If there's one thing that scifi has shown us, it's that we don't have to wait to visit cities of tomorrow. Here are some of our favorite futuristic cities from comic books.
Does an island count as a city? Possibly not, but as anyone who read DC Comics' 52 knows, Oolong is no ordinary island. Populated almost entirely by mad scientists (and maybe a couple of sane ones, too), Oolong Island is a place where the old laws (of physics) no longer apply, and there's no such thing as a bad scientific breakthrough, only one that needs to be stopped from destroying the world as we know it by resident superteam, the Doom Patrol. But what else could you expect from a place where scientists are encouraged to indulge in mind-altering substances to further free their minds?
Whereas the real world has Silicon Valley, former Batgirl Barbara Gordon and her Birds of Prey have Platinum Flats, which proclaims itself as "America's High-Tech Capital" and home to all manner of upstart start-ups like YouSpace, MacroWare, NetCracker, Findster (Well, it is an alternate Earth, after all) and has eradicated problems like crime and urban decay thanks to its well-heeled and inventive inhabitants. Better living through technology indeed.
What's the quickest way to suddenly have a city full of advanced technology in your backyard? Have an alien spacecraft crash into it. That's what happened in the DC Universe's version of California (As if having Green Lantern's "Coast City" midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles wasn't enough), which suddenly found itself with an extra-terrestrial prison full of political prisoners dumped onto its coast in the early '2000s series Haven. On the plus side, the US Government granted them city status, in exchange for some of their tasty new technology. Let's just work on that whole "retro-engineering so we can use it without tentacles" thing, shall we?
In 2000, Marvel Comics wondered what would've happened if, instead of using their genius to fight crime, Reed Richards, Tony Stark and the rest of their superheroic scientist buddies actually invented things to benefit society. According to Fantastic Four: Big Town, the result is a futuristic New York, which quickly becomes the center of civilization, expands to include nearby cities in other states, and destabilizes society as we know it. But, on the plus side, unstable molecules really cut down on your laundry costs.
Whether it's Marvel or DC Comics, there's an undersea city of Atlantis, and they're more technologically advanced than us. Marvel's Atlanteans prefer to travel is super-science submarines while they consider their latest plans to invade the surface world for whatever unconvincing reason they've been duped into believing this week, while DC's undersea dwellers have the distinction of having a civilization that started long before man had even crawled from the sea, and therefore having a head-start on the rest of us. Of course, if they were really that smart, they'd have worked out how to stay out of the water for more than an hour at a time, but apparently they were too busy telepathically communicating with whales to be troubled by such thoughts.
Maybe the only people who can deal with the world of tomorrow today are scientifically-advanced themselves... like Marvel Comics' Inhumans, whose millennia-old city is so advanced that it has not only withstood being transported throughout space (literally; for awhile, it existed on the moon) but has also proven capable of physically transforming itself into a spaceship when needs be. See? Humans end up turning scientifically-advanced cultures into disasters, but Inhumans are apparently smart enough to turn change to their advantage.
Dean Motter's most recent take on the idea of the futuristic city (from his 1999 series of the same name) offered a different take on the idea: the retrofuturistic city, founded on decades old ideas about the future that're still ahead of their time. "Cathedral-sized Van Der Graaf generators and towering Strickfadden machines" may sound oddly outdated to us now, but this city still managed to have robot detectives, flying cars and an on-time metro service unlike the modern world we live in.
What better home for the Man of Tomorrow than the self-declared City of Tomorrow? Superman's adopted hometown may be best known for its major metropolitan newspaper, but consider all of the mad scientists that Superman faces on a regular basis, to say nothing of the alien technology, scientific establishments to clean up after superbattles and even the wonderfully-named Science Police, and it's pretty clear that there's more to this forward-thinking city than depending on print media. The city even has a street dedicated to scientific institutions called The Avenue of Tomorrow. What could be more perfect than that?