Friday, June 17, 2005


DC Comics visits my hometown(s)

This will only be of any interest to the comics fans out there, and it's not really about life in LA, but DC Comics seems to be giving the places I've lived their due.

On Wednesday, as most of the world knows, Batman Begins opened, with previous hometown Chicago playing the role of Gotham City. For people who've read the comics, it might not seem like the greatest compliment in the world to the Windy City . . . but there's probably something to it. Gotham is DC's Second City. It has a long-standing rivalry with Metropolis (read: New York).

The similarities don't end there. Gotham has a background of urban corruption and organized crime. You may have heard that Chicago has one, too. Both cities have bad weather (hot, humid summers and frigid winters). Squint a little, and it's not so hard to imagine Batman and Robin haunting the el trains, the South Loop, Hyde Park, Uptown, Greek Town, and Wicker Park. In the 90s, the Batman comics even had the Caped Crusader fighting Gotham crime at intersections like Belmont and Racine.

Sure, in the comics, Gotham is in New Jersey. But then again, Metropolis is supposed to be in Delaware.

And it doesn't end with the movie's Gotham City. In this month's issue of Day of Vengeance, two of the magical heroes of the DC Universe (yeah, sigh, it's Nightshade and Detective Chimp) try to hunt down the Phantom Stranger, one of the DC Universe's most powerful magic beings.

Where's the guy living? None other than Dayton, Ohio - where I grew up. If you ask me, I thought that kid down the block in Dayton always seemed a little . . . strange . . .

Of course, Dayton has a proud history of appearing from time to time in the comics. Longtime geeks like myself might remember that Bruce Banner (aka, the Incredible Hulk) was born in Dayton, where his abusive dad was an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

And then, of course, there was the time that . . . well, really that's about it. There might have been an issue of Captain Atom back in the 80s that took place at the Air Force Base, but seriously, raise your hand if you remember Captain Atom . . . or when he had his own book.

Whatever. Super-heroes are hard to come by in Ohio. You have to take what you can get.

But it's not like the streets of Dayton, Akron, and Canton are going to protect themselves, now are they?

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