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Off My Mind: The Dangers & Irresponsibility of Public Superhero Headquarters

Letting the world know the location is like painting a giant target on it.

Superheroes need a place to meet, plan, relax and sometimes live. The hero working alone doesn't necessarily need a headquarter as they can use their apartment as their base of operations. When you have a team of heroes, the need for an actual location to meet becomes more necessary.

For a team to function properly, they need to spend time training and getting to know each other. Some heroes devote themselves so much to saving innocents that they don't have time to keep a job and cannot pay for their own place. The superhero headquarter is essential in making a successful team.

Because superheroes want to be seen as a symbol of hope and want to have a place easily accessible to the members of the team, they'll often keep the location public. The Avengers had the Avengers Tower and Mansion, the Justice League had the Hall of Justice, the Fantastic Four has the Baxter Building, the Teen Titans had the Titans Tower, the X-Men had the school and Utopia and so on. With so many deadly villains out to get them, is it really a good idea to let the world know where they're hanging out?

== TEASER ==

At some point in the team books' run, there'll be a story (if not several) where the headquarters is attacked. Supervillains do get ticked off and will sometimes hatch crazy schemes to try to defeat the heroes where they're the most vulnerable.

Superhero teams aren't stupid. They have to realize villains will try to destroy their place, especially if it's already been done several times before. As long as they have the means, they will ensure that the place has the utmost fancy security system. For many, it's not just a place to meet and talk about the bad guys, it's also their home. But even the smartest heroes can't prevent every attack.

Recently the Avengers Tower was destroyed during Fear Itself. With Tony Stark and all the intergalactic members the Avengers have had over the years, you would think a person couldn't even sneeze in the direction of the Tower without prior detection. Yet for some reason, Stark thought having a giant tower in the middle of New York City would make a great headquarter.

At least the Avengers still have the Avengers Mansion, right? Not really. If you read New Avengers Annual (which must take place after Avengers #18), you know that the mansion was attacked and virtually destroyed. They had two separate headquarters (for the different teams) and both were destroyed due to their location being public knowledge.

The Fantastic Four have had the Baxter Building since their first appearance. Reed Richards is one of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe. He would make sure the building was secure. Not only does the team live there but their children (and now the Future Foundation) do as welll.

Also, the FF only occupy the top four floors. The rest of the building is office space with who knows how many innocent civilians. Remember how easily an inexperienced Spider-Man crawled through an open window? Or more importantly, what about the times Doctor Doom sent the entire building out into space (yes, I know it was Kristoff one time).

Imagine working in an office and you went out for your lunch break. You come back and find all your stuff is now flying out into space. That'd be quite the bummer. It would also be pretty bad if you were actually inside the building and it exploded.

The X-Men had the bright idea to use a school as their headquarters. A school...with children. It could make the perfect cover. No one would expect a school for gifted children to really be the secret headquarters for superheroes. But then they decided to go public. Xavier told the world about the X-Men. As a result, a busload of 'New' X-Men were killed when William Stryker decided to try to eradicate the mutants. And the school was destroyed later as well.

The Teen Titans have also gone through a few different headquarters. The latest they had, pre-New 52, was a giant building in the shape of a T with basically walls of glass. When we asked current Teen Titans writer, Scott Lobdell, if the new team will still have the Titans Tower, this was his response:

No. The Teen Titans are going to be much too busy and much too hunted to erect a ten story glass tower on a small island off of a major city where every villain on the planet can find them on Google.

They all need a place to go but letting everyone, including their enemies, know where is a horrible idea. Something like the Avengers Tower or Baxter Building could be seen as a symbol of hope for the city residents. They might feel a little more at ease knowing the heroes are nearby should Galactus or Kang the Conqueror decide to attack. At the same time, the average person might not want to live or work by these places.

When the place gets destroyed during an attack, what does that say about the symbol of hope? Would it put people into despair seeing their hope shattered?

Villains don't play by the rules these days. We are seeing more of them become deadlier than they've been portrayed before. If they had the knowledge of where the heroes or their loved ones sleep, they would use that to their advantage. The heroes might have the most advanced security systems in place but even if they used alien technology, there's always going to be a villain that could find a way to destroy it. A symbol of hope is a nice idea but the heroes might as well paint a giant red target on the roof if they insist on telling the world where they're at.

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Posted by sinful

I always felt like that. All Bases should be Secret, if not then just highly secured and not near innocent areas.

Posted by iLLituracy

I think it's stupid how many times villains attack heroes in their homes and bases. I never really see the point to it most of the time past Dr. Doom who really hates Reed Richards [at least in the earlier stories] and Baron Zemo hating Captain America thus attacking Avengers Mansion...but when you look at it, how is that helping their endgame?

If you apply the same logic to real world villains, terrorists and evil dictators would be attacking the White House every week and succeeding in destroying it over and over. Or the Pentagon. Or some random Army Base. But what will that get them? Not any closer to world domination, I don't think, which is what most of these villains are searching for.

At the end of the day, attacking heroes in their bases is a gimmick and a comic book cliche. The logic to wanting to take the fight directly to heroes who aren't after you is silly. It makes more sense to me to do crime or whatever first and then deal with any hero that gets in your way, not risking myself and doing it in reverse only to attain more unwanted attention.

Posted by Soldier zero

While G-Man has a point here I think that the reasoning can be reversed.

Lets just say that the Avengers keep their base secret, but they tend to appear always in the area of New York. What would keep Kang from blasting all of Manhattan out of the map just to destroy the team?

Posted by thechessclub

@Soldier zero said:

While G-Man has a point here I think that the reasoning can be reversed.

Lets just say that the Avengers keep their base secret, but they tend to appear always in the area of New York. What would keep Kang from blasting all of Manhattan out of the map just to destroy the team?

Touche, sir. Good point

Posted by The_Mercenary

@thechessclub said:

@Soldier zero said:

While G-Man has a point here I think that the reasoning can be reversed.

Lets just say that the Avengers keep their base secret, but they tend to appear always in the area of New York. What would keep Kang from blasting all of Manhattan out of the map just to destroy the team?

Touche, sir. Good point

Touche indeed.

Posted by Grim

The JLA has always been great at this in my book. The Hall of Justice is near a city, but in a park. easy to clear out, and with tons of space between it and residential buildings.

Not only that, but its not even really the base, and everyone knows that. The real one is in Space, and attacking the Hall would just bring down the wrath of their security measures (which are top of the line thanks to batman and all the alien tech the JLA has at their disposal), before bringing calling every active JLA member down on you.

How many people have F'd with the Hall? how many of the few times were there any civilian casualties, or even major harm done to the surrounding public area? EXACTLY. DC and JLA FTW.

PS. the X-mansion does this well too, but their base is a school full of children, which is still a major problem when they actually do get attacked.

Posted by ntb1124

@Soldier zero said:

While G-Man has a point here I think that the reasoning can be reversed.

Lets just say that the Avengers keep their base secret, but they tend to appear always in the area of New York. What would keep Kang from blasting all of Manhattan out of the map just to destroy the team?

I was sold on the fact that having a public headquarters was a bad move, but I never thought of it this way, makes a lot of sense, but maybe they should build it in the middle of Wyoming or somewhere remote....

Posted by Paracelsus

I tend to agree- heroes should keep their headquarters a closely guarded secret(or at the very least as far from any populated areas as is practical- as the Russian superhero group, the Winter Guard, tends to do according to "Darkstar and the Winter Guard"; they use a converted Dire Wraith facility known as the "Citadel" in deepest Siberia. If concerned citizens wish to get in touch with them( the Guard that is), they can easily do so via their website/or email. Only the most reckless of thrill seekers would live anywhere next to Avengers Mansion/Tower/The Baxter Building due to the risk of it being attacked(sometimes on a daily basis) by super villains. Also, the group in question should have one or more backup locations in case it is compromised(accidentally or otherwise).

Terry

Posted by Eyz

Panels of the week!! XD

Posted by xkoenig

Nice article. I particularly appreciate the panicked office worker trying to go out for lunch from the Baxter building only to find that outside is now a vacuum and they are in orbit. Or maybe all the civilians took the day off when Doom launched the building into space? :)

Posted by Xmen_forever

Also it's one place where all the heroes are making the villain's job much easier.

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Hmmmmhhh...Paint a giant red target to the roof...Sounds good... I HAVE wondered for some time why those HQ:s aren`t secret. But they`re`still nice. Then again, an attack by a supervillain to your bathroom isn`t...

Posted by EuanDewar

Seems like one of those subjects that could be fully discussed in a sentence.

Posted by thiagosantos

You forgot to mantion a very important one: the X-Factor's ship.

It [the ship] decided to land in Manhattan, close to the WTC buildings. That eventually turned out to be a bad decision, since a virus made it attack the city, forcing the ship to destroy itself.

Posted by Green ankh

This could make a neat book. Like the Hall of Justice is gaurded by low level "unknown" heroes. it could tell the story of a changing cast of people trying to get into the JLA by protecting the HoJ and looking out for the JLA while doing supermarket openings and such.

Posted by roarshock

Very practical, I get that, about keeping the base secret, but for those of us that grew up with these locations, it was just a cool and fun idea that just became part of the mythos of that particular team. Like Titans Tower. Those Wolfman/Perez stories (and later Johns) where they are taking that little boat speeder thingee out the tower and then seeing it in the distacnce was just cool. Xavier's school the same way. Seeing the Blackbird come out of the basketball court or the seeing thew New Mutants sitting around watching tv (see Uncanny 167) when the X-men come home from space. It was just fun and part of the history there. Now, everyone is living in fear and in secret all the time. This is the main reason I love the Schism story, so Wolverine can go full circle and get the school back and it can stop being some dystopian disaster every month in the X-men. That gets old and takes ALL of the fun of the stories month to month. To some extent, comics need to still be a little fun and something you need to suspend reality for a bit.

Posted by fodigg

I like the idea of mobile headquarters, such as with the helicarrier.

Posted by GothamRed

This does make sense, but consider it this way, in Young Justice, the JLA have the hall of Justice as a front for the watchtower. It's publicized to keep their real base a secret, but they still have stuff inside of it that is important. It doesn't matter if that gets attacked because it's not really their base, but if an enemy were to take it out, it's still convincing enough that they wouldn't immediately try to find some kind of real base. It all depends on how you use a public headquarters.

Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

The only non-hidden base that made any sense to me was Joe Headquarters. (G.I. Joe) At least it was a fortress with defenses and no civilians in the immediate area. While it was still possible to attempt an attack upon it, at least it was well-defended, and not some silly t-shaped tower, or skyscraper in the middle of a city.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Truth is in the Marvel U its a lot easier to see how a public headquarters would not be a good idea considering their track record for being destroyed. Not that such destruction doesn't happen in the DCU but it would seem less inclined to happen here than the former. At the very least a headquarters that is completely open to the public eye really is a bad idea because of the propensity for attack and sabotage. In truth all superhero teams should follow the example of Batman's Batcave if they need an HQ, a place almost nobody except themselves can locate. Or hell, go the example of Hogwart's in the HP books and have it be set in the public but is entirely shrouded by magic and thus unable to be viewed at just any time. It just needs to be hidden, or perhaps needs to be constantly moved just to prevent the baddies from getting a one-up on their competition. In the end, a visible public place for an HQ is just not the way to go.

Posted by moywar700

How many times has the x-mansion blown up?

Like a dozen times.....

Posted by Phaedrusgr

@Soldier zero: It's a good point. I think we could add that some bases are out in the open in order to demotivate the villains, showing to them that this city is protected. Or something like that. Not for every team or individual super hero of course...

Edited by Doctor!!!!!

"The Hall of Justice is all a front! They're real base is on the Moon!"
  -Red Arrow

Posted by Suprman

Ok, first of all, Scott Lobdell needs to stop writing Teen Titans and give them back to J.T. Krul, cause his run was Awesome! Second, a hideout for a hero or a team of heroes needs to be secret and the heroes need to have a way to get there quickly because when you are fighting a giant evil force, every second counts. I agree with Gothamred in the way the JL operates their secret base in Young Justice, Batman even says in the first episode that Mount Justice was originally the League base of operations before the hall of Justice and the watchtower. Plus we've seen evidence in Young Justice that they use scanners and passwords to identify Leaguers and grant them access to their various bases. And on top of that, the Zetabeam teleporter tubes that they use for quick transport, are hidden in specific locations. Bases are essential for superhero teams, you just need to be smart about how you operate in those bases and Young Justice has proven that they can operate better and better.

Posted by Mbecks14

@Suprman said:

Ok, first of all, Scott Lobdell needs to stop writing Teen Titans and give them back to J.T. Krul,

I completely agree

Posted by Or35ti

Superman and Batman both have the right idea about secret bases. If you ask me, having public secret bases is not very smart. The Justice League had the right idea. The Hall of Justice was a symbol for everyone to know they had protectors, and served a purpose as an embassy on behalf of the JLA. But most people didn't know about their real secret base, the Watchtower. That is how these things should be handled. Having a superhero skyscraper in the middle of a city will just put more people in danger.

Posted by Radread

I think Mark Waid said it best during his run on FF with Mike Weiringo that the Baxter Building is no different that a criminal just going balistic and walking into a local fire station or police station. The bad guys know where the good guys are and they are going to go after them no matter what.

Posted by MetropolisKid41

Agreed Radread. And lets face it, until recently when it seems like Marvel is killing someone everyweek, the bad guys never won. They were always stopped, it seems to me like they would (and usually are) trying to go about pulling off some sort of shenanigans under radar in attempt to get away with it before being caught by the heroes. So until recently the villains always got spanked and imprisoned, so I don't think they'd be intentionally going after the heroes and get an asswhoopin. Now of course there are always exceptions to that rule, such as Goblin going after Spidey, but thats why he didn't have a public base of operations to begin with. Now that concept of the heroes always winning certainly isnt the case anymore, but all the public bases like the Baxter Building, Avengers Tower, Hall of Jusctice, etc. were established when the villains never won a fight against the heroes.

Posted by NightwalkerRevan

I don't really think there will be much difference in reality if they keep their bases secret, because then the villains just attack the places where the heroes are observed as being the most active, such as with Supes it's Metropolis and the Daily Planet (and Lois) in particular, it just tends to make the places and areas they are around more of a target instead. So in that respect it can place civilians at risk.

In any case, writers like getting bases attacked, it's a bit of a cliche, so it'll happen even if they keep it secret (it certainly keep happening to the X-mansion even back in the days when it's nature as the base of the X-Men remained a secret behind the public facade of The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

I liked how, in the Young Justice cartoon, the Hall of Justice was for the public only and was a JLA museum. But secretly an entrance to the JLA's satellite HQ. I think thats a good idea. I think it would be cool to walk into Avengers' mansion and it looks like a public museum but secretly an entrance to the Avengers' underground base.

With Xavier's school they had to be set up for the public sort of, in my opinion. You show them that mutants aren't to be feared and aren't going to hide from the public. It wasn't meant to be a superhero HQ really, just a school for mutants.

Posted by ThomasElliot

Anyone notice the only thing that separates the written forms of 'touche' and 'douche' is the first letter, of which has similar sounding consonants?

Are we going to sword fight?

Like FAIL and LOL, 'touche' needs to quit.

Posted by Neuron

"Headquarter" isn't an actual noun. Sorry.

Definitely agreed, though. Keeping the headquarters a secret is so much safer.

Edited by SeanNOLA

Even the secret ones don't seem all that secure. Remember when Captain America had his secret apartment/hideout in that brownstone with the costume shop front? He disappeared for a while and when he came back, a family was squatting there. If squatters can break into your hideout, I'm pretty sure the Red Skull can get in.

Posted by gothicshieldagent

How many Helicarriers has SHIELD been through? It's mobile all right,as it plummets from the sky like a Hale-Bop comet,and wait,doesn't it have a NUCLEAR reactor in addition to it's massive arsenal? Thanks SHIELD for the giant explosion and subsequent 100 foot CRATER you're Helicarrier made after a Dire Wraith invasion! NOWHERE is safe for that thing! Hey Hydra here we are in our ginormous flying box that is probably loud and blots out the sun as it goes,hey here's a neon sign saying "shoot us down" oh,and here's a flight deck to land you're invading army and sections OPEN so you can come on in!

Posted by GLforHIRE

everyone should just invest in a batcave

Posted by midnightmare

What about extra dimensional head quarters? like whith the Exiles or The Authority(now Stormwatch), they're much more dificult to attac and there's no civilians around.

Posted by PhoenixoftheTides

I liked the Xavier School as a training place because it was initially a secret location and not every villain knew where it was. In terms of actual super hero teams, I'll always have a special place in my comic-fan heart for the Claremont era of the X-Men where they were on the run and they moved frequently, engaging in training spars in remote locations.

Posted by AssertingValor

There is a reason Batman has lasted all these years.....................

Posted by LB70145

Everyone should go the Sanctum Sanctorum route lol

Posted by EscGamer

batcave is the way to go.

Posted by Casshern

Some heroes can't help but be public.

True having everyone know where to find you is stupid. IN the OLD universe some just herd the name but never knew where it was, example Batcave, Fortress of Solitude, etc, etc.

But still being public in someway keeps the cops off...but it is dangerous..Dangerous if you live in the same building as the Fantastic Four.

Posted by The Impersonator

They really need a secure undercover place.

Posted by RedOwl_1
No. The Teen Titans are going to be much too busy and much too hunted to erect a ten story glass tower on a small island off of a major city where every villain on the planet can find them on Google. Scott Lobdell

In something have the reason and now u can find in google even the batcave *whispering* Thanks Robin ;)

Posted by VioletPhoenix

I think public hero HQs are a symbol of defiance against the bad guys, a way of saying "bring it, we'll hand you your ass"

Posted by JonesDeini

@iLLituracy said:

I think it's stupid how many times villains attack heroes in their homes and bases. I never really see the point to it most of the time past Dr. Doom who really hates Reed Richards [at least in the earlier stories] and Baron Zemo hating Captain America thus attacking Avengers Mansion...but when you look at it, how is that helping their endgame?

If you apply the same logic to real world villains, terrorists and evil dictators would be attacking the White House every week and succeeding in destroying it over and over. Or the Pentagon. Or some random Army Base. But what will that get them? Not any closer to world domination, I don't think, which is what most of these villains are searching for.

At the end of the day, attacking heroes in their bases is a gimmick and a comic book cliche. The logic to wanting to take the fight directly to heroes who aren't after you is silly. It makes more sense to me to do crime or whatever first and then deal with any hero that gets in your way, not risking myself and doing it in reverse only to attain more unwanted attention.

Pretty much, the base being attacked is a trope that needs to die, but I doubt it ever will. Super hero comics is, if nothing else, monotonous.

Posted by LP

@Radread said:

I think Mark Waid said it best during his run on FF with Mike Weiringo that the Baxter Building is no different that a criminal just going balistic and walking into a local fire station or police station. The bad guys know where the good guys are and they are going to go after them no matter what.

Exactly. And I like the way they handled it in Smallville: because even though Oliver is the team's founder, when Jimmy married Chloe they settled in an abandoned clocktower (which over time they planned on renovating together, before Jimmy was murdered by Doomsday of course). Oliver could run his company AND fund the team while completely under the radar, and the only teammates that actually lived in the area were Clark, John (being a cop) and Chloe. The rest either lived in different states or like Arthur and his wife, off-land entirely. Chloe became the field leader and changer name and building to the Watchtower and ta-da! Fixed all the problems comics face. :)

Posted by Migz13

When thinking about "secret hideouts" I always think about how the earlier REAL secret socities meet while remaining still remaining hidden. They usually move their HQ from time to time so that no one can get to them easily. They also mask their meeting places sometimes as some of the most unlikely looking locations.

Posted by Soldier zero

@ntb1124 said:

@Soldier zero said:

While G-Man has a point here I think that the reasoning can be reversed.

Lets just say that the Avengers keep their base secret, but they tend to appear always in the area of New York. What would keep Kang from blasting all of Manhattan out of the map just to destroy the team?

I was sold on the fact that having a public headquarters was a bad move, but I never thought of it this way, makes a lot of sense, but maybe they should build it in the middle of Wyoming or somewhere remote....

You have a point here. Unfortunatly there's a careful balance between rapid response and remoteness that is difficult to achieve. Granted in some cases it's a none issue - the JLA watchtower has teleporters. I don't think that having supersonic planes wreacking havoc across the landscape will be appreciated by the locals.

Posted by Hazlenaut

As we learn from Civil War, secrets going to be found out sooner or later. They need to fortify their defenses. They also need pr to know that everything is ok and keep in touch with other superhero bases.

Posted by eiderglast

I agree on all that is said here... and it does reflect the times of how everything in the world has changed... how even the most secure places can be attacked by any known means...

But unlike real life, comic book bases/ headquarters are usually protected by advanced weaponry or alien tech, or by arcane means. And the mere idea that superheroes reside in the building should already pose as a deterrent to villains/ or evildoers...

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