I cower in existential dread of the endless expanse that is Central/Keystone City.
I'm not one of those sheltered, agoraphobic housewives. I enjoy the country, the beach, and the famously broad sidewalks and avenues of the District of Columbia. But Central City? That's another thing entirely.
In Central City, people have to drive to the mailbox. Their own mailbox.
"Get back to my desk"? For pity's sake, Iris, it'll take you two hours to cross that living room. And probably a passport.
What is this vast complex? The National Science Center? NIH? STARLabs HQ? No. It's Barry Allen's back room. In his APARTMENT. In your house, this sort of room is barely big enough to hold the Cybex machine you don't use. In a Central City apartment, it's about the size of a bowling alley.
Four-lane avenues? Don't make me laugh. In Central City, every sidewalk is a four-lane avenue.
An avenue (or is that merely a street?) has room for at least 30, 40 lanes. Oh, wait! That is merely a street; there's no median strip. I shudder to think what a Central City avenue looks like. Probably like the Gulf Stream made out of asphalt.
In Central City, every building must be about 700 stories tall. And miles and miles away. It's part of the building code. The elongated buildings even freak out the freaky Elongated Man. That's why he moved to Opal.
How long do you think the Central City skyline is? My theory is it occupies the entire bank of the Mississippi, with Keystone mirroring it on the other side.
Do you remember that Grant Morrison JLA story where Starro the Conqueror was the size of the Hudson Bay? Well, Starro won't attack Central City, because he's afraid of getting lost there. That's how big Central City is.
"Without being seen"? Duh. As if a little thing like a jet-sized earthdriller emerging from the ground is going to be noticed in a Central City park!
Other cities are located in counties. But Central City has counties in it. Whole states even, the ones that never get mentioned in comics. Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Nevada, Idaho, Utah. All of them are mere neighborhoods within the sprawling madness of Central and Keystone City.Except for Kansas. That's one giant farm, run by a kindly old couple and studded with kryptonite boulders every thirty yards.
Who conceived of Central City this way? Was it Carmine Infantino? It's as if the artist had lived his entire life in the midwestern suburbs and all knowledge of cities was kept from him. Then, someone described what cities were like and made him draw them. Julie says, "Well, Car, it's kind of like where you live, only the buildings are much taller and there's more people. Millions more." Carmine goes, "Got it! Room for millions... ."
I suppose it makes a certain comic book sense. In any normal place, Flash would catch all the Rogues nearly immediately by simply searching the whole city. But when your city encompasses the entirety of the territories explored by Lewis and Clark and then some, that's a tall order, even for the Flash.
It's useful, too. Central City is the answer to many of those nagging questions that pester your suspension of disbelief.
- Where did all the Gotham refugees go during No Man's Land?
- Apt. #68745, in the Rathaway Arms at 239,824 7006th St. NW.
- Where'd they put the survivors of Coast City and Fairfield?
- In the "back room".
- Where did the people come from to repopulate Topeka and Montevideo?
- From the waiting line at the Central City 182nd National Bank's ATM. Observe how Central / Keystone City's limitless expanse stretches beyond the horizon, toward the sun, toward infinity. Ever thought about what kind of revenue that generates? Through a special multigovernment arrangement, all damage of any kind caused by hero/villain conflict anywhere on the planet is paid for using Central City property taxes. Ever wonder where the money comes from to rebuild the Flash Museum, which is destroyed weekly? The sales tax on gum. The Justice League Watchtower funding is an add-on to the municipal paper clip budget.