Kang-o-Round

November 27, 2008

By Avi Green

The Avengers: Kang: Time and Time Again TPB
Writers: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Roger Stern
Artists: Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, John Buscema

Kang the Conquerer is one of the most “unexpected” of all the supervillains in the Marvel Universe, as he comes from a futuristic era, and all his acts of villainy in past-eras has led to the creation of alternate timeline versions of himself, to the point of where, even if you may have defeated one Kang, there’ll likely be scores more of him to deal with.

Such seems to be the case as seen in Kang: Time and Time Again, where Kang was trying to hatch a few evil schemes of his, first starting with the attempt to plant a “Growing Man” in the present era at the time when Thor was working in earthly guise as Dr. Donald Blake in New York City. This leads of course to quite a tough battle for the Thunder God when he discovers what menace is around, and subsequently when confronting Kang himself. After briefly subduing the Thunder God, Kang gives some explanations before Thor breaks free of his hold. Kang tries to escape, but, with a clever little trick, Thor dispatches Kang to Limbo, a dimension that exists beyond all time.

Of course, Kang turns up again later on, in a story in the Avengers where he attempts to use the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as human chesspieces in a game with the Grand Master, who offered Kang the ability to revive his lover Ravonna from the dead, and to destroy his most formidable foes. This leads to a battle between some of the Avengers themselves in different time zones. Finally, when the EMH have at least won by half, the Grand Master agrees to give him a choice between Ravonna and the destruction of the EMH. Guess which one Kang picks?

The next time Kang does something in connection with trying to attack the heroes of the present, and even anti-heroes, it’s when he reaches out to the Hulk, to try and influence him to wipe out a WW1 pilot who may be an ancestor of his and is even an early variation on a superhero – the Phantom Eagle. Kang does this because the time zone in the early 20th century is intercepted by a maelstrom in space he can’t navigate around at ease with his own time machine, so he instead tries to send the Hulk to that era because he can withstand the strain better. But, this attempt by Kang at altering history to his favor backfires after the Hulk is provoked by an enemy cannon installation and attacks it, reducing it to smithereens. Shortly afterwards, the Hulk is returned to his own time, in a way that could make Bruce Banner wonder if it was all a dream.

As we discover later, all these meddlings Kang did with time travel resulted in creating alternate time duplicates of himself, and years after these particular adventures, he tried yet again to strike at the Avengers, and not only that, he even tried to eliminate all his other time duplicates, since he did not want his name to become, in his words, “synonymous with ‘fool’!” This is during an adventure where he abducts several Avengers from their mansion into Limbo, where it turns out that Immortus, one of Kang’s alternate versions, has built a special time travel laboratory. Not only that, we learn that Ravonna, his lover, had been saved from the fate that befell her in the timeline featured in the earlier Avengers adventures courtesy of an accidental press of a control switch in the laboratory. He now plots to do away with his enemies. But Hercules, who’s among those abducted, fights to free himself from the paralysis effects Kang has put them under, and finally manages to free the Avengers from the trap. This is mainly because Ravonna has allowed it to happen, and it turns out she’s actually in league with another adversary mentioned in this review.

This is pretty good stuff, which could give a good clue about how Kang manages to be such a time-thorn in the side of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, all the time, anytime. And the explanations of past history and occurances involving the futuristic warlord are very well done.

This is a good compilation of some of the most notable stories with Kang, and is well recommended for reading.

Copyright 2008 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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