Comics
Published August 17, 2021

Kang the Conqueror's Rare Heroic Moments

Revisit the unusual occasions when Kang sided with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Ever since his first appearance in AVENGERS (1963) #8, the one known as Kang has been a thorn in the side of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Technically, an earlier incarnation of Kang appeared as Rama-Tut in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #19, but the core elements of his character almost always remain. He is a conqueror, and his thirst for power can never fully be satisfied.

On Wednesday, August 18, co-writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing join artist Carlos Magno to reexamine Nathaniel Richards’ origins in KANG THE CONQUEROR #1. That’s also the first time that Kang has ever headlined his own comic book series.

KANG THE CONQUEROR #1 variant cover by Peach Momoko
KANG THE CONQUEROR #1 variant cover by Peach Momoko

Baddies typically don’t get their own comics, but Kang has never simply been just another villain. While he certainly has his drawbacks, Kang also has a certain respect and admiration for the heroes of the Marvel Age. And during a few rare occasions, Kang has even fought by their side when they shared a common purpose...

It would be a misnomer to describe Kang as a hero. But as we take a look back at Marvel history through the lens of Marvel Unlimited, we can see a different side of Kang. These are his heroic exploits.

AVENGERS (1963) #24

AVENGERS (1963) #24

In the far future, Kang was quite taken with Princess Ravonna Renslayer—so much so that Kang didn’t simply crush her kingdom beneath his heel. Instead, he transported the Avengers to the 40th century and sought to prove his superiority to Ravonna by defeating them. When she failed to be impressed by his victory, Kang still showed mercy to Ravonna and her father. However, that turned out to be a mistake. Baltag and the rest of Kang’s commanders took that as a sign of weakness and led a rebellion against him.

Thus, for the first time ever, Kang was forced to fight side-by-side with the Avengers to defeat his own army and save Ravonna’s kingdom. Kang was so pleased by the outcome that he didn’t even try to betray the Avengers. He even sent them back to their own era in peace. Unfortunately, Baltag broke free just long enough to strike at Kang, though Ravonna seemingly sacrificed herself to save him. His heroic actions had won her heart, but they were doomed to remain apart for a long time to come.

AVENGERS (1963) #129

AVENGERS (1963) #129

During the CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA, Kang was obsessed with finding the Celestial Madonna so that he could be the father of the prophesied Celestial Messiah. He was prepared for almost every contingency...except himself. Many years in the future, Kang turned away from this path and became Rama-Tut yet again. The noble pharaoh traveled back to the present and fought his younger self alongside the Avengers.

In GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS (1974) #3, Rama-Tut and his future self, Immortus, teamed up with the Avengers against Kang. Sadly, Rama-Tut was unable to save Swordsman from his fate. But the Avengers were grateful for his help. Without him, they wouldn’t have won.

AVENGERS FOREVER (1998)

AVENGERS FOREVER (1998)

Within the Marvel timeline, the events of AVENGERS FOREVER are known as “the Destiny War.” While it was ostensibly about the Time-Keepers’ attempts to prevent humanity from reaching its full potential, it was also the story of Kang’s refusal to bow to his own destiny. Kang knew that at some point in his future, he was going to become Immortus and serve the Time-Keepers. He was disgusted and outraged by this outcome, and he fought against it with all of his strength.

Towards that end, Kang sided with a ragtag team of Avengers from different points in time. And he was magnificent in battle. In what may be his defining moment to date, Kang defied the Time-Keepers when they tried to artificially induce his transformation into Immortus. Through sheer force of will, Kang resisted until he and Immortus were literally split into two different variants. This gave Kang the victory over his own destiny that he had craved for years.

YOUNG AVENGERS (2005)

YOUNG AVENGERS (2005) #1-6

Kang’s heroic turn was never going to last long. In fact, he grew a little too arrogant in his attempt to skirt destiny. That’s why Kang went back into his own personal timeline to meet a younger version of Nathaniel Richards in the hope of convincing himself to become Kang decades earlier in his life.

It turns out that Kang underestimated himself. Young Nathaniel still idolized the Avengers, and he was horrified by the future that Kang laid out for him. Instead of embracing evil, Nathaniel fled to the past and took on the heroic identity of Iron Lad. He also helped bring the Young Avengers together, in part for their help against his older self. Iron Lad even slew Kang in battle.

Unfortunately, Iron Lad realized that his destiny could not be changed. To save his newfound friends, young Nathaniel returned to his natural place in the timeline. Yet his legacy with the Young Avengers helped pave the way for a new generation of heroes.

UNCANNY AVENGERS (2012) #20

UNCANNY AVENGERS (2012) #20-22

Let’s be clear: this mess was entirely Kang’s fault. He kidnapped Archangel’s children, Uriel and Eimin, and molded them into the Apocalypse Twins. The problem was that the twins learned Kang’s game all too well. Because of his cruelty, they turned against him and plotted to destroy his empire by unleashing the wrath of the Celestials on Earth’s present day. Thanks to their machinations, Earth and most of its inhabitants were destroyed, while the mutant population was safe on Planet X.

Those events forced Kang to take drastic action. He gathered a Chronos Corps of displaced heroes and villains from different timelines. Kang also made a deal with the surviving members of the Avengers Unity Squad to send their minds back in time to the bodies of their younger selves. That was the only way around the time travel restrictions that the Apocalypse Twins had put in place to prevent any changes in their new timeline.

Kang’s gambit worked, and Earth was saved. Regardless, Kang showed his true colors when he betrayed the Avengers in a bid to claim the Celestial’s power as his own. He also escaped into the time stream with Katie Summers, the young daughter of Havok and Wasp from the now abandoned timeline. She has never been seen again. Though perhaps Kang will find a use for her in the future.

What will Kang do next? Find out in KANG THE CONQUEROR #1 on Wednesday, August 18!

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