Comics
Published June 27, 2023

The Top 10 Time-Travelers in the Marvel Universe

The past, present, and future have nothing on these characters who have rewritten the rules of time!

You may think of time as a one-way boulevard or a two-way express lane, but the Marvel Universe’s definition is quite different. Our concept of time is like a highway jam-packed with commuters, all shifting back and forth throughout the continuum of spacetime and the Multiverse itself.

While it seems like just about every major character has made a journey to the past (or future), several visitors from various Marvel timelines have traveled to Earth-616 and made a major impact. Here’s our roundup on the Marvel time-travelers who have left a mark on the prime Marvel Universe!

TWO-GUN KID

Since the beginning, the House of Ideas has made space for a variety of genres, including the fan-favorite Western. Series TWO-GUN KID originally saddled up in 1948 and came out sporadically for the next decade-plus showcasing Clay Harder's masked adventures. And, in 1962’s TWO-GUN KID #60, the title's status quo got upended by introducing Matt Hawk who trained in the ways of the gunfighter and took the name Two-Gun Kid from dime store novels he read (presumably starring Clay Harder). He then went on to have his own adventures, becoming one of the Wild West's most prominent do-gooders.

TWO-GUN KID (1948) #60
TWO-GUN KID (1948) #60

He and other Western heroes were stunned to find their era visited by Kang the Conqueror, Immortus, Thor, and Moondragon in AVENGERS (1963) #141-144. After helping the future heroes, Two-Gun asked them to bring him to the future, which they did. Becoming an Avengers reservist, he and Hawkeye: Clint Barton palled around together, but he returned to his home time in AVENGERS #175 after being kidnapped by the Collector.

Back in the Wild West, he assisted an offshoot of his old squad in WEST COAST AVENGERS (1985) #18-23, dealt with Kang's forces again in AVENGERS FOREVER (1998), and fought Loki with King T'Challa in BLACK PANTHER (1998) #46-48. Then, in SHE-HULK (2005) #4, he returned to the present when She-Hulk requested the Time Variance Authority free him from Limbo. He kicked around for quite a while after that, even getting involved in the first Super Hero Civil War.

SHE-HULK (2005) #4
SHE-HULK (2005) #4

THE (ORIGINAL) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Today the Guardians of the Galaxy might be well-known for members like Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket, but when the original squad debuted in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES (1967) #18, the team looked totally different. That issue introduced the world to Charlie-27, Martinex, Yondu and “Major Victory” Vance Astrovik. The quartet came together in the year 3007 on Earth-691 to combat the Brotherhood of the Badoon invasion of the United Lands of Earth.

MARVEL SUPER-HEROES (1967) #18
MARVEL SUPER-HEROES (1967) #18

While they would eventually go on to star in their own self-titled series that spanned 62 issues, the Guardians made a variety of guest appearances. Having met Captain America, the Thing, and Agent 13: Sharon Carter in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE (1974) #5, they appeared in the present in GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS (1974) #5. In addition to helping the title team deal with Eelar, a young Vance Astrovik met the team he would eventually join, including his future self!

The Guardians continued to appear in DEFENDERS (1972) #26-29, though Doctor Strange noted that the coexistence of Vance's younger and older selves was causing problems in the timestream. To fix the issue and help their new companions, the Defenders transported the Guardians to their home time and helped them free the humans to defeat the Badoon on Earth.

Later, the Guardians met with a new group of Earth's Mightiest Heroes to combat Korvac, a villain from their own time period who had attained godlike powers. Throughout the “Korvac Saga” in AVENGERS #167-181, the Guardians fought valiantly to save the past. Before heading home, they fought alongside Carol Danvers, Spider-Man, and the Thing in MS. MARVEL (1977) #23, MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #86 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE (1974) #69 respectively.

KORVAC

Speaking of Korvac: This time-traveler has threatened reality on a variety of occasions! In the aforementioned “Korvac Saga,” he traveled from the future of Earth-691 to Earth-616, but before that, Michael Korvac betrayed humanity to the Badoon who later cut off his legs and fused him to a hovering computer module. Seeking revenge, he decided to take over the Badoon empire, but was first brought to the present by Elder of the Universe Grandmaster in GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS (1974) #3. Using his machinery’s ability to absorb energy, he syphoned off some of the Grandmaster’s power, which allowed him to travel through time on his own.

GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS (1974) #3
GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS (1974) #3

Returning to the present, Korvac visited Galactus’ ship and managed to absorb some of the Power Cosmic, which allowed him to restore his body and take control of all things. He eventually fought the Avengers and the Guardians but took his own life when he felt that his partner Carina lost faith in him.

Korvac came back in his own time-hopping mini-crossover called “The Korvac Quest” (playing out across FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #24, THOR ANNUAL #6, SILVER SURFER ANNUAL #4 and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ANNUAL #1), but was ultimately turned into a baby in the future. He has returned as an adult to the present several times, including in AVENGERS ACADEMY (2010) #11-12. Members of the team accidentally transported Carina to their base which drew Korvac's attention. When she rebuked him, it led to a huge battle with all the Avengers involved!

Planning another attack, Korvac went back to Earth-616 and began slowly dismantling time. In GUARDIANS 3000 (2014), the original Guardians felt it in their own time and went back to discover the cause: Korvac. His plans wound up falling apart because of the Incursions leading into SECRET WARS (2015). After reality was put back together, he appeared regularly in IRON MAN (2020) and attempted to bring peace to Earth by ending all life. Thankfully, the Armored Avenger and his allies stopped Korvac once more.

IRON MAN (2020) #19
IRON MAN (2020) #19

OLD MAN LOGAN

More than most super-powered groups, the X-Men are no strangers to time-travelers joining their ranks. One of the more recent additions came from Earth-21923, a world in which the villains worked together and manipulated Wolverine into killing the X-Men before dividing up the whole nation amongst themselves. Afterwards, Logan attempted to live a normal, non-violent life, but returned to action when an older Hawkeye needed help with a mission. Wolverine ultimately killed the Red Skull of his time but returned home to discover that his wife and children had been murdered by the Hulk Gang.

OLD MAN LOGAN (2015) #1
OLD MAN LOGAN (2015) #1

This “Old Man Logan” version of Wolverine wound up in the Earth-616 present after the entire Multiverse was rewritten during 2015’s SECRET WARS. Though he began a mission of preemptive vengeance almost immediately in the pages of OLD MAN LOGAN (2015), he slowly allowed himself to be integrated into the larger X-Men family, taking the place of his past self who had died before his arrival. This more experienced, (more tragic) James Howlett regularly appeared in his own book as well as EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN (2015), X-MEN: GOLD (2017), and WEAPON X (2017).

During his time in the present, he met many of Earth’s heroes, and even participated in the Second Superhuman Civil War. In DEAD MAN LOGAN (2018), the hero said his goodbyes in the present and returned to his future to live out the rest of his life.

DEAD MAN LOGAN (2018) #12
DEAD MAN LOGAN (2018) #12

KATE PRYDE (EARTH-811)

While many of the characters on this list have made several trips to the present, others managed to change the course of human history in just one journey. In the classic “Days of Future Past” story (1981’s UNCANNY X-MEN #141-142), readers were introduced to Earth-811, a possible future in which Senator Robert Kelly, Charles Xavier, and Moira MacTaggert were killed by mutant terrorists on Halloween 1980.

That attack prompted the government to unleash the Sentinels and create three designations for living beings: H (baseline humans), A (anomalous humans), and M (mutants). The mutants that were not killed were placed in concentration camps, but that did not destroy their hope to change the past.

Working with her fellow alternate future X-Men, Kate managed to send her consciousness back to 1980 to inhabit the body of her younger self, Kitty Pryde. She got the attention of the X-Men and explained the future to them, noting that they could fix the whole thing by going to Washington, D.C. to prevent the assassination. They did exactly that by stopping Mystique and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Not bad for a one-time time-traveler!

UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #141
UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #141

BISHOP

With origins in yet another future where mutants were rounded up and imprisoned (Earth-1191), Lucas Bishop became a member of the X.S.E. (Xavier Security Enforcers) AKA the mutant police. During one mission he was chasing Trevor Fitzroy, a rebel-turned-criminal mutant whose powers allowed him to travel through time. Bishop wound up in the present as seen in UNCANNY X-MEN #282-283, and although both of his X.S.E. partners were killed, he succeeded in sending his quarry Fitzroy back to the future. Though initially uneasy of the X-Men, Bishop decided to stick around with the team in hopes of stopping the event that triggers his future.

UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #282
UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #282

During his time in the present, Bishop went on scores of missions with the X-Men, but he became incredibly important during the AGE OF APOCALYPSE event as the catalyst for returning everything to the way it had been before Charles Xavier was killed by a time-traveling Legion.

Further down the line, Bishop found himself at the heart of the “Messiah Complex” crossover which featured a variety of factions trying to track down the first mutant born since HOUSE OF M, Hope Summers. Bishop revealed that, in his timeline, this “mutant messiah” would kill one million humans. To that end, he fought against many of his old teammates—including fellow time-traveler Cable—to kill the child Hope. Bishop eventually saw the error of his ways and has since made amends with his fellow X-Men.

[RELATEDBishop's Complete Marvel History]

On the island of Krakoa, Bishop became an inaugural member of Kate Pryde’s Marauders, and added Red Bishop of the Hellfire Trading Company to his resume. He was also one of Krakoa’s Great Captains, established by the Quiet Council of Krakoa. Then, in INFERNO (2021) #1Cyclops stepped down from the position of Captain Commander, the leader of all Great Captains, and promoted Bishop to the role.

INFERNO (2021) #1
INFERNO (2021) #1

SPIDER-MAN 2099

Back in 1992, Marvel launched a forward-looking lineup of series that took place in the year 2099, a not-so distant alternate future of Earth-616. Miguel O’Hara was 2099’s Wall-Crawler, carrying on Peter Parker's legacy of arachnid heroics in SPIDER-MAN 2099 (1992). Though there were a few meetings between the 2099 and Earth-616 Spidey, Miguel did not travel back to the prime reality for a long period of time until SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN (2013) #17. During that time, Miguel was not only stranded in the past, but encountered Otto Octavius in the body of Spider-Man!

SPIDER-MAN 2099 (1992) #1
SPIDER-MAN 2099 (1992) #1

Taking on the identity of Michael “Mike” O’Mara, Miguel began working for Alchemax, the company that were a critical part in his life circa 2099. Down the line, Spider-Man 2099 has played major roles in the multiversal SPIDER-VERSE and SPIDER-GEDDON events, helping to save not just the present reality, but countless others too.

[RELATEDMeet Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099]

THE GOD(S) OF THUNDER

To battle the threat of Gorr the God Butcher, God of Thunder Thor needed all the help he could acquire in fan-favorite series THOR: GOD OF THUNDER (2012). So, who better to recruit than versions of himself?

[RELATEDWho Has Wielded Thor's Hammer?]

To cut off the source of Gorr’s universal god-killer “the Godbomb,” the past’s “Young Thor” and the future’s “King Thor” collaborated with the present Odinson. These three cross-time Thors were also assisted by King Thor’s granddaughters Frigg, Ellisiv and Atli all of whom worked together to save godhood.

MIGHTY THOR: AT THE GATES OF VALHALLA (2018) #1
MIGHTY THOR: AT THE GATES OF VALHALLA (2018) #1

The three goddesses would later travel back via Time Diamonds to meet the legendary Jane Foster after her initial stint as Thor. Though they took her flying, they did not tell her about the epic story ahead in the WAR OF THE REALMS event, at the end of which the Fantastic Four used Doctor Doom’s Time Platform to recruit King Thor and Young Thor to end the conflict. WAR OF THE REALMS also resurrected Jane as Thor once more.

THE ENTIRE SUMMERS FAMILY

Warning: The Summers-Grey kids know how to alter a timeline.

The Grey-Summers Family Tree.
The Grey-Summers Family Tree.

Thor and his selves get around the time stream regularly, but not nearly as much as the Summers’ mutant family. Dad Cyclops alone has traipsed through time on a variety of occasions, so let’s start with that. As a kid, he and his fellow original X-Men traveled to the present as versions of their younger selves in ALL-NEW X-MEN (2012). And don't forget about the time that he and his wife Jean Grey took a trip several thousand years into the future in ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX (1994) to save Scott’s son Nathan Summers, AKA Cable.

Oh, and remember Kate Pryde from the “Days of Future Past” timeline? Well, she's not the only one from that future who came to the present. Kate was followed by Rachel Grey/Summers—the daughter of that era's Scott Summers and Jean Grey—who had telepathic powers like her mother, but had been turned into a mutant-hunting Hound following the destruction of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. After Kate’s mission to the past, Rachel eventually made contact with the Phoenix Force which allowed her to physically, not just mentally, travel to the present of Earth-616 in UNCANNY X-MEN #184. Since then, Rachel has allied herself with Xavier's other students and teams, defending the denizens of the present for years, now under the codename Prestige.

UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #184
UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #184

But it’s son of Cyclops, Cable—whose mother is Madelyne Pryor, a Mister Sinister-created clone of Jean Grey—that has made his way through time more often than even his half-brother X-Man. Following Nathan’s birth in UNCANNY X-MEN #201, Apocalypse infected the infant with a techno-organic virus that threatened his life (X-FACTOR #65-68). To save his son, Cyclops agreed to let Sister Askani, a member of a religious anti-Apocalypse cult, take the child to the far future where they could better manage baby Cable’s affliction.

The Clan Askani saved Nathan's life but could not fully cure him of the virus. When he was still a child, the mysterious “Slym and Redd” stepped in to raise him. Though Cable didn’t know it at the time, this couple was a temporally displaced Scott and Jean. While Scott and Jean returned to their present in ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX #4, the boy grew to become an incredibly resourceful soldier of the future. Though a younger version of him did come to the present in X-FORCE (2018), the most well-known version of the man known as Cable debuted in NEW MUTANTS (1983) #87, though he would not reveal his history, or connection to the Summers family, for some time.

ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX (1994) #4
ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX (1994) #4

Since then, Cable has been involved in just about every major X-event. He was at the forefront of defeating his own time-traveling clone Stryfe in the “X-Cutioner's Song” storyline, and also ensured Hope Summers’ survival during “Messiah Complex” and throughout CABLE (2008). Hope Summers not only represents the reinvigoration of the mutant race, but as a member of The Five, she's an integral part of the mutant resurrection process, making her one of the most important beings in the continuation of Krakoa.

[RELATEDThe Secrets of Mutant Resurrection]

KANG…ALL OF THEM

If you had to take notes to keep track of some of these temporally adventurous individuals, now's the time to break out the cork board, red string, and pushpins because Kang’s got them all beat! Born to Earth-6311, a reality in which humanity evolved to the point where peace reigned supreme, a man named Nathaniel Richards—related to either present-day Reed Richards or Doctor Doom—grew bored and desired conquest.

[RELATEDThe Many Faces of Kang]

To that end the conquering Nathaniel built his own time ship which was stocked with future tech and traveled to Ancient Egypt where he took on the identity of Pharoah Rama-Tut in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #19. While in that era, he encountered many heroes traveling from Earth-616’s present. However, after surviving a time storm, “Rama-Tut” decided to switch things up by becoming the Scarlet Centurion! Those attempts to destroy Earth's Mightiest Heroes early in their tenure—as seen in AVENGERS ANNUAL (1967) #2—proved a failure.

AVENGERS (1963) #8
AVENGERS (1963) #8

Leaving that identity behind, Richards became Rama-Tut once more, but overshot his home in the 30th century and wound up in the far more dangerous 40th century where he took on the name Kang the Conqueror, the character who debuted in AVENGERS (1963) #8. Thus began Kang’s recurring attempts to defeat the heroes of the present. Though he has come close several times—like during the “Kang War” story in AVENGERS (1998) #38-55—the Conqueror has never truly lived up to his name, though it appears that he never stops trying just like the interminable march of time.

But not all Kangs are bad. (And thanks to parallel and offshoot timelines there are plenty.) In one unusual blip of the timestream, a teen version of Kang, Iron Lad, traveled back to the present and became a founding member of the Young Avengers. He even succeeded in killing his older self, but that led to a time storm of epic proportions, so much so that Iron Lad undid the murder and returned to his proper period, knowing he’d eventually become the corrupted Kang.

YOUNG AVENGERS (2005) #1
YOUNG AVENGERS (2005) #1

But as readers have learned over the years, “Kang” isn't even this character's endpoint. The Lord Immortus—who first appeared in AVENGERS #10—pops up from time to time to mix it up not only with the heroes of the present, but also with Kang himself. (As seen in tales like “Celestial Madonna” and “Destiny War.”) You'd be surprised how many times Kang has tussled with himself and the wild results—but that doesn't stop the Kangs from interfering with each other’s intricate plots for power!

Regardless of which variant of Kang we’re talking about, no character has traversed time as often and as freely. And while these stories take place across the expansive Marvel Multiverse including all of time and space, they can all be read in one place: the Marvel Unlimited app!


To read your Marvel comics digitally, download the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS and Android devices. Gain an expansive catalog of 30,000+ comics spanning Marvel Comics history, plus access your entire digital library including comics redeemed from print. 

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