Avengers Vol. 1 No. 8

September 1964
"Kang, The Conqueror!"
Written by: Stan Lee (Our answer to Victor Hugo!)
Illustrated by: Jack Kirby (Our answer to Rembrandt!)
Inked by Dick Ayers (Our answer to automation!)
Lettered by Sam Rosen (Our answer to Artie Simek!)

The Avengers arrive for an emergency meeting at Tony Stark's mansion.
The police have to hold back the crowds of onlookers as the heroes
walk by. Giant-Man waves to the crowd, while the Wasp pauses to sign
an autograph. It's mentioned that the Avengers take turns acting as
chairman, and that it is currently Captain America's turn.

Inside, the heroes take their seats as they receive a closed-circuit
tv message from the Pentagon. Their military contact shows them
footage of a large UFO that has landed in a wooded area of Virgina.
The craft used a strange ray to clear away a mile-square landing
strip, rendering the ground as smooth as glass. Washington ordered
tanks and troops to surround the strange ship, but the UFO retaliated
with a vibration ray that literally shook the tanks to pieces.
Suddenly, a man in elaborate armor emerged from the ship. He announced
himself as "Kang", and insisted on meeting the rulers of Earth in
order to relay his demands.

The Avengers quickly board the DC-8 that has been sent to fetch them,
and soon they arrive at the UFO site. Kang is waiting for them,
casually lounging on what appears to be a transparent bean-bag chair.
He is unconcerned about the Avengers, and boldly states his intention
to conquer the planet. As a demonstration of his power, he touches a
button on his belt, which causes Captain America, Iron Man, Giant-Man
and the Wasp to be caught up in an anti-gravity ray. As they float
helplessly, Thor hurls his hammer at Kang. But with the touch of
another button, Kang causes the hammer to disappear in mid-flight and
reappear a few feet away. Thor is amazed by this futuristic science.
Meanwhile, Iron Man is using his magnetic repulser to counter-act the
anti-gravity ray and lower him and his fellow Avengers back down to
the ground.

At this point, the Under-secretary of the Defense Department arrives
to meet with Kang. Kang explains that he is a time-traveller from the
year 3000. Previously, he had journeyed to ancient Egypt, where he
fought the Fantastic Four as "Rama-Tut". When he attempted to return
to his own time period, a disturbance in the time-stream caused him to
over-shoot his target and end up in the year 4000 instead. He found a
war-torn world, inhabited by barbarians who could no longer understand
the advanced weapons they used against each other. Kang had little
trouble taking over this era, but he was unsatisfied ruling such a
"dying world". He decided to come back to the 20th century and conquer
it as well.

Giant-Man decides that he's heard enough, and grabs Kang, pinning his
arms and legs. But Kang can still activate his suit's circuitry by
flexing his muscles, and a sudden electrical burst leaves Giant-Man
stunned. Thor pounds the ground with his hammer, causing a shockwave
that knocks Kang off his feet. He follows up with another hammer toss,
thinking that Kang won't be able to teleport his hammer away a second
time. Which is true, but Kang has other defenses, such as an
anti-matter screen that will disintegrate anything that touches it.
The enchanted nature of Thor's hammer keeps it from dissolving, but it
is still deflected.

During all this, the Wasp has flown in to examine Kang's helmet,
trying to find a way to disable the circuitry. But she's unable to
comprehend the futuristic tech, and an alarm alerts Kang to her
presence. As Kang grabs her, the Wasp grows back to normal size,
distracting him long enough for Captain America to knock him over with
his shield. Iron Man gets the Wasp away from Kang, and the heroes
charge in to attack their prone enemy.

But once again, Kang is able to press a button on his belt, activating
an attractor ray that pulls the Avengers into his ship. Each hero is
sent to a separate chamber, where another ray completely paralyzes
them. The ray also somehow causes Thor to revert back to his Don Blake
identity, and with his muscles frozen, he is unable to change back. In
the other chambers, Giant-Man has been reduced to normal size, Iron
Man is having trouble breathing due to the ray slowing down his
chestplate pacemaker, and Captain America is pinned under his own
shield. Cap realizes that the Wasp and Rick Jones are still free, but
wonders what they will be able to do against a foe like Kang.

Outside, Kang tells the Under-secretary to deliver his ultimatum to
the leaders of the world: Surrender to him within 24 hours, or be
destroyed. In the woods nearby, the Wasp and Rick Jones are working on
a plan to free the Avengers. The Wasp intends to return to Avengers HQ
to find a suitable weapon, while Rick goes to gather his Teen Brigade

Word of Kang's arrival begins to spread all over the world. At the
United Nations, all the world leaders are in agreement: They will
forget their differences and work together to defy Kang!

Back at the landing site, Rick and his Teen Brigade allies manage to
sneak past the military cordon and approach Kang. But instead of
attacking him, they volunteer to join him! Impressed with their common
sense, Kang declares the boys his personal servants, and sends them
into his ship to fetch one of his devices. On the way out, two of the
boys "accidentally" drop the gadget, causing energy to leak out of it.
While Kang is distracted fixing the leak, the other boys scour the
ship to find the Avengers. Rick hears a buzzing noise, and sees a
series of lights flashing on and off. He pushes on the lights, and in
the adjoining room, Don Blake suddenly finds himself able to move
again. Blake quickly slams his walking stick against the ground,
transforming him back into Thor. Thor smashes his way out of the
chamber, and the frees the other Avengers. Iron Man is still weak from
the strain on his heart, but doesn't want to hold back the others and
insists that he's all right.

Meanwhile, the Wasp is back at Henry Pym's laboratory, retrieving an
odd-looking rifle. It's too heavy for her to carry in wasp form, so
she uses the cybernetic communicator in the lab to summon a group of
flying ants to help her.

The Avengers charge out of Kang's ship and attack. But Kang's powerful
force field holds them at bay, and Kang sneers that by his futuristic
standards, they are no better than cavemen. Just then, the Wasp
arrives, tossing the rifle to Giant-Man. He takes aim, and tells Thor
to keep pounding away at Kang's force field; even a small breach will
be enough for his weapon to work. Thor complies, and finally the
shield opens for a split-second. Giant-Man fires a pellet at Kang,
which explodes into an acidic mist. Giant-Man explains that it is a
special solvent that rots fabric, wiring, and insulation. The weapons
built into Kang's costume are soon rendered useless.

But Kang is not totally without resources. He waves his hand in front
of an invisible beam coming from his ship, which triggers the launch
of a neutrino missile. The missile will not harm Kang, but will
destroy the Avengers. Iron Man, however, is able to deflect the
missile with his repulser ray, so that it explodes harmlessly above
them. Giant-Man shoots more of the solvent at Kang's ship,
neutralizing the weapons there as well.

Desperate, Kang plays his final trump card: His mask begins to glow,
emitting radiation. Kang is immune, but the radiation will kill the
Avengers. Thor steps up and uses his uru hammer to absorb the
radiation and send it back at Kang. Even his immunity can't handle
that much concentrated radiation, and Kang flees back into his ship.
Thor, Iron Man, and the Wasp give chase as the ship takes off, but
Kang escapes them by fleeing into the time stream. Captain America
vows that if he ever returns, the Avengers will be waiting for him.


Another issue packed with action and crazy gimmicks, and yet another
villain who escapes at the end! Kang, of course, went on to become a
major recurring foe of the Avengers. It's interesting that they gave
him a whole new name and look, instead of just having him remain as
"Rama-Tut". I suppose Stan and Jack figured they'd already gotten
enough mileage out of the Egyptian gimmick, and that it was simpler
for the guy from the future to look futuristic, rather than ancient.
Kang's early appearances were straightforward enough, but eventually
his timeline became so convoluted that entire storylines were devoted
to untangling his history (with debateable results). It's a great
costume design, though, with his distinctive round helmet and "poncho"
type tunic helping to distinguish him from that other armored
megalomaniac, Dr. Doom.

Kang's selectively-deadly neutrino missile reminds me of the real-life
neutron bomb, which was supposed to kill people while leaving
buildings intact. Coincidence, I'm sure, since their treatment of
radiation (complete with Kang worrying about reaching "critical mass")
reminds us that Stan and Jack weren't exactly rocket scientists. ;-)

Dick Ayers' inks aren't quite a slick as Chic Stone's, but are tighter
and cleaner than Paul Reinman's. He seems very faithful to Kirby's
faces (an area where many inkers tried to "fix" Kirby's work), and
some of the close-up shots remind me of the Mike Royer-inked work of
the 1970s.

Wasp Watch: Ms. Van Dyne gets better-than-average treatment this issue
(which ain't saying much). She's still largely useless in a fight, but
at least she was smart enough to figure out what kind of weapon was
needed to defeat Kang. I was surprised to see her using a separate
communications device to talk to the ants -- didn't she originally
have a built-in antenna for that?

On the letters page, Chris Palmer of Michigan wants to know why the
villains never get killed. Stan says that he loves the villains too
much to kill them, and jokingly threatens to knock off a hero instead
(little suspecting how common a plot device that would become in later
years!). And Bob Spann of Kentucky predicts, among other things, that
Spider-Man will join the Avengers (no doubt he'd be pleased to see
that his prediction came true, albeit 40 years later!). At the end of
the page is a "Special Announcements" section, plugging upcoming
#31. And Stan concludes with a teaser for the next issue of AVENGERS,
promising a new character who could be described as either a villain
OR a hero!

- JKC -