A Brief History of Kang, Part 14: Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I'll Conquer Ya, Tomorrow
By Robert Clough
Turning away once again from the pages of the Avengers, let's go to Marvel
Team-Up (Vol. 1) #9-11.
The story begins with Avengers Mansion vibrating, glowing, disappearing and then
reappearing. Iron Man happens along, only to find a forcefield surrounding the
mansion. Peter Parker is watching this on TV and decides to help out. After he
and Shellhead trade insults, a gap in the field opens and they leap
through...straight into a time warp!
After fighting a few hostile time-ships, they are taken aboard an apparently
friendly vessel, piloted by Zarrko, Tomorrow Man. He claims that the ships they
fought were of their mutual enemy. Zarrko claimed he was from the 23rd century,
where his enemy had just struck. The people of his time were easy pickings,
because weapons were illegal. Zarrko also mentions that the enemy captured the
Avengers, whom the Z-man had sought as allies. He wants our team-up pals to bust
into the enemy’s citadel, free the Avengers and generally kick ass.
Several pages and several fights with guards, traps and robots later, they
succeed. Of course, Zarrko had played Spidey and Shellhead for suckers. He was
counting on them to soften up the citadel's defenses and allow him to conquer
time (He had not been able to enter prior to this because, but could now because
"with the time storm level sunk so low because of their presence...the invader's
stronghold is mine! MINE!"
Ummm, OK). The heroes bust into the control room of the Invader, and see the
Avengers (including Jarvis!) immobilized in some forcescreens. And they also see
who conquered them, who else but...Kang! Kang whips them in a single panel, but
Zarrko runs in and challenges Kang.
Zarrko then begins raving about his master plan, in fine villainous tradition.
He sent back some special bombs to the 20th century, whose effect would be
transforming the world with "chronal radiation", reversing time back to the
Stone Age. Everything, that is, except a small weapons depot in the US. With
those weapons, he figured it'd be easy to conquer the world. While Z is raving,
Spidey is actually not completely out cold. Iron Man urges him to get away and
go for help. Spidey finds a handy time machine and dopes out how to use it.
While this is happening, Kang easily defeats Zarrko, but is confronted by some
new, unseen foe...
After going back in time, Spidey ends up on the time platform owned by the
Fantastic Four. The only person home is the Human Torch, and Spidey convinces
him to go out and save the world. Zarrko had conveniently mentioned roughly
where the bombs were due to drop, so they rushed out. The Torch dealt with a guy
who transformed into a samurai thanks to the chronal radiation, and Spidey
nearly got beat by one of the bombs. The Torch came along to melt it. Upon
finding the third bomb, Spidey stops the Torch from destroying it too, saying
that they needed to study it in order to defeat Zarrko and Kang. The Torch said
that the radiation it emitted felt familiar and that it was like the radiation
surrounding the Great Refuge, home of the Inhumans. The Torch declines going
there because he doesn't want to deal with Crystal, but he points Spidey in the
Spidey manages to get into Attilan after some misadventures, and talks them into
helping him rig the device such that it'll take him back to Zarrko. Not only do
the Inhumans agree to help (getting Maximus to do it), but several of them agree
to come along and help with the fight. So Black Bolt, Triton, Gorgon and Karnak
all hop on board with Spidey and fight a bunch of Kang's minions.
Remember that mysterious new enemy Kang was shouting about earlier? It was in
fact Spidey and the Inhumans, coming in just a minute or two after Spidey was
beaten by Kang! Kang starts zapping everyone but Black Bolt ends the conflict by
saying one word, which completely knocks Kang out and frees the Avengers to
boot. After Spidey deals with the fleeing Zarrko, he then attends to Kang. Turns
out it was just an empty suit! Kang's voice then beams in over some sound
system: "Aye, fools--as you have been only puppets in Kang the Conqueror's dirty
little war." Spidey and his amazing friends then go home.
An incredibly dull and plodding story by Gerry Conway. Kang barely
gets to do anything interesting, although he does at least escape at the end. I
had imagined that hearing Black Bolt speak should have deafened Spidey and done
more destruction than it did in this issue. Luckily for Kang (and the reader),
he would next appear in the pages of the Avengers, written by Steve Englehart.
As an aside, I have these stories collected in one of my favorite things from
the 70's, a super-giant-sized Treasury Edition. Reprinting older stories in a
13x10 format really makes them larger than life, and with the decent art by Ross
Andru and Jim Mooney, it enhances the whole experience. Plus, there was a new
backup drawn by Brent Anderson (an Angel story) that has to be one of his first
--Clough the Conqueror