I love New York City. I’m grateful for every moment I’ve had in this city of dreams. There’s no single reason why I’ve decided to move on, but there is one major factor: I’m sick and tired of being blown up all the time and then waiting for the Avengers to fix everything.
Don’t get me wrong, New York is the most magical city on Earth-616. I moved here for new opportunities, to be challenged, to wake up every day and not know what was coming next. But now, it seems like we can’t go a single week without our skyline being gnawed on by a giant purple face in the sky, or a random, blonde teenager being thrown off a bridge by a man in a goblin suit. For me, the tradeoffs of living in the nation’s cultural capital just aren’t worth it anymore.
Yes, there was a time when living in a shoebox with six friends above a Papaya Dog was fun. But then Magneto invaded Ludlow Street with an army of genetically modified Swamp Men from the Savage Land, and half my roommates died. My cousin Georgie was mauled by a pack of raccoons controlled by an evil piper and now he’s got a limp. I love you, NYC, but that sort of thing just doesn’t happen in LA.
And I’m hardly the first person to complain about New York’s subway, but it really is a world-class mess. It’s nearly impossible to snag a seat on the A at rush hour, since the trains are always running late or being swung in the air like nunchucks by robots trying to knock the Fantastic Four’s Fantasticar out of the sky.
Frankly, New York is also just too damn expensive. When Baron Zemo trapped all of Manhattan in the impenetrable Darkforce Dimension for months, guess who that hit the hardest? Freelancers from Brooklyn, like me. I had given the whole “9-5 office thing” a shot, until the Inhumans detonated a Terrigen Bomb in Midtown and caused a recession. No severance, no warning. Just an email from HR: “Manhattan Logistics is closing after the most recent attack on New York granted our CEO the power to manipulate time. He has disincorporated the company, or he will do so, it makes no difference to him. Also, regrettably, Kiara in Accounting will not be able to sign your remaining checks, as she is a psychic millipede now.” Sound familiar? If you live in New York, it does.
And despite New York’s reputation as a liberal haven, it’s hardly free from prejudice. Just yesterday, I was eating a cheesecake by myself at Junior’s when a man in a MAGA hat shouted at me, “Die Mutie!” (I’m not a mutant, but I do have mutant friends.) It hurts to see the city I love succumb to hatred, much in the same way it succumbed to the mystical dragon-alien Fin Fang Foom’s assault on Central Park (though Foom was later revealed to actually have been Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, in disguise. Not that it mattered to my cousin Georgie, who was horrifically mangled after being crushed by the thousand-pound paw of a colossal, flying snake).
You may be saying, “But some of that stuff happened a long time ago!” Wrong. In the time that all of these events happened, Spider-Man has only aged, like, five years, so that’s how much time has passed.
This glittering crucible of grit and passion we call the Big Apple made me who I am. And I’m not leaving because I fear for my safety (That’s what your Dr. Dooms and your Red Skulls and your Kangs the Conquerers want.). I’m leaving because of the lack of accountability. When Dr. Strange summoned the Old One Shuma-Gorath to New York, the extra-dimensional Elder God possessed my limping, flattened cousin Georgie. It took us weeks to get all the slime and stink off him. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange got ZERO jail time, because he claimed he was being mind-controlled at the time by the leader of the Mad Titan Thanos’ Black Order, Ebony Maw.
Imagine if I tried to get out a parking ticket by saying Ebony Maw mind-controlled me into taking up a handicapped space! You don’t have to imagine — I tried it and it did not work.
Is New York all bad? Of course not. There’s the bustle of Union Square; the electricity of Williamsburg’s loft-space dance clubs; the time everyone got the powers of Spider-Man for a day. But I started to feel as though “success” was being measured not by my creativity, but by how often I could escape the clutches of a Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing who lives and sleeps in the same hover-chair.
As Joan Didion warned, I worry I’ve stayed “too long at the fair.” New York is the only town in the world where a plague of bedbugs will be followed by a plague of shape-shifting aliens. Last week, I found out my limping, mangled, sticky cousin Georgie had been a Skrull the entire time. I was hurt, but I listened to the lesson: New York is just one place in a wide universe and it’s time to explore.
After all, I can practice the religion where I worship the literal god Thor from anywhere.