"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest"
– English poet Robert Montgomery (1807-1855)
Although they're not "homes" in the strictest sense, comic book hideaways and headquarters enjoy a similar status with various superheroes and villains. Stocked with customized vehicles, specialized equipment, trophies and secrets galore, these sanctum sanctorums were more or less fantastical extensions of childhood tree forts and clubhouses....and an element I've always loved about superhero comics.
Like my robot list a few months back, I've tallied-up the ten best comic book hang-outs. Some you'll no doubt recognize and agree with...and others you won't. But that's the great thing about running your own blog, right?
So, enough blathering...let's get to the first five of the Top Ten Comic Book Headquarters...
The Phantom's Skull Cave: Hidden behind a waterfall deep in the jungles of Bangalla, the Skull Cave has been the home base of the Phantom for over twenty generations. As each father passed the mantle of the Phantom on to his son, the eerie cave has not only housed their chronicles, armory, and treasure, but the bodies of fallen Phantoms as well.
The Rock of Eternity: Defeating a great force of evil in the ancient past, the wizard SHAZAM imprisoned it under an immense rock that later became known as the Rock of Eternity. With the very Moment of Creation blazing at its pinnacle, the Rock stands outside of space and time and can be used to access any dimension or time period. It's from his throne inside the Rock that the spirit of Shazam lends the power of the gods to Billy Batson and the rest of the Marvel Family. Is it the most exciting looking headquarters? No...but I think the existential starkness of the Rock of Eternity is the key to its appeal.
The SHIELD Helicarrier: Built by a cooperative of scientists and industrialists (including Reed Richards and Tony Stark), the Helicarrier fuctioned as both a flying aircraft carrier and a mobile headquarters for SHIELD, the planet's premiere intelligence/defense agency. Although the design has changed a bit over the years, the array of gigantic helicopter rotors keeping it aloft have remained...a staggeringly impossible (yet endearing) feat of engineering that could only work in the pseudo-scientific skies of superhero comic books.
The Baxter Building: Appearing in Fantastic Four #3 (1962), the Baxter Building became the first official headquarters of the Marvel Universe (click on the image for a larger view). Boldly breaking with the tradition to locate superheroes in fictional cities, the Baxter Building was located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, its top five floors housing the labs, vehicles, and living quarters of the Fantastic Four. Bottom line? Any headquarters with a built-in long range ICBM missile automatically makes my Top Ten list.
Challenger Mountain: As prototypes of the Fantastic Four, DC's Challengers of the Unknown were four adventurers whose massive headquarters was a hollowed-out mountain located in the Colorado Rockies. Though I've never been much of a fan of the Challengers themselves, having an entire mountain as your home base certainly counts for something.
That's it for now. Stay tuned for Part Two, where I'll finish off my Top Ten Comic Book Headquarters!