Kang the Conqueror
|Kang the Conqueror|
|First appearance||As Rama-Tut: |
Fantastic Four #19 (October 1963)
The Avengers #8 (September 1964)
|Created by||Stan Lee|
|Alter ego||Nathaniel Richards|
|Place of origin||Other Earth, 31st Century|
|Team affiliations||Council of Kangs|
|Notable aliases||Iron Lad, Rama-Tut, Victor Timely, Scarlet Centurion, Immortus, Kang the Conglomerator, Mr. Gryphon|
Kang the Conqueror (Nathaniel Richards) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is most frequently depicted as an opponent of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. A time-traveling entity, several alternate versions of Kang have appeared throughout Marvel Comics titles over the years, including his respective future and past heroic selves, Rama-Tut, Immortus, and Iron Lad. In 2009, Kang was ranked as IGN's 65th-greatest comic book villain of all time.
Kang has made media appearances in animated television and video games. He is set to make his feature film debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), in which he will be portrayed by Jonathan Majors. An alternate version of him known as "He Who Remains" appeared in the Loki (2021) episode "For All Time. Always.", also played by Majors.
Kang first appeared in The Avengers #8 (Sep. 1964), and was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. Rama-Tut first appeared in Fantastic Four #19 (Oct. 1963) the previous year. Originally conceived of as either a time-displaced descendant or future version of Doctor Doom, a master criminal from the 25th Century, Rama-Tut was retroactively established in The Celestial Madonna Saga to be an incarnation of Nathaniel Richards from before and after they became Kang the Conqueror, both being younger versions of Immortus.
Fictional character biography
Nathaniel Richards, a 31st-century scholar and descendant of Reed Richards' time traveling father Nathaniel, becomes fascinated with history and discovers the time travel technology created by Victor von Doom, another possible ancestor of his. He then travels back in time to ancient Egypt aboard a Sphinx-shaped timeship and becomes the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, with plans to claim En Sabah Nur—the mutant destined to become Apocalypse—as his heir. Rama-Tut's rule is cut short when he is defeated by the time-displaced Fantastic Four. An embittered Nathaniel Richards travels forward to the 20th century where he meets Doctor Doom, who he believes might be his ancestor. He later designs an armor based on Doom's and, calling himself the Scarlet Centurion, pits the Avengers team against alternate-reality counterparts. He plans to dispose of all of them, but the Avengers manage to force him from the timeline.
Nathaniel then tries to return to the 31st century, but overshoots by a thousand years, discovering a war-torn Earth that uses advanced weapons they no longer understand. He finds it simple to conquer the planet, expanding his dominion throughout the galaxy, and reinvents himself as Kang the Conqueror. But this future world is dying, and so he decides to take over an earlier, more fertile Earth.
Early appearances and Ravonna
On Nathaniel's first foray into the 20th century under the Kang identity, he meets and battles the Avengers, capturing everyone but the Wasp and Rick Jones, and informs the world that they have 24 hours to surrender to him. Jones and some friends pretend they want to help Kang, but double-cross him once they gain access to his ship, and the Avengers are freed. In an attempt to stop them, Kang releases radiation that only beings from his time are immune to, but Thor uses his hammer to absorb the rays and send them back at the warlord so even he cannot withstand it, and he is forced to escape. He later attempts to defeat the Avengers using a Spider-Man robot, but the real Spider-Man destroys it.
In his own time, Kang falls for the princess of one of his subject kingdoms, Ravonna, who does not return his feelings. In an attempt to demonstrate his power, he kidnaps the Avengers and, after several escape attempts on their part, subdues them and the rebellious kingdom with the help of his army. When Kang refuses to execute Ravonna, his commanders revolt and he frees the Avengers to fight with him against them. They successfully subdue them, but not before Ravonna is mortally wounded when she leaps in front of a blast meant for Kang, realizing she does love him after all. Kang returns the Avengers to their present, and places Ravonna's body in stasis.
Kang appears in modern-day as he attempts to retrieve a rogue Growing Man construct who is growing larger with every blow. Both Thor and the police are not able to subdue the giant, until Kang appears from a time machine disguised as a boulder. He fires a ray, shrinking and subduing the Growing Man to doll-sized so he can be "re-hidden". He later reactivates the Growing Man to kidnap an incapacitated Tony Stark and draw the Avengers into his game, though the purpose isn't revealed. Thor fails to keep Kang from escaping into the time-stream.
In hopes of restoring his love to life, Kang enters a wager with the cosmic entity Grandmaster, using the Avengers as pawns in a game which, if won, can temporarily grant him power over life and death. The first round ends in stalemate when an unaware Black Knight intervenes and prevents a clear victory by the Avengers, although the team definitively wins the second round. Due to the first round's stalemate, Kang does not earn the power of both life and death but is forced to choose. He selects the power of death over the Avengers, but is stopped by the Black Knight, who, not being an Avenger at the time, is unaffected.
Next Kang kidnaps the Hulk and sends him to 1917 France to kill the Phantom Eagle before he can destroy a giant German cannon which would otherwise kill Banner's grandfather who is fighting in the trenches. This would prevent the Hulk from existing and consequently, the formation of the Avengers. However, the Hulk destroys the cannon which sends him back to the present while Kang is projected into the Limbo.
The Celestial Madonna
Some time later Kang reappears at Avengers Mansion seeking the "Celestial Madonna", who turns out to be Mantis, desiring to marry her as she is apparently destined to have a powerful child. The heroes are aided by a future version of Kang, who, tired of conquest, had returned to ancient Egypt and his identity of Rama-Tut, ruling benevolently for ten years before placing himself in suspended animation to revive in the 20th century, desiring to counsel and change his younger self. While Kang is successfully foiled, Rama-Tut is unable to prevent the accidental death of the Avenger the Swordsman. During an adventure in Limbo, it is revealed that Immortus is the future incarnation of both Kang and Rama-Tut.
While attempting to travel to the time of the Crusades, Hawkeye accidentally comes across Kang, sending both to the Old West. The warlord begins to develop a stronghold to conquer the 19th century, thus also conquering the present. Aided this time by Immortus, the Avengers, with some assistance from the Two-Gun Kid, confront Kang. While trying to muster the strength to defeat Thor, Kang overloads his armor and destroys himself, apparently erasing Immortus and Rama-Tut from existence.
Years later, the Beyonder plucks a living Kang from the timestream to participate on the villains' side in the first of the Secret Wars. Soon after, it is revealed that while Kang had indeed died, his constant time-traveling had created a number of alternate Kangs. The Kang to discover this had been drawn to Limbo after his time-travel vehicle was destroyed by Thor. Finding Immortus's remains inside his fortress, Kang assumes the "Lord of Time" to be deceased and discovers the alternate versions of himself using viewing devices he finds, although he does not realize that Immortus is also a version of himself. At one point, he brings Ravonna to Limbo from the moment before her death, unintentionally creating an alternate reality where he was slain. Determined to be the only Kang, he joins with two particularly cunning divergents whom he determines he cannot easily eliminate, the three forming a council that systematically destroys the other alternate versions. He destroys one of the other two Kangs, then brings in the Avengers as part of a plot to destroy the other one, although the latter Kang eventually discovers the plot. This Kang is delayed by Ravonna, who tells him that if he truly loves her he must not kill the first Kang, but he ignores her, goes after him anyway, and is destroyed. Immortus then reveals he faked his death and manipulated everything from behind the scenes. Now only the one "Prime" Kang remains, who Immortus tricks into absorbing the memories of all the slain Kangs, which drives him insane. Immortus then sends the Avengers back to their own timeline.
This Kang diverges into two alternate Kangs, and one is invited to join the Crosstime Kang Corps (or the "Council of Cross-Time Kangs"), which consists of a wide range of Kangs from multiple timelines who are searching for a Celestial "Ultimate Weapon". This Kang calls himself "Fred" (by his own admission a humorous nod to Fred Flintstone, with a prehistoric name being appropriate for a time-traveler) and has a brief encounter with the Avengers while trying to stop the female space-pirate Nebula from interfering with a timeline. The Prime Kang, having recovered, then attempts to manipulate the Avengers from a time vortex, and encounters the Fantastic Four in a bid to capture Mantis and use her to defeat a Celestial and the other Kangs, while "Fred" is incinerated by a Nebula-possessed Human Torch during a later battle with the Fantastic Four in the timestream.
Later, the Prime Kang appears, captures the Vision, and battles both the Avengers and a new foe, Terminatrix, who is revealed to be a revived Ravonna. Kang is critically injured when he intercepts a blow from Thor's hammer Mjolnir that was meant for his old love, who is distraught over his sacrifice and teleports away with him. Terminatrix places Prime Kang in stasis to heal his injuries and assumes control of his empire. However, she finds the empire under attack by a chronal being called Alioth, and is forced to summon the Avengers to assist. She revives Kang, who assists the Avengers in defeating Alioth, but not before allowing the entity to kill the entire Crosstime Kang Corps.
In Avengers Forever, flashbacks reveal that many of Kang's recent actions were motivated by more of a desire to do something rather than a genuine desire for power, and that Rama-Tut is his past and future self, feeling listless and trapped by the burdens of the empire he has created. However, as Kang prepares to become Rama-Tut once again and from there Immortus, he glimpses the future and learns of Immortus's servitude to the Time Keepers, renewing his horror at the destiny that awaits him as that 'simpering academic'. As a result, Kang rejects this future to the point of aiding the Avengers in protecting Rick Jones from Immortus's latest scheme. When Immortus betrays the Time Keepers to try and save the Avengers, they kill him and attempt to turn Kang into Immortus before Rama-Tut became Immortus. However, the temporal backlash of Kang's strength of will in a temporally unstable environment causes Immortus and Rama-Tut to split off from Kang, essentially making them both clear alternate versions of Kang rather than Kang's definitive future. With the weakened Time Keepers destroyed, Kang rejoices in his freedom from the destiny of Immortus and Rama-Tut, as he has now technically become them while still being himself.
After some months, Kang embarks on an ambitious scheme to conquer the Earth, this time aided by his son Marcus, who uses the "Scarlet Centurion" alias. Kang promises any who aid him on Earth a place in his new order, which puts Earth's defenses and the Avengers under strain as they fight off villain after villain. He then takes control of Earth's defense systems, and forces a surrender after destroying Washington, D.C., killing millions. The Avengers continue to battle the forces of Kang's new empire, and Captain America eventually defeats him in personal combat. Although imprisoned, Kang is freed by his son, revealed to be only one of a series of clones, and kills clone Marcus for betraying him by assisting Warbird during the invasion and keeping it secret despite multiple opportunities to admit the truth; while Kang could tolerate the treachery if it allowed Marcus to become his own man, he cannot tolerate a traitor who remains active in his ranks. Depressed at his new loss, Kang retreats from Earth.
At some point, Kang travels back to his own past to prevent an incident where a confrontation with a bully left him in a coma for a year, but meeting his future self so horrifies Kang's past self that he steals Kang's armor and retreats to the past, using an emergency protocol created by the Vision to recruit a new team that come to be known as the 'Young Avengers', with the young Kang adopting the alias of 'Iron Lad'. When Kang tracks his younger self to the past, the Young Avengers are able to kill him, but the subsequent changes to history force the young Kang to return to his time and erase his memory of these events, although the Young Avengers remain as a team with Iron Lad's armor now self-operating with a consciousness based on an amalgamation of Iron Lad and the Vision.
Kang travels the multi-verse and recruits Stryfe, Earth-X Venom (May "Mayday" Parker), Doom 2099, Iron Man 2020, Ahab, Magistrate Braddock, and Abomination Deathlok to save the multi-verse and possibly restore the universes that have already been erased. He appears to the remaining members of the Avengers Unity Squad after Earth has been destroyed by a Celestial leaving only the mutants, offering to help them save Earth by projecting their minds back into their past selves so that they can defeat the Celestial that attacked Earth, but subsequently attempts to steal its power for himself, requiring Sunfire and Havok to put themselves at risk by absorbing some of his energy themselves so that they can force him to expend his stolen power.
Uncanny Inhumans and All-New, All-Different Marvel
Before the Inhuman king Black Bolt destroys the city of Attilan to release Terrigen Mist throughout the world, he sends his son Ahura away for Kang to foster. Black Bolt later releases a small amount of Terrigen Mist to activate Ahura's terrigenesis and activate his Inhuman ability. While Ahura is going through the change, Black Bolt asks Kang to save his son from the coming end of all things, which Kang agrees to on the condition that the son remain permanently in his care.
While taunting the Inhumans' efforts to find Ahura, another Kang emerges under the alias of "Mister Gryphon", claiming that he has become splintered into various alternate versions of himself as a result of recent temporal disruptions. With this Kang confined to the present, he mounts a massive assault on the Avengers with the aid of Equinox and a reprogrammed Vision, intending to use Mjolnir's time-traveling ability to return to his era, but is defeated.
When Vision abducts Kang's infant self in an attempt to defeat him, the latter, split into increasingly divergent versions of himself by the fractured state of time, retaliates by attacking various Avengers in their infant states. A possible future version of Kang saves key Avengers from his past self's attack by bringing them into Limbo until Hercules acquires an amulet from a former Fate that protects him from Kang's assault. During a battle inside a temple in Vietnam, the Wasp goes to place baby Kang back where he belongs. Kang is subsequently defeated.
During the "Infinity Countdown" storyline, Kang the Conqueror gains knowledge of the calamity that would come if the Infinity Gems were to be gathered in the same location again. To prevent this from occurring, he abducts Adam Warlock, convinces him to help secure the Soul Gem in exchange for the Time Gem, and sends him back in time to receive counsel from Kang's Rama-Tut counterpart.
Kang the Conqueror has most recently been seen as a recurring character in the "Pottersville" arc of the Doctor Doom solo series, in which he is shown to be tethered to Doom in a quantum entanglement, appearing at random times throughout the series conversing with the Latverian despot. This is later revealed to be a ploy by Kang, as by aiding Doom in saving the world Kang is actually making the world easier for himself to conquer in two hundred years' time.
Immortus is an alternate version of Kang who resides in Limbo. Kang was destined to become him until the last issue of the Avengers Forever series, in which powerful beings called the Time Keepers unintentionally separate the former from the latter.
Iron Lad is an adolescent version of Kang who learned of his future self when Kang tried to prevent a childhood hospitalization. Attempting to escape his destiny, the teen steals his future self's advanced armor and travels back to the past, forming the Young Avengers to help him stop Kang. When his attempt to reject his destiny results in Kang's death, the resulting destruction caused by the changes in history forces Iron Lad to return to his time and undo the damage by becoming Kang.
Rama-Tut was Kang's original alias when he ruled ancient Egypt. Later in life, he retires as Kang and returns to the Rama-Tut identity, and helps the Avengers defeat his past self when he attempts to capture the "Celestial Madonna". He nearly surrenders to destiny to become Immortus, but changes his mind and returns to the Kang identity when he discovers that Immortus is a pawn of beings called the Time-Keepers.
A divergent version of Kang establishes a small, quiet town called Timely, Wisconsin in 1901 to serve as a 20th-century base, where he occasionally resides as mayor Victor Timely. Posing as Victor Timely Jr., he develops an interest in a visiting college graduate named Phineas Horton, providing the young man with insights which eventually led to his creating the original Human Torch.
Numerous versions of Kang have assumed this alias:
- Nathaniel Richards the Second, in a one-time identity he assumed after being the Pharaoh Rama-Tut but before going on to become Kang.
- Marcus Kang aka Marcus XXIII, son of Kang the Conqueror, active during Avengers Forever.
- A version of Kang who remained the Scarlet Centurion and conquered the alternate universe Earth-712.
Powers and abilities
Kang has no superhuman abilities but is an extraordinary genius, an expert historical scholar, and a master physicist (specializing in time travel), engineer, and technician. He is armed with 40th-century technology, wearing highly advanced battle armor that enhances his strength, is capable of energy, hologram, and force-field projection, has a 30-day supply of air and food, and is capable of controlling other forms of technology. Courtesy of his "time-ship", Kang has access to technology from any century, and he once claimed his ship alone could destroy the Moon. He is also far more resistant to radiation than humans from the present.
As Rama-Tut, he used an "ultra-diode" ray gun that was able to sap the wills of human beings. At a high frequency, it is able to weaken superhuman beings and prevent use of their superpowers. They can be freed from its effects if the gun is fired at them a second time.
In the X-Men/Star Trek crossover Second Contact, an alternate version of Kang disrupts a number of timelines before being defeated by the combined effort of the mutant X-Men and the crew of the Enterprise-E. His timehooks, which the two groups use to travel in time, later draw the X-Men into the Enterprise's timeline when the Enterprise's hook becomes exposed to verteron particles. This creates a link to the other hook, as Nightcrawler is similarly infused with verteron particles when he teleports.[volume & issue needed]
In the Heroes Reborn universe created by Franklin Richards, Kang and his lover Mantis travel to the modern era in order to battle the greatest heroes of all time, the recently formed Avengers. He wishes to utterly defeat them as a token of his love.[volume & issue needed] Kang's assault on Avengers Island leads to the capture of all the Avengers, with Kang taking Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield, Swordsman's swords, Hawkeye's bow and arrows, and the Vision as his trophies. However, Thor frees himself and his fellow Avengers and easily bests Kang in a rematch, forcing the villain to flee the scene after ejecting the severely damaged Vision from his ship.[volume & issue needed]
Kang and Mantis hide out in Peru, where they plot their revenge against the Avengers. This plot would never come to fruition, as Loki absorbs the two in his bid to take over the Earth.[volume & issue needed] Loki is ultimately defeated, and while many of the super-beings that he absorbed are seen active following the battle, Kang's ultimate fate is not depicted.
A female version of Kang appears in the Ultimate universe, claiming she has a plan to prevent the destruction of Earth. It is revealed she is from an alternate Earth sent back with a containment suit, arriving one week after the Ultimatum Wave destroyed New York, convincing Reed Richards to stop it from happening to his own. She recruits Quicksilver, the Hulk and Reed Richards as part of a plan to steal the Infinity Gauntlets, and destroys the Triskelion in the process. Kang eventually reveals that she is Sue Storm.
Spider-Geddon, a sequel to the Spider-Verse storyline, features a version of Kang called Kang the Conglomerator, a businessman from the year 2099 who wants to take Spider-Punk into the future to take control of his franchise because of his marketability. Opposing this idea, Spider-Punk fights Kang along with Captain Anarchy and the Hulk. Kang is defeated, but he disappears claiming Spider-Punk will die young while Captain Anarchy will die an old man.
In other media
- Rama-Tut appears in a self-titled episode of the 1967 Fantastic Four animated series, voiced by Mike Road.
- Kang the Conqueror appears in The Avengers: United They Stand animated series episode "Kang", voiced by Ken Kramer. In the 41st century, the tyrannical Kang is overthrown by a revolution and imprisoned between dimensions, with an obelisk as his only means of escape. After he is accidentally freed, Kang battles the Avengers, but Ant-Man tricks him into taking a bomb attached to the obelisk, with the resulting explosion permanently trapping Kang between dimensions once more.
- Rama-Tut makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in the X-Men: Evolution animated series during Apocalypse's origins.
- Kang the Conqueror appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series, voiced by Jonathan Adams. Introduced in the episode "Meet Captain America", Kang's timeline is retroactively erased from existence due to a temporal anomaly, which leaves his lover, Princess Ravonna, in a coma after she is caught in it. Kang traces the disturbance to Captain America's presence in the 21st century, and in the episode "The Man Who Stole Tomorrow", launches an attack against the Avengers, taking them to the future to show them the devastation he claims Captain America causes. However, Iron Man manages to gain access to Kang's Time Chair and transports everyone back. Injured and defeated, Kang escapes to his flagship, the Damocles, and prepares to conquer Earth with his armada. In the episode "The Kang Dynasty", the Avengers launch an attack against him, boarding the ship and sending most of the armada back to the 41st century. Before they can return Kang's ship, the Wasp arrives and explains what happened to Ravonna, so the team attempt to save her. In the episode "New Avengers", the Council of Kangs free the original Kang from prison and provide him with new armor, which he uses to take over Stark Tower so he can use its arc reactor to bring his citadel to the 21st century, incidentally causing "time ripples" across New York and scattering the Avengers across time. In response, the New Avengers Protocol is activated and Spider-Man, War Machine, Wolverine, the Thing, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist join forces to defeat Kang, casting him out of the timestream and returning the original Avengers to the present while S.W.O.R.D. repurposes the Damocles as their headquarters. Kang and Ravonna also appear in an issue of the series' tie-in comic book.[volume & issue needed]
- Kang appears in the Avengers Assemble animated series, voiced by Steve Blum. In the episode "The Conqueror", A.I.M. builds a time portal and use it to steal Kang's future technology so they can upgrade themselves and their associate Whiplash. When Iron Man accidentally ends up in Kang's time, the two briefly struggle before returning to the present. Kang later returns with his ship, the Damocles, as the Avengers work to prevent it from firing a mega-cannon and annihilating Manhattan. While they succeed in disabling it, Kang takes the ship and most of the Avengers back to the 30th century. In the episode "Into the Future", the Avengers meet a future group of rebels who oppose Kang. Captain America later has a confrontation with him and travels to various points in time with him before Kang gets stuck in the past. In the two-part episode "Avengers No More", Kang becomes a member of the Cabal and assists the Leader in a plot to scatter the Avengers across time and space. In the episode "The Once and Future Kang", Kang recruits Falcon and provides him with improved armor to fix a temporal ripple before it destroys his time. He later confronts, but is defeated by Falcon, Vision, and the Wasp. In the episode "New Year's Resolution", Kang tries to eliminate Howard Stark and Peggy Carter in an attempt to negate Iron Man 2020's existence, but his targets are brought to the present and join forces with Iron Man and Captain America to save the timestream. Kang tries to eliminate his four enemies, only to be stopped by Iron Man 2020.
- Kang appears in the anime series Marvel Future Avengers, voiced by Jiro Saito in the Japanese version and by Steve Blum in the English dub. This version is the leader of the Masters of Evil and the mastermind behind the Emerald Rain Project, which gave teenagers Makoto and Bruno their powers.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
- An alternate version of the character known as "He Who Remains", a composite character based on his namesake and Immortus from the comics, appears in the Disney+ series Loki episode "For All Time. Always." He states that he was originally a scientist from the 31st century who created the Time Variance Authority (TVA) to prevent villainous variants of himself from destroying the timeline, as well as to prevent a multiversal war from occurring. Describing him as a "very charismatic sociopath", series creator Michael Waldron worked "to leave a lot of meat on the bone in terms of how evil he could be", since much of his character is trying to convince others his variants are worse than him.
- Kang the Conqueror will appear in the upcoming film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
- Kang appears as a boss and unlockable playable character in the Facebook game Marvel Avengers Alliance.
- Kang appears as a boss in Kabam's Marvel Contest of Champions.
- Kang appears as a boss and playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, voiced by Peter Serafinowicz. He captures specific locations in time and space to form Chronopolis and later tricks the Avengers into defeating Man-Thing so he can destroy the Nexus of All Realities. During the final battle, Captain America defeats Kang and Ravonna uses his time crystal to regress him to an infant. In the post-credits, an elderly Kang joins Ravonna, Cosmo the Spacedog, Man-Thing, and the Supreme Intelligence in warning Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man of a new threat.
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