Top 10 comic book cities: #1 Mega City One
From Radiant City to Mega City One, the Architects’ Journal presents a selection of the greatest illustrated urban spaces
Mega City One
Four hundred million people live in Mega City One, the 22nd century which provides the backdrop to the adventures of future lawman Judge Dredd, in the pages of British sci-fi weekly, 2000AD.
Mega City One is the ultimate comic book city: bigger, badder, and more spectacular than its rivals. It’s underlying design principle is simple - exaggeration - which actually lends it a coherence and character unlike any other. While Batman’s Gotham City and Superman’s Metropolis largely reflect the character of the superheroes who inhabit them (Gotham is grim, Metropolis shines) Mega City One presents an exuberant, absurd foil to Dredd’s rigid, monotonous outlook.
Contemporary issues are amplified and explored under an endless skyline that stretches across America’s eastern seaboard. This is a city where cleaning robots malfunction to become rebellious graffiti artists; reinforced structures house two-tonne ‘fatties’ gorging on synthetic foods and the ‘smokatorium’ is the only place left where smokers can burn their lungs.
Created by writers Pat Mills and John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, the city’s original aesthetic of soaring organic architecture has parallels with the experimental concrete structures of Eero Saarinen and the motorway networks that transformed British cities in the 60s and 70s. Otherwise it’s entirely unique.