Grounded Locations

gotham1990When I was little I knew of far more DC characters than Marvel. That said, I felt a stronger connection to Marvel than to DC, Sure there were a number of reasons that I thought were the reaso. The most obvious one seemed to be the one that mot people flocked to. That Marvel characters and their more humble origins, origins that made them feel like normal people before become super for the most part. They seemed like real people. Whereas DC felt like it was made up of a bunch of people who were practically unattainable even before you attribute the super-ness.

No, for me what made Marvel more accessible and made me enjoy Marvel’s multiverse more was the fact that for the most part, the heroes there were based in real places easily accessible. Spider-Man fought crime around New York City. Fantastic Four was a family of heroes who also helped out NYC. The Marvel characters were in real places. I looked at them and said, hey I could go to NYC. It made everything feel more immediate. It made me feel closer to them. I may not have had powers, but I could go to the city. NYC was a real place I could look up on a map and say that some event I just had happened there. I knew where it was and I could speculate about how I thought I would have been effected. Then again, I also grew up with teachers kindly reminding me that if someone decided to drop a nuclear bomb on city I would die possibly from debris and most definitely from the extremely high radiation levels. That’s how close I was, a train ride away. A short bus ride. 20 minutes in a car. It made Marvel’s universe feel closer.

landfallwreathMuch closer than DC. I’ve honestly spent half my life wondering where exactly, Metropolis, Gotham, or Central City were. Sure, I had ideas. I was dead certain Metropolis was a parallel for Chicago and Gotham was New York City. I had these ideas, but then some statement would throw things off. It would disorient me. I couldn’t look at a map and even guess where it was located. There were too many contradictions. Don’t get me wrong, that certainly helped for DC world building. They had these cities they could make their own. They had cities that the could mold however they saw fit to suit the stories they wanted to tell. It is beneficial, it also allows the cities locations to be malleable. Unfortunately for me that made the DC cities too untouchable. They were unrelateable.

This feeling extends far beyond just DC and Marvel. I’ve always felt more connected to properties where I understood the locations, even if they were off world. Being able to tie down a location is important to me, it helps me ground myself in the world and not feel like just a floating limb. In Red Rising, I knew that it was set on Mars. It was a very distinct location, but it’s one I could identify. Whereas Saga, as great as it is, I just feel like it is floating in space. Wreath, Cleave, Landfall, I don’t have much clue as to how far things are. I don’t understand the scope of the universe. It makes travel seem less urgent, it throws me for a loop. Do I still enjoy it? Absolutely, like I still enjoy DC properties, but there is something about having no idea that takes it further from reality than having it set some place I can actively identify.

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