Comic Vine News


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?
  • 123 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Posted by Fredgerd

 Yes PLEASE! I've always generally preferred the American comic genre over manga, but the screwy time lines have always bothered me, and that is the one thing I think most manga has over superhero comics.
The only solution I've seen work is when heroes are replaced by younger characters as has been done with the flash and green lantern. That would work a lot better if the older characters aged once replaced which isn't always consistent. What would be ideal, however, is if they simply kept  the characters within there era context and built on the events of their lives, or in a few cases, revised the story entirely for comics like the old "slap a jap" superman comics, which would be considered offensive to most readers today. No one wants to see the end of Bruce Waynes adventures but that doesn't mean he has to be modern. People still love reading the stories of characters like King Arther and new stories are added to that mythos all the time.

Posted by HexThis

Absolutely not. 
I like that these characters are re-tooled to represent each and every generation in a new way. They have such complexities, so many layers that they are beginning to become some of the most developed and multi-dimensional characters of any sort of franchise. 
It's the strength of comics that they are ever-lasting. It would be selfish for us to want comic book characters to age, what if someone made that decision in the 30's? Batman and Superman would be largely revoked. New characters can be worked in with the old and we can just continue to expand universes.  

Posted by d0npierre

Who wants to live forever?
- We do, but they can...

Posted by Psykhophear

I do believe that fictional characters should age regardless if they're from comics, cartoons or whatever because nothing lasts forever. It's nice to see your favorite comic book characters still doing his/ her thing but in the long run, you kinda have the urge to say, "how much longer can this person live?" 
I remember somebody telling me that, "cartoons can never die," which I believe that it also applies to comics as well, so the best thing that writers should do is to introduce new characters and dispose of the old ones in a reasonable manner. DC and Marvel do a great job of doing this with the death of Captain America, Batman, the second Robin, Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy and so on. It's a shocker when you first heard about it but it later makes sense and you accept it. 
The one thing that I can't accept is Archie Comics. Since day one, Riverdale has never never ever changed one bit. Archie is still a pervert, the gang is still going to high school, Mr. Weatherbee is still alive and the list goes on and on. I loved Archie Comics back in the day but I've stopped reading it years ago because nothing has changed over the years. Riverdale is still what it is since seventy years ago and the writers are recycling the same gags and twists over and over again. It becomes boring, predictable and lame. What they need to do is to bring the comics to a new level. Make the gang go to college, make Archie married, close down Pop Tate's, introduce new characters, get rid some of the old ones, etc. The closest "new level" thing they've ever done is Archie getting married in the "Will You Marry Me" issues but even then, they still can't even get it right since it's only a What If? situation and not an actual event. Shows how much of a pussy the writers are. I even wrote a whole blog about it just to show you how pissed I am even to this day. 
In conclusion, I believe fictional characters should either die of old age or move to a new level.

Posted by chris thompson


Posted by magicpower
Posted by Timm
@Icemizer said:
" If characters have to age then it must be a company wide mandate that all characters age in that universe at the same rate.  This would avoid the Franklin Richards problem. He is still a pre-teen, but his friends in Power Pack are already well into their teen years."
This brings up another issue with age, Marvel and DC have been inventing new characters when they could so easily play on the old ones. back in my day, when a new character was born it was on the heels of a retiring or dead old character. a younger character was introduced or even a character with similar abilities. then maybe a year or two later, they would take the mantle. sometimes they would test the waters, but eventually the old great would be replaced. I feel like marvel missed a great opportunity with Franklin Richards. He would be at the popular age about now. Prime candidate for Young Avengers or even a viable future replacement for Xavier in X-men if they kept development on the mutation of his astral projection ability and the storyline where mastermold comes back to eliminate "The Twelve" future leaders of mutantkind. 
but no. 
instead they did Necrosha.
Posted by ComicMan24
@Comiclove5 said:
"@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. "

He certainly looks younger than mid-40s.
Posted by Timm
@ComicMan24 said:
" @Comiclove5 said:
"@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. "
He certainly looks younger than mid-40s. "
Franklin is certainly younger than 15.  he just had a birthday party in some issue or another. i think it was while they were warming up the Reed and the order of Reed's across the multiverse story. he's pretty close to 10 if not 10.
Posted by ComicMan24
I believe so too.
Posted by Clifftothemax

If they can do it right (Batman Beyond as an example) then by all means, yes.

Edited by ZaberCat

I rather leave characters dont age alone is easily job for the comic writers, editors, and editors. If readers wanted to age characters, look at 75 anniversary of X-Men would have looked the X-Men as Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Archangel, and Iceman could turned  75 years old and Professor X would have died before that time.

Posted by ReverseNegative

It depends. If the whole story is actually SAID to be based off of the happenings of a certain time (Watchmen "1985") then it should age accordingly. But some stuff like Batman kinda bugs me. I mean, he doesn't age, but the advancements in technology  society continue to age anyways. It's like he's immortal or something. Also, I find it kinda weird that Wolverine doesn't age. I mean, I know he can't die and all because of his healing factor and stuff, but why does he age to a certain point and just stop?

Posted by Shadowdoggy

it's hard to make characters age in the mainstream continuity, unless it is only to a limited degree 
because once you do, they sort of have to stay that age 
it's a hard think to retconn
Posted by Calvin
@G-Man: If character got old and replaced there were no need to retcons. I think it would be great for older readers too. I mean we all love Spidey but we can't have him strugling with the same issues for ever. He could grow old deal with different issues like parenthood to keep veterans fans, while other Superhero was introduced to once again in hightschool so that new readers could have a different Spidey to grow up with.
Posted by Knight22179

I definately think heroes should age. ALL heroes, not just a certain few (i.e. The Punisher), but all. While it's nice I got to experience Superman since I was not born in 1938, that is what having KIDS are for. 
Superheroes children should be taking up the mantle of their parents. I'd LOVE to see Superman Jr. don the cape, Batman jr. ect. 
Why? It's realistic. We all age, Superheroes should age too, they should not be immune to it and be immortal. 
I'm still young and already I'm sick and tired of the ageless heroes. I want a new generation to come along. DC wants to continue writing about the same old characters? That's what ALTERNATE realities are for. 
Unfortunately, we never will see this. Connor Kent aka Superboy will always either remain Superboy or take on another superhero identity and then stop aging. 
I say let heroes age, let them have kids and then let them take up the mantle. It creates fresh new stories and then we can all fall in love with our favorite heroes all over again.

Posted by spiderpigbart

I think they should, just slower. Spider-Man has aged about ten years.

Posted by VanTesla

Yes let them age respectfully  and have them  train the next generation. 
Posted by AndrewG

Personally, I say no. As a fan I sort of do enjoy when you see people like Dick Grayson go from young Robin to his own man with Nightwing and eventually take up the mantle of his 'father' as Batman but in reality I think it does more harm than good. These characters thrived long before I became a fan and ideally should continue to do so long after we're all gone. It's great as an alternative story but at the end of the day the characters should be returned to their toy box in the same condition they were in when borrowed to allow for a new generation to enjoy    
Posted by Comicjew

If comic characters aged like real people, Batman would be a fossil, Daredevil would look like someone's grandpa and "Aunt" May would be dead.
Posted by Shadow_Thief

I'm torn on this one. On one hand, it makes sense for characters to age: it allows us to follow their maturation, and helps us relate to them. We age, after all; we all have to deal with the fact that the world keeps spinning, and we spin with it. We all eventually have to deal with the fact that there comes a day when we can no longer pull an all-nighter with WoW and Red Bull and still function the next day. We go from being kids ourselves to having kids of our own, and struggle to help them deal with a world that isn't necessarily the one we grew up in. Having characters mirror this allows them to remain relevant.
On the other hand, aging changes a character, in ways both subtle and not. The teenage Spidey trying to balance school, work, and blossoming romance isn't going to read quite the same way as the mature, married Spidey who joined the Avengers. Is he still Spidey? Of course! However, he's going to be dealing with different issues, and this is going to affect who relates to him. As much as we might like having a more mature character that we can continue to relate to, we also want our kids to have a character they can relate to, one who is still dealing with situations that make sense to a younger audience, that can be tackled with energy and idealism.
Fortunately, discussion of this issue is, at it's core, merely academic. It's comic books! There's plenty of alternate realities, time-alteration, and almost-plausible pseudo-science to ensure that a character can be whatever age he/she needs to be to suit the story. Have them reborn, de-aged, their mind transferred into a younger clone, whatever! A certain suspension of disbelief is required to truly enjoy comics, and perhaps, if our beloved characters can last for decades without definitively aging, it means that we can recapture the energy and enthusiasm of our youth at times, too. ;)

Posted by greenlantern26

i would like to see a JLA story in which its 20 years in the future and every one is the age their saposed to be. nothing fancy just a regular plot with batman saying im too old for this sh#t. 
while superman is looking into the sunset and saying where did our youth go. and booster gold looks at him and says. what are you... like 40??  :/ 
          a normal JLA with new member coming into there own and the big players just reflecting 
on past battles and joys. and finely saying hmmm. well lets get back to work. and that be the end of it. 
P.s. batman would never say that but it would be a great ending to a awesome one shot.

Posted by GraphicCasualFreak

Depends on the Character.  I don't mind Batman aging, but Superman; I don't think so.  I really wish Supergirl would age, a little at least.  I'm getting tired of everyone still feeling the need to treat her like a third tier kiddie character. She is awesome.