Not that this is news to anyone. But a lot of this is due to reboots, time travel plots, retcons, and so on. The sort of things you inherently expect to create confusion. It only occurred to me recently, now that I’ve started following comics as they come out, that the sheer size of, say, the Marvel Universe must make it difficult to keep track of every character who appears in every issue.
(Spoilers follow for current Hawkeye comics. Broader mention of plot details from recent Daredevil, Secret Avengers and SHIELD comics and the Agents of SHIELD TV show.)
Case in point: I recently read the last issue of Matt Fraction’s run of Hawkeye. (Great series, by the way. I love the idea of telling what a superhero gets up to when he’s off the clock. And Kate Bishop is fab.) Towards the end of the issue, a group of supervillains and crime bosses, including the Kingpin and the Owl, take out a hit on the Hawkeyes. Which I find a little odd, because the Hawkeye story is taking place in New York, but the most recent issues of Daredevil show both the Owl and the Kingpin making Matt Murdock’s life complicated over in San Francisco.
Of course, there are several possible explanations for this, besides Marvel losing track of who was where when. An obvious one is Hawkeye‘s irregular publication schedule, which makes it difficult to match up in-universe time with real-world time, or even with the in-universe timeline of other Marvel books. But that just makes it harder to figure out what takes place when. Hawkeye‘s run overlaps with volume 3 of Secret Avengers, which features Clint Barton running around on SHIELD missions in South America, presumably before or after or in between the Hawkeye stories that have him fighting Russian mobsters in Brooklyn. And don’t get me started on reconciling any of this with Hawkeye vs. Deadpool.
Also–and this is something the folks at Marvel had better be on top of, even if I’m not–am I the only one who’s lost track of who’s in charge of SHIELD? It used to be Nick Fury. (The white one; the black Nick Fury, aka Marcus Johnson, exists in Marvel comics and works for SHIELD but isn’t the Director). By volume 2 of Secret Avengers it was Daisy Johnson–who seems really young for the post–but by volume 3 it was Maria Hill. And now in SHIELD comics it seems to be Phil Coulson, probably because he’s now Director of SHIELD in the MCU. (And yet the Avengers still don’t know he’s alive…) I suppose there’s no actual contradiction here, but that seems like a lot of leadership turnover to me.