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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?
158 CommentsRefresh
Posted by darkxman123

i think they should age if there children so they can be used in storys in the future but  people like batman and the like should not age as then genorations to come cant enjoy them

Posted by Chane

Good god yes. I was perfectly happy with the "legacy" heroes in the DCU (Connor Hawke, Wally West, Kyle Raynor etc..) until the silver age ones came back and deaged. I mean look at Iris Allen now compared to a few years ago? It's ridiculous at times.

Posted by ComicMan24

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.
Posted by Coxon9

i dont see whats wrong with aging heroes. i really liked dc the new frontier because it kept all the dates and time intact based on the characters first appearances and at no point in that story did i feel that characters were dated or not relevant because of the 1950's backdrop. so even if they did "age" heroes they could always return to a certain time period in that heroes career and tell untold stories. but then again by not aging them, they become for relevant to the times i suppose

Posted by Gylan Thomas

Bart Simpson's been around ten years old for over twenty years.
Superheroes should age at a very, very slow rate.
I like t read future stories once in a whiel but imagien if Spidey ages at the same rate as us.He'd be in his 80's.

Posted by doordoor123

Time in comics passes by at a slow rate. If one issue comes out a month, and there is 6 issues in a current story arc, thats six months our time, but maybe 3 days in comic books. SO it makes sense how slow characters age. When I see characters in multiple titles, i dont think how are they in two places at once, i think that it has and will eventually happen. I forgot where i was going with this.
ANYHOW I would like characters to keep aging. Even if our kids have to live without the key players we lived with. I hope publishing companies can keep trying to create unique individual characters. What they need to do is start pushing the smaller characters for more face time. Marvel has the right idea. Luke Cage and Deadpool are two growing faces in the industry. They are both getting pushed higher and higher. They need to eventually be on the same level as characters like Spider-man or Captain America. 
What really needs to happen is development of new interesting characters. Batwoman is a great example. These days characters have the same powers over and over again and the same personalities. Companies need unique characters that can shape theyre universe.

Posted by hydro 300

Aging in comics is a tricky thing ,when a writer decides to age a hero,he must be careful so he doesn t hurt the integrity of the character

Posted by Gylan Thomas
See I've never really been a fan of the "lecagy" idea.
It's biggest with DC and of course felt natural when the characterswere reinvented for the silver age but I feel it's been over done. More often than not it really just means a tmepory replacement of a character and detracts from the originality of the first to go by <insert name here>.
For instance, I have a real problem with the fact that there's aSupergirl. Supe's should be the last Kryptonian.
Now Supergirls even seemsto have her own Bizzaro.
Posted by Decept-O

Hate to say, but yeah, it would make more sense if the comic characters would age a bit.   
Here's the deal:  Let's say you read one comic book title that gets published monthly.  Well, in each issue, the story can take place in that title's universe in the timespan of say one week,  one month----or one minute.  It's subjective to the writer.   
This is why comic characters' ages don't exactly jive with "our" timeline. What has passed as 40 years in reality may only be 10 years or less in many comic book titles.   
You bring up a good point concerning Spider-Man.  I WANT Peter to be a single fun loving swinging character yet in many ways, many writers have tried to mature and age Pete.  I should accept that Pete should be married and even have a kid. It's a hard concept for me to grasp concerning Spider-Man.   
It does open the door to other stories being told and even introducing more characters and trials in Peter Parker's life.  
I really prefer Bruce Wayne as Batman yet he can't keep up his gig forever.  His body will begin to age and all the combat injuries he's experienced will catch up with him.  While I HATE the idea of sidekicks, concerning Batman at least, this might be one reason why he does have them, because one day, he won't be Bats any longer.
Posted by speedlgt

i think there must be a line drawn in ages of heroes based on physical looks, ability, some realism, 
lets look at what should be the max age of superheros....first they have to be in 100% peak human condition (unless there super humans than this doesnt apply) 2nd they have to be perfectly built and women must be HOT. now if take that in to account I would MAX age based on realism for superheroes is most like 40 years old. NOW i know your thinking there are people past 40 years of age who are in great shape both ability and looks but in SOME form of realism once your past 40 years old most people are not on par with the 20 somethings! its just nature we age it sucks but thats life. 
also consider the level of respect status if life heroes have.......for example in smallville does green arrow look like a CEO man of respect and wealth that has worked to build empires?  hell no he looks like some kid that surfs hes far too young to be believe him to have that status in life. Now if he were 40 thats more realistic. 
so  Batman wonderwoman GL green arrow barry and such are all 40 in my opinion. Superman is 35 and is forever 35 no more no less. 
if they makes heroes older than this is just takes away from what little realism there is in comics

Posted by Timm

comic book characters and their offspring would be more epic in general if they would age and yes, die.

Posted by ComicMan24
@Gylan Thomas:  
I don't have a problem with legacies but I do agree with you on the fact that most of the time they are just used as temporary replacements until the originals return.
Posted by Icemizer

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.
I am not sure how badly this mismatched time really bothers the die hard comic reader. Don't we basically accept that time it all wibbly wobbly inside the respective universes?
Posted by MadClawMannn

Characters in general are always changing and evolving. I don't have a problem with characters aging. Old Man Logan was a great example of a character aging. Yeah, the out come of an aging character is either, Characters either die or the world has gone to hell. But, at the same time characters in comic can always be retcon and the aging stuff doesn't matter. A character aging and getting older can be a great story line, but ultimately comic books readers want their Superheroes in their prime. 

Posted by CaptainUseless

I think they should age, but make they should make so that after 3 years or so the characters are a year older or something like that.

Posted by scorpius72

 think characters should age if it helps the development of the character into maturity and a new lease on life. like the teen titans growing up and becoming adult heroes in their own right, or kitty pryde maturing into a capable young woman. barbara going from batgirl to Oracle. thats useful.  
others just getting old like hal jordan in the 90s with his reed richards hairstyle didnt do anything for the character and he ended up dead soon after.  billy batson isnt capt marvel anymore. why? how has that made the character better, other then giving the writers something new to work with.  

unfortuentely most heroes especially in DC universe dont enjoy the luxury of growing old before they are killed off and replaced with a younger,less interesting model. some for politically correct reasons.(aquaman,firestorm, martian manhunter, green lantern,green arrow,atom)  . that is a slap in the face to the fans    

Posted by Chaos Burn

i dont understand superhero aging... i mean Peter Parker is married and he teached at his old school.. yet IronMan and co barely age

Posted by Adm_Spidey

I agree with a couple of the above posts aging should exist but at a reduced rate.  Special powers such as Wolverine's healing powers should also counter this.

Posted by dirtymik

Personally I like the idea of characters aging and the idea of legacy characters. One reason is that it gives the feeling of permanence and honesty to the story. Spider-Man growing up and getting married? Given the progression of the character from inception 'till the last decade, it makes sense. Aging characters gives the feeling that these stories count for something. Which is one of the things I hate about retconning. Stories don't really count for anything after a while.  
There needs to be a balance between the timelessness of a character and the character having a natural progression in aging. Not allowing a character to age does not stay true to the character.

Posted by SUPER-MAN 23

I think the reason for characters don't age is because they can be used for future generations. However, I remember the other "Off My Mind" were you talked about, Will Superman and Batman still be cool at 100? Maybe. However, in the later years for future generations there will be recreations of "Return Of Bruce Wayne", The birth of Batman, Brightest day and Blackest Night, Spiderman O.M.I.T and others. Just like stories of the birth of batman was retold for this generation. However, I do remember Batman #700. Were the end of the comic talked about a entirely different Batman. Maybe it is good to have different characters as iconic characters. But, like you said it would change the whole entire comic universe. So the answer would be a maybe.

Posted by Mr.Hulk_Smashin'!

Some Characters can age, because of healing powers. Such as Wolverine, and Hulk (maybe Spider-Man). and we'd never know.

Posted by RedGhostman

I understand that in comics, time goes by slowly but it's not a bad thing for characters to age. You get to grow up with the character and experience some of the things life and sometimes villians throw at you. That's why Spider-Man was so unique because he was probably the only character who aged naturally. Before they did the reboot, the dude was close to forty. And they even kept it going with Spider-Girl. You still see Peter Parker today as the dad and witness his daughter grow up. They need to do the same things with other comics. That's why I don't touch DC as often because their characters never age ever. It's not as dramatic or realistic as far as comics go when characters don't have to face mortality. I absolutely hate seeing superman after all this time looking like he's still 25 years old. I know to age them, eventually they have to die or create something new. Good! Rise to the challenge, comics! Give us something new. That's why alternative timelines like Old Man Logan and Kingdom Come are so awesome because we've never seen characters as timeless be put in a setting where time has moved on without them. And that's what comics need to do. We need to get to a point B, here. I've been reading Ultimate Spider-Man since I was in middle school. I'm about to graduate college and he's still sixteen! In a sense, I'm more powerful than he is because I've gotten to grow up. Give more power to these characters. Let them grow. I want to be able to grow with these characters.  

Posted by Hellos

Everyone seems to have a multiverse these days and the possibilities for children could bring some interesting stories. You can always revisit the mainstream universe if need be. :P
Posted by Asymmetrical

I don't know if all superheroes should age or how fast but I think John Constantine is the perfect example of aging a character the span of ten years in the real world, he ages ten years and they show it too...sure it means there's a limited amount of stories to tell (unless he becomes immortal by Hellblazer #500 or something) but it also really enforces character development which is always an awesome thing to have.

Posted by Lucky Arrow

Well I  kind of do want them to age but like super slow. But then on the other hand I dont want them to age because then every story would be like batman Beyond not that it wasn't a good story, movie and comic it was great. But I just dont want to see some heros sitting on the bench    in there own book. But thats just me!
Posted by ninjadude853

well obviously they can't age normally, but i'd like to see the heroes from way back when get old and successors take their place
this does happen like with the new mutants, teen titans, and bucky barnes, but it takes too long

Posted by FLStyle

If all the female superheroes turn out like the 1st Silk Spectre then I'll pass.

Posted by NexusOfLight

Yes, I would like to see characters age, but at a slow rate. With comics coming out once a month, whatever aging process they go through should be slowed down to compensate for that time. It makes sense for characters to be in their mid-twenties for decades, but at the same time, there comes a time when I want to see progression. This sort of goes along the lines of should comic books have an end. Aging doesn't automatically mean the end, because there's a story for everyone in every age group, but maybe a century down the line, I think it'd be good for a character to be at least a decade or two older. Maybe pass the mantle down to an up and comer, or hopefully come up with new heroes and villains that are just as rich and interesting as the older ones.. Something like Batman Beyond.

Posted by Scarlett Swashbuckler

I kinda think they should age well the ones that can. They just get to a certain age and BANG reboot! Young again lol.

Edited by ZORN

It depends, is it for the sake of aging? or to enhance the story? an example is Frank  Castle from Punisher Max, him aging is something I like, and I believe it enhances his story.

Posted by TheAntiVillain

I think of a comic as a segment of their lives it doesn't tell everyday of their lives
(assuming an issue counts as a day without any time skips such as  "a month later") then it shows "702" (as of 7/2/2010) days, so around 2 years worth, of bruce being batman

Posted by Dracade102

They have to age eventually..

Posted by Deo Wade

Aging adds to character, and helps develop and or introduce new characters.

Posted by Neverpraying

I personally don't want to see some people like Bats age.

Posted by goldenkey

Some characters just come off like they are aging anyway.  A lot of characters seemed like they were around 28 or early 30's and are now much older.  I look Batman as over 40, because Nightwing comes of like he's 30 something.  Superman on the other hand still seems like he's mid 30's.  Spider-man even more so.  The X-Men have grown up,  Green Latern actually appears younger since he lost his gray, like his body was de-aged when he returned.  It depends on side characters that surround the main character.  Batman has the Robins who have all gotten older significantly.  He seems older because of his wisdom.  Spider-man just graduated college after going to it for what was like 10 years, and Superman has no real young people around him.  He's been married a while now, but it sometimes feels like hes a newly wed.  I don't mind characters aging as long as its a growth in the character.  Im still waiting for when DC does finally retire Bruce Wayne.  I don't see Dick taking the mantle either, I see Tim taking it up.  Only reason he didn't recently is his age, but as soon as he put the Red Robin costume on and took off alone he automaticly was aged at least to 20.  Can't drink a beer but is done with highschool. 
Edited by DEGRAAF

I think for every one of our years it should be about six months in comic time. I very much believe that characters should age. Obviously the longevity of some will last longer then others (Superman, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Thor, etc., etc.) but yes i think normal human characters should grow older and eventually die, (Lois Lane, Alfred, Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne) 
I think Titles should be handed down; 
Batman = Bruce > Dick > Damien 
Superman = Kal-El > Con-El 
Wonder Woman = Diana > Cassie 
Green Lantern = Hal > who ever the ring chooses 
Flash = Barry > Wally > Bart > Iris  
I think the real problem is the writers that write the characters grew up with the silver aged characters more and thats who they know and want to write about so they kill off the new generation of characters and bring back the old ones so they can write the characters they know.  
I like Hal and Bruce and Barry but they are only human, Bruce shouldnt come back to the mantle, Barry shouldnt have been brought back and Hal should have stayed dead. I think its time to let the original Teen Titans move up and take their rightful places and the New Teen Titans arent far behind. 
I think it would be cool to see Oliver Queen grow old or get killed and with how Arsenal is acting it would be cool to see him as the anti-hero and villain to Green Arrow (Conner Hawke) Same with what they are doing with Jason Todd and Dick Grayson.

Posted by johnnie619

i think its a bit touch and go. i mean they age yes but very slowley and i think its a good thing but when they have kids its like what now for some people. take cable he has show signs of ageing he looks older than cyclops. and hope aged thanks to time travel but dont think shell age much more. i some cases its good like with dick grayson now being nightwing i would hate to see him age anymore. and i think if they feel guys are getting to old they may kill them off and bring them back younger.

Posted by Moomin123

I think that heroes should only grow old when the story is set in the future. Besides, some heroes age anyway.
Posted by brendon277

I think they shouldn't really age that much unless the story takes place in the future but like with the fantastic four they aged and you can sorta see it and like it was better when they were younger 

Posted by Duo_forbidden

I'm still trying to figure out the timespan in comics myself. I remember Bendis saying that in 100 issues, Peter turned 16 in Ultimate Spider-man. With mainstream Spider-man, isn't Peter like 27ish? Its obvious that characters age like Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, but with older characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, I still wonder how old they are.

Posted by blaakmawf

Yes and no. The aged batman was a really cool look at an aging superhero, but I don't think that can be applied to all heroes. For one, I don't understand how wolverine can age given his healing factor, but I have not read any of that stuff, so I could just be talking out my ass on that one.

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

I think they should age but, not that much maybe like every 5 years they will be a year older. 

Posted by Icemizer

I dont know if using Superman as an example of an aging character is a good idea. He is an alien whos aging process is unknown and living on a different planet which is affecting his cellular structure. Quite possible he will never age beyond what we see now. 
Thinking about it a bit more I like 1 year of comic time for every ten years of real time. So in 100 years the characters have only aged 10 years.  I am not sure how this would work when handling current event references though. Unless we just make the assumption that the ten year span we observe in our real lifetime is always happening now in comic time.

Posted by nutzac4888

I think that the aging works when it is told in a kind of side tale like Old-man Logan or the Dark Knight Returns.  I like to see growth in the character, but that does not mean that they have had to age.  I mean scott summers was always bred to be the leader of the x-men and now that he is, it seems like he's only aged a year or two since he first joined the team.  I think it was necessary for a character like peter parker to grow the way he did as he was in high school, where the x-men are just in "school", so in order to see the growth of the character it was essential to see him age ever so slightly.  If people feel that they cannot relate with the characters, then they should go back and read pas stories to see how the character got to where they are now.  It's not hard to find information on the characters either.  Go on wikipedia or any other wikia sight and do some reading if your afraid that you cannot relate with the character, even if it's just to see how they got to where they are now.  The best super heroes have always been the ones that we can relate to, they have also been the ones that are timeless, and in order to be timeless...they cannot age as fast as we can.  Many characters have come and gone, but the originals, for whatever reason, always hold a special place in our hearts.  Every generation is going to have a new set of characters to deal with, but as long as many of the original characters that so many of us have fallen in love with stick around, comics will never be out of date.  In today's constant and ever popular rebooting of series to solve a problem it is nice to see that some characters have been around for over 600 issues, or 900 if your Deadpool, and there is no reason that this trend cannot continue into the 1,000's of issues, as long as the writers of the future are up to the task to keep these memories and keepsakes alive and kicking. 

Posted by Joe Venom

 No, I prefer just reading arc's about possible futures of heroes"its a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there". Watching a superhero get to old would be just sad, seeing villains get away just because the heroes can no longer keep up, it would be like having to put down an old dog.

Posted by obscurefan

I like when things change in comics, so I do think that them aging is a good idea, and I kind of like the pace they're aging at now. Like Spidey got his powers at 15 and now he's 29. I think that's about the right age for him now. I say about four of our years should equal one comic book year (or roughly that).

Posted by LP

I think it's nice when they do, but they don't have to....
Actually I'd like them to age more often, the more i think about it.... Hmm.

Posted by AMP - Seeker of Lost Knowledge

 Like everything that happens to us, we all grow old. Dick Grayson, for example, was a kid from the 40's to mid-60's, a teenager from mid-60's to early 80's and an adult from the early 80's to the present. Everyone can not live forever....unless they are immortals.

Posted by Primmaster64


Posted by waruikumo

Age not to age.  Its hard because to drive one characters story forward he would need to age, but the rest of the characters in the universe don't necessarily need to.  People like Bruce Wayne, and Superman (if he ages in the human sense) dont really need to get older in continuity.  But characters like Dick Grayson and Wally West did have to Mature.   
That said who knows.  Spider-man needed to be aged to his mid 20's, but the problem with him was is how long can him and MJ date?  Dam marriage.   
The nice thing about comics is that most story lines take less "real comic time" to happen in the DC/Marvel U, than they do to publish.  So that should be exploited.  
The bad thing is/ problem is that young characters NEED to age and develop, while the other older characters need to stay the same age/ approx.