When comic books grow too formulated or the story requires that the masked adventurer take a break, characters are often uprooted and relocated. Should you be the same level of supernerd that I am, you may have known that already. If not, well, now you do. Or, you learned it from the Big Bang Theory.
So this got me wondering. If any superhero had to move to Boston, who would it be?
There are tons of ways to look at it: personality, secret identity’s occupation, villains’ secret bases, etc. etc. (Tongue firmly in cheek, by the way.) But one of the more interesting ways to see it is architecture. After all, Spider-Man’s web-slinging would be near impossible in the Back Bay, where the old world brownstones rarely exceed five stories in height – that makes for an awfully short swing radius.
If you looked at a city’s history, too, it might be hard to justify moving someone like mild-mannered Clark Kent -- aka Superman -- to a hardscrabble city like Boston, what with the region’s history of witchcraft, colonial strife, and unforgiving sports rivalries.
These are the things that keep me up at night, by the way.
Weeks later (flash to yesterday), inspiration smacked me in the face as I was browsing Newbury Comics.
Dr. Strange is a Marvel Comics character, a former world-class surgeon whose hand-crushing accident sent him all over the world to find a fix. Finding a mystic in the heart of Tibet, Strange learns humility and magic (what a pairing!), and quickly becomes the realm’s ultimate sorcerer.
Of course, world-class medical care is not uncommon in Boston. Strange’s sorcery seems a fine pairing with Massachusetts’s history of witch trials. And Boston’s roadways will teach you humility right quick. In Manhattan, Dr. Strange has carved out his niche in the iconic -- and unique -- Greenwich Village, but with Boston’s consistent colonial theme present in every neighborhood, the superhero could have the run of the whole city.
Imagine the story possibilities! Lost souls trapped in the bog that used to be Back Bay! Nineteenth Century aristocratic ne’er-do-wells! Art and artifacts of unknown origin at local museums! Ivy-league research gone wrong! Colonial and Revolutionary spirits adrift in the modern world!
Whew… that got the better of me…
Most importantly, though, Boston’s architecture lends itself to a Sorcerer Supreme, and one building does it particularly well. Welcome to the Burrage House [Commonwealth Ave, Back Bay].
It doesn’t even need a makeover! This is the base of operations for a crime-fighting mystic with supernatural powers and abilities. Like, hello, it even has gargoyles and a solar. I guess the only questions left are does it have secret passages and is there a huge library full of occult books and digests? (I assume even occult researchers enjoy digests.)
Wait, can I claim this as a scouting report for Marvel’s Doctor Strange film?
You can read the fascinating history of the Burrage House here.
Oh, and for the Boston faithful, previous residents have included a Mr. Burrage and local sports deity Tom Brady. (On a more serious note, you can read about Burrage at the same link above.)
Til next time!