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Avengers #143: Review

Jan 1976
Steve Englehart, George Perez

Story Name:

Right between the eons

Review & Comments

Rating:
4.5 stars

Avengers #143 Review by (March 26, 2014)
Where do the cowboys appear next chronologically? Since, as I mentioned last time, this story was placed after their last published prior appearances, then their next appearances should be in some of the stories published later. However there are some caveats to this. Ringo Kid has no following apps - he's not been included in any later stories. Night Rider (Carter Slade) was killed in Western Gunfighters #6, to be replaced by brother Lincoln in #7. Lincoln Slade's starring career unfortunately ended there, but it is he who will become involved with time-travelling West Coast Avengers. However the current tale obviously must occur before WG#6. The Official Index had Carter's prior appearance in Giant-Size Kid Colt #3, and says his next app in WG#1 (after his own Ghost Rider series ended). But the Marvel Continuity Project places GSKC#3 and this tale *within* WG#6. Even though Rawhide Kid's quoted prior app was his last-published like the others, for some reason the Index takes him back to RK#33 for his next app. I don't know how the overall continuity of his apps is supposed to work, and MCP is no help. The only thing I know which distinguishes #33 is that it was the 1st after the end of Jack Kirby's run as artist. Next issue we'll begin to see what happens next for Two-Gun Kid. But after that he'll rejoin Kid Colt and Rawhide Kid for adventures with more time-travelling Marvel heroes. They won't all 3 appear every time, but the list includes the afore-mention WCA along with Thor Corps, Avengers Forever, Fantastic Four and Black Panther. They will also feature in new Western mini-series like Blaze of Glory and Apache Skies. And Kid Colt will have has own 1-shot, TGK a 2-issue mini-series and Rawhide Kid will have 2 mini-series where he turns out to be the 1st Marvel gay cowboy. And they've all 3 recently shown up in Indestructible Hulk.

This issue like the last 1 mainly ignores the Serpent Crown storyline (which hasn't even introduced the Serpent Crown yet) in favour of disposing of Kang and Immortus (at least for a long while). It's another misleading cover. The present-day Avengers get fed up of only being given a couple of pages each issue, so they take over the cover to fight Kang's coyote monster. Immortus won't be gone for long. In 3 years time he'll be back in Thor #281&282 where he'll trick Thor into losing his hammer's time-travel power. There he'll explain that he lied here, and the death of Kang didn't mean that he died too. He will also claim that 3 Time-Keepers made him custodian of a stretch of time, and he's been untangling the effects of Kang ever since. It takes longer before we see Kang again. Hulk will go to Kang's future empire in Hulk #286 but the Conqueror isn't actually there. He will turn up in both series of Secret Wars. He could be taken from before his death this issue. But #267-269 will explain what is really going on. There we will learn that Kang's time-travelling has created multiple alternate versions of himself (so it is only 1 version of Kang that dies here). But 1 Kang has been killing off all the others. Immortus will join in for #269 where it will transpire that he has orchestrated the whole thing. He has collected the memories of all the Kang's, which will be given to the 1 who will become Rama-Tut and then Immortus. (This last bit explains how Rama-Tut knew what Kang would do in the Celestial Madonna saga even though that Kang dies here and so doesn't actually become RT.)



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #143 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Moondragon and Thor have come back to 1873 in Tombstone, Arizona to find Hawkeye. But they also found Kang there, doing his usual Conquering. They teamed up with Kid Colt, Night Rider, Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid and Two-Gun Kid to stop Ace and his gang stealing uranium for the future villain.

Now Kid Colt uses fancy gunplay to persuade Ace to tell them how to get into Kang's fortress. Then Two-Gun Kid leads Hawkeye and Moondragon (all dressed in nondescript clothing) into his home town Tombstone, along with a bearded stranger in Ace's clothes. They use Ace's password to get into the futuristic citadel.

Kang detects them but lets them get a long way in unopposed. Suddenly he appears on a screen and says he's been waiting for them. He sent Dr Doom's time-platform back (in #140) to lure them here after Hawkeye. He was hoping for more of them, to get his revenge for his defeats while trying to capture the Celestial Madonna (in issues #2, 3 and 4 of the Giant-Size companion to this series).

Hawkeye and Moondragon remind Kang that his defeat had been a foregone conclusion, as is the fact that he will become the peace-loving Rama-Tut who came through time to ensure that things turned out as he remembered them. As usual Kang raves that he will never turn away from conquest.

As Kang launches an attack against the 4, we nip to the present to see what the other Avengers are doing. Last issue they were held in an escape-proof cell whose bars were made of an energy generated by Dr Spectrum's Power Prism. Now they implement Captain America's escape plan.

They have discovered that none of them can break the bars. And even Vision in ghost-mode can't pass through them. But Cap's special shield is able to get through. And if he holds it vertically in the cage wall its disc will cut a circle out of the energy bars. Then Vision can go intangible and float through the shield.

Vision does just that. (Although we see him also passing through the energy lattice behind the shield, which doesn't fit what sense I made of the plan above.) Once outside he destroys or disables the cage and our heroes are free.

Back in the past Kang's attack turns out just to have transported the 4 to another place, where they are really attacked by a giant super-evolved coyote monster. A sweep of its tail knocks Moondragon out. And Hawkeye's arrows and Two-Gun's bullets have no effect, and Hawkeye is also KO'd. Kang crows in triumph, but doesn't notice the bearded stranger behind him.

Kang then notices a hole in the cell wall, as we see the other man remove his beard to reveal himself as Don Blake. And then strike his cane on the floor to transform into Thor. The god explains that he took human form so that the villain wouldn't take precautions against him. (And presumably he briefly became Thor to make the hole in the wall.)

As in their recent encounters Kang boasts that his personal force-field protects him against Thor's blows. But as before Mjolnir is able to propel him, force-field and all, out of the building. And Thor prepares for their final battle.

As Matt Hawk stands alone against the coyote, Moondragon wakes up. 1 mind blast is enough down the monster. And Hawkeye recovers as well.

Outside Thor is pumelling Kang's force-field without let-up. The Conqueror is bowed, but strikes back with his Dissolution Beam. Thor is staggered, but stands against it as Kang pours on more and more power.

At last the villain begins to feel fear that he is outmatched. He turns the control dial up to 11, but the power is too much. He is ripped apart and scattered over the timestream.

Kang's citadel vanishes, and Immortus appears saying that the villain will never return. But Moondragon cries that he told them (in GSAv#3) that like Rama-Tut he was a future version of Kang. Surely this means that Immortus will now never exist.

The Lord of Limbo explains in more detail that Rama-Tut realised that even as he frustrated his earlier self's plans he made Kang more determined not to become his 'weak' future self. So he returned to being Pharaoh in ancient Egypt and devoted himself to studying time. Eventually this made him Immortus, master of time. And since then he has been subtly arranging for the today's result.

But still Moondragon was right, and Immortus fades away into unreality. And the Titan priestess mourns for a fallen god.


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George Perez
Sam Grainger
George Roussos
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Marv Wolfman.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Beast
Beast

(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Hellcat
Hellcat

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Kang
Kang

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Immortus, Kid Colt, Moondragon, Phantom Rider (Carter Slade), Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid, Two-Gun Kid.