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Avengers #129: Review

Nov 1974
Steve Englehart, Joe Staton

Story Name:

Bid tomorrow goodbye

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #129 Review by (January 13, 2014)
In FF#19 Rama-Tut says he comes from the year 3000 in the 30th Century, which is technically correct. In #8 Kang says he overshot to year 4000. This issue refers to the 31st and 41st Centuries, which pedantically don't include 3000 and 4000. (But then having conquered in the year 4000 his reign presumably extended into the 41st century.) Kang refers to the vampire as Amenhotep. There were 4 Pharaohs with that name, the last 1 better known as Akhenaten. It would make sense if Rama-Tut became Pharaoh after disposing of a previous 1 named Amenhotep. But unfortunately none of them lived as far back as 3000BC.

There are holes in Kang's story. The electro-static disturbances didn't seem to stop him spying on the Avengers from the future in #11, #16 and #23. In this issue he says he's been interested in the 20th Century because of the Celestial Madonna, but he also says he just wanted to conquer it, which seems to fit more with his previous appearances. Kang also talks about the Avengers' branch of the time stream. I think this is the 1st time he hints at multiple timelines. He won't be described as understanding such things until #269. But there he will be shown discovering about them just after the Growing Man episode in Thor #140, along with seeing multiple alternate versions of himself. In that issue it won't go into detail about which adventures belong to which version of Kang. But the Kang there saves a version of his love Ravonna from her fatal injury in #24. Thus the Kang in #69-71 who is trying to bring *his* Ravonna back from suspended animation must be an alternate. Avengers Forever #9 will confirm that, but also say that the Kang involved in the Celestial Madonna story is another alternate. It may therefore be significant that Kang here and in #131 doesn't mention #69-71 *or* #23-24. (An editorial comment does mention them, but can be ignored.) Nor does he mention Ravonna. Thus this alternate may have diverged before #23-24, and before meeting Ravonna. However in GS Av#2 we'll learn that Rana-Tut is this Kang's future self, and Rama-Tut remembers Ravonna. However, again, in #269 Immortus will arrange that Rama-Tut has the memories of *all* Kangs.

Bill Mantlo is better known as a scripter, but he started out as a colourist, with this and Giant-Size Av#2 as his 1st published work. He will start writing with a Sons of the Tiger story in Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #7. This is the official start of the Celestial Madonna saga, and of a long, but interrupted, Kang run that extends beyond Celestial Madonna to #143. Kang says the Macrobots are an improvement on his Stimuloid, otherwise known as the Growing Man from Thor #140 and Av#69. The Stimuloid absorbed attacking force to grow, where the Macrobots absorb it to send it back. Kang claims the Macrobots' mechanical construction is better than the Stimuloid's artificial cells, possibly better resistant to damage. The star can't be an actual celestial object, otherwise it couldn't be obviously directly over Avengers Mansion. GS Av#3 will answer my objection by saying that it is a mini-star not far above the Mansion. And Captain Marvel #39 (Steve Englehart again) will explain that the Watcher put it there.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #129 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Kang the Conqueror has confronted the Avengers as a star hovers over Avengers Mansion. As they attack him he summons 3 Macrobots to oppose them. As Thor hits 1 it hits him back, knocking him out and knocking over the Swordsman. Vision tries to stop Iron Man from using his repulsor rays against a 2nd foe because he has deduced that the Macrobots absorb and return whatever force is used against them. But he's not quick enough and the Golden Avenger is felled by his own blasts. Vision sinks his hands into the 3rd robot to disrupt it, but even that attack rebounds as pain that renders him unconscious.

Mantis launches herself against the Macrobot that felled Vision, to no avail. Scarlet Witch tries a cleverer technique, aiming a hex bolt past a Macrobot to dislodge a wall down on it. But it puts a hand in the path of the hex to gain that power, and redirects the loose bricks to knock out the 2 female Avengers and their guest Agatha Harkness.

After dealing with some police and Jarvis, Kang starts an explanatory rant to no-one in particular. The star over the Mansion is a signal heralding a major event. The spotty surviving records from this era were not clear as to when and where it would happen, and electrostatic disturbances in this branch of the timestream prevented a systematic remote search. But this event is the reason for his frequent attacks on the 20th Century. And during 1 of those attacks he left a temporal monitor to alert him.

The star signals that the Celestial Madonna is ready. The records say that her mate will be the most powerful man on Earth, and their child will be the One, through whom Kang intends to rule the universe. The star appearing over Avengers Mansion means that the Celestial Madonna is 1 of its female inhabitants - Agatha Harkness, Mantis or Scarlet Witch.

Kang teleports away the 3 females and his Macrobots plus Iron Man, Thor and Vision. Swordsman asks why he is left behind. Kang replies that he has a use for the 3 powerful male Avengers,  but no use for a blundering weakling like him. And then Kang too teleports away.

The remaining Avenger is determined to prove Kang wrong and rescue his teammates, but can't think how to start. Until he is mentally contacted by Agatha Harkness. The witch tells him that Kang has the 3 women in stasis tubes and the men under a paralysis ray hooked up to some device. She can tell they are all inside the pyramid of Rama-Tut. He grabs a quinjet and Agatha mentally guides him to the location.

Along the way Swordsman wonders how Mantis could qualify as a Celestial Madonna. She led him on telling him she loved him, and then dumped him for Vision. (And her story as a street orphan in Saigon working for crimelord Monsieur Khruul has always hinted at a life of prostitution.)

His quinjet is shot down by Egyptian aircraft as he reaches the pyramid, and then his psychic link with Miss Harkness is shut off. Kang has spotted him in a viewer and worked out what is happening. He rendered the witch unconscious. Kang isn't worried though because he knows the chamber they are in is well-concealed, as it was when he had the pyramid built.

The paralysed men are surprised by this statement, so their captor enlightens them with his life story. (Iron Man and Thor shouldn't have been surprised as they've heard it all before in #8.) He repeats his origin from Fantastic Four #19 where he found a time machine in the 31st Century and went back in time with it built into the Sphinx and became Pharaoh Rama-Tut. But the FF came back in time and defeated him, forcing him to flee in a time-sphere leaving the rest of the Sphinx behind.

As he further explained in #8 the sphere hit a time storm and he overshot to the barbarian 41st Century Earth, which he conquered as Kang. From that base he could conquer other planets and times.

Mantis and Scarlet Witch have also been listening, and taunt Kang to free them from their stasis tubes. But instead he turns back to his viewscreen to see what Swordsman is doing.

The would-be hero remembers some of the mercenary jobs he did in the past, including some pyramid-robbing. So he figures how to find a hidden entrance and extricate its filling stone block with the powers built in to his sword. Once inside he sees light bounced from the entrance by a mirror.

But just then he is interrupted by a demonic vampire that has been entombed here for 5000 years. Swordman briefly finds joy emulating his hero Conan. But his enthusiasm is dashed when the vampire is unfazed by a sword run through his neck. The Avenger is only saved by the arrival of Egyptian troops come to investigate his crash. And the vampire figures that several men will provide more blood than 1.

Stumbling back Swordsman leans against a wall which pivots aside to reveal a hidden room. The beam of light from the mirror reflects off another mirror and strikes a sarcophagus. And the 'hero' hurriedly exits as the tomb starts to open. Running the wrong way he suddenly hears Kang's voice.

The villain is gloating over the demon he names Amenhotep, and how he forced him to drink the 'nectar of the undead' before entombing him. He watches as the vampire kills the soldiers, but is then killed himself by sunlight. Thinking Swordsman is also dead, Kang turns away. But our hero is watching from a window into the room.

Kang now turns to his captive male Avengers. They have been subject to his Paralyray for long enough now that they are completely paralysed. He reveals that the 3 Macrobots are hollow, and places Iron Man, Thor and Vision inside to act as power sources. (Even the mental control of his armour Tony Stark installed in IM#68 doesn't work.) With these weapons Kang will start World War III, and then rule the ruined remains of Earth.

But Swordsman is about to frustrate this plan by killing Kang with a blast from his sword. Until a hand pulls him back and a voice tells him he mustn't kill the Conqueror. Turning he sees someone who claims to be Rama-Tut (and looks the part except that he's much older).

The story continues in GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #2.


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Joe Staton
Joe Staton
Bill Mantlo
Ron Wilson (Cover Penciler)
Mike Esposito (Cover Inker)
Layouts: Sal Buscema. Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Roy Thomas.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Kang
Kang

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis), Rama-Tut.