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Superheroism is a game for young people. Granted, this rule has several loopholes: characters like Wonder Woman, Wildcat, and Wolverine are much older than they look, but they supernaturally stay young forever. The point is, there aren’t too many superheroes with wrinkles and moles.
Yet the world of superheroes is a world of magic, alien technology, time warping villains, and strange science. Sometimes one or more of these things cause age regression, and sometimes it does exactly the opposite. Each hero handles their sudden AARP eligibility in different ways – such as the one below.
First, let’s get the depressing out of the way. In DC’s Zero Hour event, a supervillain named Extant was given the opportunity to manipulate time. Among the many heroes who confronted him was the Justice Society of America, which was founded during World War II. Some were supernatural beings, others had been kept young in other ways.
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Extant removed this feat, aging much of the JSA quickly. Some, like poor Hourman pictured above, immediately dropped dead. Others survived, decided they were no longer of use in a fight, and gave up. Obviously the JSA are back now: comics are comics, Zero Hour was instantly reconnected.
Retirement (but not really)
Here’s another example that is less about aging and more about the actual age of a character that is catching up with them. A funny guy named Iron Nail zapped out Captain America’s entire super soldier serum, leaving Steve like any other 90-year-old. Nearly.
Age couldn’t quench Steve’s insatiable thirst for justice, and he didn’t want to shuffle to the house of the old superheroes. In the end, he even led a team of new Avengers. Better known, however, he gave his shield to his longtime friend and ally, Falcon, who became the first black man to become Captain America.
In The Flash # 157, the top was really fed up with the Flash constantly intruding on and ruining his evil plans. He acquired some aging serum and threw it on lightning, hoping it would spell the end of his hated nemesis.
Instead, the lightning avoided the serum by vibrating fast enough that it did no permanent damage. After that, all Flash had to do was apply some age makeup to deceive the top that his plan had worked and wait for an acceptable number of gimmicks to come up to reveal the truth.
Do what you always do: nothing
Oh, ant man. Your early adventures are so unflattering. In Tales to Astonish # 43, a disgruntled scientist invented an aging beam and shot Ant-Man with it. Although Ant-Man claimed to be old and weak, he easily escaped the flower pot in which the scientist had hidden him. Then he instructed his ants to save the day.
Basically, it was just another day in Hank Pym’s life. It doesn’t say much about a character to be 50 years old and almost nothing to be done about the plot. There’s even a scene where Ant-Man dreams of how much cooler he would be if he could control elephants instead of ants. Even the comic itself doesn’t like it!
During an interview with a scientist like Clark Kent, Superman took a special blend of vitamins that accidentally turned him into an old man overnight. Fortunately, according to the scientist, this side effect would only last three days.
But three days is more than enough time for Metropolis to get into a lot of trouble. Instead of desperate, Supes used his depraved looks to impersonate Father Time and other mythical characters to trick criminals into surrender. Despite the silly Silver Age, I think it’s great that Superman was actively turning a setback into an advantage, unlike most of the others who were suddenly eligible for senior discounts.
Previous #superhero problems
So your family was erased from reality
So you got connected with a scumbag again
So you have been deprecated against your will
So your best friend wants you dead
So your girlfriend is also a super villain
So you are the token minority of your team
So your gods turned against you
So your family is not dead after all