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Avengers Forever #9: Review

Aug 1999
Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco

Story Name:

Break: Reflections of the Conqueror

Review & Comments

3 stars

Avengers Forever #9 Review by (June 29, 2010)
The Time Variance Authority are a bureaucratic organisation who were mentioned by their agents Justice Peace in Thor #372 and Death's Head in Fantastic Four #338 during the Dreaming Celestial Sage. They made their proper debut in Fantastic Four Annual #24. The democratic Congress of Realities also appeared in Quasar #50 in the same month as Terminatrix Objective #1, and Mark Gruenwald wrote both. Many of the Congress were killed in Quasar, which is why Cross-Time Kangs want to invade them in Terminatrix Objective. Quasar #50 also involved Man-Thing and the Nexus of Realities. This raises the possibility that it was the same Congress of Realities in the 2-part story in Adventure Into Fear #19 and Man-Thing #1. However that Congress was portrayed as evil. Prof Gamble and the Incinerators, also known as Dredlox, were previously seen in Power Man & Iron Fist #79. They are loosely based on Dr Who and the Daleks. Like his 2 lives as Rama Tut, Kang seems to have taken the guise of Victor Timely at least twice. He founded Timely after Avengers #8, then returned with Terminatrix after Terminatrix Objective. (They were probably also different alternate reality Kangs.) Giant-Size Avengers #2 claimed that the older Rama Tut version of Kang still had not revived Ravonna. Technically (but only technically) one could say this was true, as it was Grandmaster who revived Terminatrix, and Kang rescued his Ravonna from before she died and then lost her to Immortus.

The Terminatrix section of the history revealed that the Cross-Time Kangs weren't real Kangs, but beings who had each stolen a Kang's identity. The Chronopolis Kang controlled them. It also said that Kang founded Timely immediately after Avengers #8. Prof Horton worked for Victor Timely, before he left to create the original Human Torch, and indirectly the Vision. It also cast doubt on Kang's relation to Nathaniel Richards, as established in What If #39. Meanwhile Immortus and his Ravonna watched Terminatrix from Limbo. The captive Ravonnas in Terminatrix Objective #2-3 are Terminatrix, a Ravonna in her original appearance, a Nebula, a Kang, a version who seduced Dr Druid, and for some reason a female version of Grandmaster. Avengers Forever doesn't mention Marcus Immortus. A Marcus made an appearance earlier than Terminatrix Objective. In Avengers #200 we learned that he was the son of Immortus and an unnamed Earthwoman who wasn't a Ravonna. He was left alone (already grown up) in Limbo when Immortus 'died' in Avengers #143. He used Ms Marvel to get reborn as a mortal human. When that didn't work out he went back to Limbo, but aged rapidly and died as reported in Avengers Annual #10. At that time (at least in published sequence) Immortus hadn't met up with 'his' Ravonna (who Kang saved from before her death). But the story had a flaw in that Immortus didn't really die in Avengers #143. In Terminatrix Objective we met Marcus Immortus son of Kang and Revelation (Ravonna) from a future alternate to the one Terminatrix chose. But Immortus and his Ravonna had a son Marcus who looked identical. Well after Avengers Forever Kurt Busiek introduced another Marcus, son of Kang and another unnamed woman. He served his father as Scarlet Centurion during the conquest of Earth in Avengers v3 #41-54. He strongly resembled the Marcus in #200. At the end he was revealed as 23rd in a line of clones.

T Ssith, one of the Serpent Men who opposed King Kull, starting in Kull the Conqueror v1 #2. Tyndar, a semi-invulnerable Trojan warrior. Wildrun, the first bearer of the mantle of Red Wolf. (2 of his successors debuted in Marvel Spotlight v1 #1 and Avengers #80, with possibly a 3rd in Red Wolf #7.) The Citizen Kang Annuals had backup strips recounting Kang's history. Kang himself narrated the first 3, reaching the end of Avengers #269. Terminatrix did the last section. This version of his history described how he escaped death in Hulk #135 and Avengers #143 by leaving the bodies, but did't say where his mind went. It also suggested he did the same thing after Dr Doom killed him in Secret Wars I (although this would be complicated by the fact that Doom killed him in #4 but temporarily resurrected him in #11). This history differed markedly from those in Avengers #269 and Avengers Forever. Although it recognised alternate Kangs, it depicted most recorded episodes as happening to a single Kang, in the order they were published (only missing out the Marvel Novels and the Secret Wars II cameo [the Savage Hulk cameo which wasn't published yet]). As such it couldn't have Kang discovering 'dead' Immortus in Limbo after Thor #140. This telling postponed that event until just before the Council of Kangs story in Avengers #267-269, which is the first time Kang acknowledges his alternates.

Kronans are aliens from another star who first appeared as 'Stone Men from Saturn' in Journey Into Mystery (Thor) #83. Prester John was first seen in Fantastic Four #54, where he was found preserved in a Chair of Survival since the 12th Century. Thor Annual #17 has him accidentally sent back from the 12th to the 9th Century after Kang tries to take his weapon the Evil Eye. After fighting Thor another accident sends him back to the 12th Century. Gilgamesh and Sersi are both Eternals and sometime Avengers. Gilgamesh was first seen as the Forgotten One in Eternals v1 #13, Sersi in #3. Sersi was a member of Avengers during Citizen Kang crossover. The Nebula who Ravonna impersonated continued to make her own appearances, e.g. in Avengers #311 and others during this period and lately in the Annihilation crossover. Fantastic Four Annual #25 is the debut of the Anachronauts, as a group and as individuals. They are:- Apocryphus, a future son of Sersi. Deathunt 9000, a 21st Century cybernetic warrior. Raa, a caveman with a Bloodstone fragment, who might be an alternate version of Ulysses Bloodstone (first seen in Marvel Presnts #1). Sir Raston, who became Black Knight after his uncle Sir Percy of Scandia, who debuted in Black Knight #1 in 1955. (They are ancestors of the Black Knights of modern Marvel, both the deceased villain who first appeared in Tales to Astonish #52 and the heroic current Black Knight who popped up in Avengers #47 and who was an Avenger in the Citizen Kang story.)

And if Marvel Novels count, then #10 The Man Who Stole Tomorrow had a somewhat-insane Kang versus Avengers. This Kang got split apart and dispersed to multiple times. A 40th Century future where a Kang never returned from one of his time-trips was shown in Hulk #286. A footnote relates this to the Kang who 'died' in Avengers #143, which was just the latest published appearance of Kang. The trio of novels X-Men & Spider-Man: Time's Arrow had a Kang trying to destroy all timelines except one he can rule, and also trying to find a Ravonna to rule with him. Immortus was pretending to be dead here, and helping Kang under the name Lireeb, which marks it as happening during the Council of Kangs era. This Kang knew about the Council, so presumably he was one of the other 2 Kangs on the Council (because the main Kang already had a Ravonna). In Avengers #269 Kang explained his history so far, essentially the same as this issue has. He wasn't explicit about which adventures belonged to alternates, but noticeably he failed to mention all the stories that are attributed to alternates in this issue and my Notes. Immortus claimed to have been behind many of the seemingly-random occurrences in Kang's life, e.g. making him overshoot the 30th Century and land in the 40th. The absorption of all the Kangs' memories from the psycho-globe is why the future Rama Tut could remember the Kang in the Celestial Madonna saga meeting him, even though that was an alternate Kang. Dr Druid first appeared as Dr Droom in Amazing Adventures #1, predating Fantastic Four. Most of his Dr Droom adventures were later reprinted under his new name Dr Druid. But the debut of that name was Incredible Hulk #209. Necrodamus first appeared in Defenders #1 The Ultimate Nullifier was first seen in Fantastic Four #50.

The Badoon are enemies of the Guardians of the Galaxy and many other heroes, first seen in Silver Surfer #2. The Universal Church of Truth was fought by Warlock, debuting in Strange Tales #178. Kang's conquest of the Courts of Kosmos was related in flashback in Thunderbolts #13, but the first Kosmosian was seen in the Wasp's origin story with Ant-Man in Tales To Astonish #44. Avengers #23-24 has a slightly different version of events. Kang had held off conquering Ravonna's kingdom because of his love for her. When she refuses to marry him he takes the kingdom, and then demands she marry him. Baltag's rebellion then follows as described. Ravonna's suspended animation is revealed in Avengers #69. The Shi'ar are long-time friends and foes of the X-Men, since Eric the Red in Uncanny X-Men #97. The saving of Ravonna and Kang's discovery of his multiple selves was shown in Avengers #269. The Watcher was first seen in Fantastic Four #13. He observes alternate realities as well as the main one, so he of all people should know that sending Torch & Thing to the past to safeguard the future was futile. The Grandmaster is an Elder of the Universe who has chosen game-playing as the obsession which sustains his immortal existence. Avengers #69 was his first appearance. Mantis debuted in Avengers #112. Agatha Harkness is a witch who was often nanny to Franklin Richards and mentor to Scarlet Witch. We first met her Fantastic Four #94. There were other appearances of Kang that can be accommodated in the era of alternate Kangs:- There were Kang cameos in Fantastic Four Annual #3, the Savage Hulk one-shot (although this wasn't published until after Avengers #269) and Secret Wars II #7, along with loads of other villains. Meanwhile in Secret Wars I #4 a Kang was killed by Dr Doom. In Marvel Team-Up #9-11 Spider-Man, Iron Man, Human Torch and Inhumans got involved in a war between a Kang and another time-traveller Zarrko (first seen in Journey Into Mystery (Thor) #86).

The meeting of Rama Tut and Fantastic Four in FF#19 has been revisited several times in Doctor Strange #53, West Coast Avengers #22 and Rise of Apocalypse #3-4. The earlier career of Rama Tut was portrayed in Rise of Apocalypse #1-2 and West Coast Avengers #20-21, and if you accept Marvel UK comics as canonical then he was in Killpower: The Early Years #1-2. Although the main Scarlet Centurion returned to the main timeline after Avengers Annual #2 and continued into the future as Kang, a divergent Scarlet Centurion was created who wound up in the alternate reality of the original Squadron Supreme, where he menaced them from their future in a similar way to Kang's continued attacks on Avengers. He appeared in Squadron Supreme #2, and earlier battles with him were described in Squadron Supreme #9. He was last seen in the Squadron Supreme Graphic Novel. On the way to the future Rama Tut also turned up in Cable #57 with a timestorm-damaged timeship. Rama Tut's conversion to Kang and his conquest of the 40th Century was told in Avengers #8 and 269. Kang shouldn't have to speculate that Immortus made him overshoot to the 40th Century because Immortus told him so in Avengers #269.

Kang's history-to-date was previously summarised in Avengers #269, and in backup strips in the Citizen Kang crossover Annuals. The basic story of Kang's early life was told in Fantastic Four #19. Kang claimed to be descended from Dr Doom in Fantastic Four Annual #2 and Avengers #11. Fantastic Four visited Nathaniel Richards's adopted Earth in Fantastic Four #272-273, at the end of which it was hinted that he was an ancestor of Kang. Avengers #269 repeated the hint, and What If #39 spelled it out unambiguously, even saying Kang was named Nathaniel Richards after his ancestor. Kang's time machine could have been built by either ancestor. Kang's early life as Nathaniel Richards played a big role in What If #39, which will be described in more detail next issue. Presumably Ancient Egypt was before Kang's Earth diverged from ours, which in Avengers #269 is stated as centuries ago.

Terminatrix Objective described Kang and the Time Variance Authority as controlling different groups of alternate timeline at this time. But both have appeared personally interested in the main Marvel timeline. TVA are usually portrayed as something bigger than just the controllers of a particular volume of time/space/alternity. On the other hand, maybe the main timeline does belong to them. Kang was always talking about conquering the 20th (now the 21st) Century, despite his empire stretching across it. He came from an alternate timeline. Maybe he's been trying to extend his empire sideways into part of the TVA's 20th Century? The following is a brief summary of Kang's life:- Nathaniel Richards in alternate 30th Century became Rama Tut I ~3000BC, who became Scarlet Centurion in alternate 20th Century, and then Kang in 40th Century. Kang made several attempts on 20th Century. He spawned various alternate copies (including Squadron Supreme's Scarlet Centurion). He gathered alternate Kangs into Council of Kangs, and killed them. He then split into the Cross-Time Kangs' Kang who died, and the Chronopolis Kang, who twice 'died' with Terminatrix, then became Rama Tut II, and on to Avengers Forever. Ravonna's incarnations are much simpler:- The original split into Immortus's Ravonna and Nebula/Terminatrix, who split off the alternate future Revelation before dying behind the scenes in Avengers Forever. Along the way she also span off other alternates like the ones Immortus gathered in Terminatrix Objective.

The Kang in Terminatrix Objective must have got hold of Tempus after Tempus's appearance in Avengers Forever (but not after Kang's appearance there - timeless Limbo is even more confusing than time travel), and then used him as a permanent barrier to keep out Alioth. In Terminatrix Objective Kang was supposed to be the only one who had been keeping Alioth at bay, so Terminatrix had to revive him. But then what he did was create the barrier out of Tempus. I can think of a timeless-Limbo-based reason for this. The Tempus-barrier once created would exist in all times. As long as Kang was alive the barrier could be created in the future, and so existed. While Kang was 'dead' the barrier wouldn't be created and so failed to exist. (On this basis Kang didn't have to create the barrier as soon as he was revived. Except maybe to drive Alioth out of Kang's empire.) I believe Kang's empire stretched from Rama Tut ~3000BC to his base ~4000AD across a group of alternate timelines. This is the same as the 7000 years the Time-Keepers gave Immortus to oversee. Alioth's empire ran from ~3000BC back to the dawn of life. This includes the eras of Eternals, Inhumans, Atlantis, Kull and Conan. So I don't think Alioth was particularly bad for sentient beings.

The claim that all the non-human members of the Cross-Time Kangs were aliens who had killed real Kangs is probably not what was originally intended. I would guess they were meant to be Kangs who sprang from non-human alternate realities. As a final twist to my Notes on Marcus Immortus, when I looked back at Avengers #200 Marcus's mother reminded me of Terminatrix in early Timely at the end of Terminatrix Objective. Could it be that Kang and Terminatrix had a son Marcus, as an alternate to Revelation's son. Kang cloned this son many times after Terminatrix's death in Avengers Forever, including the one in Avengers v3 #41-54. Immortus continued the practice, including the Marcus in Avengers #200. Then possibly the son at his death is another clone, rather than the son of Immortus and Ravonna. Each clone was given a fictitious background. I could even explain why Marcus in Avengers #200 thought Immortus was dead, by assuming that this Marcus was the one who saw Immortus and Ravonna die, and the relation to the 'death' in Avengers #143 was just an 'editorial interpretation'. Tempus is a being of Limbo, so he can't have alternate copies. This is how I reconstruct his history. The aged Immortus created him in Terminatrix Objective and imbued him with the spirits of himself and Ravonna. Tempus then took up his place as guardian of Limbo and companion/servant of Immortus, starting with Giant-Size Fantastic Four #2, up to and including his appearances in Avengers Forever.

This doesn't fit the idea of omniscient Immortus playing his part in the evolution of Kang into himself, a part that he himself remembers as having happened. Busiek's retelling allows both Kangs to have all the memories, and allows Immortus not to be wrong. The 3 Kangs follow the Fantastic Four's ship through the barrier around the Dreaming Celestial, rather than an Avengers quinjet. I'm not sure whether the ship that succeeded in piercing the barrier was always the Fantastic Four's ship, even in Avengers #297. Was it mistaken for an Avengers ship because of the presence of Iron Man and Thor, with added confusion due to Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman being in the Avengers at the time? Some issues such as Avengers Annual #21 refer to the Council of Kangs when they should mean the Council of Cross-Time Kangs. It doesn't make sense that all the Cross-Time Kangs weren't real Kangs, because they induct 'our' real Kang. They also mention gathering survivors of other Councils of Kangs. My theory about this is that the duplicates 'our' Kang knew about were all alternate reality versions of himself, spun off from the same version of Nathaniel Richards. But there would be other Nathaniel Richards, each of whom could generate his own set of Kangs. Each such set might combine into a separate Council of Kangs, who might cull themselves as 'ours' did.

The adventure with the Legion of the Unliving isn't mentioned directly in #7 or #8 or in the Notes on these issues. I suspect this is because it would raise an awkward question. In #8 it says that the historical foes Immortus conjured up in Avengers #10 were actually disguised Space Phantoms. If so, then does this mean that Human Torch and the others of the Legion were also Space Phantoms? On the other hand surely the hordes of warriors Immortus uses in Avengers Forever aren't just Space Phantoms? It would be a waste of disguise. Also, if this story was described here it would probably be claimed that Immortus only pretended to be tricked by Kang in Avengers #131, and definitely only pretended not to know he was a later version of them both. The alternate bodies Kang transfers his consciousness to are probably clones. Or are they alternate-reality Kangs? It doesn't say. In the original telling in Avengers #269 Immortus kept the Kang-who-would-be-him safely hidden, while the other Kang went mad from absorbing the memories of all the dead Kangs. Unfortunately it was this hidden Kang who died in the Cross-Time Kangs story. Thus by default it was the mad Kang who went on to Fantastic Four #323, and hence to become Immortus. Also, if the hidden Kang had survived, he wouldn't have had the memories to do what Rama Tut II did in the Celestial Madonna saga.

Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man all only appear here in flashbacks. This issue does for Kang what last issue did for Immortus. Unlike Immortus, Kang has multiple alternate-reality versions. It is possible to allocate some of Kang's adventures to different versions of him because often he doesn't specifically refer to other adventures. For instance one can discount the editorial footnote in Avengers #129 translating Kang's reference to "previous encounters" as including Avengers #69-71. Since time travel causes divergent realities maybe it was Rama Tut's appearance in Ancient Egypt which diverged the main timeline from Kang's own original timeline. In Avengers Annual #2 it doesn't specifically say that Captain America wasn't revived in the alternate timeline. But I would guess that when Avengers are shown capturing Sub-Mariner it was before he found Cap's frozen body in Avengers #4.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Forever #9 Synopsis by Rob Johnson

Last issue six Avengers learned the history of Immortus from a Space Phantom, before being betrayed to Immortus by their 7th member Yellowjacket. Meanwhile Rick Jones had taken off on his own. This issue is mostly taken up with Kang reviewing his own history, until Rick and the Kree Supreme Intelligence return. 

Last we saw of Kang in #3 he was in Chronopolis as Immortus collapsed it to make the Forever Crystal. We now find he escaped that fate and retreated to another stronghold in Purgatory.

Kang was born into a highly-civilised 30th Century on an alternate Earth. This Earth had been rebuilt after a nuclear war by Reed Richards's father Nathaniel. Kang's genealogy is muddled, but he may be descended from Nathaniel Richards, or possibly from Dr Doom, or both. Seeking adventure he found his ancestor's time machine, rebuilt it as a Sphinx and went back to Ancient Egypt to rule as Rama Tut.

In Fantastic Four #19 the Fantastic Four used Dr Doom's time machine to visit Rama Tut, and forced him to flee in the chronosphere heart of the Sphinx. En route to the future Rama Tut rescued Dr Doom from space in FF Annual #2. Rama Tut believed Doom to be his ancestor, but they also speculated confusingly that they might be the same person separated by time travel.

After leaving Dr Doom, Rama Tut was thrown back in time a bit to the end of Avengers Annual #2. There he appeared to the Avengers as Scarlet Centurion, causing a divergent timeline. He pretended to be an ally of Avengers but led them astray. He kept the original Avengers lineup, stopping Hulk from leaving and preventing the revival of Captain America. He persuaded them that the future of humanity depended on them imprisoning all other superheroes and supervillains. The current Avengers accidentally arrived in this divergent timeline in Avengers Annual #2 after returning from WWII in Avengers #56. They realised that Centurion had created a dictatorship, and used Dr Doom's time machine to cast him out of the alternate timeline.

Resuming his journey to the future Rama Tut overshot his own 30th Century and ended up in the war-torn 40th Century. He speculates that Immortus may have caused the overshoot. Here he took the name and armour of Kang and began his career of conquest. He conquered Earth, and then alien races such as the Badoon.

Tired of ruling a devastated Earth, Kang returned to conquer the 20th Century in Avengers #8, and attacked Avengers with a Spider-Man robot in Avengers #11. He continued to monitor Avengers, e.g. at their line-up change in Avengers #16.

Kang continued to expand his empire in the 40th century, conquering other space empires such as the Matriarch's Universal Church of Truth, and other-dimensional empires such as the Courts of Kosmos, whose size-changing technology he used to create his Growing Men Stimuloids.

Kang's empire was too large to personally control in detail. He had many subservient rulers under him. One such was King Carelius, whose daughter Ravonna Kang loved. But Ravonna didn't love him, and Carelius wouldn't marry her off to him. In Avengers #23-24 Kang brought the Avengers to the 40th Century to demonstrate his might to Ravonna. He demanded Ravonna in marriage. But his right-hand man Baltag demanded Carelius and Ravonna be executed as rebels. Baltag thought Kang had grown weak, and led a rebellion. Kang and Avengers successfully defended Carelius's castle, but Baltag tried to shoot Kang. Ravonna realised she did love him, and took the blast instead. Kang returned Avengers to 20th century, and put Ravonna in suspended animation pending a cure.

Kang threw himself back into his conquests, including the 40th Century Shi'ar Imperium. Then he took a fateful trip back to the 20th Century in Thor #140 to retrieve a Growing Man that had been accidentally activated. Thor used his hammer to send Kang to Limbo. Here he found a seemingly-dead Immortus, and used his technology to snatch Ravonna from just before her death, only to discover that this resulted in a divergent timeline where he died instead of her.

This lead him to further discover that his frequent time-travelling had spawned multiple alternate-reality copies of himself. Up to now Kang's tale has taken a leisurely pace. Understandably less space is devoted to the alternate-reality adventures, even including several stories in one panel. But sometimes these quick flashes hide multi-issue epics, or stories of some importance to Kang's future. Those depicted are:-

The builder of Chronopolis, as seen in a flashback in the Terminatrix backup story in Avengers Annual #21. Thus the Kang who was besieged in Chronopolis in #3 was not the one who built it.

A Kang who went back to Camelot in the Human Torch & Thing story in Strange Tales #134 to change history so that Avengers and Fantastic Four won't exist. Watcher sends Torch & Thing to stop him. This Kang doesn't yet know that changing the past won't change the present.

Story #2

Detailed Synopsis Continues

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

A Kang in Avengers #69-71 who played a game with the Grandmaster for the power of life and death. Because the game was drawn he only won one of those powers. He chose death for Avengers rather than life for Ravonna. But failed to kill them anyway.

A Kang in Hulk #135 who tried to use Hulk to change WWI history and negate the Avengers, but instead got lost outside of time. The Kang backup in Fantastic Four Annual #25 said he saved himself by transferring his mind elsewhere (to an alternate body? - see below).

Another Kang arrived at the end of Avengers #128 to try to capture the Celestial Madonna, whose child was destined to rule the universe. But he didn't know whether she was Scarlet Witch, Mantis or Agatha Harkness. The story continued in Avengers #129 and Giant-Size Avengers #2. In it we met an older version of Kang who had retaken the name Rama Tut and had come to stop Kang. Mantis was revealed as the Celestial Madonna, and Kang and Rama Tut disappeared in Kang's chronosphere.

The single panel of Kang and Rama Tut continuing their fight in Kang's time bubble opens Avengers #131. Immortus took them to Limbo where Kang got involved in Immortus's plans for the Celestial Madonna.

Immortus imprisoned Rama Tut but Kang turned the tables on him and used his facilities to recruit a band of dead characters (from before they died) as the Legion of the Unliving. These characters were under Kang's control, and he brought Avengers to Limbo to fight them in Avengers #132 and Giant-Size Avengers #3. One of the 'undead' characters was the original WWII Human Torch, and this led to the uncovering of Vision's origin in Avengers #133-135 and Giant-Size Avengers #4, as already described in #7-8.

Kang and Rama Tut went their separate ways after Giant-Size Avengers #3, but Kang popped back up again in Giant-Size Avengers #4 in a last ditch attempt to capture Mantis. He employed a little-used time-travel tactic of mobbing the enemy by travelling to the same time and place multiple times. But he belatedly found he had kidnapped a Space Phantom instead.

This version of Kang then appeared in the Western adventure in Avengers #141-143, again opposed by Immortus, which some of the Avengers Forever participants skirted around in #4-6. The end of this tale features in the next panel in this issue, where Kang was dissipated into the timestream when his forcefield overloaded protecting him against Thor. The Kang backup in Fantastic Four Annual #25 said this Kang too saved himself by mind-switch. This issue of Avengers Forever says this Kang survived by transferring his mind to an alternate body. The current Kang now has this technology built into his armour.

For more possible adventures of alternate Kangs see my Notes.

The Kang who took over Limbo from 'dead' Immortus decided to eliminate all the other Kangs as rivals, under cover of organizing them into a Council of Kangs. Avengers #267-269 said the main Kang only recruited 2 alternate Kangs into the Council, those who had proved best at surviving and were the main threat to himself and the most difficult to eliminate. They monitored their other alternates, seeing many of them being destroyed. They executed the survivors in Limbo, where they wouldn't produce new divergent selves. Unknown to the other 2 the main Kang had replaced the dead Kangs with robots to rule their alternate domains under his control. The main Kang then killed one of the other 2, before setting in motion an elaborate plot using Avengers to destroy the last one.

But then not-really-dead Immortus arrived. The Ravonna the remaining Kang had saved was now actually spying for Immortus. It was at this point that the last Kang learnt that Immortus was his future incarnation. Immortus had arranged for this Kang to kill off all the others. He had a psycho-globe containing the memories of all the slain Kangs. Kang grabbed it and absorbed all the memories but they sent him mad, and fleeing into the wastes of Limbo.

This issue now says that the last Kang split himself into 2 alternates to minimise the madness. Avengers #269 and 291 told a slightly different story. #269 had Immortus keep the Kang that would become him hidden from the Council of Kangs. Thus the mad Kang didn't have to split into 2 alternates.

One version retired to Chronopolis to recover, to resurface in Fantastic Four #323-325. The other stumbled into the adventure of the Cross-Time Kangs in Avengers #291-297. Avengers Forever employs single panels for these stories, and ignores some related ones which I will include.

The Council of Cross-Time Kangs or Cross-Time Kang Korps was a much larger organisation than the Council of Kangs. Indeed in Avengers #293 they claimed that there had been many such small localised Councils, and as usual they were inviting the survivor to join the bigger Council. This Council was drawn from a much wider range of alternate realities, amd most of the Kangs weren't human.

This larger Council weren't really Kangs, but were actually beings who had killed real Kangs and stolen their armour and identities, as revealed in Avengers Annual #21. This same Annual also claimed that the fake Cross-Time Kangs were actually controlled behind the scenes by the Kang in Chronopolis.

The Cross-Time Council had been infiltrated by Nebula, who was apparently a villain who had a clutch of appearances starting with Avengers #257. She and the Council were both after a weapon which will be created by a renegade Celestial in the future of mainline Marvel Earth. That volume of alternate-space-time was surrounded by a barrier that was difficult to penetrate. Nebula mind-controlled Dr Druid and other Avengers into taking her in there. Kang and 2 of the Cross-Time Kangs followed to stop her. In Avengers #297 the 3 Kangs were lost in unreality, followed by Nebula and Dr Druid.

The lost Kang didn't actually die here. He re-appeared in Avengers #300, in the middle of the Inferno crossover. He had been dispersed in a chaos of probabilities, and at some point probability conspired to give him a temporary existence again. In Avengers #297 he had seen multiple alternate Avengers Quinjets trying to pierce the barrier, and one of them had succeeded. Kang reasoned that that future Avengers ship was his only way back to solid reality. So in his brief window of existence he helped a group of Avengers (including Thor, Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman) survive Inferno. But that still wasn't the end of this Kang.

Meanwhile in Fantastic Four #323 the Kang from Chronopolis revealed some connection with the Cross-Time Kangs, and that the renegade Celestial was the Black or Dreaming Celestial (first mentioned in Eternals v1 #18). He tried to use Mantis to get the weapon in the present, contradicting the idea that it would only be built in the future. When that failed he helped Fantastic Four stop Necrodamus from using her in a mystical power rite in FF#324, and allied with the Cotati in FF#325 to keep Mantis from her son the Celestial Messiah.

Then the probability-lost Kang cropped up again in Fantastic Four #337-341. Nebula (still in the probability chaos with Dr Druid) influenced Fantastic Four plus Iron Man and Thor to try to pierce the barrier surrounding the future of the Black Celestial. They succeeded, and Nebula hitched a ride in one of their minds. The 3 lost Kangs reconstituted and also followed them in FF#338. It turned out that the renegade Celestial's weapon was Galactus modified to consume the universe, after which the Celestial would found a new universe. Of course our heroes defeated the Celestial and saved Galactus and the universe. In the process Nebula made a grab for Galactus's Ultimate Nullifier, but wound up back in the probability chaos. The lost Kang died in FF#338 and the 2 Cross-Time Kangs were never seen again.

Dr Druid eventually escaped back to reality in Avengers Spotlight #37, and banished Nebula to an unknown space and time. But we will see her again.

Story #3

Detailed Synopsis Concludes

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

We are now back with Kang's history as related (briefly) in the current issue.

Chronopolis Kang tired of such battles and retired once more to rule his vast empire. But that too became boring, and he relieved the boredom by partnering Dr Doom in an attempt to gain control of 5 Cosmic Cubes in Infinity War #1-5, where he was apparently betrayed and killed by Doom. He probably escaped by switching bodies again.

He next was involved in the Citizen Kang crossover in Annuals of Captain America, Thor, Fantastic Four and Avengers.

Cap Annual #11 and Thor Annual #17 showed Cap and Thor separately going in search of Vision, who himself had gone to Timely, Wisconsin to find out why he had sophisticated miniaturised parts from Timely Industries in his body since the 1930's. Both heroes found that Timely Industries HQ was a portal to other parts of space-time. Their Annuals were mainly taken up with their meetings with Prester John, Kronans and early versions of Gilgamesh and Sersi, before they reached Chronopolis, where Kang had Vision prisoner. Meanwhile Nebula appeared to Dr Druid to seek his help against Kang.

In FF Annual #25 and Avengers Annual #21 Dr Druid and Nebula recruited the FF to go to Timely and Chronopolis. Meanwhile the rest of the Avengers also went there. Kang sent his elite guard the Anachronauts against them all. Kang explained how he (or one of him), as Victor Timely, founded Timely (town and Industries) in 1910 to filter advanced technology to 20th Century, somehow thus setting things up for him to conquer 21st Century.

Dr Druid had worked out Nebula wasn't the character who debuted in Avengers #257. Kang now discovered she was actually a Ravonna. She now explained that after Avengers #71 where Kang chose to kill Avengers rather than revive her, the Grandmaster did revive her (leaving an inanimate duplicate in her place), and she swore vengeance on Kang. She started by infiltrating the Council of Cross-Time Kangs, as seen in Avengers #272, disguised as the original Nebula. As well the Dreaming Celestial plot, she had been killing Kangs. In fact she killed a Cross-Time Kang in the Avengers Annual, thinking it was the real Chronopolis Kang.

She now tried to kill the real Kang while Avengers and FF fought Anachronauts again. But Kang sacrificed himself to save her from Thor's flying hammer. The battle ended and Ravonna took the name Terminatrix, and took over Kang's empire. She put Kang in suspended animation, and swore to find a way to revive him, so she could kill him personally.

The story of Terminatrix and Kang continued in Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective limited series. The relevant panel in this issue actually shows an event that happened off-panel in the mini-series.

In the mini-series we learnt how time and alternate reality were parcelled up into empires. A being called Alioth rules the far past. Kang, the Time Variance Authority and a group called the Congress of Realities rule various clumps of alternate realities in the present era, and another Ravonna called Revelation rules a stretch of the future of Kang's bunch of realities.

Revelation was a possible future of Terminatrix, with a son by Kang called Marcus Immortus.

Kang was somehow keeping Alioth at bay. But now he was 'dead' and Alioth began to encroach on Kang's empire from the past. Revelation feared Alioth would overrun Kang's empire and then her own. She started manipulating things to stop Alioth, and to ensure Terminatrix went down the path that created Revelation's empire and Marcus.

Terminatrix was ruling Kang's empire, including the Cross-Time Kangs, disguised as Kang. Anachronauts resigned because they knew the truth. Revelation sent 3 Avengers to attack Terminatrix, who responded with 3 other Avengers. The Avengers combined forces and had irrelevant adventures with the Cross-Time Kangs and with the Victor Timely Kang in early Timely.

The Time-Keepers watched what happens, also without any effect on the story.

An aged Immortus captured Terminatrix and put her with other versions of Ravonna in stasis. He and his Ravonna were dying. (They too had a son who looked like Marcus Immortus.) Immortus had built Tempus to absorb beings with temporal power, and he and his Ravonna wanted one of the other Ravonnas to euthanase his Ravonna when he dies. Tempus would then absorb Immortus and his Ravonna, and go back to perform his historical functions. Terminatrix offered to do the deed. Immortus then died, Terminatrix killed Ravonna and Tempus activated.

Terminatrix escaped and met Revelation, who explained what was going on, and sent Terminatrix to revive Kang. Alioth invaded Kang's realm and killed the Cross-Time Kangs. Revelation, Terminatrix and Kang sent Avengers to take Tempus into Alioth. Tempus absorbed the Cross-Time Kangs' temporal energy before Alioth could. Tempus also absorbed the part of Alioth in Kang's realm, and grew to become a barrier between their empires.

Kang offered Terminatrix a choice:- go to found Revelation's empire or stay with him and they'll rule both. Revelation confusingly seemed to expect Terminatrix to stay with Kang and give birth to Marcus, but also have her own empire. But Terminatrix killed Kang, promising to revive him when they can be co-equals.

Anachronauts returned to serve Terminatrix. In their own backup story in Avengers Annual #22 they and she helped renegade TVA agent Prof Gamble defeat out-of-control TVA robots called Incinerators.

There is another appearance by Kang at this time in Fantastic Four Annual #27, where FF persuaded a senior employee of TVA to defect to Kang. Alioth and Congress of Realities were mentioned, as well as another cross-time empire the Delubric Consortium. Kang was only seen as a holographic head. It was probably Terminatrix.

In an epilogue in Terminatrix Objective we see Terminatrix join Victor Timely in early Timely as Rebecca Tourminet. They have been reconciled. The panel in Avengers Forever shows Terminatrix reviving Kang again before this Timely episode.

Terminatrix and Kang then spent a happy time together. But eventually Kang left Chronopolis to her, and retired to rule a simpler empire as Rama Tut.

Giant-Size Avengers #2 revealed that the older version of Kang went back again to Ancient Egypt after the period of his previous reign there, and retook the name Rama Tut. He destroyed his time machine, and this time he ruled well. In Iron Man v2 #11 Iron Man and Dr Doom from the Heroes Reborn pocket universe bounce back through time in the main Marvel timeline, including a visit with the new Rama Tut.

Then Rama Tut remembered what happened during the Celestial Madonna story, and had himself put into suspended animation, to revive at the appropriate time. Some West Coast Avengers pop in for West Coast Avengers #20 just as he is about to go to sleep.

Avengers Forever shows the Celestial Madonna story in some detail from Rama Tut's viewpoint.

Afterwards Rama Tut wandered through Kang's history, and prepared to become Immortus. But as he entered Limbo he saw Immortus making his deal with Time-Keepers, and pulled back.

He returned to Chronopolis and Terminatrix/Ravonna as Kang, and reviewed the system of time empires, including the Delubric Consortium and unnamed others. He allowed Alioth to break through Tempus into the Time Variance Authority. He set Revelation against Delubric Consortium, and kept the other groups busy as well. He destroyed the body-switching device in his armour, to make him fight harder.

He studied the histories of Immortus and Time-Keepers (which I will save for a fuller exposition next time).

Kang allied with Libra and the Supreme Intelligence. And then came Avengers Forever #1-3, where Chronopolis, Terminatrix and Anachronauts fell, but Kang escaped (without mind-swapping to another body).

Now the Supremor contacts him. And Rick Jones turns up after returning to the Sphinx and finding Avengers gone with signs of conflict.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Bruce Banner)

(Kang the Conqueror)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Peter Parker)

(Ben Grimm)


> Avengers Forever: Book info and issue index

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