Time in comics is a strange, fluid thing. When you keep adventure characters in print over the course of decades, you don’t want them to get old. And so characters like Superman, who debuted as twenty- or thirty-somethings 60+ years ago, are roughly the same age today.

This is hardly unique to superhero comic books. The same is true of James Bond movies, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, and even newspaper comic strips. (How long has Dennis the Menace been five years old?)

Still, it makes for interesting contradictions. If Superman debuted 14 years ago, he can hardly have met JFK, so clearly any stories dealing with him are no longer “canon.” On the other hand, if the story doesn’t depend on JFK having been the President at the time, the nefarious super-villain plot may still be part of Superman’s history. But sixty years of chronicled adventures crammed into fourteen years makes for a pretty busy life! (And how frequently does the US hold Presidential elections in the DC and Marvel universes?)

The time-squishing effect is easiest to see with flashbacks. Continue reading