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The Archer solution

You have to work with me here because i'm building off the last two posts, so you need to read them first. But thinking about the problem raised by the crime chart in my previous post, the obvious response is "Just ignore it and have them fighting crime anyway". One thing i don't like about that is it perpetuates the myth that we really do have a high crime rate and therefore need to continue the wasteful war on drugs, stop & frisk, the death penalty, etc.. The other point is that i think it would just have a lot less resonance; writers want to connect with what people are thinking about (don't make me use the word "zeitgeist" twice in one day).

And yet, and yet... this bounces around in my head and connects with something else i've been thinking about. Min and i have been re-watching Archer recently, just because. And one thing i really like is the deliberate anachronism of having the Soviet Union and the KGB and the 80s era computers along with modern cellphones and cultural references and everything else. It's funny if you think about but it's not a central part of the show and you could ignore it if you wanted to. And i was thinking about how this might have worked just as well or maybe better than Marvel's sliding timescale solution. I know Archer is a comedy show, but again, it's not a central premise of the show. And it's basically what people mean when they say that Marvel should have just ignored the time problems instead of constantly revising their starting point.

So basically the characters with Cold War origins do indeed have their Cold War roots and we just don't mention that fact. Not saying that we should still have Commie villains (although.. why not?) but we could certainly have 1980s level crime waves and stuff like that. Especially as comics get more post-modern it's easier for the current readership to just accept stuff like that. But you wouldn't really have anyone mention the discrepancy except the likes of Deadpool or Impossible Man or She-Hulk in the right circumstances.

It's really no less ridiculous than the sliding timescale. Which also leads to the occasional tongue-in-cheek scene like this.

Nowadays it's Obama who was president.

By fnord12 | August 12, 2013, 3:43 PM | Comics


I don't see the problem why they can't be fighting crime anyway. Low crime is relative. As Wikipedia points out, even though the US homicide rate is low compared to its rate in the 1980s, it's still high compared to other Western countries:

I'm not saying they can't so much as trying to guess why they don't. And while i'm sure i'm over-thinking it (i'm sure Marvel doesn't have these crime statistics in mind), i suspect both readers and writers/editors just aren't as interested in straight up crime stories anymore. If we were in the middle of a crack gang epidemic i think it might seem more interesting (the Z word again). And that's why the Punisher could basically fill three books with him just repeatedly shooting drug dealers in the face in the 80s and 90s but more recently he's been a super-villain hunter, then a Frankenstein, then Space Punisher, then fighting the Avengers and now a member of a super-team that fights super-terrorists. And that's just the Punisher, let alone Spider-Man and Daredevil.

My pivot from all that to the compressed/ignored timescale here is definitely a stretch, but after watching Archer a lot i just like the idea of a Marvel universe where super-heroes could fight Cold War communists, 1980s drug gangs, modern terrorists, and super-modern dangerous evil hackers (and super-villains representatives for each) all at the same time.

you can't fax glitter!

That Hercules gag up there is freaking wretched. Just insidery and stupid. Where are the editors these days?

OK, now that I've vented my spleen I'll take the time to say that I agree with you about the Archer Solution. On fact, before the Sliding Timescale was a well known, formalized policy, I assumed that something very much like the Archer Solution was in place. If you show a flashback to Peter Parker in high school, you don't have to bend time and space and put him in a hoody and a Green Day shirt. You can make him look the way Ditko drew him back in 1962 and just say "Sweater vests are big in the Marvel Universe. Anyway..."
Which is not to say that some problems can't be resolved by simply ignoring them (Reed Richards and Ben Grimm don't have to have their WW II records ever referred to again, for example), but it's a high fantasy universe anyway. It's ok if fashions are and a few other cultural touchstones are slightly tweaked. Or better yet, stop retreading old ground and move forward, not back. You don't have to worry about giving Uncle Ben a cel phone if you just stop telling stories about Uncle Ben.