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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Amazing Heroes #120 - July 1987

I really loved the Fantagraphics pro-zine Amazing Heroes during most of its lengthy run.

Around the time I first discovered it (in the mid-80s, right when I first started shopping at comic shops), I found its nice balance of articles about mainstream superhero stuff and independent comics to be really interesting, and for many years I never missed an issue.

One of the most unusual articles the magazine ever ran was in this issue, published right after DC's History of the DC Universe mini-series, that tried to give a year-by-year, set-in-stone chronology of the DC Universe, triphammering through its major events.

Aquaman got mentioned a bunch of times:
At the time, I found this article fascinating, seeing definite years affixed to major events in the DCU.

Now, of course, I see the complete absurdity of such an effort (well-intentioned as it was), since As Time Marches On, you have to keep rewriting the dates so you don't have Batman be fifty years old.

Also, with the Justice Society being tied irrevocably to the 1940s, the gap between the first and second generation of heroes grows larger and larger, until it collapses under its own weight--what, there were superheroes in the 40s and 50s, and then none again for another three decades?

So, as entertaining as this piece was (and still is, to the uber-fanboy in me), I feel now that DC and Marvel should just stop worrying about it, and have a general continuity to use as the spine of their superhero titles, but ditch it when necessary.

One last thing about this article--the reason this piece stuck with me in my head for so many years (after most of the other articles in AH have disappeared into the ether of my memory) is that it gives actual locations of someone of DC's landmark cities.

I don't know whether this was writer Brian Hughes' invention or he got the official lowdown from DC, but it blew my 16-year-old mind to find out that Central City is in Ohio, Metropolis is in Delaware (no sales tax in Metropolis!), and Gotham City is in New Jersey. Wow.


Dixon said...

Of course, as you note, no significant detail is safe from retconning! Central City is now located in Missouri--not Ohio--such that it can be situated directly across the river from its twin city, Keystone City, Kansas. Thank you Crisis on Infinite Earths!

The real question is, where precisely is Atlantis?

Richard said...

Wow, Amazing Heroes takes me back: that was where I had my second or third published writing.

Mention of that particular article also takes me back because it prompted a political argument between myself and a friend. At the time, I took exception to the notion it proposed that Hal Jordan had served in Vietnam. My friend didn't see how that was any different from having him serve in Korea. I argued that it made his military service more politically charged, that he would have been making a conscious choice to support that particular war, whereas going to Korea would have been much less controversial at home. Now, while I remain fiercely anti-war, in the years since then I've come around to feel I was wrong about the effect of that on the character.

(In fact, I thought what Darwyn Cooke did with Hal in Korea for The New Frontier was actually a bit of a cop-out, trying too hard to have it both ways and ending up with something totally unbelievable. But I digress.)

The locations of the various cities would have come from DC rather than being invented by the author -- I'm pretty sure they'd appeared elsewhere before this. And, believe it or not, one of the promises going into the Crisis on Infinite Earths was that from then on, the DC Universe was going to progress closer to real time and we would see characters age and be replaced by successors. I heard this straight from Marv Wolfman, so make of that what you will.

Anonymous said...

Rob, check out the Amazing World of DC Comics JLA issue...I'm sure it gives specific locations for most of the major cities. ALTHOUGH in a later issue the editor corrected himself and switched somethings, because I went back and annotated the issue myself...I'd have to dig out my copy to verify exactly what I'm talking about. Maybe tonight if I have time I will.

And RAB, funny that you say that about time marching on, since it has been officially announced that Barry Allen is BACK! (sigh) I'm officially quitting comics as of today until Dan Didio quits.

Anonymous said...

The states where most DC cities reside in was published in the late 80s/early 90s in "The Atlas of the DC Universe" by Mayfair Games, as a component of their DC role-playing game system. It listed those you mention here, although I think it did put Central City in Missouri (there was a lot of back-and-forth on that in the Flash letter pages for awhile on that debate), and if you read between the lines you got that Gotham was in New Jersey and Metropolis was in Delaware, but it didn't come out and say it in those listings.

I liked how they handled the timeline in Zero Hour (35 years ago..etc.) Much better way to handle the sliding timeline.


Adama said...

I'm really digging that cover. Wonder if I can get a hold at that issue somewhere.

rob! said...

never having been a gamer, i never learned of the locations until AH. it blew my mind at the time.

adam-- you can find this on ebay for a buck or two!

Anonymous said...

So, according to the JLA issue of Amazing World of DC Comics (#14) the following cities are in the following states:
Ivy Town, Massachusetts
Gotham City, New Jersey
Star City, Connecticut
Central City, Ohio
Coast City, California
Midway City, Michigan
Middletown, Illinois (where detective John Jones worked)
Smallville, Maryland
Metropolis, Delaware

Make of those what you will. It was canon for atleast a little bit of time. :-)