Mar 11, 2014

The Lonely Planeteer's Guide

Welcome to another round of the Comics Cube Roundtable, where we at the Cube weigh in on certain topics. Click here for the full list.

This week was Matt's idea, so he'll kick it off.


A good comic will create a lush, vibrant world for it's characters to dwell in. Generally, comics use our world as a template and build on it, adding nations, cities, obscene levels of population density in the Midwest/coasts to develop the world and its characters. Riffing (i.e. shamelessly ripping off) this article from the AV Club, I thought to myself, the Cube Cohort should weigh in on the must sees and must misses of comic worlds. Challenge: Pick no more than 3 and no fewer than 1 locale you would like to visit or wouldn't touch visit for your weight in vibranium. The location does not have to be on Earth nor do you need to be inspired by the 90's X-Men cartoon (but it won't hurt).

Can't Miss:

1. Rip Hunter's Time Lab

Quite frankly, it's the most likely place I'll my good, old pal Booster Gold these days. Also, it does have a timesphere and a super-confusing chalkboard that eventually makes sense. Plus, it's somewhere in an undisclosed location (Arizona), so a dry heat at this time of year would be most welcome.

2. The Savage Land

I love dinosaurs. Ergo, if I want to see some, I need to get myself to Antarctica. I really need no other reason, but hanging out with Ka-Zar and Zabu could be fun, or filled with horrible, horrible danger.

3. Mogo

The only acceptable form of socializing is to go to Mogo. Any environment you choose to enjoy, any weather you choose to enjoy. Assuming you aren't an interstellar criminal or piss Mogo off, it is a nature lover's dream.

This place is like EPCOT:

1. Genosha

Come for the lush tropical environment. Stay for the slavery, because you are now a slave. Even if it has changed hands a few times, tropical climate plus enslavement/second-class citizenship (at best) is a pass for me. I think there was a PSA about this in the 90s...

2. The Dreaming

Messed up and confusing doesn't really seem to cut it. Unless you are Dream, a Crow or Cain & Abel, the Dreaming is probably more trouble than it's worth. Granted, many visit every night, but I wouldn't recommend staying too long. As a rule, I don't remember my dreams, perhaps for the better.

3. Coast City

The home city of an intergalactic space cop, which has been leveled by a cybernetic Superman and intergalactic warlord with millions killed? I think I will pass. The visit just has horrible disaster written all over it. Forget about living there, I don't think homeowner's insurance covers Red Lantern bile.


Really Got to Get to These:

1. Opal City

Opal's my favorite fictional city, partly because of the art deco architecture that would just keep me snapping touristy photos all day long, and partly because of what probably kept Starman Jack Knight there for so long: it looks like it's full of junk. After a couple of days of looking at all the touristy sites, including where Captain Marvel beat up Jack or where Sherlock Holmes, uh, I mean Hamilton Drew lives, I'd just end up going to all the bazaars, eating all the good food, and looking for all the good bargains.

2. Neopolis

You probably need superpowers to live in Neopolis, but that doesn't mean you can't visit! A city where everyone has superpowers but vigilantism is illegal, and the only hope for law and order lies in the Top 10 Precinct, so everyone else has to get a job that fits their particular ability? Well, that sounds like my idea of a good time. Who wouldn't want to get their pizza delivered by a superspeedster or want to just look up in the sky and see Peter Pan and Willy Wonka's elevator and Falcor from the Never-Ending Story go right above you? And really, who wouldn't want to go to Precinct 10 and just hang out with Robyn Slinger? Because I would, and we'd be best friends.

3. Asgard

My last spot was either this or Riverdale, and I settled on Asgard because it kind of is like Riverdale on acid, where everyone knows each other and basically just has to deal with each other, even if they can't stand each other. There's mead and there's lots and lots of food to eat, and there's Sif and the Enchantress and there's storytime with Volstagg and everything. Okay, sure, you'd have to deal with Balder being insufferable, but isn't it worth it, to go to war with Thor and the gang? It's not like you can't come back if you die anyway.

I'd Rather Be on Apokolips:

1. Marvel New York

Marvel New York, growing up, was the place to visit for me, the reason I wanted to go to school near New York City, and the reason I went to New York City as often as I could when I lived back East. So you think, take my favorite city in real life and you make it so I might see Spider-Man or Captain America or Thor if I so much as turned around? Yeah, I'd go visit for a weekend. But then think about it. You'd probably get captured by the Green Goblin for no reason, targeted for death by Bullseye, have your life ruined by the Kingpin, and severely injured by Dr. Doom, all because they saw you smiling at the Invisible Woman. So no, thanks, I'll hang out in real New York and pretend that superheroes are swinging around instead.

2. Xandar

Firelord is from here. There's nothing that can possibly make up for that.

3. Gotham City

Really, aside from 1950s Gotham City with the giant props and where the Joker's worst crime is trying to steal candy, why would anyone want to visit Gotham City, a place where you will most likely either end up dead or rescued by a lunatic with daddy issues in a batsuit? There's nothing in Gotham that looks like it's worth visiting, unless you're a businessman and you need to do business with Bruce Wayne, a psychiatrist and you want to make your name with the inmates at Arkham, or a girl who really, really wants to meet Dick Grayson.


The first thing this put me in mind of, is Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, since that's all about "How cool would it be to live in..." and then the scary realities of living in Barbarella, Alice in Wonderland, a chess videogame, or CLAMP's X/1999. Some universes, some cities are more fun to watch or read about vicariously than to actually have to live, breathe, and work in.

I Wanna Go:

1. Tomobiki

The small city of Tomobiki has as much fantastic madness going on as Marvel's Manhattan, but you're way less likely to be killed by it, and 86% of the madness is made up of really cute aliens. (I'm trying not to make this a "Where them girls at?" but at the same time, all I have in my head is Jay and Silent Bob's summation of Shermer, Illinois: "All the honeys are top shelf, but all the guys are whiny pussies. Except Judd Nelson." Actually, everyone's pretty cute, though, women and men, alike, once you ignore the high school idiots. Aliens! Monsters! Dream-eating tapirs! Baseball! The beach! Tomibiki has everything you need in a vacation.

2. Ys

The DCU Ys is simply the unacknowledged side of the world we live in, where things always renew, always refresh. Sure, that means it's ruled by a crazy red demon-thing, but that means he's always losing/always has lost, too. So, you can just chill out and eat and sleep and eat and sleep and enjoy the sun and eat some more, and chill, until you want to slip back to this side of the world, and you're more or less reset to how you were. No getting fat, no getting behind track, no getting exhausted.

3. Four Freedoms Plaza

It's kinda risky, sure, but how awesome would it be to even take a tour of the FF's headquarters? There's a robot receptionist! There's labs, and a lobby, and labs, and the Thing is is probably hanging around, and science! I'd buy a hat at the gift shop and everything.

The Hell Nos:

1. Gotham City

Because you'd die. Painfully. And you wouldn't see Batman. And if you did see Batman it'd be because he was trying to stop someone from shoving a sock puppet in your face while melting your genitals off with acid and laughing the whole time. Because Gotham sucks,

2. Madripoor

Like Gotham, except more corrupt and no Batman. Plus, it's more humid, has less air conditioning, the architecture is less impressive, and people are bastards.

3. Mega-City One

Fascism and brutal executions in a world where salt and cigarettes are illegal can be hilarious and exciting to read about. Living in any Mega-City would suck even if there weren't Judges. But there are Judges and you would be found guilty of stuff. Lots of stuff. And then you'd be sentenced. Probably by that Judge who's actually a politician's fish.


Places to go:

1. Apokolips

This might seem like the last place you want to be, but for me, I think you just have to get in on the ground floor of your eventual subjugation. Darkseid is eventually going to take over the world, you might as well work your way into some form of comfortable hellish existence from the beginning, instead of dying in the eventual climatic battle for the fate of the universe, or being forced into some kind of body bank scenario. If you’re enterprising enough, maybe you can even work yourself up to a Granny Goodness level of position in the government. You know, feed off the misery of others. Worst case you can practice your death defying escape skills with Mister Miracle.

2. Knowhere

If you can’t have a good time inside the hollowed out head of a dead Celestial, hanging out with a galaxy of scoundrels and telepathic Russian dogs, talking trigger-happy raccoons, and one monarch of Planet X, than you really need to reevaluate your ability to relax.

3. Barrelhaven

The idyllic little town located in the Valley of Jeff Smith’s Bone would be a great place to have a nice quality vacation. You can go get yourself a beer at Lucius Down’s tavern, or take the family to watch Gran’ma Ben in the cow race. If the Bone’s are around, you can get into some mischief with Phoney Bone, or even find yourself in the middle of a grand adventure with Thorn. The worst thing you have to beware of is some fairly idiotic rat creatures. Altogether not a bad little place to get away to.

Honorable Mention: Sin City. Any place where the strippers look like Jessica Alba is a place I want to be.

Places to avoid:

1. Oa

The place just sounds like a nightmare of red tape and unexplained decrees from the Guardians on high that may or may not end up in you getting slaughtered. There’s also the cornucopia of color lantern corps that want to do nothing but destroy the place. While there may be some sexy aliens running around, like Katma Tui or Soranik Natu, you also have to beware of the jailbait like Arisia that will get you in all kinds of trouble. Nevermind that your only Earthling companions are superdouche Hal Jordan, barrel of laughs (not) John Stewart, or Kyle Rayner (who might give John a run for his money in the depressing downer category). Your best option for a good time is Guy Gardner, and that guy’s a bit of a dick.

2. Metropolis

This place, along with Marvel’s New York, just seems to be much more trouble than it’s worth. Think of the property damage alone. There you are, living your life like a law-abiding citizen that always pays his bills and is just scraping by to survive in the big city, and then one day Doomsday uses your car as a projectile against Superman. Is your insurance going to cover that? How are you going to get around on that meager salary you’re pulling in? Just imagine the hassle you’re going to have to go through, the long lines filing your insurance claim, because that complete failure Gangbuster threw some pickpocket through your apartment window. Superman may be the Earth’s most powerful hero, but that just means the devastation is that much greater any time he gets in to a rumble. A lot of us saw Man of Steel (not me, but I heard enough). Not to mention Toyman trying to kidnap your kids, or Luthor playing sexual mindgames with your wife. Plus, I think if I had to see Superman flying around every day I’d have to kill myself.

3. Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters

Putting aside that the school has been destroyed and rebuilt more times than my self-esteem after sexual encounters, just think of the mutants you’re going to have to deal with. Sure, there are the occasional picnics or softball games, when you’re not under attack by religious zealots, robot killing machines, or one of the oh so many future iterations of X teams, but do you really want to have to make small talk with Longshot in the kitchen every morning? There’s no way that guy isn’t terribly annoying. Colossus is wandering around being either dead or useless. Cyclops is just a massive bummer to be around, always wallowing about how he can’t take his glasses off. Meanwhile, he’s married to one of the hottest redheads in the Marvel universe, and when she dies, he follows that up with the hottest blonde in the Marvel universe (or a clone of that redhead, or Colleen Wing, all while never having to get a real job, that guy's life is awesome). Nightcrawler and Wolverine would probably be great to have a drink with, until Logan flashes back to some terrifying probe incident in his past and accidentally pops his claws through your forehead. Humans don’t hate and fear them because they’re mutants, it’s because they’re a drag to be around. No thanks.

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