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Marvel continuity, explained

From Miles Morales to Nick Fury, how Marvel handles its decades of continuity

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

In our first episode of Issue At Hand, Polygon’s video series about the wild world of comics, I laid out how DC Comics, the world’s oldest continually published comic book continuity, handles its decades of history through the use of big reboots.

Marvel Comics’ approach to handling is exactly the opposite of the way DC does it: In Marvel Comics, everything is canon. Easy enough to explain, but pretty intimidating for new readers.

That is, unless there was some way Marvel could maintain its ongoing continuity and create a new, new-reader-friendly universe at the same time. Unless there was some way they could have their reboot and eat it too. Enter the Ultimate Marvel Universe, a great idea that inevitably buckled under the weight of its own continuity, leaving us with only a few remnants of its most influential character redesigns and reimaginings.

On today’s episode of Issue at Hand, we explain the spinoff that was too successful for its own good.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.