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 right direction.

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 assignments.

--Clough the Conqueror