By Teague Bohlen
Spring break! Time to leave school behind for a while, put on some cargo shorts and sandals and go on a much needed vacation. While non-nerds might be content with their beaches and alcohol poisoning and girls gone poor judgment, nerd are more likely to do the standard vacation thing. But what to do, where to go? For those living in comic book universes, this can be a pretty tough call. It’s one thing to want to go see the places where your heroes do their thing: the Hall of Justice, Avengers Mansion, the Baxter Building, what have you. And maybe that might be fun for a while, you know, until the Key attacks the JLA, or the Masters of Evil invades 890 Fifth Avenue, or the Baxter Building shoots off into space. This gives the wise traveler pause. And rightfully so. So here, ten comic book destinations that you really ought to cross off your traveling wish lists.
10) The Savage Land
A tropical zone in the middle of the Antactic, relatively untouched by human hands sounds pretty good. You could enjoy all the benefits of jungle-living, and still step right outside when you wanted a good snowball fight. Snowboarding and sunbathing in the same day? Sweet! But for every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud. No, not the ferocious dinosaurs, or the violent Man-Apes, or the frequent visits by evil mutants, or the fairly boring Tarzan rip-off stories featuring Ka-zar. It’s that big business (and maybe S.H.I.E.L.D.) has moved in to plunder the vibranium stores. Fucking corporate interests and secret government projects.. .the answer is Anarchy, brothers and sisters! Let’s go throw some stuff at Starbucks stores in vain protest! (And then maybe stop in for a venti latte.)
9) Gotham City
Batman’s hometown is not the sort of big city you’d want to visit. Even Metropolis has its dark corners, of course, but Gotham is pretty much all dark corners. It’s a wonder that anyplace in the city was violent enough above the norm to be called “Crime Alley” (and even more strange that they’d choose to build the Opera House there, too, but okay). Fortunately, there’s an answer for the woes that the Gotham Tourism Board must surely suffer day in and day out, and it’s something Batman probably needs to look into, too. If someone just bought up and tore down all the old warehouses and abandoned factories and boarded-up amusement parks sitting around, Gotham’s super-villains would be pretty much forced to relocate. Forget Batman — Bruce Wayne could nearly eliminate crime in Gotham with just his checkbook.
It doesn’t really matter which Atlantis you’re talking about: Aquaman’s or Namor’s, either way. This is not an underwater paradise, really. Not anymore. Oh sure, you’ll get your fill of scuba and coral reefs and pretty conch shells and all that. Hell, you might be able to ride a giant seahorse or talk with the fish. But in the end, it’s just a big watery bore, and even if you hit it off with a hot mermaid, you can’t take off your diving helmet to kiss her. (And what’s more, there’s a serious limit to the number of bases one can round when you’re getting it on with a mermaid, if you catch my continental drift.) And Sub-Diego is even worse, what with all the former humans there whining all the time about really missing stuff like trees and clouds and cooked food. Still, the place is a madhouse in July, because nothing stops Comic-Con.
Paradise Island sort of sounds like a new casino on the Vegas strip; even knowing what it is (a Greek island populated solely by scantily-clad women), it might sound like the ultimate frat-boy dream, but seriously: no. These “girls” will not “go wild” unless you count kicking your ass and utterly sublimating you to their will. (Which will cost you big money in Thailand, I’ve heard, but I digress.) The thing with the home of the Amazons is that they’re not big fans of men, they don’t take any sort of crap, and they’re not shy with sharp and pointy weaponry. So they sort of prove the rule that beaches and hot women do not necessarily a great vacation package make.
In an early level of the PlayStation Spider-man game, there’s a billboard promoting Latverian tourism. On that, I must call bullshit. There’s no way that anyone’s headed to Latveria to take the ten-Franc tour of Castle Doomstadt. Sure, Eastern Europe has undergone something of a travel-renaissance in the last few years — but just because Latveria is nestled between the relative hot-spots of Hungary and Romania doesn’t mean that it’s equally as inviting. For one, there’s not much in the way of classic architecture, since most of it gets mowed down by Victor von Doom’s latest plan for world domination. (He has to have someplace to test out those Doombots, after all.) And whether or not you buy the slavish devotion of the populace to their despotic leader (benevolent or not–which seems to depend on who’s writing him at the time), hanging around with serfs is bound to get boring after an excruciatingly short time. “What’s there to do here?” “Serve Doom.” On the bright side, you’d probably get a lot of drinking in. Kedves egeszsegere!
Bizarro World might at first seem like something of a lark — and maybe it would have been, back in the Golden Age. But only for about a day or so, and then you’d get awfully sick of translating everything, putting up with scowling and straightforward aggression, and hearing everyone around you talking about themselves in the third person. (You know, sort of like visiting France.) These days, though, Htrae has gotten a lot darker — so much so that they got Eric Powell to draw it.
4) Anyplace the BPRD Goes
Seriously, this is one team that really doesn’t attract groupies, and for good reason. Everywhere they go, there’s some Cthulu-like horror sprouting tentacles, or some terrible person from history whose ghost haunts the place where once they laid waste to millions of dreams, or inexplicable plagues of frogs, which are never a good sign for vacation fun. This can be confusing, as this changes from week to week. For example, Venice is normally a lovely place to visit. But if the BPRD are there? Not the time to go to Venice.
Even before its recent destruction (at least so far — chances are extremely good that it will, like all things in comics, especially mutant comics, not stay dead for long), visiting Genosha off the African coast carried with it the same issues that travelling to any area victimized by its own government does. Tough to get in, tough to get around, tough to leave once you’re ready. The apartheid-like society that Genosha once boasted wasn’t the main problem for tourism, though — the biggest problem was that the convoluted storytelling just gives everyone involved one hell of a headache.
2) New York City
Okay, so there’s tons to do in the Big Apple — Times Square, the lights of Broadway, the Statue of Liberty, and so on. But the sheer number of super-villain attacks on the various banks and institutions city-wide has got to take its toll. Like Gotham, only multiplied, and more in denial about it. Want to know just how many bad guys there are in Marvel’s Manhattan alone, plotting some elaborate plan to steal from/kidnap/murder the populace? Add up the number of superheroes there are operating from the main island (lets say ten, including Spider-Man, Daredevil, an average of five resident Avengers, Luke Cage, Doctor Strange, and the Fantastic Four, which we’ll only count as one, since they share a rogues gallery for the most part — and this isn’t even counting arguably minor teams like New Warriors, or visiting X-Men, etc.), and then multiply by an average of at least thirty villains each. That’s 300. Divide that by the number of days in the year, and that’s a conservative estimate of an average supervillain attack every 29 hours. And that’s not even getting into subterranean NYC, with the Morlock tunnels, Mole Man lairs, and all that. It’s pretty simple math: it’s not a matter of if you’re a victim of super-villains in NYC, but when.
1) The Future
The future in comic books sucks. It’s a completely dystopic nightmare. It might sound fun, popping into the future for a couple of days, and god knows there are enough time-travel methods just laying around in comic books to make it possible, but believe me: it’s all sentinels, nuclear wastelands, and Legion flight rings. It’s not pretty. How about Cancun, instead?