12 Real-World Locations That Have Been Damaged, Demolished or Downright Obliterated in the Comics
1. New York City
Actually, it’s tempting to list all the superhero stories in which New York City is not damaged or destroyed during the course of one superhuman conflict or another. The first such incident happened way back in Marvel’s The Human Torch #5 (Summer 1941), in which an enraged Sub-Mariner, during one of his earlier temper tantrums, attempted to destroy the city by summoning a tidal wave to engulf it. Since then, the city, which has served as the home base for an untold number of heroes, has been destroyed, invaded by demonic hordes, lifted from its foundations and held for ransom, and shunted into other dimensions. In the 1980s, New York City’s unscheduled demolitions prompted Marvel to publish Damage Control, a series chronicling the lives of employees at a construction company that specialized in superhero clean-ups — a definite job for life in the Marvel universe if ever there were one.
2. Stamford, Connecticut
It’s one thing if your city gets damaged because, say, the Fantastic Four or Avengers make their home there — that just comes with living in the greatest city in the world (sorry, Toronto). But getting several blocks of your town blown up because a reality show producer wanted better ratings? That just plain sucks rocks. Marvel’s Civil War storyline kicked off in 2006 with the deaths of 600 residents of Stamford, including 60 children, during a heated battle between the New Warriors (a superhero team that had its own TV show) and a group of super-villains hiding out near a schoolyard. The devastation pushed public opinion of super-beings to an all-time low, leading to the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act and all-out civil war between heroes for and against the new law.
3. Tokyo, Japan
Akira, a 2,000-page story by Japanese writer/artist Katsuhiro Otomo, debuted in Japan in 1982 and was first published in the U.S. under Marvel’s Epic imprint in 1988. It begins with a prologue that details how in December 1982 (1992 in the Western edition) an unexplained explosion completely destroyed Japan’s capital. Believed to be the work of a new type of nuclear bomb, it triggers World War III. The story proper takes place in the year 2030, by which time Tokyo has been resurrected as the futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo, which sits on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay.
4. Topeka, Kansas
In Our Worlds at War, a 2001 crossover event pitting all of DC’s superheroes against an unstoppable extraterrestrial threat (um, again), the capital of Kansas is casually obliterated (along with seven other places on the globe) as the super-villain’s “hollowers” dig into the Earth to — well, it doesn’t matter since the heroes managed to save the day yet again. Could’ve been worse, though: in Kingdom Come, a 1996 “what-if” story also published by DC and set in the near future, the entire state of Kansas is blown off the map after a battle between reckless superhumans leads to an unfortunate nuclear explosion. An older and wearier Superman honors the memory of fallen by building a massive penal colony in the middle of the devastated state to house an increasingly hard-to-control metahuman population. Neighboring states say, “Uh, thanks.”
5. Santa Barbara, California
During DC’s much-ballyhooed “Death of Superman” story arc in the 1990s, the fictional Coast City (and Green Lantern’s hometown) is wiped off the map when a malevolent alien’s warship appears overhead and systematically slaughters seven million people. In the story, the city was destroyed as the first step toward Earth’s transformation into a planetary weapon of galactic proportions. While a number of heroes banded together to foil the alien warlord’s schemes, they were too late to save Santa Barbara and Edwards Air Base, which were mentioned as being on the outer fringe of the blast radius and confirmed as lost by one character.
6. Montevideo, Uruguay
Not up on your South American capitals? That’s okay. All you need to know is this: Montevideo was founded in 1726, it’s 43 metres above sea level, and it’s now just a big smouldering crater in the ground, thanks to events pictured in DC 1,000,000. During the 1998 mini-series, a virus from the future that attacks both machines and humans infects the guidance system of a Russian soldier’s super-powered suit of armor, causing an explosion that kills one million residents (give or take) of Uruguay’s seaside capital.
7. Houses of Parliament, London
“Remember, remember, the fifth of November…” In 1605, Guy Fawkes and his band of conspirators failed in their attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London and were hanged for treason. In V for Vendetta, a comic series penned by Alan Moore that originally appeared between 1982 and 1985 in the British anthology comic Warrior (and later reprinted in color by DC), the mysterious anarchist/terrorist known only as V completes Fawkes’ job, announcing his presence to the world by blowing up the tower containing the famous Big Ben clock and the British Houses of Parliament before embarking on a reign of terror against a fascist British government.
8. St. John’s, Newfoundland
The capital city of Canada’s easternmost province has only its geography to blame for its addition to this list. In the late 1980s, a multi-issue storyline in Marvel’s The Avengers featured a tense crisis involving the titular team, Canada’s Alpha Flight, a squadron of Russian super-soldiers and a hijacked nuclear submarine. The heroes agree to allow the submarine to enter St. John’s Harbour, the closest port of call, as part of the hostage negotiations. But — whoops! — an accident involving one of the nuclear weapons on board wipes out most of the city… but everyone living in the blast zone gets saved by the heroes, because even though it’s home to about 200,000 people in the real world, the St. John’s that exists in the Marvel universe is apparently a picturesque fishing village with 20, 30 inhabitants, tops.
9. Melbourne, Australia
One of DC’s lesser-known “big events” in the 1980s, Invasion! was an old-fashioned us-against-the-aliens dust-up that saw a number of extra-terrestrial species band together to rid the universe of the human race and its propensity for breeding all kinds of superhuman types. (And when you think about it, can you blame them?) After a short battle against an unprepared populace, the Klingon-like Khunds establish a beachhead in Melbourne, using that devastated city as a base from which to spread their troops across the Pacific.
10. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The most famous bridge in the world has seen its share of action in many comics and comic-based movies, including the original Superman movie, in which the Man of Steel saves a bus from plunging off the bridge during an earthquake, and X-Men 3: X-Men United, in which Magneto lifts the entire bridge to act as a, well, bridge between him and a research facility located on a nearby island. Which just goes to show why Magneto is in charge: good common sense.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary in 1986, Marvel rolled out a series of titles that were set in the “New Universe” – the idea being these were stories set in a more realistic world than the established fictional world of Marvel’s other characters. The books were heavily marketed, but a number of problems plagued their production, not least of which were office tensions that eventually led to the resignation of editor-in-chief (and chief New Universe booster) Jim Shooter. The Pitt, a one-shot book starring the New Universe characters, chronicled the accidental destruction of Pittsburgh at 6:06 p.m. on Dec. 22, 1987 – a blast that killed half a million people and devastated 1,590 square miles. Why Pittsburgh was singled out for destruction is anyone’s guess – though the fact it’s Shooter’s hometown may be more than just coincidence.
12. The entire planet
In a memorable early story starring Doctor Strange, Earth’s resident Sorcerer Supreme can only watch helplessly as he becomes an active (albeit unwilling) instrument in the actual destruction of the entire planet Earth. Lucky for us, then, everything was magically put back together just instants later. So if you remember feeling kind of weird that one day in the early ’70s — now you know why.