Even The X-Men Know Marvel’s Sliding Timescale Makes No Sense

Warning: Spoilers ahead New Mutants #30 aheadThe universe of Marvel Comics is infamous for having a constantly evolving and at-times confusing timeline of its history, using what is known as the “Marvel Sliding Timescale” to keep its stories modern, and the X-Men have hilariously called out the unknowable nature of time in the Marvel Universe in the pages of New Mutants #30.


The basic premise of Marvel’s sliding timescale is that the “modern era,” which typically begins with 1961’s Fantastic Four #1, is constantly “sliding” forward in time, meaning characters origins and ages are constantly being shifted forward, making it at times incredibly hard to know the history of a character or event. The sliding timescale impacts some characters more than others, notably Magneto and Captain America whose histories are indelibly tied in with real historical events like World War II and the Holocaust, but one of the biggest impacts across all of Marvel is that a character’s age is almost never said out loud anymore.

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New Mutants #30 – written by Vita Ayala and Alyssa Wong with art by Alex Lins, Emma Kubert, Roberto Poggi, Antonio Fabela, Jason Loo, Justin Mason, Bryan Valenza, Geoff Shaw, and Nolan Woodward – is an amazing extra-sized issue celebrating the 40th Anniversary of 1982’s The New Mutants debuting, which introduced the iconic young mutants Dani Moonstar (Mirage), Roberto Da Costa (Sunspot), Sam Guthrie (Cannonball), Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), and Xi’an Coy Manh (Karma). The framing of the issue takes place on Sunspot’s space yacht, as Roberto hosts a huge party to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original team as well as all the numerous other mutants who have been a part of the New Mutants. As Sunspot is welcoming everyone to the party with a celebratory speech he says, “It feels so good to be able to gather together to rejoice in each other–we have been much over the last mumble mumble years and we deserve it,” which gets Roberto a lot of laughter from the gathered crowd.


Sunspot’s Joke is a Hilarious Nod to a Big Marvel Problem

What makes Sunspot’s joke about what anniversary the New Mutants are exactly celebrating so funny is that it can work incredibly well in-story as well as from a reader’s perspective, because Roberto is known for being at times vain and image-focused, so it would make perfect sense for him to not want to reveal how long the New Mutants have been around, aging him to the gathered crowd, and technically Marvel’s sliding timescale is a canonically known fact to some cosmically-minded characters within the Marvel Universe. Yet, it works even better as a 4th wall breaking nod to the ridiculousness of Marvel’s sliding timescale, because it is just so obvious that the young mutants who make up the original New Mutants are 100% not older than 40, at most being in their early to mid-20s. It has become a standard editorial rule in the last decade or two at Marvel Comics to simply never mention a character’s real age if not necessary, as well as not tying Marvel Universe events into real-world events. That way, as the timeline of the Marvel Universe continues to slide forward in the years to come, a character introduced in the 2020s wouldn’t need to be tied to a fixed point in real-time in the future.

Sunspot’s joke was a funny and cute way for writer X-Men Vita Ayala to acknowledge the longevity and history of the New Mutants within Marvel Comics while also poking fun at the ongoing continuity issues of Marvel’s sliding timescale and the fact that legacy characters like Sunspot and Dani Moonstar will always be young, and readers won’t ever know their “true” age.

New Mutants #30 is available now in stores!

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