How Old Would Comics Characters Be If They Aged Normally? (And What Would They Be Doing Now?)

We begin with Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who first appeared in 1959, which is 58 years ago.  

Well, the first question we have to answer is, how old was he in 1959?

(Bear in mind, that all of this is based on my admittedly incomplete knowledge of the character. I am open to correction.)


I don't know that an exact age was ever given, if it was, I never heard about it.  I always took him for about 30.  The way he was drawn, he didn't look to me like he could be much younger than that.  Plus, while I don't know much about becoming a test pilot, minutes of internet research has led me to believe that one doesn't simply roll out of flight school and become the sort of test pilot that Hal Jordan was shown to be. I had the impression that he'd been in the USAF, so presumably he did at least a minimal tour of duty, and spent sometime establishing himself as a civilian test pilot, so I figure that 30 is a reasonable estimate.

In that case, Hal Jordan would be 88 now.

So, what would he be doing? I like to think he would have had a long, noteworthy career in the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League of America.  Undoubtedly, he would eventually have been offered a spot in the Guardians; Honor Guard, but it wouldn't surprise me if he turned them down for more active duty.  

I expect he would be retired by now, although I can imagine an older Hal taking a hand in training younger or less experienced Lanterns.  I expect these would be like the children he never had - I just can't see him as the "settling down" type, somehow. Now, he's living somewhere in comfortable solitude, occasionally getting together with Barry and Ollie and maybe some of the others for a beer, and listening as they tell him what their grandkids did.  It's become a custom that when whoever is the current Green Lantern for Sector 2814 is out Earth way, they make it a point to stop by if they can, and fill him in on the latest Corps gossip and scuttlebutt.

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"Didn't they bring Iron Man 2020 into continuity when 2020 arrived?"

They did. And I bought it (some of it) and read it and promptly forgot about it. I also bought a tpb of previous (i.e., pre-actual 2020) appearances which I intended to read sometime in 2020 and just couldn't bring myself to. I knew in 1984 that that was going to come back and bite 'em in the arse one day and was looking forward to see how it would be dealt with, but I lost interest over the intervening 36 years.

"Also, remember when Deahtlok was from the far-flung future of 1990?"

1980 originally, wasn't it? (Actually, J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck did a pretty good job of tying that up in Captain America when that year rolled around. (I know I said I wasn't going to post any more covers but this one's a doozy.)

Dunno,  In my Marvel Masterworks reprint of Astonishing Tales #25,  a character says that there's been a war going on since 1983.  Haven't found any other date references yet

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Also, remember when Deahtlok was from the far-flung future of 1990?"

1980 originally, wasn't it? (Actually, J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck did a pretty good job of tying that up in Captain America when that year rolled around. (I know I said I wasn't going to post any more covers but this one's a doozy.)

The first mention of the year 1990 is in the introductory blurb at the top of the first page of Astonishing Tales #33.

The Wasp may have been as young as eighteen in 1963 as Henry Pym describes her as "barely more than a child", not that THAT stopped him!

It's probably the "war going on since 1983" I was thinking of... not "1980" but "the 1980s." 

The Baron said:

The first mention of the year 1990 is in the introductory blurb at the top of the first page of Astonishing Tales #33.

Rick Tyler was first seen in 1985.  I'm a little sketchy as to how old he was meant to be, but I assumed at the time that he was in his early 20's - say,21, for the sake of argument.  This would mean that he was born in 1964, and that he would be turning 58 this year.

Now, Rex Tyler was already a chemist when he was introduced in 1940. Now, once again, I'm a little sketchy as to how old you have to be to be established as a chemist, but I would have guessed at least 25.  So if Rex was 25 in 1940, that would mean that he was 49 when Rick was born.  Now, that's not impossible. Guys older than that have kids.  It does sort of play into my feeling that the Infinity Inc. kids  were a little young to be the children of the JSAers, but again, not impossibly so.

I have no idea where or whether Rick Tyler is in continuity these days, but if I was introducing a 21 year-old version of the character today, I'd probably make him Rex Tyler's great-grandson, or maybe even just a "descendant".

Actually, Rick Tyler was the only one of the "JSA brats" whose age made sense to me, as his parents didn't get engaged until Showcase #56 (May 1965), as opposed to most of the other JSAers, who'd been in commited relationships since the early 1940s, but seemingly didn't have their first kids until the mid-1960s.  I've often wondered if there was a "lost generation" of Earth-2 characters that had been born in the early 1950s, shortly after the JSA retired, and what happened that neither their parents nor their younger siblings ever spoke of them...

The Baron said:

Rick Tyler was first seen in 1985.  I'm a little sketchy as to how old he was meant to be, but I assumed at the time that he was in his early 20's - say,21, for the sake of argument.  This would mean that he was born in 1964, and that he would be turning 58 this year.

Now, Rex Tyler was already a chemist when he was introduced in 1940. Now, once again, I'm a little sketchy as to how old you have to be to be established as a chemist, but I would have guessed at least 25.  So if Rex was 25 in 1940, that would mean that he was 49 when Rick was born.  Now, that's not impossible. Guys older than that have kids.  It does sort of play into my feeling that the Infinity Inc. kids  were a little young to be the children of the JSAers, but again, not impossibly so.

I have no idea where or whether Rick Tyler is in continuity these days, but if I was introducing a 21 year-old version of the character today, I'd probably make him Rex Tyler's great-grandson, or maybe even just a "descendant".

Interesting. I never knew that.

Dave Elyea said:

Actually, Rick Tyler was the only one of the "JSA brats" whose age made sense to me, as his parents didn't get engaged until Showcase #56 (May 1965)

If Odin was present at the creation of Earth, as both Marvel's "Tales of Asgard" and the Elder Eddas would have it, then he's more than 4.5 billion years old. And was still in the prime of life in 1,000,000 B.C.!

Of course, the creation story might be more myth than reality. For one thing, Ymir is still alive in Marvel Comics. For another, the creation story has Odin, Vili and Ve creating Midgard and people at the same time. There's a few billion years between the creation of the planet and the rise of Homo Sapiens, so maybe Odin was born few hundred thousand years before humanity came along. (Or he created them. Or the Celestials created them. Or whatever.)

And hasn't Thor's age been mentioned? About 1,500 years old or so? Of course, that would just have been since the last Ragnarok. I don't if it's ever been addressed how many times Ragnarok has happened, or how often.

The Marvel wiki says Asgardians aren't immortal, implying that even without the Ragnarok cycle (which Thor ended) they will continue to age until, presumably, death. We've seen old Asgardians before, like Odin and Vizier and in crowd shots.

Speaking of the Marvel wiki, while it says Asgardians aren't immortal, it says Olympians are. I don't know if that applies to Hercules, though, as he's a demigod. Still, he doesn't seem to age.

The 80s Hercules miniseries did have it as a plot point that Zeus took away his immortality, at which point Hercules aged until he appeared around 60 or so. Prior to that, he was lamenting the death of one of his Mortal friends who died from old age in what seemed the blink of an eye.

This was the second series, which was more serious than the first(in which Hercules attempted to get Galactus drunk).

"I don't if it's ever been addressed how many times Ragnarok has happened, or how often."

It was addressed in the Thor #294 editorial by Mark Gruenwald. At the time, the Ragnaroks were tied to Zodiacal Ages: "And so, the dawn of the Asgardians occurred around the first year A.D., as the Age of Aries gave way to the age of Pisces. The next Ragnarok will occur around 2160 A.D., at which time the Age of Pisces will have been supplanted by the age of Aquarius. what new gods there may be in the Age of Aquarius cannot yet be told, but their destiny is written... in the stars."

FWIW

Back in 1992, Mikes Gold and Grell (editor and writer/artist) put out the Green Arrow origin series The Wonder Year, putting their own spin on the "Year One" concept by tying it to a specific year: 1972. Gold's editorial from the first issue is interesting apropos this topic if you have access to it. He lays out, in great detail, why that particular year was chosen at that particular time, conceding at one point, "Within the next 20 years, some other creative team is going to have to decide how old Oliver Queen is and then reestablish the time of that origin story. If those people make the same type of decisions we make, they will set Oliver's origin in 1992."

Fast forward to 2005. Gold and Grell have again joined forces, this time at IDW, for Jon Sable Freelance: Bloodtrail. I wrote a letter (which appeared in the third issue, if you have it handy) expressing mild disappointment that it did not depict Jon Sable who was pushing 60. After all, Sable famously turned 40 in the first Comics run, and likewise, Grimjack turned 50. Sable's origin was so tied to specific points in time (notably the 1972 Olympics) that I didn't think the character would work if the backstory were removed. Gold responded, "I don't think we've jettisoned the continuity as much as we simply did a Fritzi Ritz. We couldn't have a 60-year-old Jon Sable; hell, the first thing DC did when we moved on from Green Arrow was to de-age the cranky bastard, and they must know what they're doing. 

"In my opinion, the all-time master of continuity was Rex Stout, author of the Nero Wolfe stories. The first one was set in the mid-thirties, the last four decades later. Each story was completely contemporary to its time and previous stories and characters were referenced when necessary, but over the series' 40-year lifespan, the characters seemed to age only a few years. When it comes to characterization, Stout was one of the absoluter best, and when we work on these revivals, I take his technique to heart." 

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