A Brief History of Kang, Part 13: What Did You Do In the War, Grandpa?

By Robert Clough

After that unfortunate mess with the Grandmaster, Kang next pops up in the pages of the Hulk. Since he had had enough of getting his ass kicked by a bunch of primitives, Kang decided to go the "I'll fix it so that the Avengers never existed!" route. This somehow involved the air ace known as the Phantom Eagle, who fought in World War I.

Kang jumps in a "chrono-sphere", preparing to visit that era, when he encounters a "time-storm, blanketing the very period in which I must materialize!" It's apparently serious enough that it will rip apart his ship, so he zips back to his own era, vowing to find something that can survive the rigors of the time storm.

Kang then takes a minute to brood over Ravonna's comatose form, saying "If only you were here to soothe my anguished soul! But your spirit lies in limbo... {RC: Immortus' realm??? Hmmm....} somewhere between life and death! Thus, only in bald-faced conquest can I find release!" Kang is conquering 'cause he can't find love? He then hits upon using the Hulk as his weapon. Bringing him into the 40th century, he convinces the Hulk to do his bidding by promising him that he could destroy Bruce Banner! He shows him footage of the Phantom Eagle, and tells him that if he destroys him, Bruce Banner will also die. The Hulk, confused, agrees to go along with it.

After Kang sends him to WWI, he starts his usual round of bragging, noting that the Phantom Eagle turns out to be Bruce Banner's grandfather! Destroying him will prevent the Hulk's existence, and therefore preventing the existence of the Avengers, thus making the 20th century easy pickings because no single hero could beat him.

Things don't quite go Kang's way, however, as the Hulk manages to smash a whole bunch of stuff and people, but none of them include the Phantom Eagle. Furthermore, the Hulk starts to fade away, heading towards the future. Kang tries to hold him there "by the sheer force of my own invincible mind", but needless to say, it doesn't work out. The Hulk zooms back to his era, while Kang is sucked away from his era, as "the man who once was Kang the Conqueror drifts, his mind a blank white page, in the limbo between the millennia..."

This issue deserves some commentary. First off, this has to be the all-time stupidest plot by Kang. By using one of the Phantom Eagle's descendants to kill him, Kang would have set up a time paradox, as the Phantom Eagle would not have been alive to give birth to someone who would give birth to his killer. At best, Kang would have set up an alternate reality. Second, even if he had gotten rid of the Hulk, I fail to see how he would have easily taken over the 20th century. An appearance by Kang is exactly the sort of thing that would have drawn a zillion superheroes running.

What I prefer to believe is that this was an alternate Kang, one of the stupider ones that was being killed off in that later Stern storyline. Kang would next appear, unmolested, fighting another time traveler...

One last thing....Roy Thomas (writer) wrote an interesting footnote:

"Roy's theory of relativity: ever since that infamous day back in Avengers #8, when Kang first invaded our century, his rate of time-flow has gone forward at the same speed as ours--so that, just as seven years have passed for Kang since then, it is now seven years later for us, as well!"

Of course, Marvel-time got considerably compressed, but you get the idea.

--Clough the Conqueror