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  1. #1
    Extraordinary Member John Venus's Avatar
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    Default When Is A Ficitonal City Necessarry?

    We know that Superman, Batman, Flash and Starman (Jack Knight) are inseparable from their cities. In their stories, the city itself is as much of a character in the story as any human character in the story. But does every character need to be from a fictional city? Should Wonder Woman be based in Gateway City or would it be better if she lived in Washington DC, Boston or NY? Should Green Arrow be in Seattle or Star City a much better option? Does it make a difference if Nightwing is in NYC and not Bludhaven? Or if Hal patrolled an existing American city and not Coast City?

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member mathew101281's Avatar
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    I prefer fictional cities because they enable the creators to make something distinctive to what ever hero they are writing/drawing. Their is something about the atmosphere of a Gotham or Metropolis that can’t be replicated by real cities. I fine that when creators use real cities in the DCU they are essentially saying “location doesn’t really matter, this story could have taken place anywhere.” It’s no accident that the most consistent money makers for DC tend to have their on cities. Consistent locations tend to be a sign of a consistent franchise that isn’t being randomly reset every time a new creative team comes on board.

  3. #3
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Gotham and Metropolis are grandfather clauses. It was just the thing to do back in the golden age - even Timely's books weren't all set in New York - that change at Marvel only happened early in Fantastic Four, they actually started in a fictional city which was then retconned to being New York. Obviously Barry Allen debuted before then (his debut being the commonly accepted start of the silver age), so Central City has the same grandfather clause as well. DC persisted with the fictional city thing through the 1970s, but then New Teen Titans in 1980 followed Marvel's lead, and the book was set in New York. Soon after, Green Arrow went for more realism, hence the switch from Star City to Seattle.

    What's odd regarding Nightwing, is that his city, Bludhaven, was only introduced in the 1990s, so it doesn't have a grandfather clause. Wouldn't it have made more sense for him to be based in New York, where his Titans team had operated previously, or in Gotham, which was his original home as Robin? He's constantly having to use a Batplane or T-Jet to commute between two cities whenever he's working with the Titans! In fact in his latest issue, he complains about having to temporarily leave Bludhaven for Gotham for the Fear State storyline... only he's doing the same thing whenever he goes to Teen Titans Academy in New York.
    Last edited by Digifiend; 09-28-2021 at 03:55 AM.
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  4. #4
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Every time, honestly. It has more freedom for design. You can make it however you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    Gotham and Metropolis are grandfather clauses. It was just the thing to do back in the golden age - even Timely's books weren't all set in New York - that change at Marvel only happened early in Fantastic Four, they actually started in a fictional city which was then retconned to being New York. Obviously Barry Allen debuted before then (his debut being the commonly accepted start of the silver age), so Central City has the same grandfather clause as well. DC persisted with the fictional city thing through the 1970s, but then New Teen Titans in 1980 followed Marvel's lead, and the book was set in New York. Soon after, Green Arrow went for more realism, hence the switch from Star City to Seattle.

    What's odd regarding Nightwing, is that his city, Bludhaven, was only introduced in the 1990s, so it doesn't have a grandfather clause. Wouldn't it have made more sense for him to be based in New York, where his Titans team had operated previously, or in Gotham, which was his original home as Robin? He's constantly having to use a Batplane or T-Jet to commute between two cities whenever he's working with the Titans! In fact in his latest issue, he complains about having to temporarily leave Bludhaven for Gotham for the Fear State storyline... only he's doing the same thing whenever he goes to Teen Titans Academy in New York.
    He's a teacher in TTA. That's his job. Gotham is emergency.

  5. #5

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    There are many excellent questions asked on these boards about topics in comics. Yet, for almost ALL of them, there is no hard and fast one size fits all answer. I like the fictional cities as they allow for more creative events as well as use of city personnel and being able to give them personality and an active role. Unmentioned here, but just as important is the use of Hub City in the Question.

    But sometimes putting the heroes we love to read about in settings we know and have been to can be fun and sometimes powerful story telling. If we go by Kurt Busiek's JLA/Avengers, DC's Earth is considerably more developed as to US cities than Marvel's. Marvel is pretty much the same as our Earth, although with them there are differences.

    Simple answer is there is no answer. Both have their places.
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  6. #6
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    When you want a hero fighting crime away from other heroes and want more creative freedom with what you do with the city.

  7. #7
    Invincible Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Not usually "necessary", but often "desirable".

    Besides, one could even argue Marvel Comics' "New York City" is fictional because of all the buildings there (Baxter Building; Doctor Strange's Sanctum Santorum on Bleecker Street; Avenger's HQ; etc.) that don't exist in the real New York City.

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    Beyond Good. Beyond Evil. Gaius's Avatar
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    Fictional cities are fine but largely overrated in that they're not innately superior to using real ones and fictional ones are often little more than just drawing on shallow stereotypes people have of real cities; "Gotham = New York by night, Metropolis = New York by day".

    People like to hold up Gotham but every depiction of it in adaptation changes drastically and in the comics is little more than a hodgepodge of urban hellhole tropes stolen from better works of fiction.

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    Relaunched, not rebooted! SJNeal's Avatar
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    For the most part, I prefer my DC heroes in fictional cities - with the exception of WW/Boston and GA/Seattle; those pairings just feel right for some reason. Also, you can destroy fictional cities as often as the story requires it; something about NYC being leveled 4x a week always felt... off. *Side eyes Marvel*

    Side note: Hal/GL is as inseparable from Coast City as Supes and Bats are from their respective homes, imho. Not that Hal's been anywhere near Earth in the past 20 yrs...
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  10. #10
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius View Post
    Fictional cities are fine but largely overrated in that they're not innately superior to using real ones and fictional ones are often little more than just drawing on shallow stereotypes people have of real cities; "Gotham = New York by night, Metropolis = New York by day".

    People like to hold up Gotham but every depiction of it in adaptation changes drastically and in the comics is little more than a hodgepodge of urban hellhole tropes stolen from better works of fiction.
    I would say the drastic changes within adaptions is speaking more of why they're fictional than to just say they're a real life city and leave it at that, while retaining just a general aesthetic or tone.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius View Post
    Fictional cities are fine but largely overrated in that they're not innately superior to using real ones and fictional ones are often little more than just drawing on shallow stereotypes people have of real cities; "Gotham = New York by night, Metropolis = New York by day".

    People like to hold up Gotham but every depiction of it in adaptation changes drastically and in the comics is little more than a hodgepodge of urban hellhole tropes stolen from better works of fiction.
    This is pretty much how I feel. I don't see fictional cities as necessary and I think it depends on the character and how it is handled.

  12. #12
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    I always like it at least on the level of it being something that distinguishes DC from Marvel.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member marhawkman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    I always like it at least on the level of it being something that distinguishes DC from Marvel.
    Even Marvel has fictional locations. Madripoor, Latveria, Genosha(to name a few) But they're not the main places that the heroes do hero stuff.... in most books anyways.

    But why? Well, seemingly because they wanted to write places that... don't exist IRL.

  14. #14
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    I know with DC having so many fictional cities, we aren't going to see real ones.

    But I think there is something to be said for a real one. It suggests that
    heroes are engaging in actions in a world that is sort of real. That it is a definable
    place, similar to the one we inhabit. With restaurants, buildings, institutions
    that are part of that city's life.

    Let us be honest using a fictional city is because it makes things simpler, they don't
    have to worry about the details of a real one.

    The fictional DC universe is one where cities are out in the ether. Gotham City is
    somewhere in New Jersey. Metropolis is sort of like New York City, but it could be all
    kinds of possible eastern cities. I have no clue where Keystone City might be. Coastal
    City and National City are out west, probably California, but it all becomes amorphous.

  15. #15
    Mighty Member Kaijudo's Avatar
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    I really like fictional cities but it really depends on how they're used. To the best of my recollection, places like Coast City or Gateway City or Ivy Town really don't serve much of a purpose (at least until Coast City was destroyed). Even Central City, though making Central and Keystone a kind of "twin cities" thing was a nice touch and justified it a bit more. Places like Gotham City, Metropolis, Opal City, Bludhaven, and Hub City all served a purpose. Even someplace like St. Roch from Hawkman was pretty cool, as it cribbed elements from other cities to create a place with its own vibe and a history you can generate from scratch without risking tripping over anything potentially offensive.

    It really allows the creators to tell the stories they want to tell without mooring the location to the real world. I know I personally never need to see Batman fighting one of his foes in a giant M&M store.

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