In DC Comics, this problem was temporarily deferred from the 1960s to the mid-1980s by introducing parallel universes, where the original version of a long-running character lived on "Earth-Two" and aged, while the current version of the character did not age, but lacked most of the long history. Earth-Two was destroyed in 1986 in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but Crisis also reset the histories of many characters, again halting the problem for a few decades. The whole thing was, however, done piecemeal and in an inconsistent way; Batman, for instance, has only had minor resets done, and his history back to the 1960s still has to fit in the aforementioned "about twelve years".
However, characters which existed only in Earth-Two and were re-integrated as the Justice Society were allowed to bring along their age: Alan Scott as Green Lantern, Jay Garrick as The Flash, Wildcat, and the original Hourman have all visibly aged. Even still, Jay Garrick is looking remarkably well-preserved these days for someone who should be pushing 100 years old.
A notable, headache-inducing sidenote for the Earth-Two characters is that Earth-Two used a rough approximation of real time while Earth-One used Comic-Book Time. The fact that the two crossed over regularly was only going to get more bizarre as time went on if it hadn't been halted by Crisis.
Another consequence of this is the utter retcon of Black Canary, originally from Earth-Two and Green Arrow's on-again/off-again love interest. Originally an older woman, she's now clearly younger than Ollie's given age of early 40s, possibly by as much as a decade. It doesn't sound so bad until you put the couple into context with Nightwing. Ollie's infamous in-universe for being a Batman copycat, so everything Batman's done, Ollie did a little later, like get a sidekick. Speedy (later Arsenal, later still Red Arrow, and now Arsenal again) is clearly a year or two at most behind Nightwing in age. In his late teens, Speedy also had a drug problem, from which Black Canary helped him recover while she and Ollie were split. The experience tied Black Canary and Speedy together so closely that they consider each other mother and son. The problem is that this story was written when Black Canary was in her mid-30s, Ollie in his late 20s, and Speedy in his mid-teens. The timeframe now is such that only seven years at the most separate Black Canary and Speedy in age, so even assuming Black Canary was exceptionally mature for her age, the "mother" moniker would be unlikely. Even more egregious is, of course, that if this occurred approximately ten years ago in continuity, she and Ollie would have been very early in their relationship, and more importantly, she'd have barely known Speedy, who had turned to drugs after an extended absence from Ollie.
The "fix" applied to Black Canary (circa 1980) was that she suddenly discovered that she was actually her own daughter, with false memories.
The Stargirl (2020) TV series tries to avert the whole thing by having the JSA's adventures taken place in the (relatively) recent past, with the Golden Age of heroes having ended ten years ago rather than after World War 2.
This isn't even consistent among all writers. Brad Meltzer, for example, had Elongated Man muse that he'd been a hero for almost two decades in the opening pages of Identity Crisis.
The maxi-series 52, which covered the "One Year Jump", was notable for being explicitly real time, with each of the 52 weekly issues covering the week since the last release.
Its weekly sequel, Countdown to Final Crisis, claimed to be real time early on, yet took place concurrently with the rest of the Comic-Book Time DCU.
As of Adventure Comics #2, the time between Superboy's death in Infinite Crisis and his return in Final Crisis (i.e. 52 + Countdown) is said to be slightly over a year.
The confusion was caused by, of course, Countdown to Final Crisis. Because of DC's original stance that Countdown was going to be in real time like 52, Geoff Johns initially believed that Final Crisis was going to occur "two years" after Infinite Crisis (a panel in an early issue of Booster Gold stated "Week 104, The Final Crisis"). But since Countdown was shunted into "vague what-ever time" status... yeah. Or maybe Geoff doesn't know how long it's been since Infinite Crisis... no one can say.
After The Death of Superman, DC released an in-universe Newsweek equivalent that had, at one point, short quotes from various real and fictional people about Superman, his life, his death, etc. One was from William Shatner, describing how he wore a towel around his neck and jumped off his garage roof when he was six. This makes William Shatner roughly 16 in the DC universe.
This trope is taken advantage of in the Batman: Hush storyline, where a flashback has Bruce Wayne, age 8 or so (before his parents' murder), watching the original Green Lantern fight a supervillain. Originally, both superheroes were active at the same time (Batman's even "older" in terms of publication history!), but because the issue of Comic-Book Time was handled differently for each of them, Green Lantern was active when Batman was a kid.
Pre-Crisis, Superboy's time-era was originally shown as being either vaguely defined or taking place at the time of publication (a 1952 story shows Lana Lang competing to become "Miss Smallville of 1952" for instance). Starting in the late 50s, the writers corrected this and set Superboy as taking place in The '30s (before Superman's 1938 debut date in the comics). By the late 1960s, this was clearly becoming unfeasible, and Superboy was then placed firmly on a sliding timescale 13-15 years behind the present-day Superman, moving his time-era up to The '50s and then the late 1960s / the early 1970s by the time Crisis on Infinite Earths hit. This resulted in such things as the classic early 60s story "Superman's Mission For President Kennedy" being retold in the early 80s as "Superboy's Mission For President Kennedy."
Batman has been protecting Gotham City for about a decade. Batman has always been protecting Gotham City for about a decade.
Interestingly, the movie Bruce Wayne and his parents went to see has consistently been The Mark of Zorro starring Tyrone Power. This movie's first theatrical run was in 1940. This would place Bruce in his 80s. It's probably only a matter of time before he went to see the Antonio Banderas version from 1998. Quite frankly, at this point there is nothing stopping the ten-year old Bruce from watching the 1989 Batman movie.
Selina Kyle: I've known the Departed since... well, it was a couple of years before Pearl Harbor. I guess that dates me.
After Infinite Crisis, it's closer to twelve years, one of which was covered by the "One Year Later" jump.
Pre-Flashpoint and the New 52 reboot, Batman and Superman debuted in the same year. Circa the start of Final Crisis, Bats, Supes, and the in-universe Silver Age of Superheroes is around 13-14 years old.
The Batman is a textbook example of adaptations avoiding this; it starts right when Batman has been around for three years, and advances in time as it goes along (in the third season Batgirl was in High School, and in the fifth we discover she's already started college; Robin also gets noticeably taller in the fifth season).
The rebooted New 52 timeline has Batman's career condensed to five years. This has caused a major continuity snarl, in that Bruce's son Damian is still established as being around 10 years old, and yet flashbacks show that Bruce was already Batman when he first met Damian's mother Talia. It was later retconned that Damian was artificially aged up.
It has now been said that Batman has only really been in the public spotlight for five years, and there are years before where he was doing his whole "mysterious urban legend" thing. Then Scott Snyder wrote "Zero Year", which establishes that Bruce didn't really have an urban legend phase at all, and has indeed only been Batman for about five years. Oops.
In the very first issue of Harley's Little Black Book, it's said that Harley Quinn is a closet Wonder Woman fan, and a Flashback shows that she owned an officially licensed Wonder Woman costume (which also had a picture of Batgirl on the box) when she was a little girl. Such a revelation already would have been pushing things in the pre-New 52 continuity, but post-New 52 and with the revelation that Wonder Woman only came to America around five years ago, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Given that Harley Quinn generally runs on Rule of Funny, that might be the point. Ironically, it made more sense after the next retcon, with Wonder Woman #750 establishing that DC Rebirth Diana made her debut in 1941.
The same series indicates that the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali crossover from the 1970's is somehow still canon, despite Ali having been retired for decades. This is even jokingly referenced in the solicitation for the issue:
(Mumble-mumble) years ago, the alien race known as the Scrubb forced Superman into a boxing match for the ages, against Earths greatest heavyweight champion, (mumble-mumble)!
As pointed out here, Batman has been the same general age as three full generations of a Legacy Character.
In the Tomasi run on Detective Comics, Astrid, the future Arkham Knight, was born during a fight between Batman and a whole bunch of Arkham inmates (including characters who traditionally didn't appear until Batman was established for a while, like Harley) and is now an adult. Figure that one out.
Pre-Crisis, Superman was always, officially, 29 years old. It actually became a plot point in one story where a hippie had gained supernatural powers and magically barred everyone over thirty from entering Metropolis. Superman could enter because he was 29.
Averted in John Byrne's Superman & Batman: Generations series, which operated under the premise of "what if comic books followed real time from the beginning." Kal-El and Bruce Wayne make their heroic debuts in the 1930s, as in real life, but then proceed to age and have families, with their children taking up their respective heroic legacies. Eventually, the heroic lineage intersects when Kara Kent (Supergirl) and Bruce Wayne Jr. (Robin II/Batman III) are married.
Jimmy Olsen is a unique case in the Superman cast. While most of the supporting characters are old enough that aging or deaging a few years doesn't noticeably affect how they look or their station in life, Jimmy ages between his mid to late teens where he's a "cub photographer" into his early 20s where he's usually a novice reporter and then snaps back into his late teens and being a photographer multiple times over the decades.
A somewhat similar thing happened to Supergirl. When she first appeared in 1959, she was 15 (and explicitly celebrated her sixteenth birthday in 1960) and aged at a slightly slower than real time rate throughout the Silver Age. She graduated high school in 1965 and graduated college in 1971, after which she became more or less 'fixed' as a young adult woman in her early 20s... until the start of the 1980s when she was inexplicably de-aged to about 19 so she could star in a college setting again.
In one Green Lantern storyline published during Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was speculated that John Stewart was about 12-years-old back when Abin Sur's ring first first chose Hal Jordan as Abin's successor (and Guy Gardner as Jordan's backup). This suggested that Hal had been Earth's Green Lantern for quite some time, which was further supported by the gray temples he began sporting in the 90s. Subsequent retcons tried to compress Jordan's career and age him down a bit, with Geoff Johns' later "Secret Origin" storyline showing that Hal and John first met back when they were both part of the military while in their early 20s.
The Teen Titans storyline "Titans Hunt" begins on the eve of the third anniversary of the New Teen Titans. The New Teen Titans was first launched in 1980 and "Titans Hunt" was published in 1990, meaning the team had a decade's worth of adventures in just three years.
This causes some hiccups when the character's backstory is closely tied to an certain aspect of society only to have social change happen. Take Maggie Sawyer, DCU's first openly gay character: Being in her 30s when she was outed back in 1987 it made sense for her to have an angst-filled failed marriage and a daughter whose father was given full custody in her backstory. As society moves forward she now in 2012 makes references to having been pretty much out to her self her entire life and her decision to hide in a straight marriage seems quite odd. (The original story mentioned her having been Raised Catholic, but no writer has run with this.) For comparison her girlfriend Kate Kane is approximately her age but was introduced in 2006 and has been out to herself her entire life without much angsting, her big thing being that she was thrown out of West Point under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - which will subject her to this before long.
In the final issue of Grant Morrison's Animal Man run, Grant Morrison himself has a conversation with the main character and justifies Comic-Book Time by implying that, in order to get from point A to point B, a comic book character moves instantly from panel to panel instead of actually walking there, saving a lot of time.
There was also the issue where they revisited Buddy's origin. The first flashback had everyone dressing and acting like it was the 60s (when Animal Man was created), but when Buddy pointed out that the scene was not how he remembered it, the flashback then started over, now showing everyone dressing and talking like it was the 80s.
Ignored in Hellblazer, in which John Constantine's birthday (10 May 1953) has remained static over the years and he has aged realistically, with issues being set on his 35th and 40th birthdays. Likewise, his niece has grown from a ten-year-old girl into an adult, and his friend's granddaughter has aged from a baby into a young girl. This does cause problems when he interacts with DCU characters, such as at Hal Jordan's funeral or Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding. There is also his relationship with DCU's Zatanna — when their past dating history was established, he was only a couple of years older than her, but as he aged while Zatanna didn't, their relationship looks more and more problematic with each passing year.
This is another reason why most Vertigo stories are not considered in-continuity with the regular DC Universe. See also Exiled from Continuity.
The New 52 reboot attempts to fix this by establishing two entirely different John Constantines. The older Constantine in the Hellblazer series firmly exists outside the DCU, while a younger version exists alongside Zatanna on the Justice League Dark.
Though Hellblazer has since been cancelled and replaced by a new book called Constantine, which features the younger version.
One of the problems with the sliding timescale results in a variant of Fad Super Syndrome. In Infinite Crisis, Black Lightning claims that he chose his name because, at the time, there were very few black superheroes. Which was true enough in the seventies, but by this point, he had to have gotten his start in the nineties with the rest of the DC crew. In fifteen years or so, he'll have chosen the name Black Lightning sometime around now.
Lampshaded in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. During the Wake, we see Clark Kent, Batman, and J'onn J'onzz discussing their dreams. Clark mentions that he has a recurring dream where he gets infected with a virus that forces him to only move one direction through time.
Someone mentioned that Wonder Woman "has lived among us for nearly a decade" in a comic from 2003, nearly six decades after Wonder Woman's real world debut.
The first arc of the New 52Justice League title occurred five years ago, after which the title is set in the present day - but in the first issue after it, none of the subplots or characterisations appear to have changed at all despite five years elapsing between issues.
In Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, its own extreme 80s-ness notwithstanding, an example occurs that could have been avoided had they not specifically called attention to it. The series was conceived as a Spiritual Successor to the Golden AgeFunny Animal comics DC published in the 30s and 40s, and it features characters from there in the then-present, namely Peter Porkchop and his erstwhile wolf nemesis. Yet, during a time travel arc, Fastback is transported back to World War II and meets up with his own uncle, who was also a character during that time but is now apparently very old. No explanation is given for why some characters aged and others didn't.
In Doomsday Clock, Dr. Manhattan actually views this phenomenon in action. He surmises that Comic-Book Time is actually caused by the various Crisis hitting the "Metaverse", causing comic book character histories to be pushed up by pushing up Superman's arrival. He causes his own change by allowing Alan Scott to die before he can become the Green Lantern, which causes a ripple effect that results in the JSA having never existed. This was used to explain the lack of the JSA in the New 52 continuity, as well as why superheroes didn't start appearing en masse until the early 21st century.
The Generations series appears to star characters from multiple different eras in DCs history, i.e. the Golden Age Batman, the Silver Age Superboy, the post-Crisis Starfire and also characters from possible futures like Kamandi. Its revealed at the end that they are all from the same universe known as the Linearverse, where people age extremely slowly, so the Batman who began his career in 1939 is the same Batman operating in the modern day.
The early Marvel comics averted Comic-Book Time hard and allowed stories to flourish in almost real time and have characters age, progress and change. Gradually, brakes were applied and the concept, initially referred to as "Marvel time" was first introduced in 1968 in the letters' pages of the Fantastic Four comic. A reader asked about the time that passes between comics, as it would not be consistent. Stan Lee replied "Although a complete story may take place within a day, that doesnt necessarily mean the next story takes place the very next day. The following yarn could begin the next day, the next week, the next month, or even the next year". Marvel's official stance is that the modern Marvel era began with the space flight that gave the FF their powers, and that at most about 14 in-universe years, give or take has passed and that includes the entire Shared Universe across all titles, and that means all adventures past, present and future will have to transpire in the same 14 years.
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2005) adds modernized, behind the scenes details to the early The Avengers stories that did not exist during the 60's, such as Captain America visiting the Vietnam War Memorial.
Avengers: The Origin attempts to streamline the early Avengers stories into the vaguely recent past, where Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade are using flatscreen computers instead of ham radios. The members of the Teen Brigade are also more racially diverse than in the 1960s, when the group was depicted exclusively as a group of white kids.
Pretty much everyone, but most especially Reed and Sue's son Franklin, who was born in 1968 and yet didn't reach puberty until 2018, and even that was only due to the multiversal Time Skip the FF characters underwent following their disappearance at the end of Secret Wars (2015).
This is especially underscored by the original FF backstory, which had Reed and the team conducting a test flight of his experimental spaceship because they considered it urgent that America put humans into space before "the commies" (Sue's exact words). A late 90s FF annual by Karl Kesel and Stuart Immomen lampshaded this when the 616 Ben Grimm got transported to a parallel Earth where the Silver Age Marvel Universe had aged in real time. The Thing was horrified by the 1961 origin date of that world's FF, realizing it's likely his counterpart was a WWII veteran.
Of course, in the real world, there's no "likely" about it: both Ben and Reed were explicitly identified as vets early on in the comic. Reed was an intelligence officer in Europe (who even guest-starred in an issue of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos) and Ben was a Marine pilot in the Pacific.
Likewise, a storyline in The Invaders revealed that as a young man, Victor Von Doom had briefly worked as a scientist for Adolf Hitler under the assumed name "Hans." After sabotaging an experiment meant to bring Asgardian trolls to Earth, Doom expressed his disgust towards Hitler (particularly since the Nazis had targeted the Romani people, an ethnic group Doom belongs to), but chose to leave without killing him. A later story in the 90s smoothed out the timeline inconsistencies by revealing that rather than being a young Doom, Hans was actually the present day Doctor Doom (or rather, the Silver Age Doom), who'd used a time machine to travel back to the 1940s in order to study the Nazis during their last days. He also admitted that he'd wanted to kill Hitler right then and there, and only spared him after remembering that Hitler was already destined to die soon after in the closing days of the war.
Spider-Man started superheroing in 1962 when he was 15 (Which means that Peter Parker is as old as George W Bush in real-time), and real-time aging was practiced in in the original run allowing him to graduate from high school in Issue 28 and go to college. His aging slowed after that, taking more than 120 issues before he graduated from college, after which he went to grad school, where he has remained to the present day. As per the mandate of the Post-OMD Cosmic Retcon, Spider-Man in the 616 Continuity is in his mid-20s (between 24-27) and at most 14 years have passed in Spider-Man's continuity, and that's the most Spider-Man will ever be allowed to age, with Dan Slott noting that Marvel editorial will never allow Spider-Man to hit his '30s.
Particularly striking in a 2016 storyline where Peter and Silk time-travel back to the day of the radioactive spider bite, which is explicitly said to take place in 2006. Not only does that mean modern-day Peter is now 25, it's hard to believe that all of Spidey's adventures fit into just a decade. Even more confusingly, at one point in the comic Peter says that they can't use Google since they're in the past. Google has been around since 1997 and was the largest search engine by 2000. And the Pete of 2006 still dresses like it's the sixties.
The first issue of Kurt Busiek's The Marvels has a flashback to 12 years ago, and Flash Thompson is shown to already be in the army. This would make him, and, by extension, Peter, at least 30 years old. However, due to the writers not wanting to make the character seem too old, Peter is perpetually stuck somewhere in his 20s.
The comic Spider-Girl started in the late 1990s in a version of the Marvel Universe without Comic-Book Time; Spider-Man was in his 40s, and had a daughter with Mary Jane Watson, the titular Spider-Girl. Of course, after the book started, Comic-Book Time kicked in; it's been about ten years, and she's moved from a sophomore to a junior in that time. The 2008 Mini SeriesGeNext does the same real-time gimmick and stars the kids and grandkids of the X-Men. (Though in this case they're the grandkids specifically of the versions seen in the also AU X-Men: The End)
Ultimate Spider-Man, is an AU where Marvel deliberately experimented with a high school Peter Parker who never ages passing 200 issues without him and his cast leaving high school. Eventually Peter was allowed to age a little bit, during his "death" and "return", where a second teenage Spider-Man, Miles Morales took over. When Ultimate Peter returned he had aged from 15 to 18 before the series wrapped up.
Spider-Man: Life Story by Chip Zdarsky is an AU that explores how Spider-Man's world would have looked like had he aged in real time from The '60s to The New '10s. The first issue clarifies that the original L-D Era (which had real-time aging) is canon, but every run after that is altered and twisted to allow characters to age and progress. This also applies to the rest of the Marvel Universe, as the series' take on Civil War depicts many of the heroes involved (like Iron Man, Captain America, Luke Cage and Hawkeye) with gray hair and wrinkles. The series ultimately ends in 2019, with an elderly Peter dying and the Spider-Man mantle officially passing to Miles Morales.
Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde of the X-Men was introduced during the '80s as a thirteen year old girl. Character Development saw her grow from an inexperienced kid into a full member of the team, go through numerous names, develop as an electronic whiz, psychically learn a lifetime of ninja skills, become a founding member of the British based superhero team Excalibur, and work as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.... Yet she takes a break from being a superhero to go to college full time.
Special mention must go to how her first romantic relationship with team member Colossus was aborted due to the fairly wide gap in their ages. Twenty years of real time later, when Colossus comes Back from the Dead (long story), Kitty has effectively aged to her early/mid twenties, while Colossus has apparently stayed the same age as always. The two resume and then consummate their relationship. It's greeted with the reaction of "About time" from Wolverine.
The 1981 storyline Days of Future Past depicts a Bad Future in 2013, where Kitty appears as a middle-aged woman. X-Men comics eventually reached 2013, and Kitty is decidedly not middle-aged.
Variations of Kitty Pryde's lack of aging can be seen in the entire New Mutants generation of X-Men introduced in the 80s, who are maybe five years older than characters introduced nearly twenty years later.
And at least Kitty eventually managed to reach her twenties (thanks mostly to Warren Ellis writing her into a relationship with the thirty-something Pete Wisdom). Jubilee (Marvel Comics) was about fifteen when she was introduced in 1989 and has managed to age perhaps two years in the thirty years of real time that followed, at one point having her age given as thirteen without any sort of de-aging plotline involved. She may now be exempt from the aging issue since as of the "Curse of the Mutants" arc, she is now a vampire and permanently 17.
Ellis' hands were tied with Kitty to a certain extent, especially in how much leeway he had to show the, shall we say, nature of her and Wisdom's relationship; he's said in Q & A's that he personally thought of her being nineteen or twenty, but that the Marvel bosses didn't want to age her too much. It was eventually addressed in, of all places, an ''Excalibur'' letters page, where the editors were of the opinion "Kitty's a mature girl in her late teens, and she and Wisdom are kind of like Han Solo and Princess Leia."
Kitty's age somewhat broke the X-Continuity back in the early '80s. She was introduced in 1980 at the age of 13 1/2, and was described as being "not yet 15" in a 1983 issue. So far this is normal. Except at the same time, Chris Claremont had tied his hands somewhat by explicitly pegging Jean Grey's death as occurring on September 1, 1980, and then doubling down by having characters refer to her death in terms that seem to imply a bit of real time progression (for instance, in another 1983 issue, Professor X talks of Jean's death as being "years ago", no doubt meaning three years ago). 13 1/2 to almost 15 is only 18 months at maximum, and probably lessnote meaning that the stories could only take place in very early 1982 at the latest. So either Kitty has a mutant power to stop aging, or Chris really should have left the actual date of Jean's passing vague.
Domino had to be at least 40 when she was first introduced. Then Progressively Prettier kicked in and she's actually aged backwards to the point where she's always drawn as a woman in her 30s. It's best to not think too hard on this and just accept it since Comic-Book Time is the only explanation there is.
One of the more visible examples is the death of Jean Grey during The Dark Phoenix Saga, where her tombstone gives her date of birth as 1956. This would have made her seven years old when she joined the X-Men in 1963.
In a bizarre inversion of this trend, Beast somehow went from a person who hadn't entered college yet (and might not even have been eighteen yet) in X-Men #66 (March 1970) to a person with a Ph.D. in Amazing Adventures #11 (March 1972). In other words, in only two years of real world time, enough time had somehow passed for him to go from being a high school grad to a doctor, somewhat like a comic-book case of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. They even mentioned he was having his 30th birthday in a few days/weeks' time in an early '90s issue of "Adjectiveless" X-Men.
Another inversion happened with Professor Charles Xavier. In the very first X-Men story, he states that he is a mutant because his parents worked on the first atom bomb. This would mean that he was born in the 1940s; in other words, in 1963, he must have been in his very early 20s. Some time later, with the introduction of the Juggernaut, it is revealed that Charles and his step-brother had served in the Korean War together, which meant that in the mid-1960s, they should both have been around 30. And in the early 1980s, when Chris Claremont greatly elaborated on the origins of Magneto and Charles Xavier, it was revealed that Charles is apparently roughly the same age or only insignificantly younger than Holocaust survivor Magneto (putting both of them into the mid-to-late 50s at the time these stories were written) and that he had fathered a son with another Holocaust survivor, Gabrielle Haller. The son in question, Legion, is another example of this trope, as both of his parents having been alive during World War 2 should logically make him a bit older than he actually looks, yet he's still depicted as being nebulously somewhere in his early 20s (around the same age as the New Mutants).
Magneto and his family are also an example of this. When his backstory as a Holocaust survivor was first established in the 80s, nothing seemed off about it. However, as the years progressed, this has continued to retroactively age him. While Magneto's youthful appearance has been Handwaved as the result of an incident where he was restored to his physical prime by a Shi'ar agent, the effect the timeline drift should logically have on his children has never quite been addressed. It was originally established that he'd fathered Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver some time after World War 2 but before he'd actively turned to villainy, which would have put both twins in their late 20s or so in 1979, when this information was first revealed in The Avengers #186. However, as the years have worn on, the twins have aged maybe a few years at the most, as has Polaris, who was later retconned to be another of Magneto's children. While it's not unreasonable to buy that Magneto was already middle-aged or even elderly when his kids were conceived, that still doesn't change the fact that he met Magda, the twins' mother, even before he was sent to a concentration camp. Like the Legion example above, having two parents who were born in the 1930s (at the latest) should make Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver a good deal older than they actually are, but both heroes are still always depicted as being around the same age as the original founding X-Men. On his Formspring, former editor Tom Brevoort implied that this problem was part of the reason for the later Uncanny AvengersRetcon that established the Maximoffs were the twins' true biological family all along, thus removing the Magneto connection and the timeline problems it raised.
Likewise, several members of the team had origins tied to other events from history, such as Storm having been orphaned during the 1956 Suez Crisis and Sunfire getting his powers from the radiation his mother was exposed to at the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. This made sense when the characters were created in the 70s, but became less and less plausible with each passing decade. Notably, the 2007 Storm mini-series retconned things so that her parents were now killed in a generic terrorist attack rather than in a bombing from French forces.
All-New X-Menlampshades the use of Comic-Book Time. The original X-Men still dress and act as though they came from the 60s, but Iceman is shown to be a fan of RunD.M.C..
Young Cyclops is seen being baffled by stores selling bottled water, wondering what happened to our water supply, though we have had bottled water everywhere for decades now. Meanwhile in Champions (2016), when the other kids talk about how they used to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender when they were younger, Cyclops recalls that Seinfeld used to be his favorite show.
In the 80s, the members of the New Mutants were shown to be huge fans of the Magnum, P.I. TV show. During a later crossover between the X-Men and Shang-Chi in the 90s, a reference to Magnum P.I. had to specify that Cannonball had actually watched reruns of the show when it was airing in syndication, as it'd been cancelled nearly 9 years ago at that point.
The same writer behind All-New X-Men previously did something similar with Alias. The book was written in the early 2000's, but Jessica Jones was retroactively established as having been one of Peter Parker's high school classmates during the Silver Age. Whenever we see flashbacks to her high school years, people dress and act like they did in the old 60's Amazing Spider-Man issues, despite the actual time frame likely being the 90s.
In The Infinity Gauntlet (published in 1991), Doctor Doom states that Adam Warlock died "nearly a decade ago" during a battle with Thanos. The actual issue where Warlock died came out in 1977, a full 14 years earlier.
The Punisher was initially a veteran of The Vietnam War, and his military background is often part of his stories, as it explains why he's such an effective vigilante. He was later retconned as veteran of the Iraq War, and in 2019 of the fictional Sin-Cong conflict. This, however, does not apply to the comics from The Punisher MAX series, as Garth Ennis has full creative control of it and is free to narrate his own stories with the character, divorced from traditional continuity or tie-in to crossover events. In those comics, Castle was kept a Vietnam Veteran, comic book time be damned.
Another war veteran who has been updated is Spider-Man's classmate Flash Thompson. In the Marvel wiki entry for Gwen Stacy (who died in 1973) mentions Flash going to Vietnam. Flash's own page might have him in the category "Vietnam War characters", but the only war that appears in the text itself is the more recent Iraq one.
Another exception: Virtually all comic book universes created by Jim Shooter. All stories that took place in The New Universe, Valiant Universe, Defiant Universe and Broadway Universe unfold in real time, and the characters aged accordingly. (Unfortunately, only one of these got enough stories under its belt for this to have significant effects).
When the New Avengers did a guest spot, it was explicitly stated that Luke Cage fought Tombstone as Power Man three years earlier, and Spider-Man wore his black costume when Chase (who was nearing his eighteenth birthday) was in grade school. However, it plays it straight for its own timeline; the series has been running since 2003, and only Chase and Molly have had birthdays, but the references to years keep changing.
A 2017 issue confirms that two years have passed since Gert's death, which was eleven years ago in real time. But since the Runaways have been affected by major crossover events during that time, in theory that would mean that both Civil Wars, Secret Invasion, Secret Empire, Infinity, Inhumanity, AXIS and so on all happened in those two years.
So, which war/conflict was Iron Man injured in again to get his chest plate? Rule of thumb for that: Whatever the big international crisis-point was 8 to 15 years ago (so currently it is generally regarded as the Middle East or Afghanistan).
In Civil War II, James Rhodes refers to the War Machine armor as Tony's "late-eighties hand-me-down," though he could've been joking.
Cap is a bizarre example. He is inextricably tied to World War II (attempts to extricate him to the 1950s Red Scare failed dismally), so he became a Human Popsicle in about 1945. He was unfrozen... about a decade ago, maybe? Steve was originally thawed in the 1960s, a mere 20 years after he was frozen, so not everyone he knew was dead (just middle-aged, while he was still barely 25) and he was around to experience things like The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, and so forth. Writers have mined a lot of material out of having a Fish out of Temporal Water like Cap react to current events, but thanks to Comic-Book Time, the length of time he spends frozen keeps on growing, and the historical events he's witnessed or reacted to as they occurred have to keep being retconned. The most recent retelling of his origin, Captain America: Man Out of Time, has him coming back (presumably early) in Barack Obama's presidency. Keep in mind, one of his more memorable storylines, where he renounces the identity of "Captain America," involved him becoming disillusioned with someone who is heavily implied to be Richard Nixon. In modern continuity, Steve was frozen for seventy years, and missed all that, and the implied Nixon lost that implication.
The fallout from the aforementioned Nixon incident led to a followup story where Steve became so disillusioned with America that he abandoned the Captain America mantle and developed the new costumed identity of Nomad. The storyline in question began publication in 1974, and explicitly stated that Steve had been thawed out and found by the Avengers 10 years earlier in 1964. The hundreds of issues published in the years since then have likely compressed the timeline a bit so that Cap's Nomad phase now happened much sooner than a decade after his return.
Related to this, Sharon Carter was originally introduced as the little sister of Peggy Carter, a resistance fighter Cap had met and fallen in love with in Nazi-occupied France. Since Sharon was introduced during The '60s, the idea of her having a big sister who was old enough to have fought against the Nazis was entirely plausible. However, as time went on, Sharon's age went largely unchanged, which presented problems for Marvel, since like Cap, they wanted Peggy to remain tied to WW2. This ultimately resulted in Sharon being Retconned into being Peggy's great-niece, so that she could keep the familial relationship without having a sister who was decades older than her.
Both versions of Baron Zemo have also been subjected to this.
The first Zemo to appear, Baron Heinrich Zemo, was a Nazi scientist who'd battled Cap during World War 2, while his son Helmut had been a young child during the conflict. When Heinrich first appeared in The '60s as an enemy of the Avengers, it was established that he'd gone into hiding in South America after Hitler's defeat, with him having aged less than 20 years since the end of WW2. This was not much of a stretch at the time, nor was it when Helmut first appeared in 1973 as a man in his 30s, which lined up with the idea that he'd been born in the late 1930s or early 1940s. However, as time has gone on, this Nazi connection has retroactively aged both characters greatly, with Helmut in particular now being far too old to have looked like a spry young man when he first showed up. The later Thunderbolts: Distant Rumblings one-shot by Kurt Busiek attempted to rectify this by revealing that Compound X, the chemical Heinrich had developed during the war, possessed anti-aging properties that had allowed both men to remain young and strong despite so much time having passed.
Some of them, like Spitfire, aged in real time (only to be aged down again later), others were ageless (Human Torch was an android while Namor ages much slower than humans), others frozen (Captain America and Bucky), and a handful were just left to reach old age (Toro). However, look up how long Captain America was frozen for, and you'll find that the value has changed repeatedly, of course.
Toro was originally the Human Torch's Kid Sidekick. After the war, he retired before eventually returning in a 1969 issue of Sub-Mariner, where he was now an adult. He was killed off after this, and remained dead for decades, before being revived around the time of Dark Reign in the Avengers/Invaders maxi-series. Despite supposedly being revived at the same age he died (which should logically have happened less than a decade ago), he still looks to be in his late 20s or early 30s at the oldest. Strangely, his ex-wife Ann also looks too young to have been married to a WW2 veteran, despite not even having the handwave excuse of dying and being resurrected.
Doctor Yuriko Takiguchi, a Marvel Comics character that originally appeared in the Godzilla comic, is an interesting exception. When he originally appeared, he was already a middle-aged man. When he reappeared in the Uncanny X-Men, he aged quite visibly, which would make sense of one was to assume that in Marvel continuity, Godzilla comics took place in the same time as they were printed (mid 1970s). The thing is, though, Godzilla comics took place in then-contemporary Marvel Universe, and many characters that age in Comic-Book Time appeared in supporting roles. It's probably best not to think about it too much.
Subverted with the Young Avengers, while the original artist Jim Cheung always drew the team as teenagers, the kids actually aged as the series continued. They started as 15-16 years old; by the time of The Children's Crusade, they are between 16-17 and new writer Kieron Gillen acknowledged in his Formspring that the ages of the members on the new team (bar Kid Loki) are between 17-19, putting the original members in the 17-18 age (since Kate Bishop, Noh-Varr and America Chavez are acknowledged as the older ones in the team, the first two being stated as 21).
Kieron Gillen has mentioned that the passage of time is actually relevant. He compared the original series to high school, and the relaunch to post-graduation.
Clearly, though, Gillen and Hawkeye writer Matt Fraction didn't do as much discussion of Kate's age as Gillen claimed, as Kate is said to be "a teenager" and "old enough to be your [some businessmen's] daughter's younger, cooler, and a little more worldly best friend", both of which are from issues that came out almost a year after Kate was stated to be turning 21, so she seems to be stuck in comic book time a little.
That said, the characters themselves are a massive Continuity Snarl when it comes to their ages. If Teddy was conceived during Captain Mar-Vell's brief time together with Princess Anelle during the The Kree/Skrull War storyline, then he could have been born no later than 1973 unless Skrulls have a much longer gestation period. Regardless, Anelle was killed when Galactus devoured the Skrull throneworld in 1983. Then, if Comic-Book Time is applied to the Kree/Skrull War, there's no way the conflict took place long enough ago for the currently 20-something-year-old Teddy to have been conceived during it. Meanwhile, his boyfriend Billy was born for the first time in 1986, and "died" in 1989. Allowing for some time spent dead and then experiencing Reincarnation, being born into a new biological family and growing into his teens so as to match Teddy's age when Young Avengers launched requires that Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome be added to the mix for both Billy and his twin Tommy. The 2020 Empyre: Emperor Hulkling one-shot implied that time travel may be responsible for Teddy's inexplicable age, with Anelle claiming she sent him "through space, through time" as a baby.
Billy is later seen attending a drag brunch and ordering alcoholic drinks in a War of the Realms tie-in, implying that, like Kate, he's now at least 21.
Interestingly, Eli Bradley and his mother, Sarah Gail. In the first issues of the original run, Eli is mentioned as being a part of the fail-safe program created by The Vision, with his being a super-soldier (or so everyone thought) being noted. Cap points out that Eli couldn't have received his super-soldier powers through Sarah Gail, since she was born prior to her father Isaiah receiving the serum. Isaiah received the serum in the 40's, before Cap, putting Sarah Gail at around 45-50 in the late 80's when Eli presumably was born (if he's a teen in 2005). On top of that, Sarah has several other children besides Eli. Being in her 40's when she had Eli isn't out of the realm of possibility, but it's certainly rare.
Power Pack are a particularly bizarre example. They started out as a group of kid heroes, all aged 8-11. Two of them remained kids, while Alex Power appeared to be about 18 in Fantastic Four, and Julie Power seemed like she was in her mid-twenties when she showed up in Runaways and as a member of The Loners. As a crowning absurdity, the Power Pack got a series of mini-series with the kids promptly brought back to their original ages.
These minis were later declared non-canon, and when Julie eventually joined the Avengers Academy, she once again looked to be in her late teens.
Meanwhile, her older brother Alex has become a member of the Future Foundation, but now appears to be about five years younger than her.
Power Pack also further complicates Franklin Richards. As a sometime member of that team (as Tattletale), he wasn't too much younger than the kids. Now compare his age today with that of Julie and Alex.
Civil War II somewhat confuses the timeline, Julie is de-aged yet again in an anthological tie-in, and the tie-in Spider-Man 2099 arc seems to justify it with them appearing in 2099 where they offhandedly mention their powers make them Long-Lived. Except they turned out to be Skrulls who forgot their true identities so who knows how accurate that inference is.
A short-term example happened for Daredevil during the InfernoCrisis Crossover: He gets beat up by an assembled gang of his enemies and dropped in a ditch during a Fourth of July parade. He gets out of that ditch and vaguely healthy again just in time for the Christmas issue, implicitly no more than a week or two later.
Daredevil has run into this with the 2015 Netflix series. Critics have noted that the crime and gang-infested Hell's Kitchen presented in Daredevil made sense at the time that the storylines being adapted were written (in the 1960s-1980s), but nowadays Hell's Kitchen has long since gentrified and New York in general has far less crime. The show's explanation for this is that Hell's Kitchen took massive damage during the Chitauri invasion.
Justifiably averted for Doctor Strange, who met Death as part of his trials to become Sorcerer Supreme: the encounter locked him in the age he was when it happened (his mid-forties), where he has remained ever since. According to the Marvel: The Lost Generation miniseries, Doctor Strange's origin really did happen in the Sixties, and perhaps even earlier.
In Christopher Priest's Black Panther run, it was shown that Captain America fought alongside T'Chaka, T'Challa's father, during World War II. As the years went on, the initial meeting had to be Retconned so that the past Black Panther Cap had teamed up with was actually Azzari the Wise, T'Challa's grandfather.
Ah, the infamous 9/11 Very Special Episode of Spider-Man. The writers wanted it to be an out-of-continuity stand-alone issue, but Marvel's editors insisted on it being part of an ongoing book. Amazing Spider-Man #36 (from late 2001/early 2002 — not the one from the 60s) got the honors. Ignoring the myriad Fridge Logic issues of 9/11 even happening in the Marvel Universe, tying this issue to a definitive, specific moment in history means this almost certainly isn't in continuity anymore. As of now, Spider-Man was in high school (and maybe hadn't even received his powers yet) in 2001. That famous picture of Captain America saluting in front of the smoking ruins of the towers? Cap didn't get thawed out until the Obama administration. One understands the noble reasons why this issue was written, but trying to wedge it into the already confused timeline of Marvel Comics makes it stick out like a sore thumb.
Legion of Monsters vol. 2 shows Morbius in a flashback that takes place in in-universe 1973, and says he had been a living vampire for years at that point. This would mean he must have aged 40 years by the time the comic came out in 2011 but that does not work at all with the rest of the Marvel timeline: other characters Morbius had run into before the flashback storyline took place would also have had to have aged at least 40 years, but haven't. For example, Peter Parker became Spider-Man in a comic released 9 years prior to the one in which Morbius becomes a living vampire, but in a 2014 comic states he has been Spider-Man for 13 years (so some simple calculations reveal Morbius could only have been a living vampire for about 10). The flashback also shows Morbius wearing some very groovy 1970s clothes, which ironically he never wore in comics actually released in the 1970s.
The central concept of Marvel 100th Anniversary Special, a series of one-shots published in 2014, supposedly from 2061. While normally 20 Minutes into the Future comics feature successors to the current heroes, these ones take the view that in the comics Marvel actually publish a half-century from now, most characters will be basically the same age they are now.
The 75th anniversary magazine Marvel put out contained a short story showing the first flight of the Fantastic Four, which marked the beginning of the Marvel Universe. A young Kamala Khan is shown playing with her toys as the rocket launches, providing a very poignant connection between the start of the Marvel Universe and its present day status. However, some pointed out that if taken literally, the story would seem to imply that the entire history of the Marvel Universe from the Silver Age to the present has occurred within 10-13 years or so.
Similarly, Mark Waid's 2017 run on Captain America starts with a flashback to one of Steve's first adventures after being unfrozen, back when most civilians didn't even recognize him in-costume. We then jump to the present day, ten years later.
This was used as a weapon of sorts in Spider-Verse. Big Bad Morlun waltzes into the Spider-Man Newspaper Strips universe, ready to snack on the Peter Parker of that universe. However, as Peter and Mary Jane act strangely, Peter repeating himself over and over, Morlun's left utterly flummoxed at this before realizing what's going on, that time flows differently in this universe and that it might be weeks, even months before he can actually eat Peter! The Master Weaver uses it to spirit Morlun away and hide the universe in a pocket dimension, claiming that the world was temporally unstable. Morlun buys it without a second thought, just too disturbed by the changes.
Sort of used in Marvel's Transformers Generation 1 comics. The Transformers on the Ark awakened in 1984, and that date remained consistent for the entire run; thus, in issued printed in 1989, a couple of characters mention having been active for five years. Also, Simon Furman's future stories always take place exactly 20 years after the mainline stories; thus, the future segments of "Target: 2006" take place in 2006, while those of "Time Wars" take place in 2008. However, Buster and Jessie never seem to advance through high school, nor does Spike graduate from college. (Granted, these are very minor quibbles, but it's still noticeable).
Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men got badly out of sync with the rest of the Marvel Universe due to its heavy Decompression and Schedule Slip. For how bad things got, during the second arc, Charles Xavier and Magneto are hanging out on the wrecked island of Genosha (so prior to the House of M event), but by the final issue Spider-Man is making jokes about Civil War having happened. The events within the comic happen over a couple of weeks at most.
Lampshaded in the Worst X-Man Ever mini-series, which takes place on an alternate but still quite similar version of the Marvel Universe. The final issue reveals that Miranda has been using her Reality Warper abilities to "revise" the Marvel Universe for decades, making sure that the heroes never grow old or die for real. She states that (among other things) she's the reason Tony Stark has been in his 30's since 1963, as well as the reason why the X-Men have been constantly reinvented since the Silver Age.
In The Ultimates (2015)Galactus of all people explains the trope itself (the now is always now but its "gravity" pulls some past events behind it, while others (actual real world history) remain fixed), when the team tried to avert a suspected Time Crash by assessing the damage done to the timestream by the rampant misuse of Time Travel. Turns out the flexibility given by comicbook time makes the timestream very resistant to paradoxes you may destroy yourself with them but time itself will arrange itself back eventually. After the lecture, when nobody heard it, he admitted being an Unreliable Narrator, though.
An issue of All-New, All-Different Avengers features a flashback to the original team planning an attack on Doctor Doom. Everyone's wearing their classic costumes, but we also get this exchange:
Captain America: Rick Jones's shortwave — Iron Man:Social media. Cap:Whatever...
Deadpool has had enormous fun with this trope, milking it for everything it's worth and then some. He's time traveled back to the time in the 1960's when Spider-Man fought Kraven, and had fun lampooning the ridiculous 60's fashion, slang, Comics-Code enforced family friendly minimal violence, the fact that the current Spider-Man would not have even been born, that Kraven's name actually means cowardly/weak, etc. He also traveled back in time to meet the 1960's-era Fantastic Four and was just as manic and incomprehensible with them.
Deadpool: (Peering around the panel he's in, looking at the artwork and lettering) Let's see...Kirby/Sinnott...this is 1967, right?
Reed Richards: I have no idea what you're talking about.
In another comic, he's revealed to have existed back in the seventies, wearing a ridiculous afro and "teaming up" with the Heroes for Hire, while also having fathered a daughter - who back in the present day (the comic was published in 2013) was still a child.
The 2016 Power Man and Iron Fist series opens with the duo reuniting with their old assistant Jennie, who has just finished serving a five year prison sentence. The incident that landed her in prison occurred in the 2011 Power Man and Iron Fist mini-series, which was indeed published roughly five years prior in real world time. Oddly, Luke Cage's daughter Danielle had already been born by the time the 2011 book happened, even though she is still depicted as being younger than 5 or 6 years old in the 2016 volume.
In the Comixology-exclusive Avengers: Back to Basics mini-series from 2018, Kamala Khan is sent back in time and inadvertently becomes a founding member of the Avengers. When her mother is accidentally killed in this time period, Ms. Marvel figures that she only has a few years to live before she catches up to the day she was born, thus erasing her from existence. For reasons pertaining to this trope, we get no specific dates, but it still carries with it the implication that 50+ years of changes both within the Marvel Universe (everyones costumes have since been redesigned, they all talk in that eras speech patterns, etc.) and broader cultural trends (like the Avengers not understanding when Kamala identifies herself as Ms. instead of Miss Marvel), all happened in less than twenty years.
One of the most infamous moments of the original Civil War event was a tie-in where journalist Sally Floyd accused Captain America of being out of touch with modern Americans because he didn't use Myspace. Even at the time, critics claimed that was a reference that would become dated extremely quickly, so a later Secret Empire tie-in Retconned the interview slightly to change the website she'd grilled Cap about into Twitter.
Generations revolves around a mysterious and timeless realm called the Vanishing Point, where modern Legacy Characters like Miles Morales, Amadeus Cho, Laura Kinney, Kate Bishop and the aforementioned Kamala Khan encounter their predecessors at various points in Marvel history. Nearly all of the stories are seemingly set in the past (except for the Ironheart / Iron Man team-up, which takes place in the future), and some of them ape the visual aesthetics of the era those original comics were actually published in (The '60s for Spider-Man, The '70s for Ms. Marvel, and so on). However, with the exception of the team-up between Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers (which sees Sam sent back in time to World War 2), the actual time periods are kept vague, with no explicit years ever given. Despite this, there are clues given to indicate just how far back these events are seemingly occurring, such as the Ms. Marvel issue treating the Women's Lib movement as a relatively recent development, or Logan seemingly not knowing what a cellphone is in the Wolverine installment.
History of the Marvel Universe #2 retroactively made Vietnam war veteran characters such as War Machine and The Punisher to instead be involved in a war with the fictional Asian nation of Sin-Cong, making it more convenient to accommodate for the timescale. (This explicitly includes the comic actually called The 'Nam, which was supposed to be a realistic portrayal of the conflict, but did feature Frank for Wolverine Publicity.) The wartime backgrounds of Mister Fantastic and the Thing were also moved from World War II to the so-called Sin-Cong Conflict.
In Jane Foster: Valkyrie, a specific age was given for Jane. It turns out that despite appearing in early Thor comics, then marrying, having a kid and becoming a doctor after her years of being a nurse, Jane is a millennial and only 33 years old.
Much like Dick Grayson, many sidekicks (and young superheroes) during The Golden Age of Comic Books aged visibly through the years while their mentors remained the same.
Black Terror's sidekick, Tim/Kid Terror, was eleven years old during his debut in 1941. By 1944 or so, he was increasingly depicted as a teenager. He was shown attending high school until his last Golden Age appearance.
Kitten, sidekick of the Cat-Man, was 11 at the time of her debut. She remained young for a while, but as years passed, artists started drawing her as a teenager more and more often (it wasn't terribly consistent) until they finally settled on a teenage look that lasted through last eight issues of Cat-Man Comics.
And appears in 1990s AC comics as an adult woman, married to Cat-Man (who gets disapproving looks from female heroes), and still shorter than average. It should be pointed out that, somewhere down the line, AC Comics decided to retcon Kitten's origin, stating that she was already an adult when she and Cat-Man met.
Airboy, young aviator hero who was 12 at the time of his 1942 debut, was one of the very rare early cases when a Golden Age comic book character that aged close to real time. He managed to last until 1953, so readers saw him growing up into a 20-something adult throughout the course of his run.
The main characters of Archie have been in high school for over sixty years. Someone once wrote in to the Archie letters column demanding an explanation for this, theorizing that the characters must be really, really dumb if they can't graduate. Reggie Mantle (yes, the character) responded by explaining that he and the other characters had simply been stuck with eternal youth. Life with Archie: The Married Life was made to show what life would be like if Archie and his friends actually aged for once.
The America's Best Comics universe averts this. In most of their books, the date is featured quite prominently. For those characters who have very long backstories, explanations are given (Example: Tesla Strong, daughter of hero Tom Strong, was born in 1938, but as of the turn of the century was only in her late teens. This was explained by a childhood accident with the life-extending drug that allowed her parents to stay in their physical prime past their hundredth birthdays.) They even had the end of the world take place in 2004 — and the dates given in subsequent comics are usually earlier than that.
Asterix and the other villagers have been the same age since their publication. This was lampshaded in The Golden Book, in which Uderzo decides to show what the Gaulish Village would look like if it really had aged 50 years.
Averted in Astro City, where characters age in real time. However, any given story may be set in any time period, meaning that characters may still be used for how many stories their creator desires..
The Blackhawks, since their series continued without interruption until 1968, following a sliding timescale up until the 1970s, in which they operated as mercenaries in then modern times. Most subsequent revivals published since the 1970s have appeared as period pieces set in the 1940s to the Vietnam War at the latest. Birds of Prey #75 revealed that almost all of the original Blackhawks have died.
Buck Danny is perhaps the most glaring example in Franco-Belgian Comics: the main trio joined the Air Force in 1941 and haven't aged a day since. The only change is in rank, though Buck is stuck at colonel (any higher and he wouldn't be able to fly).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: While the television show had one in-series year pass for every real year because each season took a year with an episode roughly every week, Buffy Season 8, of course, took longer to unfold because of the monthly comic schedule. All the characters have been stuck at the same age for the last three real-world years. Season 8 takes place a year and a half after Season 7/half a year after Angel Season 5 (with the IDW Angel and Spike comics in the half-year between).
Cherry from Cherry Comics has always "just turned 18".
Interestingly, Don Rosa and Carl Barks's Disney Ducks Comic Universe universe has a static timeframe. That is, Scrooge McDuck was born in 1867, made his first dime in 1877, retired in 1942, met Donald in 1947, and died in 1967 at the age of 100 (because it's the last year Barks wrote its comics, and thus where Rosa puts an end to his universe). The stories take place in the late 40s and early 50s. All technological innovations get a Hand Wave as coming from the decades-ahead-of-the-times mind of Gyro Gearloose. Of course, under other authors, Comic-Book Time still applies.
Not only does Rosa's timeline only apply to his own stories, it's also officially unacknowledged, and Rosa is forbidden from making specific references to this passage of time beyond subtle references and background details that will go unnoticed by most. The direct mentions of the years have only appeared in behind-the-scenes editorials in the trades reprinting his works, and the date of Scrooge's death only in a fanzine. Officially, the Donald universe operates in Comic-Book Time, and anything going against this is simply considered fan theories by the editors.
Funny note here: due to the amount of stories produced per year, all by different countries, the Disney characters have actually had more Christmases, Halloweens, birthday, April Firsts, or whatever holidays more than actual years that have passed by. Donald has celebrated at least 200 Christmases.
Paperinik New Adventures makes a solid effort to avoid it, as the time seems to pass as much for them as for us: in "Phase Two" Two mentions that has been two years since his last fight with One, and in "Under a New Sun" Paperinik recalls that he first met Xadhoom "a few years ago".
Dennis the Menace (UK): Dennis has been about 10 years old since he first appeared back in 1951. It's "about", because his physical appearance has changed repeatedly, getting sometimes taller and stockier like a teen, and sometimes smaller and more round-faced like a younger boy of 6 or 7 or so. However back in 1998, his mother got pregnant, carried a baby to term (his sister Bea), and little Bea was for several years a 2-year-old (and friends with 4yo pre-schooler Ivy the Terrible), while nobody else has aged one iota. Bea was retconned back to a baby when the 2009 CBBC cartoon started and the comic adopted its art style and continuity.
It is now official Beano continuity that Dennis is the son of 80s Dennis, who was the son of the original Dennis. Fanon says that the current red-haired Dennis's Mum is actually 80s Minnie the Minx, but the Beano website names her as "Sandra" (and also makes her present-day Minnie's aunt). How Gnasher and Gran fit into this is anyone's guess.
This gets really weird in the adventures of Douwe Dabbert. When Douwe is first introduced, he is a very old although surprisingly spry man. None of his adventures are explicitly dated and we are never told how much time passes between his adventures. Then, in one of his very last stories, he is reunited with Thorm, a character he met in his second adventure, and explicitly says that it has been twenty-two years since they last saw one another. This is possibly lampshaded when he returns Thorm to the animal kingdom at the end of the story and remarks to the other animals that they haven't changed a bit. But wait, it gets stranger! Duting his travels, Douwe befriends a family of wizards, who recur throughout his adventures. The wizards are established to age very slowly. Pief, who looks and acts like a ten-year old boy, is Really 700 Years Old. But it is Pief who grows up during those twenty-two years. Compare his first appearance to his last and you will note that Pief now looks more like a teenager and acts much more maturely. All this while Douwe himself shows no signs of aging. (Although it is revealed in one of the stories that he has some wizard blood, so that might go part of the way...)
Completely inverted in Fables (possibly due to the characters being immortal). Some references to past events imply that, given the frequent timeskips in the storyline, events may be progressing twice as fast as real-time.
One early arc had a character's recovery over a year happen in a single issue, yet some other story arcs will take place over as little time as a week. Fables seems to run on "whatever time is most convenient".
Invincible made a solid effort to avoid this, but realities of the genre (the whole "six months to publish one day's adventures" thing) and Schedule Slip have been hobbling it. So, on the one hand, the entire cast has visibly aged since the series started, and Mark started out as a high school senior and has graduated high school, gone to college for a while, dropped out, and gotten a job. On the other hand, it took him eight years to do all that. On the other other hand, the most recent arc (the Viltrumite War) has gone into accelerated time, with one issue taking place over the span of many, many months, so it's catching up a bit.
Originally the characters in Jon Sable, Freelance aged in real time, and this lasted until the book was cancelled in 1988. However, after the revival in 2009, Jon seems no older than he was when the book was cancelled and the book no longer makes any reference to specific historic events like the Vietnam War, and the 1972 Olympic Games that were seminal events in Jon's history.
Averted in Judge Dredd. The story has a 1:1 time-passage rate. Dredd really is 40 years older now than he was in 1977. Even all his treatments and cyborg implants have their limits. Dredd facing his old age, watching long-time supporting cast retire, and training the new generation of Judges is a major theme now.
Another 2000 AD comic that averted this, the shortlived Age of the Wolf, depicted the female protagonist living through a werewolf apocalypse at three different points in her life, as a teenager, an adult, and finally a middle-aged woman.
In the long-running comic strip The Phantom, the hero married his girlfriend in 1977, following an on-and-off relationship that began in 1936; to look at the happy couple, you wouldn't think either of them had been born in 1936. Their children, born in 1979, has as of 2017 finally started college.
Powers rarely gives measurements of time passing. Walker and Pilgrim rarely look any different throughout the first volume, and except for Walker's retirement and Pilgrim's medical leave, there are no firm lengths of time given. Then by issue #1 of volume 2(the Legends arc), readers once again meet Callista, the little girl he helped rescue way back in issue #1. Turns out she's now working in a record store, and she states that it's been six years since she met Walker.
Rychlé ípy: See the work page for the range of publishing dates. Beside seasonal changes, there is no obvious reference to time passing after the first year or two of the comics running, but subtle changes do occasionally happen - such as Rychlonoka entering an apprenticeship (thus having finished primary schooling). The time setting also varies. The books are presumably set in the time of the First Czechoslovak Republic, while the comics likely take place in the time they were written / published (for example, they feature the versions of police forces contemporary to the time of publishing).
Yet another exception: in Image'sThe Savage Dragon, where events have progressed and characters have aged in realtime since the series was launched in 1992. Creator Erik Larsen has said this makes crossovers with series that have Comic-Book Time a brain-straining nightmare.
In The Simpsons universe, Radioactive Man was first published in 1952, and a later retcon established that Claude had been active in the 1940s as Radio Man. The characters are all well aware of this, and Radioactive Man himself thinks it's odd that he's known Bug Boy for 30 years yet BB is still 12 years old. Bug Boy actually has some elaborate theories as to how this happens, based on superheroes distorting time in some way.
Glaringly obvious in Tintin. The hero remains a "Boy Reporter" from the 1920s to the 1970s, while all around him the world is changing, as shown by advancing technology and various Ripped from the Headlines plots. Members of the cast who arrived after the story started are likewise frozen in time.
Top Cow Universe seems to be heading in that direction. Originally, it stayed fairly close to real time. In the 2003 universe handbook (published on the tenth anniversary of the line's debut), most characters are given concrete, real-time birthdays and chronological references to past events that worked perfectly well if you assumed that their stories took place during the year they were published. In more recent stories, writers seemed to be backing away from that. While they do acknowledge that the characters have been around for a couple of years, they carefully avoid giving any exact dates. It's probably just as well - if the above-mentioned birthdays were still canon, the current Witchblade would have turned forty in 2010.
Averted by IDW's Transformersbooks. Lines by previous writer Simon Furman and the fact that the series exists in its own universe allowed writers James Roberts and John Barber to create a fairly tight chronology for the setting (ex. Soundwave arrives on Earth in 1984, is found by Skywatch in 1985, and finally reenters the story in 2006; all of this is repeatedly and explicitly stated as canon regardless of time passage). Some events occur differently than they did in real life (Mt. Saint Helens erupts four years later, Occupy Wall Street occurred in 2007, etc.), but rather than being errors, they make clear that this is a Alternate Timeline where many things happened differently. It greatly helps that Transformers, being robots, don't age like humans do and can live for millions of years naturally, so the writers don't have to worry about aging most of the cast too much — and, by contrast, over the thirteen-year run of the universe, Audience Surrogate Verity Carlo ages from a teenager to a woman in her late twenties.
COMPLETELY averted with the modern day stories in Valiant Comics which had almost every single story set in the month it was published (the only exceptions being multi-issue stories which would take place somewhere in that time frame as well).
Most shared universes, particularly of the superhero variety, tend to use Comic-Book Time, but there was one notable aversion to this trope with the Wildstorm universe, which (more or less) appeared to progress in real time. At least ever since Jenny Sparks died on panel at the end of the 20th century, which occurred at the end of 1999 in both real life and the WSU. Her successor, Jenny Quantum, was a baby one year later, was 3 years old in 2003, etc. until 2007 when 7 year old Jenny artificially aged herself to a teenager. But during those 7 years, and most likely after though we couldn't use Jenny as a gauge anymore, the universe as a whole advanced in real time. Most of the Wildstorm universe also followed real time, with references to Wild CATS being formed in the 90s, for example. The only possible exception might be Gen 13, whose members remained college-aged from their first appearance in 1994 til the Worldstorm soft reboot in 2007.
In W.I.T.C.H., none of the characters (save for Will's brother, who started as newborn, then became a toddler) ever aged - the main team were still in 8th-9th grade after the comic had run for over a decade. Especially odd because we see them celebrating seasonal holidays on several occasions, implying at least some years have passed.
Zot! plays with this by making the alternate Earth that the hero hails from stuck in 1965. Characters from the "real" Earth notice this oddity.
Played straight in PS238. The series started in the early 2000s and was apparently set then, but despite there having only been a couple months' time passed since then, a placard the superhero's tower makes a reference to a battle fought in 2015, so presumably the present year is "whatever is the current year when the page was published."