The original Marvel No-Prize is an award created by Stan Lee in 1964 to reward eagle-eyed fans for correctly pointing out errors in Marvel comics. The No-Prize is no trophy, though, nor is it some sort of certificate. It’s just the acknowledgment that the “winner” really knew how to properly enjoy a comic. Sometimes, the mistakes highlighted by these No-Prizes just went on existing, never to be mentioned again. More often then not, however, a retcon is made. To retcon, for those non-nerds out there, is to retroactively revise a work with a new piece of information, imposing a different interpretation on past events. Sometimes, the retcon is so smooth you don’t even realize a mistake was made in the first place. Most of the time, however, a retcon is a garish hyper-color band-aid slapped onto the proverbial skinned knee of the narrative body.
This is a listicle meant not to nit-pick, but rather to highlight mistakes Marvel made in spite of its own continuity. For example, Magneto being able to utilize his mastery of magnetism on adamantium, despite the metal being non-ferro magnetic doesn’t qualify… unless you really want to know how magnetism works. Otherwise, we’ve found 15 times Marvel ram-shackled its own histories, fixing mistakes without you (occasionally) noticing.
15. CAPTAIN HYDRA
We discover that Captain America is a sleeper Nazi agent when he hails Hydra in 2016’s Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 by Nick Spencer and Jesús Saiz. By Red Skull’s own admission, it’s all ridiculous: “What I need is a challenge… Something that can truly transform the world and make it mine — something convoluted…” Suddenly, Kobik, a sentient fragment of The Cosmic Cube that looks like a little girl, asks Red Skull if they can be friends – basically Rubik, The Amazing Cube, that 1980s cartoon about a magic sentient Rubik’s Cube… but with Nazis.
Kobik literally alters history itself to make Steve Rogers a member of the Brooklyn Chapter of the Hydra youth. Sounds bad, but there’s a certain tongue-in-cheek nature to it. Heck, Cap applies a Hydra symbol on his chest before kneeling like Darth Vader for a conversation with Red Skull’s hologram.
14. MARY JANE’S BROKEN ARM
During “Spider-Man: The Other” by Peter David, J. Michael Straczynski and Reginald Hudlin, Morlun snaps Mary Jane’s right forearm in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #3. In the first panel of the next chapter from Marvel Knights Spider-Man #21, however, Mary Jane face-palms in frustration with her totally not broken arm.
MJ’s rapid recovery is addressed in 2006’s The Amazing Spider-Man #529 by J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Garney, with Tony Stark giving Peter Parker a high-concept sci-fi explanation: “I injected a cold-silicon compound around the bone that sealed the break better than a splint and stopped the swelling. A secondary layer of flesh-tone silicone outside the arm compressed any residual swelling and masked the injury.” The two heroes punctuate this exposition-heavy scene by looking at the reader with an annoyed look that screams, “You nerds happy now?”
13. EVERYTHING IS DOOMBOTS
Dr. Doom explains why he utilizes Doombots – robot duplicates that believe they are Doom – in 2014’s Loki: Agent of Asgard #6 by Al Ewing and Jorge Manuel Carocha Coelho: “Think, boy. If I am ever defeated, or dishonored– If I ever act in ways unworthy of myself… If I ever die… The word goes out: ‘It must have been a Doombot.'” Doom references Uncanny X-Men #146, where Arcade lights a match by striking it against Doom’s armor. John Bryne believed this was disrespectful, establishing that it was actually a Doombot in Fantastic Four #258, which Doom now refutes.
Alternatively, Walter Simonson’s Fantastic Four #350 has Doom’s heir claiming that he is the true Doom. Suddenly, a third Doom claims to be the true Doom, making every Doom before him a Doombot. Some believe there is no Dr. Doom, or as Doom puts it, “I am the story of Doom.”
12. I REMEMBER MY FIRST FRIENDLY-FIRE
During a FUBAR fight with Thanos in Civil War II, She-Hulk is hit by a stray War Machine missile, putting her into a coma. The implication is that this ordinance was designed to down Thanos, yet it was odd for She-Hulk – “The Second Strongest One There Is” – to get fragged by one widdle warhead. Kelly Thompson addresses this in A-Force #8, with art by Paulo Siqueira, explaining that the missile merely stunned the smoldering She-Hulk: “Missile to the chest…can’t stop me…w-what, like it’s my first day…?”
What really messes up Jen is Thanos, as “today, not being invulnerable to Thanos matters.” Thanos takes advantage of the missile’s smokescreen to render Jen comatose with one double-fisted purple power punch before dashing out to punch out War Machine’s spine, retroactively giving Thanos two one kit KOs in one fight.
11. DRAX’S WARDROBE MALFUNCTION
When you have multiple artists working on different issues of the same series, there’s more room for inconsistencies to occur. Take 2010’s The Thanos Imperative, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, wherein Drax The Destroyer appears in his original design, with the tiny skull Widow’s Peak and purple cape. Thing is, modern Drax isn’t just wearing a different outfit; rather, this is an entirely new entity altogether, having emerged from the corpse of the OG Destroyer.
The plot quickly adjusts to have Thanos kill off Drax, as opposed to just drawing Drax correctly, with the explanation that Drax came down with a sudden case of space-madness to explain away his wardrobe malfunction. Due to the hasty edit, Drax’s death is barely acknowledged as an afterthought, especially when compared to the gravitas given to Nova and Star-Lord sacrificing themselves at the end of The Thanos Imperative. Speaking of which…
10. GONE IN 60 SECONDS
At the end of The Thanos Imperative, the Cancerverse, which is like the Marvel universe but with more pentagrams, is a minute away from exploding. To ensure that Thanos cannot escape death by means of comic nonsense, Star-Lord and Nova stay behind, bum-rushing Thanos with a cracked Cosmic Cube. Trading one’s life for 60 seconds worth of fighting Thanos is pretty metal, yet Star-Lord and Drax inexplicably return in 2013’s Guardians of The Galaxy #1.
We get an explanation for these resurrections in Guardians of The Galaxy: Original Sin by Brian Michael Bendis, Ed McGuinness and Valerio Schiti. Technically, Star-Lord and Nova did sacrifice themselves, multiple times as a matter of fact. See, 616 entities can’t permanently die in the Cancerverse, reborn after each demise, ignoring the 60 second time-limit altogether. Modern Drax is also reborn in the Cancerverse because whatever.
9. SKAAR: SON OF HULK
At the end of Planet Hulk, a starship explosion reduces Hulk’s wife Caiera Oldstrong into ashes, crumbling in Hulk’s hands. Hulk should’ve taken a day off before declaring World War Hulk, or utilized his medical training to check the dust for a pulse, because Caiera was pregnant with two living half-Hulk babies.
Despite being just conceived, Skaar survives, rapidly gestating in a radioactive swamp before cracking out of an egg in 2008’s Skaar: Son of Hulk #1 by Greg Pak and Ron Garney. Caiera serves as the narrator despite being dead, revealing that she’s returned as a stone shade in Skaar: Son of Hulk #8. To recap: Caeira isn’t alive, she was just reborn as a shapeshifting pile of dust. Maybe Caiera should’ve mentioned that The Oldstrong turn into ghost golems when they die? Because we had a World War Hulk that was waged for nothing.
8. WILL THE REAL WADE WILSON PLEASE STAND UP?
The Deadpool nemesis with the most inexplicable codename, T-Ray, claims that Deadpool stole his identity in 1999’s Deadpool #32, or “I’m not so me as you think I am…” by F.W. Ellsworth, David Brewer and Pete Woods. T-Ray claims that Deadpool is actually just some mercenary named Jack, who stole T-Ray’s true triple alliterative identity of Wade Winston Wilson after (temporarily) murdering him.
We know T-Ray is lying/wrong, because in 1997’s Deadpool #5, we can see that T-Ray’s ridiculous hit-list back tattoo has the name “Wilson” inked in at the very top, not “Jack.” Why would T-Ray get his own name tatted on his back, let alone reinforce Deadpool’s identity theft? Nowadays, whenever “the real Wade Wilson” is now brought up, both Deadpool and T-Ray just hand-wave it away.
7. THE DRACO
As it turns out in “The Draco,”a storyline from Uncanny X-Men #428-434 by Chuck Austen, Philip Tan and Sean Phillips, the reason why the X-Men’s Nightcrawler looks like a demon and Angel looks like an, uh, angel isn’t because they’re mutants, rather it’s because the two are legit supernatural entities. Nightcrawler’s daddy is a demon-pirate named Azazel of the Neyaphem, while Angel is the descendant of angelic cherub-mutants known as the Cheyarafim.
This explains Angel’s on-again off-again secondary mutation of having blood with healing properties. Angel’s blood can any disease, from The Legacy Virus to AIDs, yet Angel’s miracle blood doesn’t work on Nightcrawler, because demons. What’s kinda hilarious about this frankly hammy retcon is that the villagers who were originally chasing after the baby Nightcrawler in his origin story were technically correct in assuming that he was a demon.
6. WOLVERINE’S TOUR OF DUTY
Wolverine’s real mutant power is multitasking, as Logan’s World War II tour of duty is as impressive at it is improbable: 2005’s Wolverine #32 has Logan in a death camp in Poland on May 28th, 1942. Wolverine flashes back to his 1943 service in Amhen Land in Northern Australia in New X-Men #142. Yet, Wolverine: Origins #26 places Logan at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California in 1943.
Logan parachutes into Normandy with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion on June 6th, 1944 in 1990’s Wolverine #34, killing a Nazi patrol with a knife before fighting the vampire Bloodscream in 1994’s Wolverine #78. Logan kills a tank in the Battle of The Bulge in 2011’s Wolverine #1000, before taking an atomic blast in Nagasaki in 2008’s Logan #2. Basically, if anything significant happened in World War II, Logan was probably there.
5. ROLL THEM BONES
The Wasp apparently dies in 2008’s Secret Invasion. Hercules runs into the Wasp while walking through Erebus, the underworld’s casino in 2009’s The Incredible Hercules #129 by Greg Pak, Fred van Lente and Ryan Stegman. Erebus accounts for the temporary nature of death, as everyone gambles for resurrection. The Wasp believes her slot machine will soon pay out: “I mean, they let Bucky out. Bucky! The odds for me have got to be good, right?”
Janet couldn’t have seen Bucky in Erebus since Bucky never died… or did he? Amadeus Cho elaborates: “Souls in Erebus are in a quantum superposition like Schrödinger’s cat, living and dead, until forced in one direction or the other.” So, when we discover in 2012’s Avengers #32 that Janet survived self-detonating in Secret Invasion by shrinking into a subatomic universe, she technically did die, until she didn’t.
4. THE MANY DEATHS OF AUNT MAY
So many problems arise when Aunt May is shot during 2007’s “The Amazing Spider-Man: One More Day” by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada. First, ostensibly every mutant healer, wizard, time lord and Sorcerer Supreme cannot fix an octogenarian gunshot wound.
Second, Peter is so ill-equipped to handle Aunt May’s death that he and Mary Jane make a literal deal with the devil to prolong May’s already long life, even though Perter had already handled May’s death with maturity when she died for the first time in 1995’s The Amazing Spider-Man #400. Technically that wasn’t Aunt May who died, but a highly-devoted deep cover actress planted by Norman Osborn, for some reason. Finally, the deal with Mephisto doesn’t even work, as May naturally gets better in 2010’s One Moment in Time. Gotta love that acronym.
3. LOCKJAW CAN TALK(?)
Crystal The Inhuman comes to The Thing for help, trying to stop Quicksilver from exposing their baby Luna to the transformative Terrigan Mists in 1983’s The Thing #3 by John Bryne, Jim Shooter and Ron Wilson. Quicksilver can’t believe that the offspring of a mutant and an Inhuman is only human: “Let me bathe her in the mists, anything would be preferable to this.” Lockjaw, “The dog-which-is-not-a-dog,” weighs in: “Anything? Anything, Pietro? Even…me?”
The problem with this revelation is that Lockjaw was originally written as a teleporting gigantic dog-thing, with the other Inhumans treating him as such. If Lockjaw is just a deformed Inhuman, however, then his people have been treating him like a sub-Inhuman. Quicksilver points out this inconsistency in 1991’s X-Factor #71, claiming that Lockjaw talking was a (successful) ruse crafted by Gorgon and Karnak.
2. AVENGERS #200
Jim Shooter has expressed his regret with 1980’s Avengers #200, wherein after becoming pregnant for only three days, Carol Danvers gives birth. The Wasp is ecstatic before Carol gets real: “I’ve been used! That isn’t my baby! I don’t even know who the father is!” The baby grows rapidly into Marcus, the son of Immortus, who is also Immortus, the guy who had impregnated Ms. Marvel without her consent in order to be reborn on Earth.
Marcus claims that he wooed Ms. Marvel in hyper-time, but then erased her memories. The Avengers actually lets Marcus travel to limbo to start a relationship with his mother/lover, with Iron Man saying: “We’ve just got to believe that everything worked out for the best.” This story was so reviled that Ms. Marvel returns to tell The Avengers how much they suck in 1981’s Avengers Annual #10 by Chris Claremont.
1. RICK JONES ALWAYS WEARS A MINI-PARACHUTE
In Writing for Comics with Peter David, Peter David admits that he once wrote himself into a corner in 1990’s The Incredible Hulk #375 with art by Dale Keown, where Betty and Bruce escape from a Skrull Saucer mere moments before it explodes. David realized that he had forgotten to write Rick Jones escaping as well, unintentionally killing the Hulk’s sidekick. Fortunately, Rick Jones is handed a Deus Ex Machina with only two pages worth of comic-time left to spare, floating down to safety as Bruce Banner watches with absolute astonishment.
Jones pragmatically explains: “Don’t look so shocked. I always carry a miniature parachute with me in case I have to jump from an exploding Skrull saucer.” Speaking for the audience, Bruce Banner responds, “That’s… that’s ridiculous.” Rick has a way out of that one, too: “Why? I needed to, didn’t I?” Touché.
Can you think of another time Marvel rewrote their own history? What’s your favorite Marvel comics retcon? What is a T-Ray anyway? Let us know in the comments!
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