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Top 10 comic book cities: #6 Gotham City

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From Radiant City to Mega City One, the Architects’ Journal presents a selection of the greatest illustrated urban spaces

Gotham City

Great name, eh? Want to know why it’s called that? Batman co-creator Bill Finger explains: ‘Originally I was going to call Gotham City “Civic City”. Then I tried Capital City, then Coast City. Then I flipped through the phone book and spotted the name “Gotham Jewellers” and said, “That’s it”, Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it.’

So there you are…..anyway, usually it serves as a backdrop but in the ‘Destroyer’ story arc in DC’s Legends of the Dark Knight monthly comic, the architecture of Gotham City was a central character. Destroyer focused on a crazed architectural historian obsessed with reviving the work of Gotham town planner Cyrus Pinkey. Before Batman intervenes, most of  Gotham’s contemporary glass and concrete skyscrapers which had obscured Pinky’s gothic extravagances, are destroyed by the ‘Mad Bomber’.

However, this story was actually a rather brazen piece of opportunistic ‘masterplanning’ by Batman’s editors who wanted the Gotham in the comic books to resemble the one in depicted in Tim Burton’s film – in order to attract new readers. In Destroyer, Pinky’s towers are a dead ringer for Anton Furst’s designs for the film (see Furst’s sketches in the slideshow above).

Recently, a similar ‘masterplan’ was enacted – an earthquake – which allowed Lex Luthor to develop a new ‘glass and steel’ skyline for Gotham. One, in fact, much like the Gotham seen in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight film last year.


10 - Radiant City
9 - Tintin’s Inca city
8 - Metropolis
7 - Ubicand
6 - Gotham City
5 - The city in Moebius’ The Long Tomorrow
4 - Daredevil’s New York
3 - From Hell’s London
2 - Chris Ware’s Chicago
1 - Mega City One

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Great article! So glad to see Chris Ware's Chicago up there. And its always great to see the Destroyer storyline get the recognition it deserves. It's one of my favorites! I've previously written quite a bit about Destroyer and the relationship between Batman and Gotham over on Life Without Buildings:


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