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 to the present time. Earth-616 and many other universes in Marvel Comics have histories that move slower than they do in real life. As of the 2011 publication of the Official Index of the Marvel Universe the birth of the Fantastic Four happened roughly 15 years ago.
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.
(See Also: Topical Reference, Sliding Timescale)
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