The Marvel Universe has been home to some of the biggest events in pop culture history. Yet, despite the infinite expanse of the Multiverse, Earth has consistently found itself at the center of most of these iconic stories. And, while plenty of locales on Earth are prime for being the backdrop to a myriad of conflicts, New York City has played home to more than its fair share of them.

NYC might be the most action-packed location in any world in the Marvel Universe. Between the numerous heroes and villains who call it their home, there has never been any shortage of cosmic or interdimensional forces attempting to lay waste to the Big Apple. Thankfully, the NYC of the primary Marvel Universe is still standing after countless attacks and invasions, not to mention more than half a dozen takeovers by villains ranging from immortal entities to street-level villains who went underestimated for far too long.

The Coming of Galactus Changed the Marvel Universe’s NYC Forever


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1965’s Fantastic Four #48 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Joe Sinnott) marked what might be the very first cosmic event to befall the NYC of Marvel Comics thanks to “The Coming of Galactus.” Heralded by the arrivals of both Uatu the Watcher and the Silver Surfer, the introduction of Galactus, known across the cosmos as the Devourer of Worlds, easily stood as the biggest threat the world had seen up until that point. Unfortunately for the citizens of New York City, their home was where Galactus focused his gaze upon his arrival.

While Galactus didn’t necessarily take over NYC, it was swept up in the chaos that ensued upon his arrival. If not for the combined efforts of the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer, Galactus would have assuredly consumed Earth as he intended, and the people of NYC were well aware of what the cost of the heroes’ failure would have been. As hard as it is to imagine how the Marvel Universe would look should that have been the case, it is even harder to imagine the sheer panic that the citizens of NYC felt when the visage of an impossible being appeared above their skyline and promised to feed on their entire world.

Madelyne Pryor Brought Hell on Earth to New York City in the X-Men’s Inferno

The story of Madelyne Pryor is undoubtedly one of the most tragic to be put to print, with the unwitting clone of Jean Grey being manipulated at multiple turns after being abandoned by her husband and the father of her child. The most memorable of these was at the hands of her creator, Mister Sinister, yet his influence over Madelyne wasn’t felt as much as those of the demons S’ym and N’astirh. It was their infernal pact with Madelyne that ultimately led to her transformation into Marvel’s Goblin Queen and that transformation which ultimately led to her attack on New York City during 1988’s Inferno.

Beginning with Uncanny X-Men #239 (by Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri, Dan Green, and Glynis Oliver), Inferno saw Madelyne Pryor and her demonic armies swarm over NYC, necessitating responses from nearly every single hero that the city had to offer. Though this storyline started with Madelyne’s desperate attempts to recover her son from Sinister’s clutches, it nearly ended with her sacrificing the young Nathan Summers to establish a permanent portal between Earth and Limbo. Along the way, the heroes of both the X-Men and X-Factor teams were spread out across multiple battlefields, yet New York City remained the most crucial of them all even when other threats, such as the demonic Darkchylde, emerged.

Marvel Comics’ Onslaught Unleashed a Whole New Breed of Horror Upon New York City


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Like Inferno before it, 1996’s Onslaught featured an impossibly powerful mutant villain unleashing their powers on an unsuspecting New York City. This time, however, it wasn’t some twisted clone who was at the heart of the problem. The combination of Magneto and Xavier’s psyches formed the entity known as Onslaught. The powerful villain continues to be one of the most dangerous villains of all time, which NYC learned all too well during the crossover event of the same name.

Beginning with Onslaught: X-Men #1 (by Scott Lobdell, Mark Waid, Adam Kubert, Dan Green, Pasqual Ferry, Art Thibert, and Steve Buccellato), the titular villain sent the unstoppable Juggernaut careening into the middle of NYC. Soon enough, the villain was ready to reveal himself in full before raining death and destruction down on any who stood in his way. As bad as Onslaught was when he first appeared, his threat worsened when he acquired the powers of the reality-warping Franklin Richards. In the end, it took the combined might of the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four to end the crusade of terror, though not even that has been enough to keep Onslaught from returning to this very day.

The Hulk Reigned Over NYC in World War Hulk

While every other invasion and takeover of New York City was carried out by someone playing the role of the villain, 2007’s World War Hulk saw the titular Avenger do so out of a profound desire for retribution against those who thrust that role upon him in the first place. It was some of Bruce Banner’s closest allies who were directly responsible for the abject rage he harbored, as it was the Illuminati consisting of the likes of Reed Richards who decided to send him hurtling into space in the hopes of never having to corral the Hulk again. Instead, the Illuminati only subjected the Hulk to a literal world of hurt, which he was more than happy to repay them in kind upon his return to Earth.

Blaming the Illuminati and its so-called heroes for not just his years spent in isolation but for the deaths of the family he found on an alien world, the Hulk spared no expense in laying waste to the city so many of them called home. Although the Hulk was gracious enough to allow innocent citizens to evacuate from NYC, even suggesting it himself when he arrived, that didn’t stop him from making his mark on the city in demonstrable ways. Between razing Avengers Tower to the ground and turning Madison Square Garden into his personal gladiatorial arena, no corner of NYC was safe from Hulk’s wrath. Nor were there any members of the Illuminati who escaped repercussions for the part they played in betraying him.

New York City was the Epicenter of Knull’s Invasion in King in Black

Despite having survived mass attacks from symbiotes and alien entities several times before Knull invaded Earth, New York City was undeniably shaken by the events of King in Black. While Knull himself had been seen before 2020’s King in Black #1 (by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, and Frank Martin), it wasn’t until his armada of symbiote dragons blacked out the skies about NYC that the true weight of his presence was felt. And, even more than three years after his defeat, NYC is still reeling from the damage Knull did and the shapeshifting alien refugees he left behind.

Not only were most of the city’s heroes placed under Knull’s thrall and forced to fight their allies on his behalf, but countless innocent bystanders were exposed to the former King in Black’s influence after being forcefully bonded to the symbiotes under his command. That isn’t even to mention the thousands who lost their lives along the way, either at the fangs of Knull’s dragons or at the hands of those conscripted into his service. Out of all the mass attacks on NYC in the comics, there likely aren’t any that have had the scope of King in Black, let alone any that have dragged as many heroes and villains into the heart of the action whether they wanted to be a part of it or not.

Devil’s ReignUshered in the Era of Supervillains in New York City


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When Wilson Fisk, better known as the Kingpin of Crime first took office as the Mayor of New York City, everyone knew it was only a matter of time before his meteoric rise led to everyone else’s downfall. Elected largely for having saved thousands of lives after Hydra rose to power during the events of 2017’s Secret Empire, Fisk campaigned with a platform to rid the city of its worst ills. Instead, Fisk led a crusade against the city’s greatest heroes and very nearly succeeded in leaving it firmly in the hands of its costumed criminals to lord over for themselves.

Fisk’s career as mayor culminated with 2022’s Devil’s Reign (by Chip Zdarskey and Marco Checchetto), which was the absolute height of the former Kingpin’s war against NYC’s heroes and vigilantes. After testing the might of his Thunderbolts against Knull’s army, Fisk was well-prepared to unleash them upon the likes of Daredevil and Spider-Man. Fisk was also well on his way toward attaining complete and total control over not just the city but its denizens thanks to his weaponization of the mind-bending powers of Zebediah Killgrave/Purple Man. While Devil’s Reign attracted Fisk’s longtime enemies, it also drew in and redirected numerous classic villains ranging from Doctor Octopus to Fisk’s son, the Rose. Even worse, everything Fisk accomplished in his time in office still poses problems today for the city’s current mayor, the far more fitting and infinitely less villainous Luke Cage.

Madelyne Pryor and Peter Parker’s Original Clone Took Over NYC During Dark Web

If Inferno weren’t bad enough the first time, Madelyne Pryor decided to give taking over New York City another go in 2022 during the events of Marvel’s Dark Web. Rather than being manipulated by more formidable infernal figures, Madelyne found a kindred spirit in Ben Reilly, aka Chasm, with whom she shared more in common than just being a clone. After connecting over their remarkably similar traumas, Madelyne and Ben took it upon themselves to take revenge on those whom they felt had wronged them, and NYC was precisely where they started.

For Madelyne, Dark Web was the perfect opportunity to lash out at the X-Men who she felt were responsible for nearly everything that had gone wrong in her life. For Ben, it was the chance to steal the life he believed Peter Parker had denied him. Thankfully, at least one of these villains could see the error of their ways before any truly irreparable harm was done, though that didn’t quite settle the situation for both of them. In conceding her assault on NYC, Madelyne Pryor may have bought herself a shot at redemption, but Ben Reilly never actually gave up on his endeavors. This unwavering hatred for the world around him is exactly what landed Ben in a Limbo prison cell after Madelyne called off her army of possessed objects and devilish subjects.

Marvel’s Gang WarJust Gave a Classic Spider-Man Villain Control of New York City

Whereas most Marvel events to befall New York City have come at the hands of some cosmic or impossibly powerful being, the recently concluded Gang War was kicked off by the otherwise ordinary attack against the wedding of Robbie Roberston and Janice Lincoln. Orchestrated by none other than Madame Masque, this brazen assault leads to an all-out war between the gangs of NYC, the heroes who defend it, and the government-endorsed Cape Killers whom Fisk formed to put both legs of his competition down for good.

While Gang War saw NYC carved up and redistributed between the city’s most prominent gang lords more than once, it was only ever going to end with a single one of them coming out on top. As much as Madame Masque would have liked this to be her, it is instead Janice’s father Lonnie Lincoln, better known as Tombstone, who is now the reigning king of New York City’s underworld. And, as much as Spider-Man would have liked for the time he spent fighting alongside Tombstone to keep their unlikely partnership alive, Tombstone now has his sights set squarely on ending the Wall-Crawler’s life, especially if it will help cement the total control he has finally managed to claim.


Marvel is a multimedia powerhouse encompassing comic books, movies, TV shows, and more, captivating audiences with its iconic characters, thrilling narratives, and diverse worlds. From the legendary Avengers to the street-level heroes like Daredevil, Marvel’s universe is vast and ever-expanding.

“}]] New York City has always been home to astonishing heroes, but they haven’t always been able to keep it safe from villains like Tombstone or Onslaught.  Read More