The Mighty Thor Annual #17: "Paradise Lost"

The Mighty Thor Annual #17
"Paradise Lost"

Writer: Peter Sanderson
Penciler: Rich Yanizeski
Inker: Fred Fredericks
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Max Scheele

He is known and feared by billions as Kang the Conqueror. He has conquered both time and space. He had even transcended his own mortality. But it had been false. For years, he had spent half of each day mourning his greatest failure. Not all Kang's power and knowledge could resurrect the only woman he ever loved.

Before he had met her, Kang had thought his own power to be limitless. Having made the Earth of the 41st century his own, Kang set out on the conquest of other planets, and feed his insatiable hunger. Soon, Kang became dominant over millions of planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. As other galactic empires began to fear his might, his defeat by the Avengers still rankled. Kang monitored the Avengers since their last battle and learned of another time lord, Immortus, who appeared to be their foe. Would Immortus prove to be an ally or a rival? Kang's first priority was to destroy Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He would infiltrate them with a robot assassin, who would be created as a double of the mysterious new hero known as Spider-Man! The idea of a heroic doppleganger pleased Kang, but the real Spider-Man interferred, and vanquished the robot assassin in midair!

Frustrated with his failures in the Twentieth Century, Kang decided to seek his fortune in the Heroic Age of Camelot, while the Black Knight was away battling Morgan Le Fey. Taking Merlin by surprise, Kang defeated his magicks with his futuristic science -- and then challenged all of King Arthur's knights --

--Besting each of them in single combat! Kang's skills as a warlord were aided by his force-beam-lance. Camelot was Kang's! He planned to create an alternate reality in which Britain would conquer the rest of the globe, and super-heroes would never exist! Acting against his vow of non-interference, Uatu the Watcher enlisted the Thing and the Torch to stop Kang... but was this truly Uatu? This Watcher claimed his base was in Limbo... Immortus' realm!

Whoever he was, the Thing and the Torch were sent back in time, where they released Merlin, and routed Kang's army. Kang was forced to flee and King Arthur regained his throne. Kang later felt the urge to join the villainous horde that attacked the Fantastic Four on Reed Richards' wedding day in vain. Only Doctor Doom could have influenced the conqueror's mind. Back in his own time, Kang was absolute master of the galaxy, and its inhabitants. He had spared only one small kingdom from conquest... the realm of the beautiful Princess Ravonna. Never had the conqueror found a woman more worthy to rule the universe by his side. Ravonna disdained his proposals of marriage... swearing that she would never share her own throne with a mere commoner no matter how powerful.

Kang transported Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch to his own time, then fought them to prove his worth to Ravonna... nearly crushing the Star-Spangled Avenger beneath his own shield, turned giant by his futuristic science. Ravonna only saw the bravery of the Avengers, and Kang's patience was at an end. The conqueror made his demand. His armies surrounded her domain. Either Ravonna surrendered her hand in marriage or her tiny kingdom would fall beneath his boot. Ravonna hesitated. Her father, Carelius would later tell Kang that despite her protestations, Ravonna would have returned his love... had he wooed her with tenderness instead of threats. Kang was a fool. With Earth's Mightiest Heroes ready to attack -- the conqueror gave the signal -- and his troops opened fire! In an hour, Ravonna's kingdom belonged to Kang!

But not Ravonna's heart. Kang did not care because the Avengers were his prisoners and Ravonna was his prize! Kang's policy was to kill any ruler he had captured... but Ravonna would prove to be the exception. He ordered his men to prepare for the wedding. Baltag and the other commanders had their objections. Should Kang spare Ravonna, they would follow the conqueror no longer! Where was Kang the Conqueror in the face of this insurrection? Only Ravonna gave his life any meaning. He could never let her die! His former commanders came for him, as the assassins he knew they would. The revolt had begun when Kang pledged to free Ravonna's kingdom if the Avengers and her subjects would battle at his side. Ravonna was amazed that the conqueror had risked his very life and empire on her behalf. During this strange frame-of-mind, he felt oddly pleased at fighting alongside Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and not against them.

Baltag was now his prisoner. Kang freed Ravonna's kingdom -- and her as well. It was then that she saw him in a new light -- but Baltag broke free of the guards, grabbed a weapon -- and fired! Ravonna threw herself between them, saying how she knew she truly loved him. Baltag was gunned down -- but it was too late. "Perhaps 'tis just as well, my lord!" "Perhaps -- 'twas never meant -- to be--!" Then Ravonna spoke no more. Neither Kang nor the finest physicians in the galaxy could help her. All that he could do was to preserve Ravonnna in suspended animation... and hope that one day he would find a way to revive her safely. The Earth was ravaged by Baltag's rebellion. Kang had to stop it before it spread throughout his empire like a virus. He needed to recover his Growing Man stimuloid from its hiding place in the past.

The Growing Man was freed accidentally... and the Mighty Thor sought to stop him. Kang quickly reduced the stimuloid to the size of a doll. He then turned his rage over Ravonna's plight against the God of Thunder! Before entering his disguised timeship, Kang vowed he would return to destroy all life in this time period. He had underestimated the Mighty Thor, who hurled his enchanted hammer -- to entrap his timeship in an infinity vortex! The timeship was already on its way. Back in the Fortieth Century, the Growing Man made short work of the rebel forces. The revolt was over and Kang had won.

A miracle came in the form of the Grandmaster, who challenged him to a game. If Kang lost, the Grandmaster would obliterate both the conqueror and his world. If Kang won, he would be granted a single use of the power over life and death. It was his only chance -- his only hope -- to save Ravonna! He would risk all for her! Kang made Earth's Mightiest Heroes his pawns against the Grandmaster's Squadron Sinister. Needless to say, the Avengers prevailed. How could the conqueror let his enemies go free? They had vexed him at every turn. And now he had them in his grasp! Kang demanded that the Grandmaster give him power over both life and death. The Grandmaster forced him to choose -- life for Ravonna -- or death for the Avengers? In that moment, the conqueror won over the man. Death it would be for Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and the life from their bodies were being drained!

The Black Knight was unaffected -- and struck Kang down with his Ebony Blade. Kang had been tricked because the Grandmaster had given him the power to slay the Avengers! The Black Knight was not yet a member! Once they were restored to health, they welcomed him to their ranks only mere moments later! Kang's moment had passed -- and his power of death with it. He felt a chill as the Grandmaster paused before the still form of Ravonna, and sensed that the Elder of the Universe was not yet done with his revenge! Kang was once again alone. Ravonna was as one in death. He could no longer blame Baltag, for he had condemned his beloved to living death... a mute testament to his personal lust for power. He had spent his youth dreaming personal glories of conquest and revenge! His life was now of endless tomorrows devoid of meaning... without love.

Kang the Conqueror was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Kang first appeared in Avenger #8 (September, 1964).

Kang sent his robot assassin against Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #11 (December, 1964).

The Thing and the Human Torch met the Challenge of the Watcher when they traveled back to Camelot in Strange Tales #134 (July, 1965).

Kang tried to crash the wedding of Reed and Sue in Fantastic Four Annual #3 (October, 1965).

Kang brought the Avengers to his future time-period in Avengers #23 (December, 1965).

Baltag gunned down Ravonna in Avengers #24 (January, 1966).

The God of Thunder fought the Growing Man in Thor #140 (May, 1967).

Kang and the Grandmaster gathered their respective pawns for the game in Avengers #69 - #70 (October-November, 1969).

The Dane Whitman Black Knight became a Avenger in Avengers #70 (November, 1969).

This chapter was part of the Citizen Kang storyline which ran through the Avengers-related Annuals in 1992.

Steve Chung
"Paradise Reviewed!"