Due to the nature of the Sliding Timescale in the Marvel Universe, there are numerous references to current events, public figures, and technological advances that given the time of their publications should be considered topical references instead of canonical/historical references. The "Modern Age" of Earth-616 is roughly about 10 years old, however the publication of this era has spanned sixty years. As such certain references greatly age the cast of characters if taken literally.
For example, Fantastic Four #98 depicts a story wherein the Fantastic Four assist the first American lunar landing on the Moon, which happened on July 21, 1969. This would be considered a topical reference. References to this story in Marvel's various Official Handbooks usually no longer specify that this is the Apollo 1 mission, just a "NASA mission to the moon". Whereas, the story in Marvel: The Lost Generation #6 that features the First Line saving the Apollo mission from the Skrulls would be considered canonical in the Marvel Universe as it took place in the year 1969 of Earth-616.
In the year 2001 the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center was featured heavily in Marvel Publications at the time and was the center of a story in Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2 #36. However, although a historical event that has a long lasting impression on the United States, given time this too will likely be consigned to a topical reference should Marvel's sliding timescale continue to persist and the "Modern Age" of Heroes remains at it's present status quo.
Another example is the Human Torch and Thing's encounter with the Beatles in Strange Tales #130. The story was originally published in 1965 during the height of the Beatles popularity. This would be considered a topical reference as the Torch and Thing are considered modern age characters.
One of the most common topical reference made in the Earth-616 universe are appearances by the President of the United States. In many stories a president is usually depicted as having their face obscured, or back turned, and are not referenced by name. However, in many other publications the president is fully depicted, and named. For example, appearances of Richard Nixon in Incredible Hulk #119, Gerald Ford in Incredible Hulk #185 and even Barack Obama in Amazing Spider-Man #583 should be considered topical as they all appeared in stories that took place in the "Modern era". Alternatively, stories featuring Franklin Roosevelt that take place during during his presidency should be considered historical to Earth-616 as it took place around World War II and the stories that feature him are considered part of Earth-616's wartime history. As would JFK's appearance in Captain America Vol 5 #50 as it took place during his historical presidency. The various presidents that were featured in the series Marvel: The Lost Generation Vol 1 would also be considered to be historical appearances.
(See Also: Sliding Timescale)
[top] [Edit Topical Reference]