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Avengers Forever #3: Review

Feb 1999
Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco

Story Name:

City at the Heart of Forever

Review & Comments

3 stars

Avengers Forever #3 Review by (May 4, 2010)
A justification of intervention by time-travel:- The theory of alternate realities Kang decribes in this issue means that time-travel to prevent a bad event from happening in the past doesn't actually prevent the event in the timeline you left. If successful you just split off a new timeline where the bad event doesn't happen. Kang's frequent time-travelling has created multiple alternate copies of himself. I believe that in the Marvel Universe alternate realities are normally created without the use of time-travel. I will ignore questions about how frequently timelines split, and what causes the splits. I will just say that such alternate timelines are constrained by possibility.

When you appear at a point in space-time from time-travel you create a situation that is impossible in cause-and-effect terms in the timeline up to that point. Thus the alternate reality you create by time-travel (and the ones it then spawns naturally) couldn't exist without your time-travel. So even though time-travel doesn't destroy 'bad' timelines, it is still worth doing because it creates 'good' timelines that wouldn't otherwise exist. But this is fictionally unsatisfying. The hero goes back in time to save the world and those he loves, and then returns to the new present where they are saved. But the old timeline still exists where not only aren't his loved ones saved from whatever it was, they have the added burden that the hero *doesn't* come back to them! Some writers use the 'secret history' approach. The thing you go back into the past to do actually already happened in the past of your timeline, it just wasn't recorded. So you go back in time and actually create the timeline you came from, and thus you come back to it safely. A variant of this is the 'multiple histories' approach which says that the present can have multiple pasts as well as multiple futures.

Your tampering with history has just switched from one of these multiple pasts to another. This is sometimes described in terms of the timeline being resilient. Small changes just deform it a bit in a small patch of time. It takes a large change to really change the future. The 'go back in time to prevent another time-traveller from changing the past in a bad way' scenario implicitly makes use of this idea. The bad-guy wants to change the past in a big way. The hero goes back and prevents him. The combined actions leave only small changes which the timeline absorbs. Kang's theory ignores all these extra ideas.

Terminatrix was originally Ravonna, whom Kang desired in Avengers #23. They have had a convoluted love-hate relationship since then. The Anachronauts were first seen during the Citizen Kang crossover in Fantastic Four Annual #25. Rama-Tut and his time-Sphinx was the first recorded appearance of the multi-identitied Kang way back in Fantastic Four #19. Avengers West Coast #62 was the culmination of Immortus's plot to use Scarlet Witch as a nexus being to preserve the timeline which produced the Time-Keepers. When the Witch rejected the power it raged free, threatening the multiverse. The Time-Keepers intervened and redirected the power to Immortus, who became frozen in Limbo protecting reality. Immortus freed himself in What If #35-39, but his appearances here were in alternate realities. He subsequently appeared in the Terminatrix story in Avengers Annual #21 and in Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #2-3, but as far as the Avengers were concerned this was all behind the scenes. Thus Wasp is correct in saying that they haven't seen him since AWC#62.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Forever #3 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Seven Avengers (Captain America, Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell), Giant-Man, Hawkeye, Songbird, Wasp and Yellowjacket) from various times, including alternate futures, have been brought together to guard Rick Jones, with the help of ex-villain Libra of the original Zodiac. They are protecting Rick from Immortus, and Kang is also on their side. They have just arrived for refuge at Kang's city of Chronopolis, to find it under devastating attack by the forces of Immortus.

They are mistakenly attacked by Wildrun of Kang's Anachronauts, who reports that Kang's lover Terminatrix is dead. The other Anachronauts have been reduced to fading temporal shadows. Wildrun takes them to Kang, who is supervising the installation of a working replica of the Sphinx time machine he used as Rama-Tut.

Wasp asks Kang how come Immortus is active when as far as the current Avengers know he was trapped in stasis by the Time-Keepers in Avengers West Coast #62. Kang dismisses this as either temporary or an example of Immortus lying, and the Time-Keepers as irrelevant.

Immortus is laying siege to Chronopolis to get the Heart of Forever, which enables Chronopolis to exist in all alternate realities (as opposed to Immortus's home Limbo which exists outside of them), as well as existing in all times as mentioned in the previous issue. Kang reminds the Avengers that when you go back in time to stop something bad from happening, you don't actually stop it. You merely create a new alternate reality in which it doesn't happen, and return to the present of that new reality. The old reality continues unchanged. The Heart of Forever would give Immortus the power to actually delete timelines.

Now that Immortus failed to stop Rick Jones from reawakening his Human Evolutionary Potential (in #1), he wants the Heart of Forever to destroy that particular timeline.

Kang immediately contradicts himself when he says that Immortus has already been pruning the tree of alternate realities (e.g. in Avengers West Coast #59 when he wiped out a reality in which several Avengers had died). Immortus wants the timelines to be tidy and constrained, while Kang wants a wild jungle, if only because it gives him more to conquer. This contradiction will be revealed in a later issue to be not a hole in the plot, but one of those confusing time-travel things.

The love-triangle between Giant-Man, Wasp and Yellowjacket simmers. In Avengers #59 Goliath (as Giant-Man then was) created the split personality Yellowjacket, who deluded himself that he killed Henry Pym/Goliath, perceiving him as a rival for Wasp. As Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes vol 2 #5-6 made clear, Wasp and the other Avengers knew the truth, but didn't want to push him further over the edge. Yellowjacket is not pleased that Giant-Man is still alive and in a relationship with Wasp, when in his own timeline Yellowjacket is about to marry her. Leader-by-default Wasp avoids the subject because she wants to keep the team from fracturing. She carefully stops herself from addressing Giant-Man as Hank, possibly so as not to confirm that he is the man Yellowjacket thinks he has killed. And Yellowjacket isn't happy about the self-reliant woman she has become.

Meanwhile Hawkeye and Songbird share a moment. The past Hawkeye has never heard of Songbird, but the future Songbird benefits from the training the current Hawkeye is giving her and the other Thunderbolts.

Kang's technicians give Hawkeye a high-tech bow and arrows, unfortunately too powerful to easily use humanely against Immortus's warrior hordes. Even in the midst of a war the Avengers stick to their no-killing policy. Kang's technicians also give crippled Rick a battle-chair, but when it is overturned in battle, Rick manages to reactivate his power enough to heal his legs.

Despite the Avengers' help Chronopolis is overwhelmed, Tempus (revived from his 'death' in #1) captures Kang, and Immortus gains the Heart of Forever. He transforms it and the whole of Chronopolis into the Forever Crystal, apparently killing Tempus (again) and Kang. But Libra has led Rick and the Avengers to safety in the Time-Sphinx.

Carlos Pacheco
Jesus Merino
Steve Oliff
Carlos Pacheco (Cover Penciler)
Jesus Merino (Cover Penciler)
Tony Kelly (Cover Inker)
Steve Oliff (Cover Colorist)
Tony Kelly (Cover Colorist)
Plot: .


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel


(Clint Barton)

(Kang the Conqueror)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Anachronauts, Giant-Man (Scott Lang), Immortus, Libra, Songbird, Tempus, Wildrun.

> Avengers Forever: Book info and issue index

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