What is commonly referred to the "Modern Age", "Modern Era" or "Age of Heroes" refers to the period of time following the birth of the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #1 to the present time. Earth-616 and many other universes in Marvel Comics have histories that move slower than they do in real life.
That said, generally speaking, any references to dates, pop culture, political leaders, celebrities, and characters involvement in various global conflicts or historical moments that are presented in a way that suggests that they happened near the Modern Era should be considered topical. For example, early issues of Fantastic Four where Reed Richards refers to seeing combat during World War II or when the team assisted the first Apollo mission to the Moon should be considered topical.
Based on the Sliding Timescale and until October 2017 the events of Fantastic Four #1 happened 14 years ago. At this present time the start of the Modern Age "started" in the year 2002 until November 2017.
The timescale will slide forward as the events of Fantastic Four #1 will have happened 15 years ago and will continue to be considered fifteen years until November 2021. As the next four years move forward the "start" of the Sliding Timescale will bump forward each year. 2003 in the year 2018, 2004 in 2019, 2005 in 2020 and so on.
(See Also: Topical Reference, Sliding Timescale)
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