Don’t be a Daredevil. Stay away from radioactive waste. (Photo: [AndreasS] on Flickr

Getting superpowers from a freak accident is one hell of a gamble. Historically, IE, in comic books, normal humans’ options for extrasensory perception or incredible strength involve things like radioactivity, toxic waste, and/or mysterious cosmic rays. In the real world, contact with these vectors usually only results in sickness and death. But in the interest of hoping for a more magical world, let’s take a look at the most likely places to acquire superpowers (although, again, prolonged contact at these spots would probably, seriously kill you).

Pripyat, Ukraine

This would also be a great set for a villain’s lair (Photo: calflier0011 on Flickr

After Chernobyl’s infamous nuclear disaster, the area produced a number of tragic mutants, but none with psychic powers or optic blasts. Despite clean-up efforts making the fallout zone somewhat safer to current visitors, much of the exposed land still emits too many rads to be healthy. Possibly the most evocative victim of the meltdown was the Pripyat Amusement Park just kilometers away from the plant which is still radioactive in portions. Having been evacuated without ever having been officially opened, many of the attractions remain, including the iconic ferris wheel. What better setting for an origin story than a haunting radioactive fair ground?

Gaining the power to control ferris wheels would be a pretty big let down. (Photo: calflier001 on Flickr)

Picher, Oklahoma 

This abandoned house could be your ticket to becoming invisible. Or being diagnosed with lead poisoning. (Photo: Kelly on Flickr)

The ghostly mining town of Picher, Oklahoma was once considered the most toxic town in America after the majority of the children living there were found to have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood. The town was once a bustling center of zinc and lead mining, but after the operational waste seeped into ground, the entire area became hazardously contaminated. The government began buying people out of the town, but to this day a small number of citizens refuse to leave. Are they harboring a community of powered people? Probably not, but hopefully someone there will get superpowers instead of just getting sick.

This doubles as an effective suicide prevention billboard. (Photo: peggydavis66 on Flickr)

San Francisco, California

That dock can fit aircraft carriers, also a whole lot of toxic garbage. (Photo: Sanfranman59 on Wikipedia)

This abandoned military base is a double threat as it has a history of both irresponsibly disposed of toxic waste AND radioactive testing. Built way back in 1870, the large base and the nearby landfill contributed to a caustic amount of hazardous waste on the site, while the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory that was eventually based there brought radioactive materials from the first atom bomb to the party. The resulting mess was eventually abandoned in 1994, and is still hazardous to this day. Clean-up efforts are ongoing, but lucky urban explorers might pick up some metal skin or a horrifying transformation if they act quickly.

Abandoned radioactive and toxic building? Super-speed, here I come. (Photo: Thundt on Wikipedia)

Flushing, New York

Primo Autobody Repair
The most radioactive spot in New York City also has reasonable rates on flat fixes. (Photo: GoogleMaps)

Located in a 100-year-old building that once housed the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, the Primo Autobody Repair shop in Flushing, New York City is the most radioactive spot in the city. While it is not immediately lethal, it is said that the workers at Primo Autobody receive up to three-times the safe amount of radiation each day. The mild-mannered mechanic who gained car-based powers, thanks to his radioactive auto shop is tailor-made for a New York superhero story. I’m waiting by the phone, Marvel.

Hida, Japan

In a world where something like this exists, we need superheroes. (Photo: Property of Super-Kamiokande)

Rogue cosmic rays are a bit hard to come by here on Earth, but we have more than enough facilities who are trying to capture rare particles. Take Japan’s Super-Kamiokande which is a massive, underground chamber where scientists are attempting to capture and observe neutrinos, otherwise known as “ghost particles.” If so-called “Gamma radiation” created the Hulk, woe be it to the unlucky scientist that becomes the victim of ghost particles. Will they become able to phase through solid matter? Possibly become permanently intangible, living the rest of their days in a hellish non-corporeal existence, neither seen nor heard by their fellow man? Again, probably not, but the lab itself certainly looks like something from a comic book.

What did you expect a ghost particle collector to look like? (Photo: Property of Super-Kamiokande)

Geamana, Romania

Geamana, Romania
Where’s Captain Planet when you need him? (Photo: Sergiu Bacioiu on Flickr)

The once-picturesque village of Geamana is now drowned under a lake of toxic sludge. When communist dictator and real-life Romanian super-villain Nicolae Ceausescu opened a copper mine near the village, he soon had more toxic waste than he knew what to do with. His solution was to flood the valley in which Geamana was located and start dumping the toxic waste into his newly made lake. Today the lake is still an unnaturally colored slurry with the haunting peaks of the former village poking above the surface. Wanna roll the super-dice? Just take a swim.

Geamana, Romania
By the time you make it out to that church you will be paddling with eight arms. (Photo: Sergiu Bacioiu on Flickr)

Niagara Falls, New York

Taken in 1978, this photo is of a home being eaten by toxic waste. (Photo: EPA on Wikipedia

The granddaddy of American toxic waste disasters, this horrific case of contamination was actually the one that spurred on the creation of the Superfund (no relation to superpowers) program. Reading like something out of a comic book, the town of Love Canal discovered in the late 1970s, that their entire town had been built on a pile of terribly toxic garbage that had been buried there by the shady Hooker Chemical company. The signs were hard to miss what with a hugely disproportionate number of birth defects, random puddles of strange goo, and actual waste-disposal drums surfacing in peoples’ yards. The area was evacuated and cordoned off, as it remains to this day. With so many toxic sites in New York, it’s no wonder so many comic book superheroes are based there.

That was the last thing I read before my eyes became lasers. (Photo: EPA on Wikipedia)