A bit of a vague question, I know. Stay with me.

I like superheroes and comics, but I'm not a huge buff. One thing that I never seem to be able to figure out is how the timelines of comics (I'll use Marvel specifically as an example) is established.

For instance, the first Spider-Man comic came out in August 1962. There have been many since. However, I know there have been different series (Ultimate universe, 2099, etc), so not all of those Spider-Men are the "original" Peter Parker. So relating to my question, is the "main" universe (616, correct?) Spider-Man still the same Peter Parker from 1962? Do the events and time of the comics keep up with the time of the real world? Or does the universe not move in real time, and it's its own special "comic time"?

Furthermore, how do reboots (new #1 issues) affect this? I've tried reading up on the latest Battleworld event, but no explanations on how this all works have come up.

Sorry if this is too many questions in one, or two vague; I don't know how to succinctly put this! Just ask if you need more clarification. Thank you!

  • Basically, Marvel look at their comic sales and decide if they're too low. Then they invent an event that creates/destroys multiple timelines. Then they repeat every ten years until everyone is thoroughly confused, even the people who're paid to try to make some sense out of the vast mess they've created.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 16:30
  • This might help. The answer is "yes, Peter is still a teenager, despite being over 60 years old" - marvel.wikia.com/Marvel_Time
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 16:32
  • The MSt3K Mantra helps...tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MST3KMantra
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Don't think too much about it. The writers don't. An official explanation is the use of a sliding time scale - but if you think about that even a little, it doesn't make sense either.

In your example, Spider-Man is the same one from 1962. It's just that with respect to the comic universe, 53 years haven't passed. As much (or as little) time as the writers want to have passed since he became Spider-Man, have passed.

This is so that they can keep telling stories with the same people without much change. Keep the status quo.

As far as I know, no main stream Marvel Comics have actually been rebooted in the sense that they've erased all the history that's happened and started over completely disregarding the interconnected universe. Sometimes, there are in-universe "reboots" (One More Day) which happen but don't last forever.

  • If it helps any, there is a storyline X-Men did called The Worst X-Man Ever, where they had a character who was in charge of the continuity of the Marvel timeline. It's largely a parody, however, but is still somewhat interesting regardless. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 10:04

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