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Heath Town relocated to Metropolis: Artist introduces Lois Lane to city’s landmarks

By Richard Guttridge | Heath Town | Features | Published:

Gotham, Smallville... Heath Town?!

Heath Town is familiar to people from Wolverhampton - and now Lois Lane too

An unfashionable part of Wolverhampton is just about the most unlikely setting imaginable for a superhero tale but now Heath Town has been given its 15 minutes of fame.

It is all down to Mike Perkins, who grew up in the city but is now an illustrator for the mighty DC Comics in Florida.

Sunny Tampa is a long way from Heath Town but Mike decided he wanted to inject a little bit of home into his latest caper.

So, incongruously, a block of flats based in Heath Town appears in the latest edition of Lois Lane - famously Superman's love interest - which has hit the shelves in the US as well as this side of the pond.

A character holes up there in a bid to evade a group of dastardly villains. She is rescued to by police and taken to none other than the Royal Hospital, another piece of Wolverhampton history.

The Royal is no longer open but Mike acknowledged with a chuckle that reviving it was far from the the most unbelievable turn of events in the DC world.

The scene at Heath Town's flats, brought into the superhero world by Mike Perkins

The inclusion of Wolverhampton came following a request from story writer and partner in crime Greg Rucka.

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"Greg said he needed somewhere that was kind of not salubrious, somewhere a bit dodgy. I said I know a few of those places," Mike says, hastily making clear he was not his not talking down his home city.

"It is not to demean that area - people demean it enough, my aunt and uncle lived there and I've got lots of friends from there. I wanted to give some nods to some Wolverhampton things."

Mike grew up in Wentworth Road, Bushbury, and attended St Peter's Collegiate in Compton before going off to Bourneville College. It was always his dream to illustrate comics and after taking a graphic design course his big break came at science-fiction comic 2000AD.

From there he achieved a big move to Marvel in the States before - in a move superhero fans might consider controversial - he made the switch to long-time rival DC. Throughout his career he has sketched some of the most famous superheroes including Superman, Spiderman and the X-Men.

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His latest work sees him focusing on Lois Lane and illustrations for the upcoming issue take up most of his time.

The Royal Hospital in Wolverhampton also featured

He said: "One comic is 20-22 pages usually. A page takes one day so that's your month taken up with that. I wouldn't say it's a grind because I enjoy it and it is what I wanted to do. It is fantastic for some guy from Bushbury."

And the award-winning illustrator, who has appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list, said he was keen to present a realistic view of the UK - and the West Midlands - to his American audience.

He said: "I like to bring things back into the local area. They have this view of England being full of dragons, fairies and all kind of Midsomer Murders. It's important to show other aspects. Greg suggested the characters could be from Manchester but I said no."

The flats in question, which have since been knocked down as part of a real-life regeneration of the area, provide the backdrop for a dramatic showdown in which the character hiding out, Jessica Midnight, points a gun at a police officer before shooting herself.

Mike said: "One of Greg's characters is a psychic trying to hole up somewhere away from this threat in the DC universe.

Heath Town relocated to Metropolis

"I wanted it to be somewhere no-one would think of looking for her."

It's a fair point. It's difficult to imagine the Joker or Lex Luther getting off the number 57 bus in Heath Town but stranger things have happened, right?

Thankfully, there is a happy ending to this particular story as Jessica is rescued by the officer and taken to recover at the Royal Hospital.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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