Sunday, April 8, 2012

Slip Slidin' Away

By now you all know of my aversion to sliding timescales in comics. Anything that causes us to conclude that Captain America was revived during the Clinton administration (and soon, no doubt, the Bush II administration) is something to be rejected out of hand.

But things get even more dissonant when you're tired to specific dates. Take, for example, this guy:

You remember Arno Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man 2020. The scumbag son of Tony Stark's wastrel cousin, Morgan Stark, Arno somehow ended up inheriting Stark Industries upon Tony's death, and proceeded to use the Iron Man tech to be a super-mercenary and to physically crush Stark's competition.

Arno debuted in the 1984 Machine Man mini-series. Of course, in 1984, 2020 was a good 36 years off, so tying the concept so strongly to a specific date carried little risk. Heck, Marvel went so far add to design year-specific logos core the guy's occasional appearances:

The trouble, of course, is that 2020 is a lot closer now. And in this week's Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott blows up our brains, as Doc Ock gathers some advanced tech to use against the Avengers:

So wait--Arno Stark its still from 2020, even though it's now 2012?

And Slott doesn't try to fudge it. Octavious specifically calls out the tech as "eight years beyond...from 2020."

So Tony Stark is going to die in the next 8 years? Even earlier, because Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20 (1986) reveals that Arno was in charge as early as 2015. Oi!

Sure, it's easy enough to say that Shellhead 2020 is from an alternate timeline or such, just like various versions of Deathlok or Killraven. But if you just avoided giving these futures specific dates AND kept your heroes' timeliness uncommitted and vague, you don't have to worry about such flimflammery.

Of course, the problem of what we do about Sea Lab 2020 has to be dealt with soon. At least Partridge Family 2200AD is safe for awhile...


Siskoid said...

I love Iron Man 2020! While a re-origin is probable to keep Tony alive (and the Machine Man future relegated to a parallel Earth), I think it would be pretty cool if Arno showed up in 2020 right on cue with that ridiculous armor of his.

Invid said...

They already have an out, I'm pretty sure (quoted from the Marvel Universe Appendix's profile on Iron Man 2020 []):

"Arno had no idea that Howard was in fact his uncle, Tony, who had merely faked his death years before."