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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Default I have a question about Marvel Comics continuity

    I often see, whenever Marvel restarts their books they have this quick summary, right. A recap of what the heroes been through up until this point. They're often depicted in their original state. Original uniform, original time setting. Like how Cap's summary always started with his WWII experience and continue until he's revived in "present day", but even in the "present day" Iron Man was wearing his horned gold mask instead of the current one.

    So is this only an aesthetic fanservice where the original story has been rewritten by whatever modern version they use these days, or does the story stay the same as they were in the 40s/60s?

    I remember in All-New X-Men, the time-displaced Scott didn't know about bottled water. He's originally from the 60s. So it sounds like Marvel characters have long life span.

    On the other hand, last year or so they made a Spidey story in high school set in the present day, smartphone and all... and run it at the same time as a Spider-Man flashback story set during the Lee-Ditko (RIP) era. The artwork and technology are all based on the 60s.

    Which one is it?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    I often see, whenever Marvel restarts their books they have this quick summary, right. A recap of what the heroes been through up until this point. They're often depicted in their original state. Original uniform, original time setting. Like how Cap's summary always started with his WWII experience and continue until he's revived in "present day", but even in the "present day" Iron Man was wearing his horned gold mask instead of the current one.

    So is this only an aesthetic fanservice where the original story has been rewritten by whatever modern version they use these days, or does the story stay the same as they were in the 40s/60s?

    I remember in All-New X-Men, the time-displaced Scott didn't know about bottled water. He's originally from the 60s. So it sounds like Marvel characters have long life span.

    On the other hand, last year or so they made a Spidey story in high school set in the present day, smartphone and all... and run it at the same time as a Spider-Man flashback story set during the Lee-Ditko (RIP) era. The artwork and technology are all based on the 60s.

    Which one is it?
    Both. The sliding timeline is a tricky thing, one that requires you bend your mind around certain discrepancies.

    The original stories still count and are still canon. They happened as depicted, whether they're from the '60s, '70s, and so on.

    Of course, because in-universe, the beginning of the MU is always sliding further up the timeline in order that these characters can still be the age they're supposed to be, you have a situation where characters like Peter Parker and the X-Men had their early adventures in the '60s and yet if you reference those early adventures in a new story today, writers have to either ignore the anachronisms or insert references to modern tech or pop culture that would apply to, say, the '90s or early 00's rather than the '60s.

    This doesn't mean there's been a wholesale rewriting of Marvel history, it's just how the sliding timeline is addressed.

    Tony Stark originally became Iron Man in Vietnam, for instance, but that isn't the case anymore. They haven't explained how that isn't the case anymore, but when his origin is referenced, it's just a more recent war that he was wounded in. It's just assumed that fans understand why things are updated and will just roll with it without needing an in-universe explanation as for why the original stories are about Tony in Vietnam but now it's, say, the Gulf War.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    Both. The sliding timeline is a tricky thing, one that requires you bend your mind around certain discrepancies.

    The original stories still count and are still canon. They happened as depicted, whether they're from the '60s, '70s, and so on.

    Of course, because in-universe, the beginning of the MU is always sliding further up the timeline in order that these characters can still be the age they're supposed to be, you have a situation where characters like Peter Parker and the X-Men had their early adventures in the '60s and yet if you reference those early adventures in a new story today, writers have to either ignore the anachronisms or insert references to modern tech or pop culture that would apply to, say, the '90s or early 00's rather than the '60s.

    This doesn't mean there's been a wholesale rewriting of Marvel history, it's just how the sliding timeline is addressed.

    Tony Stark originally became Iron Man in Vietnam, for instance, but that isn't the case anymore. They haven't explained how that isn't the case anymore, but when his origin is referenced, it's just a more recent war that he was wounded in. It's just assumed that fans understand why things are updated and will just roll with it without needing an in-universe explanation as for why the original stories are about Tony in Vietnam but now it's, say, the Gulf War.
    Okay, but it seems there's inconsistency in how this sliding timeline is depicted. In one version there's high school Peter Parker with smartphone, and in the other there's Scott Summers that seems to have been lifted straight from the 60s. So are each book different in how they handle this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    Okay, but it seems there's inconsistency in how this sliding timeline is depicted. In one version there's high school Peter Parker with smartphone, and in the other there's Scott Summers that seems to have been lifted straight from the 60s. So are each book different in how they handle this?
    Yes, pretty much.

    I think it's up to the discretion of the editor/writers involved.

    I think it'd be impossible - and not really desirable - to impose a rigid set of rules about depicting something that is very fluid.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    Yes, pretty much.

    I think it's up to the discretion of the editor/writers involved.

    I think it'd be impossible - and not really desirable - to impose a rigid set of rules about depicting something that is very fluid.
    I take it that means if there's two different version at the same time, like modern smartphone Peter Parker and 60s Peter Parker, you just get what you prefer?

  6. #6
    Better than YOU! Alan2099's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    I take it that means if there's two different version at the same time, like modern smartphone Peter Parker and 60s Peter Parker, you just get what you prefer?
    Pretty much. Don't focus on the details and just enjoy the story.

    And don't even try to figure out how characters age. They same to age at different rates.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    Okay, but it seems there's inconsistency in how this sliding timeline is depicted. In one version there's high school Peter Parker with smartphone, and in the other there's Scott Summers that seems to have been lifted straight from the 60s. So are each book different in how they handle this?
    The All-New X-Men aren't from the regular Marvel universe but from an alternate timeline.
    The 'real' Cyclops isn't old enough to have been alive during the 60's.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carabas View Post
    The All-New X-Men aren't from the regular Marvel universe but from an alternate timeline.
    The 'real' Cyclops isn't old enough to have been alive during the 60's.
    No, ANXM are from 616. I think during Hopeless' run, it was put out there that they were from an alternate timeline but X-Men Blue established that they're from the main MU.

    And when you read the old X-Men's, even though they were written in the '60s and obviously reflect that time, if a modern story referenced a story from that era, it wouldn't be taking place in the '60s but wherever the sliding timeline would position a story that took place, say, ten years prior, in "Marvel Time."

  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Sounds like Bendis meant them to be AU, but editorial later decided they should actually be from 616's past - Hopeless's run did mention them being from the 1960s, so the decision came around the time X-Men Blue launched. Champions actually mentions how Cyclops talks differently to modern teenagers (i.e. the rest of the team), it's because he grew up in the 1990s (he'd have been born around 1988) and not the 2000s (for example, Kamala and Miles would've been born in 2001). As such, his use of slang would be different (luckily, that book didn't actually use dates, it just said he was a different generation).

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan2099 View Post
    Pretty much. Don't focus on the details and just enjoy the story.

    And don't even try to figure out how characters age. They came to age at different rates.
    I pretty much just call all of them Elves if we go with sliding timeline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carabas View Post
    The All-New X-Men aren't from the regular Marvel universe but from an alternate timeline.
    The 'real' Cyclops isn't old enough to have been alive during the 60's.
    Oh, gods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    No, ANXM are from 616. I think during Hopeless' run, it was put out there that they were from an alternate timeline but X-Men Blue established that they're from the main MU.

    And when you read the old X-Men's, even though they were written in the '60s and obviously reflect that time, if a modern story referenced a story from that era, it wouldn't be taking place in the '60s but wherever the sliding timeline would position a story that took place, say, ten years prior, in "Marvel Time."
    OH GODS. You know what, let's not go too much detail into All-New X-Men technicality, since I haven't actually jump in and read, I just use that example because that's the most recent I can remember.

    See, here's the thing. The impression I got was some back stories take place in the 40s and 60s, and some take place 10 years from the present. I'd prefer if they all take place in one time period or the other, instead of half and half.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    Sounds like Bendis meant them to be AU, but editorial later decided they should actually be from 616's past - Hopeless's run did mention them being from the 1960s, so the decision came around the time X-Men Blue launched. Champions actually mentions how Cyclops talks differently to modern teenagers (i.e. the rest of the team), it's because he grew up in the 1990s (he'd have been born around 1988) and not the 2000s (for example, Kamala and Miles would've been born in 2001). As such, his use of slang would be different (luckily, that book didn't actually use dates, it just said he was a different generation).
    I kinda like this. It's sort of meta-joke.

    As long as they're consistent with how the timeline is depicted, that is
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 07-07-2018 at 11:46 AM.

  11. #11
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    On the other hand, last year or so they made a Spidey story in high school set in the present day, smartphone and all... and run it at the same time as a Spider-Man flashback story set during the Lee-Ditko (RIP) era. The artwork and technology are all based on the 60s.

    Which one is it?
    Spidey is definitely AU. In the original run, he knew Gwen at high school, which wasn't the case in 616 (they actually met at college), and as you say, modern tech was used. The current digital follow up Spidey: School's Out adds Ganke, who is the same age as Peter, whereas he's at least 10 years younger than Peter in 616, and is Miles' friend instead of his.

  12. #12
    Cadaver Sniffing Dog Personamanx's Avatar
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    The sliding timescale of the Marvel Universe doesn't make any sense. Time travel, and alternate universes don't make it any better. If it creates issues for you, then you either find a way to rectify it for yourself story wise or just try not to think about it too much.

    Embrace the contradictions as a novel aspect of long form storytelling in corporate-owned monthly periodicals.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    No, ANXM are from 616. I think during Hopeless' run, it was put out there that they were from an alternate timeline but X-Men Blue established that they're from the main MU.

    And when you read the old X-Men's, even though they were written in the '60s and obviously reflect that time, if a modern story referenced a story from that era, it wouldn't be taking place in the '60s but wherever the sliding timeline would position a story that took place, say, ten years prior, in "Marvel Time."
    Okay, but that retcon of a retcon falls apart because they have been actually written as if they were from the actual 1960's.


    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend
    Sounds like Bendis meant them to be AU, but editorial later decided they should actually be from 616's past - Hopeless's run did mention them being from the 1960s
    Sounds like they were originally meant to be from the 1960's, then somebody later noticed that the O5 aren't actually 70-ish years old and retconned it to alt-universe 60's, and then somebody even later didn't get the memo, or didn't care anymore.

  14. #14
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    The best way to think of it is this...if there's a flashback to the early days of Marvel, it happened 10-15 years ago no matter what year it is in real life. If the artist draws the characters wearing 60-70's fashions, it just a meta-text nod. Cultural things in the old comics just update to modern times, if it's something that can't be updated, just ignore it. The Simpsons have been on TV for almost 30yrs but characters aged like one year then stopped.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carabas View Post
    Okay, but that retcon of a retcon falls apart because they have been actually written as if they were from the actual 1960's.

    Sounds like they were originally meant to be from the 1960's, then somebody later noticed that the O5 aren't actually 70-ish years old and retconned it to alt-universe 60's, and then somebody even later didn't get the memo, or didn't care anymore.
    They're written as if they came from the period that the original comics were from.

    That period is no longer officially "the '60s" within the MU but it is the distant past. If it seems like it's portrayed as being longer ago than it logically should be, that's because logic doesn't really apply here.

    Yes, given the age of these characters and how long the MU has supposed to have been going on, their past is, like, the early 00's.

    But to us as readers, when we think of the O5, we think of the '60s so they're written as though they're from that older era.

    Time does not pass in a normal fashion in the MU. It's all compressed, with more and more stories continually being added into a relatively small span of time. Trying to come at it with too much logic just doesn't work.

    The depiction of the O5 is more about nostalgia and emotion than it is about rationalizing and pinpointing what actual year they're from in relation to today.
    Last edited by Prof. Warren; 07-08-2018 at 10:20 AM.

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