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The History Of Kang The Conqueror Explained

Kang the Conqueror is a time-traveling warlord who has been one of the Avengers' most dogged nemeses since the team first formed. At first glance, he might not stand out: Kang is an ordinary man with no special powers, other than his keen intellect and boundless ambition. But look closer, and you'll find that those two qualities are all he needs to wreak havoc across time and space. It is the Avengers, in fact, who first inspire him to look beyond his own peaceful (and boring) era of the 30th century and find a way to go where the action is. He's often coy about his real motivations, with regard to the Avengers — are they really his most hated enemies, or just a fun diversion he pursues when he's not conquering vast swathes of time? 

But it's not all tyranny and time-jumping for Kang. The problem with being a time-traveler is that you end up creating pesky alternate versions of yourself. Worse yet, you might end up knowing that you're destined to become someone you hate. So it goes with Kang, who antagonizes himself as often as he does Earth's Mightiest Heroes. We're here to jump into the timestream and see where Kang's path has taken him, one jump at a time.

Growing up in paradise

The man who would become Kang was born in the 30th century of Earth-6311. On this Earth, Nathaniel Richards — AKA Reed Richards' father, deposited here through complex circumstances — brings together squabbling tribes as the Warlord, ruling them until he is superseded by his wife. The Fantastic Four arrive to set things right, a battle ensues, and the Four triumph. Peace proceeds to reign on Earth-6311 for a thousand years.

Kang is likely a direct descendant of that first Warlord, and also named Nathaniel Richards. The era of peace and prosperity he lives in is utterly boring to him, and so he devotes himself to studying tapes of 20th-century superheroes — especially the Avengers. As a teen, he is visited by his future self in an effort to jump-start his journey towards conquering. He rejects the older Kang's villainy,  and instead goes back to the past to form the Young Avengers as Iron Lad. However, when he realizes that his presence in the past is starting to affect the time stream, he returns to his era.

He attempts to go back to the past several times as Iron Lad, often accidentally causing a lot of damage. He also becomes the villainous Kid Immortus for a while. In the end, however, he ends up taking his original course of action: He discovers his ancestor's time machine and goes to ancient Egypt


Upon arriving in Egypt, Kang uses the weapons and robots he finds among his ancestor's belongings to quickly establish himself as Pharaoh Rama-Tut. As his reign unfolds, Rama-Tut sets himself up as a god and denounces other deities, which annoys Moon Knight's future patron, Khonshu. 

This era of Egypt turns out to be Grand Central Station for time travelers. Rama-Tut has to deal with an assassin named Killpower, a number of villainous organizations, and eventually, the West Coast Avengers. That latter group goes back in time hoping to use Rama-Tut's time machine, as their own only travels backwards. Rama-Tut is, unsurprisingly, uninterested in helping them, but Khonshu protects them from his wrath. Doctor Strange is also around within this era, looking for a soul shard that threatens all of humanity's dreams.

For all their doings within this era, however, the Avengers and Doctor Strange are careful not to mess with its main event: A visit from the Fantastic Four. Rama-Tut clobbers them upon arrival and makes the male members his prisoners while he prepares to marry Sue Storm. Luckily, the Thing gets loose and brings down Rama-Tut's kingdom. Rama-Tut flees in his time machine, attempting to return to his original time.

Becoming Kang

Rama-Tut discovers time travel's imperfections when he tries to return to the 30th century. He briefly winds up in the 20th century, where he meets Doctor Doom. They consider teaming up against the Fantastic Four, but Doom thinks it would be too risky. Later on, Rama-Tut attempts to fool the early Avengers into subduing all other super-powered people on Earth. This gives rise to his armored persona, the Scarlet Centurion. He lures an Avengers team from later in the 20th century to this timeline, hoping to see his more powerful Avengers team defeat them. But the latter-day Avengers triumph, and the Scarlet Centurion is promptly sent back into the timestream. 

He immediately abandons that identity and resumes his Rama-Tut guise, once again trying to make it back to the 30th century. This time, he overshoots it by a thousand years, ending up in the 40th century. He finds a war-torn society that doesn't understand its own technology. Here, the man formerly known as Rama-Tut finally assumes the name Kang the Conqueror, and creates his iconic purple armor. It doesn't take him long to take over this ravaged Earth, and he soon moves on to conquering whole galaxies.

Avengers, Ravonna, and the Celestial Madonna

In Kang's first appearance, captured in 1964's Avengers #8, he takes on the Avengers. Though he initially overwhelms them, Kang loses when Rick Jones sabotages him. Shockingly, he later returns to the Avengers' era, to seek their aid after he falls in love with the rebellious Princess Ravonna. She ultimately sacrifices herself to save Kang, and is placed in high-tech stasis between life and death. Kang goes on to use the Avengers as pawns to gain the power of life and death from the Grandmaster. When he ties the Elder in a cosmic game, however, he chooses death for the Avengers instead of life for Ravonna. This plan is foiled when the Black Knight attacks him, and Kang is left with nothing but regret.

Obsessed with the idea of his eventual successor, Kang becomes determined to kidnap the woman he dubs the Celestial Madonna, who will give birth to the Celestial Messiah, the universe's most powerful being. Narrowing it down to the Scarlet Witch, Agatha Harkness, or Mantis, he captures the Avengers. He is defeated by a future version of himself, who helps the Avengers. This is when Kang learns that he is destined to become Immortus, a time traveler who gives up conquest and makes mysterious moves from Limbo, a dimension outside of time.

The Council Of Kangs

As a result of his constant time-jumping, Kang ends up with a whole host of divergent identities, who are monitored by the Council of Kangs, headquartered in Limbo. The Council plucks defective Kangs out of the timestream and kills them. The Prime Kang from Earth-6311 kills one of his alternate selves after telling him that Ravonna is alive, then pins the murder on the Avengers after bringing them to Limbo. Immortus then reveals he was behind it all, as the Prime Kang went insane after being given a device that gave him the memories of all the Kangs he had killed.

Prime Kang's story then splits off into two timelines. In one, he goes to the 40th century to heal. In the other, he discovers an even bigger conspiracy: The Council Of Cross-Time Kangs, which consists of beings throughout the multiverse who have killed Kang and taken his armor. This group includes Kang-Nebula, a woman who took over the Avengers in order to pierce a phenomenon known as the Time Bubble. The other Kangs move against her, resulting in all of the Kangs being lost in the timestream. 

Living in the Time Bubble

The Prime Kang offshoot lost in the timestream finds himself threatened by the mystical Inferno event, in which a demon attempts to take over the Earth. This Kang can only appear as a sort of ghost — but this is enough to create a new team of Avengers who are crucial in saving the day. The other Kang in the 40th century goes after Mantis again, within the same era, after learning that she is trying to retrieve her son from the alien Cotati she entrusted with raising him. In the end, however, Mantis and the Fantastic Four defeat him.

Prime Kang finds himself trapped in the Time Bubble, an impenetrable field that prevents time travel in a 15-year sweep. It was created from Galactus' dead body by the scheming Black Celestial in order to collapse the entire universe. Nebula lures the Fantastic Four and various Avengers there to pierce the bubble, but all of the various Kangs are killed. It seems like the only one left is the one in the 40th century. 

Citizen Kang

The 40th century's Kang busily expands his empire. Spanning 600 years, it all connects through the city of Chronopolis. At some point, however, he realizes that his desire to rule all of time is blocked by various entities with their own territories, like the Time Variance Authority, a creature called Alioth, and the Congress of Realities. 

Kang-Nebula, it turns out, has survived the Time Bubble, and reveals herself as an alternate version of Ravonna. Assuming the identity of Terminatrix, she uses the Fantastic Four as pawns to attack Kang, who uses the Avengers similarly. They eventually fight, and Kang sacrifices himself to save her. She is forced to put him in stasis as he once did to another version of her, in an effort to find a way to bring him back to life — if only to kill him upon waking.

The Council Of Cross-Time Kangs is attacked by Alioth, an ancient, time-spanning entity. Terminatrix comes into conflict with a future version of herself named Revelation, who rules many thousands of years in the future. Revelation helps revive Kang as Alioth helps eliminate the pesky Council — which is all according to Kang's plan. He and Ravonna reconcile, and rule peacefully together. 

Destiny War

After years of happiness with Ravonna, Kang grows old and bored. Eventually, he is finally ready to go back to ancient Egypt and become Immortus, as he is destined to do. However, he sees a vision of his servitude to the Time-Keepers as Immortus, and it enrages him. He decides to wage an all-out war against Immortus, who is being pressured by his masters to destroy Earth because of the threat it poses to the rest of the galaxy. Kang determines a strategy to get rid of his time rivals, and destroys the technology that allows him to transfer his mind to a new body upon his death. He wants to live on the edge.

Kang teams up with an Avengers group whose members are all plucked from different eras against Immortus and his endless armies from across time. Immortus destroys Chronopolis, and his forces kill Ravonna. Kang escapes, and entrusts an object called the Heart of Forever to the Avengers. This object powered Chronopolis, and gives its wielder the power to alter time without creating a divergent reality. The Avengers' job is to protect the Heart and Rick Jones, who Immortus is trying to kill.

Kang and the Avengers eventually battle Immortus' forces at the end of time. The Time-Keepers try to physically force Kang's transformation into Immortus, but Kang resists and kills them. A separate version of Immortus emerges, as Kang has finally triumphed against the inevitable. 

The Kang Dynasty

Now that his destiny has become his own, Kang is eager for conquest. With his grown son Marcus acting as the new Scarlet Centurion, Kang takes his giant sword-shaped spaceship, Damocles Base, and declares war on Earth. He claims it's for the Earth's own good, as many threats are headed its way.

Of course, the Avengers oppose him, but Kang is not playing around this time. He conquers the Earth and forces the Wasp, as Avengers' chairwoman, to surrender directly to him. Marcus is supposed to take out the defenses of the Master of the World, but things go awry when he meets Carol Danvers and is immediately charmed. He helps her win the defenses to the Avengers' side. This winds up giving the Avengers just enough of an edge to eventually defeat Kang, with Captain America beating him down in an epic space battle.

Kang is imprisoned by the Avengers, and actually accepts his fate, happy that his son will rule in his stead. But Marcus rescues him from his cell, and continues to lie about helping Carol. Kang is fully aware of this betrayal, but was going to let it go, if Marcus had simply left him to die a legend. Kang reveals that Marcus is actually the latest of many cloned attempts at an heir, and kills him. He cannot abide an heir who lies.

The devil you know

Kang is nothing if not practical, and something that threatens multiple realities also threatens his own interests. Case in point: When Adam Warlock is forced to act to prevent a catastrophe, he creates a future where he becomes the sinister Magus, and wipes out other timelines — including many that include Kang's rule. Kang reacts by rescuing every reality's surviving Starhawk and the Guardians of the Galaxy and using them as his forces. After a number of Guardians die, Star-Lord manages to kill the Magus, restoring the timelines and neatly taking care of Kang's problem.

Kang later realizes that in one timeline that threatened his empire, Ultron killed the Avengers and prevented Kang's rule. So Kang sends team after team of heroes against Ultron, all of whom are killed. Of course, if you strain the timeline too much, it breaks. Kang creates a time bleed and time loop around his battles with Ultron, forcing Immortus to step in. He convinces the Next Avengers (the children of the modern team) to recruit the current Avengers to talk sense into Ultron before all the fighting ever began. Knowing that all of time stands to be annihilated, Ultron agrees to surrender. Kang destroys him, restoring the timeline.

The Apocalypse Twins

Kang is simultaneously obsessed with securing a successor and worried that powerful children might one day group up and overthrow him. The Celestial Messiah, Apocalypse, and the various Marcuses are all the focus of this tension at various times, but his obsession with the Apocalypse Twins nearly tops them all.

Born to a mutant woman named Ichisumi, Kang kidnaps the twins in their infancy. He raises them harshly, telling the young mutants that they will never live in peace with humans. Kang makes a fatal mistake when he allows them to steal a powerful weapon, travel back to 21st century Earth, and kill the Celestial leader, Arishem. They then found a new world just for mutants, and not only leave Earth to be destroyed by Celestial retaliation, but also set up a tachyon dam to prevent anyone from altering history.

Kang eventually finds a way through by projecting the minds of his pawns, the Chronos Corps, into the 21st century. His plan works, and he is able to access that timeline and defeat the twins, as well as absorb energy from the Celestial executioner, Exitar. Immortus, ever the spoilsport, sends his own team of Avengers to stop him, with Havoc cutting Kang off from the energy. Kang's overall scheme to gain ultimate power fails, but he does manage to successfully protect his timeline.

Adopting Ahura

You think Kang would learn not to kidnap other people's kids, but no. After Thanos destroys Attilan, home of the Inhumans, Kang kidnaps Ahura, son of the Inhumans' leader, Black Bolt. At this point, Black Bolt is chiefly worried about the destruction of the universe, so he allows Kang to keep him safe.

Black Bolt later changes his mind and moves to get his son back, but Kang is aware of this betrayal. He defeats Black Bolt and trains Ahura in the ways of conquest. He has Ahura attack various eras, which winds up killing all of the Inhuman royal family's ancestors, wiping them from history. Kang doesn't expect Ahura to ever discover this morbid fact, but he does. Enraged, Ahura kills Kang and takes up his mantle. Ahura then goes back in time to kill his birth parents.

The Inhumans one-up Kang by rescuing Ahura from before he was tainted by Kang. The result is a clean slate for him — but it also means that Kang isn't dead. He attacks the Inhumans with a huge army, but Ahura possesses Kang and fixes all the damage he has done to his family. Then he makes Kang leave the Inhumans alone forever. It is the most thorough defeat of Kang's career.

A variety of Kangs and a variety of futures

Thanks to the timestream being so glitchy and Kang's indifferent carelessness, he often accidentally creates different versions of himself. One of them is Mr. Gryphon, who is trapped in the early 21st century. Unable to time travel, he sets about conquering Earth. Lacking an army, he uses his advanced knowledge to create a financial empire. He tries to bring a Chitauri fleet to Earth, and when that fails, tries to take Thor's hammer, because of its time-bending properties. Thor knocks him into the timestream instead.

Another forward-looking version of Kang sees an all-powerful version of Thanos in the future, who is about to destroy the entire multiverse. Thanos captures Kang, but Adam Warlock frees him. Kang distracts Thanos, and Warlock retrieves the present-day Thanos to stop the future Thanos. 

What's next for Kang? Probably more conquering, time-jumping, and heir-seeking. It's a safe bet that he'll find some way to involve his favorite playmates, the Avengers, in his machinations. While he's never been completely successful, he has never stopped trying — and that's why fans love him.