Defenders: Batman, Robin, Batgirl Times Destroyed: 1 (not for lack of trying)
Gotham is like the smelly, dirty armpit of America. It has approximately 4.7 purse snatchers for every old lady. It has enough seedy warehouses and abandoned amusement parks to cover several normal cities, and yet all of them are crawling with costumed supervillains. Gotham may have Batman on its side, but the average, day-to-day life of a Gothamite is still fraught with peril.
Considering all the dirty dealings going on in this town, it's a wonder Gotham has only been utterly destroyed once in its history. A destructive earthquake left the city in ruins and forced the government to declare it a No Man's Land for months. That was a dark time for the city. We'd like to say things are improved these days, but the sad truth is that Gothamites still face an imminent threat of being sprayed in the face by an acid-spitting flower or devoured by an army of killer penguins at any time.
Location: African East Coast Notable Defenders: Magneto Times Destroyed: 1
In the Marvel Universe, ordinary humans have a choice to make. Do they flock to countries ruled by tyrannical, costumed supervillains or stay at home and be ruled by tyrannical supervillains in business suits? Genosha was one of the most economically vibrant nations in the world. The downside – it was all built on the backs on mutant slaves. Magneto changed things when he gained stewardship of the entire country. Suddenly, mutants were the ruling class.
But as we all know, Magneto really has no better luck maintaining his homes than the X-Men do. His domestic empire was obliterated when Cassandra Nova dispatched a wave of Super-Sentinels to rain death upon the masses. Save for Magneto and Emma Frost, very single one of the 16 millions mutants on Genosha died within minutes. It was a massacre of such grisly proportions that only the smallest efforts have been made to restore Genosha. The tiny island remains a barren wasteland and reminder of how foolish it is to live in a house Magneto built.
Location: New York City, NY Notable Defenders: Avengers, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man Times Destroyed: Over one billion and counting
The vast majority of Marvel's popular heroes are all concentrated within New York City. You'd think this would amount to major heroic overkill, but you'd be wrong. Manhattan is constantly suffering from alien invasions, terrorist attacks, or loopy time anomalies. Usually, all three happen simultaneously. Marvel's New York needs Spider-Man and the Avengers on the job 24/7 just to avoid toppling over and sinking into the ocean.
It's impossible to accurately estimate the number of disasters and amount of collateral damage New York has suffered over the years. Even right now, the city is simultaneously facing the rise of Shadowland, a massive manhunt for the newly born child of Norman Osborn, an invasion of magical demons, a breakdown in the very fabric of space and time. Who knows what next week will hold in store. It would be enough to force most logical residents to move off planet, except that we also know the rest of the Marvel Universe is no less teeming with peril.
Location: New Jersey Notable Defenders: Nightwing Times Destroyed: 1 (and that was enough)
For most comic book cities, no disaster can truly defeat a town. It may suffer death and hardship, but the residents are always able to pick themselves up and begin rebuilding. Thank the superheroes who inspire Joe Q. Average to do good. Bludhaven is an exception. This rotten cesspool of a town never had any civic spirit. It made Gotham look like peaceful seaside resort town by comparison. Nightwing's presence as defender of the innocent barely made a dent n the wall of public misery.
You won't find anyone moping around Bludhaven these days. That's because no one lives there. The city was wiped off the face of the earth during Infinite Crisis when the Secret Society of Supervillains dropped Chemo like a nuclear warhead. Every man, woman, and child was fried in an instant. Years later, the government has given up trying to salvage anything from the city and given it up as a nuclear wasteland. That made it the perfect breeding ground for Darkseid and his resurrected minions. When your city has enough radiation to make a cockroach sweat and attracts the god of evil himself like a moth to flame, it's probably best to pack up and move on. We don't see Bludhaven headed for a Coast City-style resurgence.