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Off My Mind: Do You Want Superheroes to Age?

Should they be forever young?

Time in comic books doesn't work the same way it does in real life. Characters rarely show any signs of aging and usually remain the same age throughout all their stories. Would we want to seem them age? Some characters have aged a bit since their first appearance. Does this keep the character from getting stale or are we running the risk of having our characters get too old for future generations?

We have seen alternate tales where heroes get old. Usually things don't go very well. Characters either die or the world has gone to hell. Does that say something right there? Is the future and aging a bad sign for superheroes?
 == TEASER ==
I've mentioned before how I started reading/collecting comics in 1984. Back then, Spider-Man was in his mid-20s (he still is, I guess). Now if he had aged normally from then, he'd be close to 50. Obviously that would limit future stories with Spidey. On the other hand, it's not like he's frozen in time. When he first appeared in 1962, he was still in high school. We have seen him graduate and even go through college. Perhaps Spider-Man aged too much. We saw him get married and even have a kid (well, he didn't have it, Mary Jane did). Apparently this made it hard for readers to relate to him? Weird since I'm married and have a kid. 
 
We have seen other characters show signs of aging. Dick Grayson started out as a kid and now he's in his mid-20s. There is no fixed rate at how time passes in comics. There's no formula saying one issue equals one day for characters. I believe in Green Arrow #1 it was mentioned that something like six months had passed since Star City was destroyed and brought back when it hasn't even been six months in 'our' time.
 
If characters start showing signs of aging, that limits their longevity. Batman has been around for over 70 years. While it's good for character development to see him and others age, don't we want to be able to enjoy them for as long as we can? Don't we want our children to be able to enjoy them as well? We've seen an "older" Bruce in The Dark Knight Returns as well as Batman Beyond but it's not the same. Where should the line be drawn? How much should writers and publishers allow characters to age? You can't just age some characters, you have to age the entire comic universe. Should growing older be one battle that superheroes can win?
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Posted by MrMazz

If they are a kid yea they should age but man it would be weird if Spidey was all old an stuff. Now some of my fav books have old heroes Kingdom Come Dark Knight all that stuff it would be weird though say killing peter or bruce. What do you if you have someone replace Peter or Bruce or even Cap 
 
How have people reacted to Cap and Bruce being replaced i don't care really its more about the title then the man all V for Vendetta style ya know with the whole Meaning is greater then the man 

Posted by Korialstrasz

I always  thought, that in DC comics aging is so slow process because of crysises. Crysis events changes so much, that world reboots and wuala! Batman can dance, as if he is 10 years younger! =)
I think heroes must agе. Generations must change. When Dick Grayson became Batman that was WOW! Different style, problems with changing of scenery. That was great.

Posted by CylonDorado

The one character I do want to age is Batman, since he was awesome in Batman Beyond.
Posted by BlaqueSaber

Yes 'humans' should age (mutans, aliens, cyborgs and more will age, but just much much slower).  This means though, that costumed identities don't need to age just the people wearing them.  So characters like Superman and Wolverine would say things like: "I remember when you're dad wore that suit" to a costumed character like Spiderman or Batman.
 

Posted by Man of Lengend

ya know i have always loved old version of characters, CLint Barton, wolverine, BATMAN,superman,Deadpool,spidey
Posted by danhimself

I like the geriatric alternate reality takes on the characters like Old Man Logan, Kingdom Come, and Spider-man Reign, but I only like them as alternate realities.  I still want my normal everyday comics to be about a mid twenties Peter Parker and mid thirties Superman and Batman

Posted by HaloKing343

Personally, I think that just in terms of a character, it doesn't matter if they are the same age. Part of who a character is is their age. Xavier wouldn't BE Xavier if he wasn't old. Captain America wouldn't BE Captain America if he wasn't the age he is. Characters' ages are part of what defines their character, and thusly I see no reason to change their ages.
Posted by THALASTDRAGON

i think all of us active readers now, and who have been reading and collecting for tha last 30-40 years, are in a unique position. we've seen these characters in their primes, seen them mature and all that. i would rather see characters tha way they are now, aging only how they should in comics, at a very minimal rate if any. i know future generations will be able to read and enjoy tha current characters and stories, but im sure some people will want new characters and they will be brought in. tha only thing that i see happening is that it could be difficult for some of them to match up to tha current characters. we've already seen it happen within tha last decade or even earlier. and they usually just end up dying off or being lost in limbo.

Posted by Aquamariner

NO.

Posted by JeredMcCorkle

I think it has to depend on the character and the context.  I know that's a copout, but clearly sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  They aged Peter and in some people's opinion lost part of the essence of the character.  They grew Kitty Pryde (Shadow cat) up a bit and it made a more interesting character by far.  If I have to come down on one side, I'll say a gradual, well concieved aging is good in comics, though difficult.  It seems like there's a limit to what you can do.  I'm not sure if I want to see the regular continuity versions of Spiderman and Superman in their mid 50's.
Posted by The Impersonator

i don't mind the aging of the characters. They can appear in some issues which are set in the future.
Posted by Roechi

I would like to read more series about the future characters. The publishers could just some more series parallel to the current ones, wich will tell stories of tomorrow, for example a spin-off with Damian Wayne. And I am of course crazy for the return of Batman:Beyond in june. 
But the hook with those series is, that they're not supposed to give too much away of the fates of our current heroes. That is really something that can confine the room for future story telling.

Posted by Blackestnight

It seems like with most of them you can get around aging by saying that because they are aliens or have radio active blood or whatever that is slows down the aging. Others like Batman have to age. However with the time travel thing they might even get around that one somehow.  Spiderman had gone from high school to out of grad school. So he did age in school years, but his body hasn't changed that much.  He can only age three days a month now so what seems like a year is only a month and 6 days and what seems like 50 years is only 4 years and change. Plus in the beginning he was only aging one day a month. 

Edited by wallymonster

yes and no. I want characters to age, but i don't want them to become frail old men and women. I don't mind in an elseworlds or like Kingdom Come kinda story, but for continuity i don't love the idea. 
 
Perfect example for me is the current Batman situation. It makes sense for Tim Drake and Damian to take over the duties,  but anyone besides Bruce Wayne just isn't Batman for me.  I wouldn't mind if Bruce found/created/bought a fountain of youth and stayed Batman forever. Maybe he is currently..we'll see. 
 
so basically i answer yes and no. 

Posted by simonchan

that's where the reboots and zero hour/crisis crap comes in.
 
I'm surprised they didn't do that for the infinity-gantlet/war, etc

Posted by SuperGamera

If DC keeps resetting the time line with each Crisis the characters will never get too old
Posted by ArtisticNeedham

Here is my idea
I would have an alternate comics (like how Marvel has Ultimate Marvel comics)
comics where the characters would age realistically, using Spider-Man as an example, we could have one comic where Spider-Man is aging realistically and then the normal Amazing Spider-Man comic where he is aging in his comic book way.
Ok, so in the realistic aging Peter would age in real time, like in Savage Dragon.  He would graduate high school in 4 years, go to college and graduate college however long that would take him.  While all this is happening we could have "Birthday Issues" where the comic would celebrate Peter's birthday each year (like Marvel's anniversary issues).  We could also see other characters age realistically too, Jameson and Aunt May, harry and Gwen and MJ.
Imagine, in this comic (it could be called something like Real Time Marvel or something) we could watch Peter grow from a 15 year old kid to a 25 year old man in real time.  And eventually he would get married and have children.  And someday, in realistic time, Peter would be in his 50s and his daughter May would have aged realistically too.  And eventually Peter would retire from being Spider-Man and his daughter would become Spider-Girl.  The title of the comic would change from Spider-Man to Spider-Girl, like how Wolverine became Dark Wolverine.  Peter would still be featured, including stories where he maybe had to come out of retirement for a brief period.
And once the title switched to Spider-Girl another title would be started called "Tales of Spider-Man" featuring the young Peter Parker as Spider-Man, and would be set in the past.
Another thing that would be featured in these real time comics would be "Death Issues."  Realistically characters age and characters like Aunt May and Jameson would eventually die, but after years and years, maybe even 100 years or more Peter Parker could die too, imagine the Death of Peter Parker issue, tastefully done.
The idea would be that the hero would age, eventually retire or die and his or her mantel would be passed to someone else younger, like their son or daughter or someone else entirely.  Then when they aren't starring in the title anymore another comic, featuring the retired character as a younger hero, would be started.  So that fans of that character wouldn't drop the comic completely and wouldn't feel left out.
And all the while there would be the other "Non Real Time" comic featuring the semi ageless hero.  So that those fans wouldn't feel left out either, because maybe someone doesn't want to read a real time comic.
This would allow the characters to age and grow, new characters would have a chance to be introduced (and not just side characters in the heroes life either.  But new heroes and new villains.), and other characters would leave or die and stuff.
I also think in this real time comic dead would be dead, no constant returning to life.  Except on one or two rare occasions, because then it would be unheard of and unique.
 This would not only age characters and stories realistically, but give newer characters a chance, while still not messing with the 616 Marvel universe.
This could happen in Marvel, or DC, image does it with Savage Dragon.

Posted by X-93
@danhimself: I agree with you on this subject. 
Posted by Mediant

I think it varies on the character and situation. That being said, I think that main-line primary continuity stuff she allow the characters to be renewed and rehashed and redesigned every 20 years or so to work as a modern iteration. 
So while I enjoy Batman Beyond Bruce or Kingdom Come Superman, I do want a 'main' version of the character that continually gets reworked so they stay the same character they always were in concept.  
Example: Peter Parker being an eternal 16 to early-20-something sort of nerd, with problems with the ladies, that web slings by night.

Posted by Aquamariner

The "front cover" of this article.... Spidey looks like his jizzin' out of his wrist! YUCK!

Posted by G'bandit

How old is Damian? Is he is going to grow older that means Bruce is going to be old O.O

Posted by TheMess1428

From 1939 to 2008, Bruce Wayne aged from 19 to 35.
From 1940 to 2008, Dick Grayson aged from 12 to 27.
We all know that Superman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Wolverine age incredibly slow.
I think they should age a year to every five years we have. 1 comic book year = 5 real life years.

Posted by Owen_Porter

I like the way aging is handled currently (even if it doesnt make much sense). For example, I'm all for Damian, or Tim, or Dick aging. While at the same time Bruce appears to have never aged at all.

Moderator
Posted by kerukun878

Hate to be "that guy" but Dick is only 23. XD So; early 20's.

Posted by HannahRoth
I loved the series 52 which introduced a lot of obscure and new characters to me, I suggest reading it if your tired of the more exposed superhero comics.
Posted by xerox_kitty

It genuinely annoys me that characters aren't allowed to grow old gracefully.  Poor Franklin has been a pre-teen for over 40 years!  Let the poor kid grow up!   
 
Occasionally a character is given a birthday.  Psylocke's birthday had to be brought forward 26 years, and according to the last 'official' birthday she's still only pushing 30... 
 
Personally, I hate the feeling that characters I grew up with are constantly being pushed backwards in age.  Is it so wrong to let them grow old?  I'm older, but it'll eventually get to the point when I can't associate with them any more.  I had crushes on characters that used to be older than me, but now it borders on inappropriate because they've grown younger. 
 
If they want younger characters, then they should create them (ala Avengers Academy).  Not de-age the characters we know & love.

Moderator
Posted by InnerVenom123

Aging only works for alternate universe stories.

Posted by Meteorite

I think that a sliding timescale works fine, as long as we can see that there is some time passing in the comic.

Posted by Thor'sHammer
@Timm:   You said it all brother!
Posted by Rosebunse

I think someone should come up with a formula. I don't mind characters aging very slowly, but I do want characters to age with with each other so it isn't too awkward. That being said, I do want to see how the world would react to Spider Man actually dying. I think it would be interesting to see how various characters like Wolverine and Dare Devil would take it.
Edited by The Mast

 I think it's entirely possible and I think they're testing the waters, even unintentionally, with characters like Bucky.
 
Though not totally age-realistic, I think they're trying to see if people will react well to an iconic character hanging up the cape/shield/whatever, especially if the successor is well-written. I mean, Peter Parker is someone we all love, but there're enough guys in the world like him and enough writers to make a 2nd Spider-Man good.

Posted by RiddlingGambit

I want them to age a little but not too much. That would just get depressing.

Posted by CrimsonInuTears

Depends on the Hero. No one wants to see Bats get old, it's just depressin. But when you have those teen an preteen heroes, it's nice to watch em grow into themselves. Grow outta the sidekick, grow into the hero~ ^_^
Posted by NightFang

Age is a pretty thing, so way not show it?

Edited by A-Strondinaire

I think characters like Superman, Batman, Captain America and other old guys shouldn't age as Crimsoninu Tears  already stated it's kind of depressing but with characters like X-23, and others Tim, and Wondergirl should like with Kitty when she went to college. Those in between like Emma/Catwoman/Maybe Colossus and Kurt (late 20's) Rogue/Human Torch/ and Iceman (mid-twenties about 24-27) should probably age here or there like if they want to do a Birthday issue.    
Posted by ComicCrazy

Not really I mean I love Old Man logan but I hate Frank Miller's Dark Knight returns. So I think sometimes it can be used well to tell a good story and plot but other times it's just cheap and stupid and they can't think of anything else.
Posted by Dark Cell

No way! I don't mid the characters being older in alternate reality's or possible future stories, but in the standard universe? nope 

Posted by KNIGHT SAVIOR

the heroes shouldn't age because they remind you of your age when you first read them
Posted by G-Man
@G'bandit: In an issue of Batman and Robin, they said Damian was ten. He's not always drawn like a ten year old though.
Staff
Posted by PuckPuck

I don't mind the idea of aging characters at all. They tend to live in Universes where time progresses, storylines progress over years, heck we even have the occasional Christmas specials to keep better track. Obviously some will age slower e.g. Wolverine, but the whole idea of some characters aging (generally teenish) while the adults remain in implacable time stasis seems a little strange (and tbh lazy). So what if Cyclops gets wrinkles, or there's a grey streak or 3 in another character. Let the characters mature I say.

Posted by MadripoorEconomy

Characters should age - and they should die.  Teams should fade from  existence.  The stories will be around for our children - like all the myths of old, "The Three Musketeers", "Lord of the Rings" - stories and characters that had a beginning, middle, and end.  Are they over?  Sure - but I bet there is an eager 11 year old reading the Lord of the Rings right now.  Why do Superhero comics need to be any different?  If there was an end in sight confrontations between Batman and the Joker would have even more weight - sort of like the TAS in the DCAU.  I'd love for Grayson to remain Batman - for Peter Parker to maybe get it right one day.  For the X-Men to really change and progress.  I enjoy the stories still - but I'd enjoy them much more if they progressed.  And my children (and their children) can read the old stories and love them just as much (Phoenix Saga anyone - still good) just like that 11 year old reading Tolkien.

Posted by DH69

wonder woman and storm are welcome to go age and die, that way no more fanboys >=D

Posted by cbishop

Didn't read all of the comments, so forgive me if I repeat anyone: 
 
When comics didn't have a real continuity from issue to issue, I don't think aging mattered.  Look at your Sunday newspaper strips: the kids in the Family Circus never age, Garfield's still alive, the Peanuts have never aged, Hagar the Horrible is still a clueless Viking, and the Wizard of Id doesn't feature a wizard in ninety percent of its strips... and nobody cares.  Just make us laugh or chuckle, and it's all good. 
 
But comics do have continuity now, and despite no apparent aging, they still manage to have a Christmas issue most years, sometimes a New Year's issue, and occasionally a birthday gets celebrated.  We accept the glaring flaws in comics, because deep inside, we recognize the logistical nightmare it would be for companies to straighten out their respective universes.  This foreboding is compounded by DC's several attempts to update their characters, but still hold onto the core of their history, while ignoring exactly when that history took place... yeah, it makes my head hurt to think about it too. 
 
The closest thing to the monthly comic is the daily soap opera, and I think comics should learn from them (but only a little).  Soaps depend on living, breathing actors, so they have to introduce new characters over the years, or the soap dies when its original actors die.  I've been reading Savage Dragon since the beginning, and in that comic, thirty days between issues is thirty days for the characters.  They age, marry, divorce, die, etc.  While I don't think it has to be "real time," like Savage Dragon, I do think comics with continuity should have characters age.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with legacy characters, or even characters just dying away.  Especially now, when there is a market for reprints that would keep the copyrights viable - something that wasn't there when comics got started. 
 
Also, there's another thing to look at: we're talking about the monthly comic.  If comics were to go to the graphic novel format (and not have more than one title per character) then the time between stories, and/or the age of the characters, wouldn't be as much of an issue.  Novels in a series have done this for years, and had no problems.  If there's six months between books (graphic novels) then it really wouldn't matter to the reader how old the character is, as long as the story is good.  However, the sidekick does change things.  If the sidekick's going to get older, then the main character should too. 
 
Generally, I'm totally in favor of aging the characters.  With the addition of continuity to comics, it's a must.  Otherwise, there are always going to be glaring flaws for people to laugh at and pick apart, and comics are never going to be the appreciated art form that they should be.

Posted by Ms.Whisper

I think it's fine the way it is. Imagine if Batman would of aged all this time, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy comics nowadays.

Edited by Vance Astro

I made a thread about this some time ago.I do want heroes to age.Other heroes need a turn to grow and to get into the spotlight.What I don't get is why Marvel and DC makes all of these characters that are basically exact clones of popular heroes and then never suggest they will give them a chance to shine.When are characters like Donna Troy,Patriot,Kate Bishop,Speed,Arana,etc. going to step into their own and stop living in the shadow of a more popular character?

Moderator
Posted by ComicMan24
@xerox-kitty said:
"It genuinely annoys me that characters aren't allowed to grow old gracefully.  Poor Franklin has been a pre-teen for over 40 years!  Let the poor kid grow up!    Occasionally a character is given a birthday.  Psylocke's birthday had to be brought forward 26 years, and according to the last 'official' birthday she's still only pushing 30...  Personally, I hate the feeling that characters I grew up with are constantly being pushed backwards in age.  Is it so wrong to let them grow old?  I'm older, but it'll eventually get to the point when I can't associate with them any more.  I had crushes on characters that used to be older than me, but now it borders on inappropriate because they've grown younger.  If they want younger characters, then they should create them (ala Avengers Academy).  Not de-age the characters we know & love. "

Good point. That's true. They not only let characters grow older but they make them younger.
Posted by Video_Martian

Why should superheroes age? I mean, the point of comic books is to entertain readers. I don't think it would be very entertaining to see beloved heroes grow old, suffer, and die- to never return. Aren't comics supposed to distract you from the real world and make you forget about your problems as you dive into a world of fiction, action, fantasy, and wonder??? Why ruin it with every day limitations???

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

In alternate future stories, yes

Posted by mystery997

it depends on the character
Edited by Comiclove5
@ComicMan24 said:

"Aging in comics is weird. For example almost all of Batman's sidekicks have grown while Batman has stayed virtually the same. Aging only applies to sidekicks and that stops when they become adults. Another example is Franklin Richards, he was born in the sixties and he is still 10 years old I think. Heroes should age, that's why we have legacies. "


Batman is in his early to mid-40's 
And I think Franklin is at least 15.
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