Loki: The Essential Time Variance Authority Reading Guide

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Before the TVA burst into the MCU in Loki, the Time Variance Authority factored into several storylines across the history of the Marvel Universe.

The Disney+ series Loki is taking the God of Mischief into a whole new part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the show’s titular Asgardian is already one of the MCU’s most famous faces, the show’s other main characters, the Time Variance Authority, are a far more obscure group.

Even for longtime Marvel fans, the TVA is a fairly deep cut. But now, we’re looking across their comic book history to round up the most important stories featuring the TVA.

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Thor #371-372

Fantastic Four Justice Peace TVA

The TVA was introduced in 1986’s Thor #371-272, by Walter Simonson and Sal Buscema. Most of the two-part story was devoted to Thor’s interaction with TVA agent Justice Peace. After a misunderstanding-driven fight, the pair teamed up to defeat Zaniac, a misogynistic entity that possessed hosts with vermin. The TVA sent Peace back in time to stop Zaniac before he could cause a nuclear war. After failing to stop Zaniac from murdering Jane Foster, Thor used Mjolnir to power Peace’s time-traveling Hopsikle. By traveling back in time two hours, the duo destroyed Zaniac’s vermin before they could infect Jane’s would-be murderer.

Fantastic Four #337-346

Fantastic Four Timestream

Simonson brought the TVA back during his 1990 Fantastic Four run. The FF, Iron Man and Thor traveled into the future to counteract a time bubble created by Kang. The heroes encountered Death’s Head, who was hired by the TVA. When his probability field was damaged in battle, Death’s Head was transported to the 82nd century. The heroes ended the time bubble’s threat by using the Ultimate Nullifier to destroy Galactus before he could consume the universe. Instead of returning home, the FF took a detour to an alternate reality, where they had to prevent nuclear war between the United States and the USSR.

Fantastic Four #352-354

Fantastic Four Cross-Time Central Express Railroad

In the climax of Simonson’s FF run, Mister Fantastic’s battle with Doctor Doom was the last straw for the TVA. When Mister Fantastic had the upper hand, the TVA’s Minutemen robots appeared to arrest everyone involved for their crimes against synchronicity. Doom was able to escape by faking his death, but the FF was not so lucky. They were placed on trial, with the erasure of the main Marvel Universe’s timeline a possibility. The FF staged a jailbreak, which put them in conflict with Justice Peace and Mobius M. Mobius. Ultimately though, Mister Fantastic was able to defeat the TVA by creating a computer virus that erased all records of the primary Marvel Universe from the TVA’s records.

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What If?: Timequake (What If? #35-39)

What If Timequake

“Timequake” was a rare five-part What If? storyline by Roy Thomas, R.J.M. Lofficier, Joe Phillips, Dave Hooper, Gavin Curtis and others where alternate reality characters like Vampire Lord Wolverine were swept up in a plot involving multiple temporal entities, including the villainous Immortus. He manipulated events in multiple realities so he could become the time-altering Immortus Wave. The TVA’s bureaucracy proved ineffective. At first, they ignored The Watcher’s suggestion of sending a powerless version of the FF to stop Nathaniel Richards from becoming Immortus, which lead to the slaughter of an overpowered but inexperienced team. When they follow his advice, the powerless quartet saved reality by convincing Richards of the truth of his outlandish situation.

She-Hulk #1-5 (2005)

In the second volume of Dan Slott and Juan Bobillo’s She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters took on a case that had to be tried by jurors plucked from the timestream before their deaths. One of them was Clint Barton, who perished in the previous year’s Avengers Disassembled. Jen’s attempts to warn Barton about his fate got her arrested by the TVA and faced trial overseen by Mobius. She pleaded guilty and faced a possible sentence of erasure from existence. After learning that she would be responsible for the apocalyptic “Reckoning War,” she accepted erasure. Ultimately, Mobius reconsidered after she stopped the villain Clockwise’s rampage with a Retroactive Cannon and heard testimony from the people she helped as Jennifer Walters.

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