Tuesday, June 21, 2005

DCU - DC = Federal City!

Starman is the native hero of Opal City, quirkiest of the DCU fictionopolises and, judging by our current poll, the most popular one. Now.

But all of that is Robinson redux; Opal City didn't exist until James Robinson created it out of wholecloth for the Jack Knight version of Starman in 1994 (one of the principle new offerings stemming from the "Zero Hour" reboot).

In the Golden Age, artist-creator Jack Burnley set Starman in Gotham. Yup. Gotham. Not "Gotham City" where Batman lived; Ted Knight (Starman) lived in just Gotham, another paper-thin copy of New York City. Interestingly, a reference to NYC in one of the early stories (Adventure No. 63) makes the point that the Gotham where Ted lives in NOT New York City.

Later on, however, Starman was "retconned" (as we call it nowadays) to live in Federal City, whose name alone makes it clear is an analog for Washington, D.C. As we learned in a 1970's retcon, Ted Knight had political connections in Federal City; his uncle was a U.S. Senator, whose daughter (inspired by her cousin's career) became the tantalizing Phantom Lady. To paraphrase Plastic Man, "Yes, we all love Phantom Lady."

Robinson and others respected the Federal City connection by building into Ted Knight's back story a period where he left Opal City to heroize in Washington, D.C.

But I call for the elimination of Washington, D.C., from the DCU.

I myself live in D.C., for 20 years now. [Note: People who live in Washington do NOT call it Washington. In fact, they never use the word "Washington"; even the Washington Monument is just "The Monument". If you meet someone who says he lives in "Washington", he doesn't; he lives in the D.C. suburbs.] But I do not want a D.C. in the DCU. I want Federal City (F.C. !) instead.

  • I want to have a superhero running around in the nation's capitol (something that I know wouldn't go well in the real D.C.)
  • The District of Columbia is, frankly, a stupid name; Federal City is much cooler.
  • I like the principal (American) cities of reference in the DCU to be fictionopolises, so that the DCU feels like its built around its main characters, rather than feeling as if editors tried to awkwardly squeeze a legion of superpowered people into our world.
  • If we're going to have fictional presidents (particulary ones who become supervillains upon retirement, which seems to be the post-presidential career of choice lately), it's more comfortable if they are in fictional context (F.C. rather than D.C.).
Almost every time I read a DCU story set in "Washington", I react so strongly to its being mischaracterized that my eyes roll up into my head for an hour or two, which makes it hard to keep reading, gives me a headache, and makes walking the dog next to impossible. If the story is set in F.C. instead, it will be easier for me to accept Apokolitan-style security devices in the White House and the general idiocy that has been the President Luthor storyline.

A retcon of D.C. as F.C. (heck, "Washington, F.C." would work fine for me) wouldn't affect DCU history and would free up its future a bit. F.C. could be home to Wonder Woman (gods know she needs one) or maybe even (unbelievable!) an actual black hero native to the city! My vote for that character would be the obscure Manager Lad, an underused creation of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko...


naladahc said...

I like your idea.

I was so happy they brought back Fawcett City after that horrible Shazam: A New Begging was "forgotten".

I like the concept of the fictional cities and it only falls apart when someone tries to map it onto existing geographies.

And yes. Opal is my favorite too. I really never thought about DC cities until Robinson's series.

Ah Starman. I miss you. The only thing to come out of the horrible Zero Hour that had any sense of care or quality to it.

Devon Sanders said...

Devon AKA Manager Lad says: You don't want my silly Black ass having superpwers. Trust me on this.

Benari said...

What about the never-properly-realized Priest creation Xero? I know no one remembers this aborted comic and I know Priest laments the unfortunate circumstances that doomed the project from the beginning. So why not revamp the concept slightly, move Xero from the midwestern National City of Illinois to Federal City...and give this title another shot.

Explain the re-location by having Trane Walker (Xero's alter ego) traded from the National City Vipers. With its socio-political commentary and exploration of duality and race relations, this would make a bold and edgy addition to a diverse DCU.

Scipio said...

Benari, I remember Xer0; in a past post, I talked about making him part of the Martian Manhunter "dynasty" because I think the characters have a lot in common.

Anonymous said...

"I like the principal (American) cities of reference in the DCU to be fictionopolises..."

...which immediately got me thinking about how cool it might be if there were fictionopolises in other countries as well, to the extent that anything happens outside America in the DCU.