Loki’s TVA Are Marvel's Worst Time Cops In The Comics

Warning: contains spoilers for Fantastic Four #35!

In Loki, the TVA is an elite fighting force that is dedicated to maintaining the Sacred Timeline at all costs - but in the comics, the same TVA is woefully incompetent. The Time Variance Authority is well-known by fans after their appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but their comics incarnation is almost 40 years old. In their latest appearance in Fantastic Four #35, written by Dan Slott with art by John Romita Jr. and colors by Marte Gracia and Erick Arciniega, the TVA fails miserably at their job, thanks to the machinations of Kang the Conqueror.

First appearing in Thor #372 in 1986, the TVA monitors the Marvel Multiverse and prevents humans and other beings from altering the past and disrupting the proper flow of time. Those found guilty are subject to execution via Retroactive Cannon, a weapon which erases a person's entire existence from the timeline. The many time travelers in the Marvel Universe make the TVA's job particularly difficult - but that's no excuse for sheer incompetence, something the TVA displays when witnessing an attack on the Fantastic Four by Kang.

Related: Marvel's What If Writer Explains Why The TVA Is Absent From The Show

When multiple Kangs from the conqueror's history meet in Neverspace, they hatch a plan to acquire one last great treasure (known only as "The Prize") for their Ark - and as a contest, eliminate the Fantastic Four from multiple points in history in along the way. As Rama-Tut, Kang, the Scarlet Centurion, and the mysterious Scion each depart Neverspace, two Justices from the TVA receive an alert in Null-Space: the same being has inserted himself into the same timeline...four times over. It's what one of the Justices calls "...a continuity cascade!"

The two Justices (Love and Peace) are flabbergasted and horrified, but ultimately there's very little they can do. Despite witnessing the killing of multiple Fantastic Four members before their eyes, Peace realizes that if the TVA were to travel into the continuity cascade, their time-ships would be destroyed. Essentially, the organization that polices all time lacks the equipment to police all time. By the time the TVA get their act together and arrive in Neverspace, the matter has already been dealt with: the Kangs are defeated and the Fantastic Four simply sit on the battlefield, waiting for the TVA. "Eight time travelers in one place," muses Reed (his plan involved pulling members of the Fantastic Four from every era targeted by the Kangs). "With four of them transposed over their own timelines. I was expecting you sooner."

To add insult to injury, the TVA drops the ball one final time by mentioning a future event. Reed takes The Prize with him, over the protestations of a TVA Justice. A fellow Justice says "The last thing we want to do is get into it with Mister Fantastic. Not right before the Reckoning War." Reed has yet to experience the Reckoning War, and so the TVA has just effectively told Reed his own future - a massive slip-up from a Time Police organization. Perhaps the TVA in the comics ought to learn a thing or two from their incarnation from Loki - they're much more competent than the Justices who failed to aid the Fantastic Four.

Next: Avengers Shows the Terrible Cost of Failing in the MCU

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