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Watchmen Signed Folio | © Lord Jim
Watchmen Signed Folio | © Lord Jim
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7 Comics And Graphic Novels Set In NYC

Picture of Daniel Horowitz
Updated: 24 April 2017
In the early years of comics, it was more common for comics to be based in fictional cities as opposed to real ones. However, when Stan Lee rebooted Marvel in the 1960s, he decided to swap out fictional cities with cities such as New York in order to better connect with readers. Although this editorial mandate remains to this day, various writers at DC use New York City as a model of the company’s fictional cities. Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller has said that, ‘Metropolis is New York in the daytime,’ and ‘Gotham City is New York at night.’ However, it should be noted that both Metropolis and Gotham have their own distinct identities and mythologies. With that in mind, here are seven great examples of both classic superhero characters and creator-owned graphic novels that are set in New York City.
Spider-Man | © Gage Skidmore
Spider-Man | © Gage Skidmore

Spider-Man

Perhaps the most New York-esque superhero to ever be committed to the page, Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as a teenage every-man, and was meant to reflect the struggles of everyday teenagers. Spider-Man resonated heavily with audiences as a hero who is wracked with ordinary teenage problems such as rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness. Subsequently, Spider-Man has had the most films of any solo superhero.

Watchmen Signed Folio | © Lord Jim
Watchmen Signed Folio | © Lord Jim

Watchmen

Created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is the story that most thoroughly deconstructed the superhero mythos with all-new vigilante characters whose rich backstories seem both familiar and distinctly tied to their place as crime fighters in New York City. Creating an impressive mythology of his own, Moore successfully portrays the gritty sleaziness of New York in the 1980s while showing the political nuances of the Cold War in all its turmoil.

Daredevil_Cover_by_Dexstar71 | © Marcel Trindade
Daredevil_Cover_by_Dexstar71 | © Marcel Trindade

Daredevil

Daredevil is the most famous superhero to come out of New York City’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ neighborhood. Created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, Daredevil is a blind lawyer by day and costumed vigilante by night. Nicknamed ‘the Man Without Fear,’ Daredevil uses his ‘sonar’ sense, rather than sight, to read his opponents. Daredevil’s most famous adversary is the Kingpin, a powerful crime lord whose backstory is also intrinsically tied to New York City.

DMZ

Written by Brian Wood, with artwork by Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, DMZ is a 9/11 parable revolving around Manhattan becoming a demilitarized zone during a second American Civil War. The story follows Matthew (Matty) Roth, a photojournalist who becomes embroiled in the conflict between the right-wing Free States of America and the United States of America.

Ex Machina

Created by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris, Ex Machina is another story that heavily revolves around 9/11. The series follows Mitchell Hundred, a superhero who becomes the Mayor of New York City after his heroic actions during 9/11. The story explores both the political situations that Hundred experiences in the aftermath of 9/11, and also includes flashbacks to his pastime as the superhero, ‘the Great Machine.’

Graphic Novels | © morebyless
Graphic Novels | © morebyless

Pawn Shop

Pawn Shop is an independent graphic novel written by Joey Esposito, and drawn by Sean Von Gorman. Pawn Shop explores the story of four seemingly distinct, but actually interconnected people in New York City. While their paths never actually cross, New York City is the common ecosystem that connects them all, with particular attention paid to the nuances of living in the big city and striving for hope and purpose.

The Punisher iPhone wallpaper | © xploitme
The Punisher iPhone wallpaper | © xploitme

The Punisher

Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru, the Punisher is New York City’s resident anti-hero, waging a one-man war against crime and corruption on the city’s streets. After his wife and two children are brutally executed in a mob shootout in Central Park, the Punisher has no qualms about murdering criminals in the most heinous ways possible and is a man obsessed with vengeance.

By Daniel Horowitz

According to his mother, Daniel was an easygoing child. That is no longer the case. He doesn’t like the rain and writes comic books and digital journalism. He sleeps late and dreams big.