Marvel has been revamping a bunch of different franchises to shake up the status quo…but they all involve a mysterious missing chunk of time.
Recently, Marvel has been shaking up the status quos of several iconic franchises, but each revamp seemingly follows the same weirdly specific formula – is this an odd coincidence, or is Marvel setting up Kang the Conqueror as the force behind it all? Rather than attempting to continue the narrative with a new creative team, Marvel has been taking its franchises in new directions following unexplained time skips: first with The Amazing Spider-Man, then Fantastic Four, and most recently with Guardians of the Galaxy.
As the first series to get this reboot treatment, Amazing Spider-Man (2022) #1 by Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. opens with Spider-Man kneeling in a mysterious crater before immediately cutting to six months later, with his relationship with Mary Jane ruined and his reputation with the Avengers and Fantastic Four in shambles. Similarly, Ryan North and Iban Coello’s Fantastic Four (2022) #1 begins with the reveal of a smoking crater where the Baxter Building used to be, and the family split up all over the country, living new lives. While it doesn’t include the time jump, the recent Invincible Iron Man #1 from Gerry Duggan and Juan Frigeri likewise begins with a mysterious explosion which causes Marvel’s other heroes to doubt Tony Stark’s sobriety, and it seems the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy will also begin months after the team were blown apart from an unexpected betrayal.
The new Guardians of the Galaxy series by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly is based around a mysterious event known as “Grootfall.” Sporting a distinctly Wild West theme, the series picks up a year after an unnamed conflict has left the Guardians at their nadir in the far reaches of space. As Marvel put it in their press release, “One year ago, the Guardians of the Galaxy were destroyed. Their optimistic future shattered by the betrayal of one of their own. Now they ride the space lanes of a lawless corner of the galaxy, trying to outrun their tragedy.”
Marvel Is Addicted to Time Jumps & Smoldering Craters
This raises the question of what’s happening with all of these mysterious time skips. DC’s 2021 event Future State literally jumped its entire line forward in time over January and February, showing where iconic heroes are years in the future and teasing the huge events that got them to that point (and which DC will depict once it returns to the present.) However, this was a coordinated effort, with a thesis spelled out clearly to fans. In contrast, Marvel’s various time jumps don’t seem deliberately connected, and worse seem to be a stock tactic for hooking readers with a contrived mystery. Indeed, it may be that multiple Marvel creative teams were independently inspired by DC’s recent move.
There is some merit to this system. By seeding all of this blank space into the timeline, Marvel gives itself the option to revisit the missing periods later to tell new stories and fill in new details. Alternatively, an event could tie all the unseen time together in a new kind of crossover. The 2022’s Timeless #1 by Jed McKay, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Patch Zircher and Salvador Larroca sees Kang the Conqueror plumbing the depths of the Marvel Universe for a mysterious “missing moment” in time that he does not have access to – this could be the perfect impetus to incorporate all of this lost time into just such a crossover event. Whatever the rationale may be, the Marvel status quo is changing in new and genuinely exciting ways, but so far that’s happening in fits and starts which create an odd experience for comic fans, leaving them to wonder if these mysteries are just accidentally similar or part of Kang‘s master plan.