Sunday, February 13, 2011
Mighty Marvel Manhattan
The center of the Marvel Universe has always been New York City. The Avengers Mansion, the Daily Bugle, Empire State University, Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, and Luke Cage’s old office above the Gem Theater, are all located in a fairly realistically portrayed (except, you know, for the superheroes) Manhattan. DC’s fictional cities were originally generic settings, and have become thematic support for their central characters, but Marvel’s New York has always been more of place which its characters adapted to, or arose from.
TSR’s Marvel Superheroes rpg dealt with the city in a few of supplements (New York, New York, and the map on the judge’s screen, to name a couple), but never really gave us a lot of detail. That’s a shame, because there’s more to be had from the comics. Wizard #199 published the map above, and an accompanying article, but the best reference I've found is Peter Sandersen’s The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City.
Sandersen, of course, contrasts the Marvel Universe version of the city with ours. He also (as one might expect) pulls out the occasional obscure detail (like the Snakeroot cult in catacombs beaneath Central Park’s Belvedere Castle from Daredevil). What’s most interesting to me, though, is how some of the geographic elements are really easter eggs for Marvel Comics history--like the fact that Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich shared an apartment at 177A Bleeker Street, which turns out the be Dr. Strange’s address in the MU.
If you’ve got a yen to game in the Marvel Universe, or are just a Marvel fan, I’d say its worth checking out.