Looking Back on ‘Avengers: Kang Dynasty’
We unravel the time traveling despot's epic attack on Earth and the Avengers!
But that's not all! In an effort to take a more proactive approach to super-heroing, the Avengers had the half-extraterrestrial Jack of Hearts explore the High Evolutionary's abandoned base in the Savage Land, while Justice and Firestar were undercover in the Triune Understanding. Black Knight and Firebird kept an eye on Bloodwraith too in the wreckage of Slorenia. There was even a group out in space at a monitoring station that included Quasar, Photon (Monica Rambeau) and Living Lightning. And that's not counting reserve members She-Hulk, Black Widow, Stingray, and Hercules who also made appearances as the story continued. It would take every single one of them to fend off Kang's plans to conquer Earth in part for his son Scarlet Centurion to rule.
The person under the Scarlet Centurion guise in this story is Marcus Kang, son of the time-traveler. He wore a suit of armor with a variety of defenses and weapons, wielded an equally useful standard, and flew around on a platform. The Avengers jumped into action, attacking him upon arrival and it took a whole squad to defeat him. At that point, Kang appeared, admonished their lack of diplomacy and destroyed the U.N. building; but he did save all of the people inside.
KANG, WANNABE SAVIOR
The would-be conqueror ostensibly gave Earth time to figure out their next move, but he already had a variety of plans in motion. He even explained a few of these, including his intent to attack France and Germany first. Kang also warned that any attacks on their persons or their ship would result in brutal retaliation.
BESIEGED ON ALL SIDES
Meanwhile, Attuma lead an Atlantean attack on Prince Edward Island while an army of Deviants blasted through China. The time traveler explained to his son that facilitating all of these threats would exploit the Avengers' weaknesses. However, by AVENGERS #44, Stingray defeated the Atlanteans, Thor bested Presence, and Warbird took down the Deviants' champion. Kang still had other plans.
THE PYM PROBLEM
His longtime partner, Wasp, did not have time to address her concerns with Hank because he passed out and began turning translucent! In AVENGERS ANNUAL 2001, the fading Hank asked Janet Van Dyne (AKA Wasp) to check in on the captured Pym. At Triathlon's suggestion, they took the two Hanks to the Triune Understanding where their leader, Jonathan Tremont, allowed them to communicate mentally. Basically, Pym had shut off the impetuous, erratic side that he blamed for hurting Jan. When evil sorcerer Kulan Gath hit him with a spell, Pym split into two separate beings. Tremont’s mental merging allowed the Pyms to do the same physically, making Hank whole again. Hank decided to stick with the Yellowjacket identity as a way to embrace the messiness of his past (and hopefully make up for it).
UNDERSTANDING THE TRIUNE
MASTER OF THE WORLD
The Master debuted in ALPHA FLIGHT (1983) #2 and gave the Avengers trouble on more than one occasion. In KANG DYNASTY, he explained that, as the overseer of the planet, he approved of Kang's invasion because it would greatly reduce the world's population, but of course could not support a plan that lead anyone else to take over as the “orb's true ruler.” When Carol Danvers and the others finally confronted the Master in AVENGERS #48, he refused to help them, so she stabbed him in the gut so they could take control of his tech to keep the world safe.
THE TICKING CLOCK
A squad consisting of Captain America, Photon, Jack of Hearts, and Scarlet Witch flew off into space to attack Damocles Base, Kang's sword-shaped ship. Though they briefly succeeded in piercing the force field, Kang blasted their ship apart. With that, the Sentinels were launched, but the Conqueror easily took control of all 75 Sentinels.
ARTICLES OF SURRENDER
Readers will note that AVENGERS #49 is presented without any dialogue. This was part of the 2002 “'Nuff Said” campaign wherein every Marvel comic with that tag went wordless. According to a letter that accompanied the original issues, the idea was created by Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada, who were then President and Editor-in-Chief, as a challenge to their talented creators. Busiek and Dwyer had no problem conveying a crucial portion of the KANG DYNASTY story in the 'Nuff Said style.
PRISONERS OF LOVE AND WAR
After having a heart-to-heart talk where they agreed that they still loved one another but were not in love, Wanda and Simon devised a plan that would allow him to break free, though it would seem like he was killed. This would not only prove an important move in the larger story, but also a nice cap-off to the Wanda Maximoff/Simon Williams relationship that had been in the mix since she helped him return to life in AVENGERS (1998) #2.
TAKING A PAGE FROM KANG'S PLAYBOOK
In addition to their own plan of attack, Wasp worked with the Deviants as well as the Atlanteans to attack their common enemy at a designated time across the world. Even the Presence came to help! The orchestration allowed the Avengers to plan their next move and also put Kang on his back foot, which was good considering they were in for a surprise from space.
WAR OF THE GIANTS
At the same time, a group on the ground used the Master's defenses to blast away at Damocles Base in space while a third group—including Thor, Iron Man, Firebird, Warbird and Wonder Man—joined the space battle. With some unexpected help from Tremont, the team made their way into Kang's ship. After Warbird took out the power core, Kang sent Marcus away and stayed with the ship as it crashed towards Earth.
THE LAST STAND
Kang was distraught when Marcus appeared and freed him. Forced back into action, the father revealed that his son was but one of many Marcus clones. The others had failed to live up to his expectations and were killed. Between freeing Kang and helping Warbird infiltrate the Master's domain, Scarlet Centurion made two grave errors that the Conqueror could not abide. He dealt with his 23rd son swiftly.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
And that was pretty much it for Busiek's run on AVENGERS! Sure, AVENGERS #56 features a one-and-done with an eclectic group taking on the Elements of Doom, but the end of KANG DYNASTY tied up many of the story threads he had been weaving since the book launched in 1998. Shortly after, writer Brian Michael Bendis came in, disassembled the team and launched NEW AVENGERS!
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