Living in a comic book world is almost inherently dangerous. You can tell by the fact that there are so many deaths that we can even rank them in terms of how heroic they are, and that’s for superheroes who have superpowers and everything! You can only imagine what it must be like for everyday people who have to worry every day if they’re going to make it to work okay or if a superhero/supervillain fight is going to suddenly smash into their subway or onto their bus.
While living in any city carries with it some risk (heck, the whole universe might get blinked out of existence at any moment because of some cosmic event), there are still some cities that are worse places to be than others, so let us take a look at the worst comic book cities for you to live in (fictional cities only).
15. Nova Roma
Nova Roma was a city created in the jungles of Brazil that was basically an ancient city of Rome only in modern times. That, in and of itself, is a good reason why you wouldn’t want to live there, as who would want to live like the ancient Romans did when you could live in modern times? However, it was also a city that was ruled by Selene, the former Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, and she was such a crazy leader that you never knew when she might turn on you (she feasted on other people’s life forces like a vampire).
Over time, the citizens all realized that they weren’t actually descendants of Rome, but rather that they had been brainwashed by Selene into living there and believing that they had always lived there (and not just moved there recently because Selene thought it was fun to have a city to remind her of her favorite era from history). However, it was then revealed that they were actually brainwashed into believing that they were brainwashed (hey, it’s comics, things are rarely simple) and that they actually had been living in Nova Roma for many years.
14. Pleasant Hill
Pleasant Hill is a tricky one to rank. If you were to visit the Connecticut town, it would look like an idyllic example of small-town U.S.A. However, beneath the cheerful surface of the town was a very dark secret. You see, S.H.I.E.L.D. had been using a freshly constructed Cosmic Cube known as Kobik to create Pleasant Hill. They would have Kobik alter the appearance and the memories of supervillains and then “disappear” them into the town.
So S.H.I.E.L.D. would alter people’s personalities to force them into “ideal” lives in the small town, which is just extremely disturbing for them to do to people, even supervillains. In the end, the villains slowly regained their identities and staged an uprising in the town, one that S.H.I.E.L.D. and the various Avengers teams were able to quash, but not before the Red Skull took control of Kobik for his own purposes, including using the Cosmic Cube to alter Captain America‘s life so that Cap was a secret Hydra sleeper agent for all of these years.
13. Salem Center
The sleepy Westchester town of Salem Center was a wealthy suburb of New York City, roughly 50 miles from Midtown Manhattan. It was known for one of the coolest bars in the area, called Harry’s Hideaway, as well as a school for peculiar children known as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (later the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning), which was secretly the home of the X-Men.
The only reason that Salem Center makes this list at all is because the X-Mansion, centerpiece of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, had a tendency to blow up a lot. Like, a heck of a lot. The various destructions of the mansion hopefully did not put anyone in the surrounding area at risk, but it seems hard to believe that there was never any collateral damage, considering it is such a small town, so it is still likely a pretty risky suburb to live in.
A number of cities can say that they seemed to be a magnet for trouble, but in the case of Vanity, it truly was designed to be a magnet for trouble, or at least it was designed to serve the rise of Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of war and hurricanes. That is why Vanity was always such a strange place for people to live. It was not a happy place.
Their only hero for years was the psychotic Bloodtype, who made the Punisher look like a shrinking violet. Luckily, Aztek showed up in town as their new hero. Aztek was part of a foundation designed to defeat Tezcatlipoca and Aztek was given a special suit to aid him in this purpose (later, it was discovered that Lex Luthor was behind the whole plot, but that’s another story altogether). Naturally, then, he set up shop in Vanity, which continued to work as a sort of magnet for weird villains throughout Aztek’s time there.
Metropolis is difficult to rank on a list like this because in a lot of ways, it is a wonderful city to live. It is a sprawling city with some of the most advanced technologies in the country. There is a bustling night life and the biggest borough in the city, New Troy, is home to some of the biggest companies in the world. There are a lot of good reasons why someone would want to live and work in Metropolis. Plus, it’s the home to Superman, which is awesome.
On the downside, however, it’s the home to Superman, which, while awesome, can also be dangerous. You see, while all cities with superheroes in them are in danger of being attacked by supervillains, in Metropolis’ case, since Superman is so strong, he draws in a stronger class of supervillains, and that means a lot more chances for large amounts of destruction. When your resident hero is, say, Hawkman, you get a certain type of villain. When your resident hero is is also known as “The Man of Steel,” you sometimes get rampaging Kryptonians flying around burning people alive with their heat vision.
Here’s an easy way to understand why Doomstadt is such a rough place to live. The people of Doomstadt (which is the capital of the larger country, Latveria) actually like being ruled by the tyrannical Doctor Doom. This is because as bad as a ruler as Doctor Doom is, he is sadly an upgrade over some of the other rulers that they have had over the years. Doom at least helped to bring some prosperity to Doomstadt when he was in charge, but he also brought tyranny with him, which is not a pleasant situation for the people.
As bad as it normally is living in Doomstadt, it has been even worse over the years, like when the Marquis of Death partially destroyed the city. When the Mighty Avengers invaded Latveria to bring Doctor Doom to justice for his role in the creation of a “Venom bomb” that was dropped on New York City, Doomstadt was once against partially destroyed. Afterwards, Doom helped to restore the town to its former state, but it’s only a matter of time before it gets destroyed again, as it is clear that doom follows, well, you know, Doom.
The Asian city nation of Madripoor was once a famed location for piracy in the area, and that tradition has followed into modern times, as Madripoor is mostly a lawless city nation. However, in an interesting twist, it is also a renowned place for business. The city is split into “Hightown,” where the high finance world lives, and “Lowtown,” where the lower classes reside.
For a time, Wolverine (using the secret identity of Patch) resided in Madripoor, where he hung out at the Princess Bar (one of the most famous establishments in Lowtown). When he left, though, things fell apart and many of his friends were murdered. The leader of Madripoor for years was Tyger Tyger, but Viper also took control of the city for a time, as did Wolverine’s villainous son, Daken. Most recently, Mystique tried to turn the city into a mutant haven. It remains a dangerous city for any one to visit.
8. Hub City
An interesting statement about how over the top the death and destruction has been in comic books over the past 25 years is how Hub City is viewed. Hub City should be one of the very worst cities in all of comics, as it is famously the most corrupt city in the United States. Riots break out in Hub City as a matter of course! The guy who founded Hub City was killed right after he founded the city! It is a bad, bad city and when Vic Sage, also known as The Question, moved back to Hub City to try to turn things around, he faced a major uphill battle.
However, as bad as living in a corrupt city where the law breaks down routinely is, it is not quite as bad as some of the other cities on this list in that you at least don’t have to worry about being nuked by a supervillain if you live in Hub City.
7. Gotham City
When Denny O’Neil started writing “The Question” in the 1980s, he made a point of noting that Hub City was a worse city than Gotham. However, in the years since, Gotham City just got worse and worse. Gotham City, like Metropolis, is home to a lot of businesses, including a great deal of shipping and manufacturing companies, which makes it logical that a lot of people want to live in the city. It also draws in a great deal of supervillains, hoping to make their mark in Batman’s hometown. There’s so much crime in Gotham that areas of the city are just flat out given names like “Crime Alley.” Having “Come visit scenic Crime Alley!” as the tagline for the tourist brochures doesn’t exactly make you want to visit.
Gotham once even suffered an earthquake so terrible that the United States Government decided to cut of all ties to the city rather than try to repair the damage. Despite becoming a “No Man’s Land” (which is also the name of the story this occurred in) where gangs of villains split the abandoned city amongst themselves, Batman and his friends took managed to restore order financial aid from Lex Luthor helped fix the broken infrastructure. The story showed just how quickly things could fall apart in Gotham (which was also made clear in the “Zero Year” storyline in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Batman”).
We’re cheating a bit here by counting Atlantis as a generic fictional city, as Marvel and DC have both had their own version of the underwater city of Atlantis. In both cases, the city has not been the safest place to live (plus, of course, the city is only worth living in period if you can breath underwater). In both Marvel and DC, the name “Atlantis” has alternately described an underwater country (sometimes with a city by the same name) and an underwater city.
In the case of Namor’s Atlantis, the city has been torn apart a number of times in various battles over control of the city with villains like Attuma. More recently, Atlantis went to war with Wakanda, which led to more damage to the sea kingdom. Most recently, Namor’s role working with the villainous group known as the Cabal to destroy other Earths that appeared in Incursions led to survivors of those destroyed Earths banding together and destroying Atlantis and killing Namor.
In Aquaman’s Atlantis, war and time also did a number on the city, but it always seemed to bounce back. During “Infinite Crisis,” a rampaging Spectre destroyed Atlantis. In the New 52, Atlantis has also seen better days, especially after being manipulated into going to war with the surface world during “Throne of Atlantis.”
5. Star City
Star City had been Green Arrow‘s home for many years, but it was not until he returned to the city following a stint in Seattle and then his death and resurrection, that the problems of being a superhero’s city really began to affect the city.
First off, the city was besieged by demons for many weeks. The city eventually managed to fight the demons off, but not before hundreds of people died. Secondly, right around the time of “Infinite Crisis”, a third of Star City was destroyed by bombs, where thousands more died. Thirdly, during the mini-series “Justice League: Cry For Justice,” Prometheus tried to teleport the entire town into outer space just to screw with Green Arrow. Instead, the whole middle of the city was essentially leveled, with almost 100,000 people losing their lives. During “Brighest Day,” the destoryed parts of the town turned out to be molded into a giant star-shaped park. However, even the park was haunted!
4. Coast City
The California locale of Coast City had always been party to some pretty crazy situations. That came part and parcel with being the home of a cosmic hero like Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814. In the very first issue of Hal Jordan’s “Green Lantern” series (released over 50 years ago), the city was besieged by a giant puppet!
However, the clear worst moment in the life of Coast City was during the “Reign of the Supermen,” when the Cyborg Superman, working with the evil Mongul, annihilated Coast City. They literally nuked the entire city, killing all of its residents. Millions of people were dead in the blink of an eye! The destruction tore Hal Jordan apart, leading to him destroying the Green Lantern Corps in an attempt to absorb their central power battery so he could become powerful enough to bring Coast City back.
3. Hammer Bay
Hammer Bay was the capital city of the island nation of Genosha. Created as a metaphor for South Africa in the time of Apartheid, Hammer Bay was one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. However, the way that the cities were kept so advanced was that they were using mutants as, in effect, slave labor. Eventually, following the events of “X-Tinction Agenda,” the mutants took over control of their own country.
Unfortunately, this just led to a series of miniature conflicts, including a lot of rioting. Eventually, Magneto was given control of the nation and he set up shop in Hammer Bay. Once the Legacy Virus was cured, the million mutants of Genosha were now all working under Magneto’s orders. This was the time that Cassandra Nova struck, with the Sentinels under her command, annihilating Hammer Bay and the rest of Genosha, with over 15 million residents killed. Hammer Bay was later rebuilt by an army of the dead controlled by Selene and she re-named it after Nova Roma, calling it Black Roma.
Recently, it was announced that Bludhaven would be making its debut in the New 52. This is good news, as Bludhaven is an interesting city, but boy, it was not a good place for anyone to live in before the New 52. Bludhaven was a coastal city that was down the line from Gotham City. It lived in the shadows of Gotham, as they had a lot of the same industries, but Gotham City just had bigger and better ones. Bludhaven was famous for always betting on the wrong things. It started life as a whaling town…right before whaling ceased as an industry in the United States. It was briefly “Asbestos U.S.A.”
A corrupt city where the police department was run by the bad guys, Bludhaven was starting to slowly get cleaned up by the efforts of Nightwing, who moved to the city to get out of Batman’s shadow. However, Bludhaven was then attacked during “Infinite Crisis” by the villainous Chemo, who destroyed much of the city. After the attack, various factions began to fight for control of the city, so Captain Atom then basically had the city evacuated and had it nuked. Needless to say, this is not the place where anyone should want to live.
1. Mega City One
Mega City One takes cities like Bludhaven and moves everything to the extreme. Originally a futuristic New York City, it was eventually revealed that New York was just one of the many Eastern seaboard cities that had been combined in the future to form Mega City One. The city stretched from New England (even a bit into Canada) down to Florida.
Mega City One is an overcrowded mess that saw such an increase in crime that the Judge program was instituted, where powerful street cops called “Judges” (like Judge Dredd) are given the power to arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals. You know a city is a terrible place to live when people who fly around playing judge, jury and executioner are officially the good guys!
“But wait,” you might say, “The other cities that were low on the list were all destroyed. At least Mega City One is still standing.” It is still standing, but Mega City One has also went through a good deal of destruction of its own. During “The Apocalypse War,” Mega City One was halved in size due to being nuked by the Soviets. All its southern sectors were destroyed, leading to the deaths of 400M people. With everything surrounding Mega City One having been nuked years ago, it really is the only place people can live in, which is a sad situation for everyone.
What fictional comic book city would you most be worried about visiting? Let us know in the comments section!
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