piepeloe said: I've only just started reading comics and mainly follow the SHIELD characters around, both because I like them and because they pop up everywhere which means I get introduced to a bunch of series and characters. Because of this, I have noticed that the same character can be in one place in one book and another in a different one, at the same time. Is this me being nit-picky and does no one else care or is the comic-timeline different from release dates or...? Thanks :)
Sometimes a character will be in two different places in two separate books that come out on the same day — but they’re not necessarily in two different places at the same time.
The Marvel writers and editors try to set it up so that at least within the 616, things stay more or less linear; sometimes two books, even if they come out on the same day, are a few days or weeks apart in-universe, to accommodate this issue.
And sometimes they eff it up. :D There was a recent issue of the New Warriors where Iron Man, Cap, and Thor have to deal with the New Warriors moving Wundagore Mountain into the middle of New York’s harbor. Well and good, except I don’t think Steve and Tony can be in the same room without wanting to murder each other right now, and there they are, chattin’ away. (Being fair, they could have kissed and made up, I’m a few issues behind, but I don’t think that’s the case, and anyway it’s just an example.)
Now, probably the New Warriors issue is set back in time a little; possibly it’s set forward in time a bit. But one explanation is that the script didn’t work with someone else standing in for either Cap or Tony, or it had already been drawn before someone caught it, or something similar.
At any rate, readers are expected to ignore little discontinuities like that, given the sprawling universe Marvel has running. It’s a bit like how we’re supposed to pretend that “now” is perpetually “about ten years” after the Fantastic Four became heroes; how Peter Parker’s been in his late twenties for like ten years, Dani Cage may never actually learn to walk, and Franklin and Valeria only get to undergo puberty in time-travel AUs. The actual passage of time is beginning to stretch credulity on Howard Stark and Steve Rogers originally being contemporaries, given Tony is thirty-mumble in 616, but you have to either sacrifice temporal accuracy or sacrifice style-and-history, and when it comes to accuracy versus style, I think we all know what comic books will choose.
There’s an issue starring the Thing in a storyline where he experiences (de)compressed life, getting older and watching the people around him get older as well. Franklin becomes a member of the FF and Valeria has become a rebellious teenager, dating a boy who turns out to the the Purple Man. I can’t remember much more than that, but it was an interesting commentary on how old the characters should be if things were taking place in real time.
That sounds like the 1998 Fantastic Four Annual, in which Ben Grimm gets knocked on the head (or zapped by a science experiment, or something) and has a maybe-it’s-a-dream-maybe-it-isn’t trip to a timeline where everyone has their original 1960s origin stories plus 37 years of actual character development. (It’s not just that everyone’s older, either; several major events of Marvel history, such as Gwen Stacy’s death, get shown as having had permanent effects in a way that the almighty status quo prevented in the main Marvel universe.) It’s been a while since I read it, but I’m pretty sure I remember the bit about rebellious teenager Valeria and her boyfriend.