Saturday, September 24, 2016

So, Just How Old Is Tony Stark?

You all know how much I hate the tragedy of sliding timescales.

The understandable desire of trying to keep our heroes at a certain age, combined with the apparently irresistible need to ties their histories in with certain fixed historical events, leads to all sorts of unnecessary cognitive dissonance.

Like Captain America not being awakened in the 1960s any we keep having to get unnecessarily specific, various marvel writers have had him unfrozen during the Clinton administration, and now even the George W. Bush era.

Of course, that means that Cap now slept through the Civil Righs movement, slept through Watergate, slept through the Bicentennial, slept through the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin all those stories are sorta kinda quietly elided out of history, a sub rosa retcon. All because someone needs to put a specific date on things.

But what about Tony Stark? In Tales Of Suspense #39 (1963), Stan had him injured in the Vietnam conflict. Oh, but we can't have Tony Stark be that old, see, so the Iron Man movie (and subsequent comics) set Tony's injury and capture to an unspecified time in Afghanistan.

All right, that's vague enough (because, sadly, there's always some conflict going on in Afghanistan) that we're not tied down to a specific time and date that a) hurts our brain and b) will require yet more historical shifting in a couple of years.

Ah, but that's not good enough for Bendis. In this week's International Iron Man #7, he feels the need the to ignore subtlety, and tie things down as specifically as humanly possible.

I'll keep this as spoiler-free as possible, through the magic of captions!

In this tale, we get the story of how Tony Stark's parents started their relationship... thing progressed...

And of course...

Oh, dear.

Even if you allow for some imprecision in these apparently precise captions, some rounding up or down, you end up with the conclusion that Tony Stark is most likely 34 tears old. That he was born in 1982, the year I graduated from high school. That, even allowing for super-genius and inheriting a massive arms company and what have you, there's pretty much no way he could have become Iron Man until after 9/11. So all those fights with Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man and other Soviet stooges? I'm not sure what happened there. Those issues where Tony got involved in groovy campus protests of the most 70s kind? Nope!

Sigh...I HATE sliding timescales...

1 comment:

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I thought Jonathan Hickman's whole idea leading up to SECRET WARS II was to show that there was no sliding timeline, that the weird ISO thing Blue Marvel keeps talking about replicates.I think it went from 8 to 9 and I took it to mean that the Marvel Universe has changed its timeline with no one knowing it 8 times.

I like to go with that because Hickman is a great writer.