Friday, February 21, 2014

The Importance of a Super-Hero Diaspora…

That’s a rather grand title. Rather than some deep analysis of why super-heroes should be based and from all over the world, this was just inspired by the fact that a). three super-heroes (at least) have re-located, and b). New York and Gotham have become ridiculously over-populated by super-heroes in Marvel’s and DC’s lines.


New York City, while I love it, has become rather ridiculous in terms of Marvel’s super-heroes. I remember at least one comic picking up on the fact that you’d have to be a moron to try to be a (super-)villain in the Big Apple, given the sheer saturation-level population of super-powered, tights-wearing do-gooders. There are the ever-expanding Avengers teams and their various off-shoots and allies. Given how often the city is destroyed, one has to wonder why they decided to locate their headquarters right in the middle of America’s most densely-populated metropolis. Thankfully, though, Marvel seems to be doing something to add some variation into the mix. Namely, The Punisher and Daredevil are leaving the city. This last one is particularly noteworthy, given how important Hell’s Kitchen and its surrounding neighbourhoods are to that book’s and hero’s identity – not to mention the rest of the city. As it happens, these have been my two favourite Marvel titles ever since I started reading them (in the same week, as it turned out). Greg Rucka and Mark Waid have done a great job with writing duties, and the artwork for both books has been stunning.

So, here are some details on the moves, both of which are part of the All-New Marvel NOW! Endlessly-Extending Prefixes Strategy…

Punisher-01ATHE PUNISHER: Moving to LA

“Frank Castle’s one-man-war on crime continues… For years, the Punisher has called New York City his home – keeping a watchful eye on the city through the sight of a gun. But when a lead on a major source of drugs, weapons, and more leads Frank out west – he sets his sights on Los Angeles. And the City of Angels isn’t ready for a devil like the Punisher! But not everything is as it appears, and Frank will soon find himself toe-to-toe with a highly trained military strike force known only as the 131! Who are the mysterious 131? And why are they out for the Punisher’s head?”

The new Punisher series was launched in February 2014. Greg Rucka’s relatively short run on the series was absolutely superb (I recently finished it off, thanks to a 99c sale on ComiXology): not only was Rucka’s writing and story gripping and appropriately gritty, but Marco Checcheto’s artwork is stunning. The new series is written by Nathan Edmondson (whose Ultimate Comics: X-Men and The Activity were pretty good). Artwork will be by Mitch Gerads. It’ll be interesting to see how the character adapts to his new environment – although, given that he has travelled abroad before (including in Rucka’s run), it probably won’t be too different. Nevertheless, I really hope Edmondson manages to maintain the quality – it’s a great character, and the extreme shades of grey in which he operates allow for some pretty great/powerful storytelling opportunities.


Variant Covers for #1 (Larocca) and #2 (Opena)
Palm trees! He still looks miserable, though…


Daredevil-01ADAREDEVIL: Moving to San Francisco

“Gifted with an imperceptible radar sense, blind lawyer Matt Murdock patrols the streets with a Billy club and a passion for justice. Only this time – it’s a brand new city, with even more dangerous foes. Join Matt Murdock as he journeys from the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen to the sun-drenched boulevards of San Francisco.”

In March 2014, the Man Without Fear will be relocating to beautiful San Francisco. It’ll be interesting to see how he manages in the new city – his approach to vigilantism has always involved an awful lot of swinging and leaping around New York’s high-rises, so… Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how his approach changes. (To be fair, I don’t really know much about San Francisco, but I get the impression it’s not too built up…) Mark Waid will continue to handle writing duties, and Chris Samnee will still be producing the artwork. I’m really looking forward tot his re-boot (call it what it is).



It’s not just Marvel characters, though. Gotham City is home to the extended Bat-Family and ever-extending Rogues’ Gallery that have plagued the Dark Knight on-and-off for decades. Last year, however, Dick “Nightwing” Grayson departed Gotham City for the Windy City in issue #19. Here are some excerpts from CBR’s interview with writer Kyle Higgins on Grayson’s move…

“I made the decision that if Dick was going to change cities, it needed to be story motivated. It couldn’t just be because of emotional fallout and state of mind… He’s heading to Chicago to find the man that killed his parents. As far as he’s concerned, that’s the only reason he's going and once that’s over, he'll be heading back to Gotham City. We’ll have to see how the story plays out, as to whether or not that will happen, but as far as Dick is concerned initially, that’s what he’s headed to Chicago for… Chicago has its own mythology and its own history that we're tapping into and it’s definitely going to be playing a big part in Dick and Nightwing’s life moving forward.”

I’m quite behind on Nightwing, having not read any issues after the end of “Death of the Family”. I’d like to pick it up again, though, at some point.


Of course, one thing that still needs to be addressed (and there are some signs that this is happening, for which we can only be happy, and hope for continued progress). Let’s hope we get a little more diverse than just re-locating a Justice League team further north into Canada (which, actually, I do think could be rather cool), and explore countries outside North America and the UK as more than just mission destinations…


  1. A few observations here.

    I like the idea of the Punisher in a more balmy setting (which is why I had no problem with the Tom Jane movie being set in Tampa Bay). Plus, it'll be interesting to see how he deals with being on unfamiliar (relatively speaking) territory.

    San Francisco, while not quite as "up" as NY, is still pretty sprawling, with its fair share of skyscrapers. I can only imagine the shenanigans DD will get into there.

    And finally, has DC started moving into real cities, instead of making up their own?

    1. DC has based their main characters in their original, made up cities. But, more recently (at least, post-New 52 reboot) they've started featuring others. If I remember correctly, they flooded Boston in the King of Atlantis storyline (Justice League and Aquaman).

      I'm looking forward to seeing Frank Castle and Matt Murdoch in their new cities. Should be cool.

    2. I actually don't like the fact DC is moving its heroes to real cities; Nightwing in Chicago, Shazam in Philly etc; because fictional cities gives the writers something to put their imagination to and fans to imagine. It can also give the heroes another character to play off to.
      Just look at Gotham. It's a character by itself because of all the different parts of the city has their own history and sub-culture. That's something you can't do in a real city. Would Batman had been so popular if he was from New York? No, because New York already heroes like Spiderman (and countless others) connected to it.
      Gotham and Batman though comes together. It's his.

    3. Given how old Batman is, though, I'm not sure we can really ask if he would have been as popular if set in New York - different times, different publisher to Spider-Man and all the other New York-based Marvel heroes.

      I completely agree with you, regarding Gotham as a character in itself - there have been a number of storylines that focus on that. (Gates of Gotham is great, as an example.) And I completely agree that Batman is as defined by Gotham as Gotham is by his activities within it.

      But I don't really mind if the characters migrate elsewhere, as long as it's logical and properly incorporated into the story. If the secondary characters in the Batman/DC roster are moved, in order to variation - not to mention the chance to generate some newer storylines - I'm all for it.

      Marvel is long overdue some migration, though... WAY too many heroes and characters based in New York. It's a mess.

  2. I gotta admit, it bugs me when people hail Marvel as being more "real world" than DC because they don't make up cities. Latveria, anyone? Wakanda? Marvel make up whole countries and nobody bats an eye.

    More on topic, I'm very keen on what happens to Nightwing in Chicago. Not because it's real world (being Australian, Gotham may as well be New York for all the experience I've had in either city), but because it gets him as far away from Batman as possible. Nightwing has been really hurt by Higgins' reliance on crossovers, if you ask me. Hopefully this move will give Dick some autonomy.