A Brief History of Kang, Part 21: The Prodigal Child
By Michael Proteau
We now come to an issue in the Kang history which has been dealt with a number of times since I have been on the list. Avengers v.1 #200 is one of those controversial issues that keeps popping up and so I will not summarize in as much detail as I have previous parts, but will focus on time and/or Kang/Immortus related bits.
There is a prologue to the plot of this issue which runs through Avengers 197-199, in which Carol ironically finds herself pregnant after comforting Wanda about not having children and commenting how children just would not fit into her life as Ms. Marvel. The gestation period moves at an astounding pace, and Carol finds herself coming to term in a span of three days. She does not know who the father is, and tells Wanda there can be no father. In the course of this, Carol reveals her I.D. to Wanda and the Avengers, Beast has some great lines about being a teddy bear, and Dr. Donald Blake is called in as a consulting physician (anyone ever notice that Blake seems to be a general practitioner who happens to specialize in whatever field the Avengers need him in from a trauma surgeon to an Ob/Gyn and everything in between?) Carol goes into labor and 199 ends with Blake's ominous line "Ms. Marvel's gone into labor, and it's not like any labor I've ever seen! I don't know if I can handle it! Frankly...I don't know if anything human can!" bringing us to....
Avengers #200 a Shooter, Perez, Layton, Michelinie/Michelinie/Perez/ Green/Salicrup production
"The Child is Father To..."
Carol gives birth to a boy and the Avengers are all shown reacting in various ways. Carol seems strangely upset by the whole thing. The child seems normal but is aging at an incredible rate.
a man rises early and travels via subway to work, when he emerges from the tunnel, he finds not the Wall Street he was expecting, but a quaint scene from a pre-industrial era.
Back at the Mansion, Wondy checks on Carol and has a heart to heart with her about her child while the 2 Hanks (Pym & McCoy) and Blake look in on the child. Physically he is now five years old, but his mental capacity is far beyond that. The child reveals that his name is Marcus. Cap and Shellhead question Marcus about his origins, and Marcus claims to be his own father. The Avengers agree to give him some tools to work with.
a woman in Nassau county steps out to get her newspaper and looks up to see a prehistoric landscape populated with dinosaurs, and faints.
Back at the Mansion, Marcus labors at constructing a mysterious object. Physically he now has the body of a 12-year-old and a mental capacity in the Einstein range. The Avengers are hanging around the Mansion, Hawk wants to put our boy Marcus in a cage, and good ole Jarvis reports that the Avengers are receiving a large number of crank calls, the last of which was someone reporting that their deli was just robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Vision collects data and hatches a theory on the nature of Marcus, but disses Jocasta in doing so. Carol decides to meet her child, but is shocked to find a full grown adult who calls her mother. Marcus reassures her that everything will be fine once the flux is negated. This comment perplexes the Avengers, and Marcus keeps saying everything will be explained after he has finished, and he goes back to work on his project.
Then all hell breaks loose as a very large T-Rex and aircraft ranging from bi-planes to starships attack the Mansion. The Avengers react and counter-attack, but there are threats within the Mansion as well as without. While Shellhead attacks the T-Rex, Wanda is confronted by a mounted knight who seeks to kill her in the name of King George because she's a witch (burn her! But does she weigh the same as a duck? :) ), Cap, Hawk and Beast are attacked by a Native American war band (Mohawks? by the look), and Blake transforms into Thor. The Avengers battle the various threats, and even Jarv gets into the act, decking a decidedly discourteous though dashing cavalier. Hawk is convinced Marcus is the cause of all this and rushes to make his way back to the chamber where they left him working on his machine.
in that very chamber, Marcus and Carol converse while Marcus works on his machine. Carol states that she is held there by some unknown compulsion. Marcus tells her she must leave as he has to activate his machine, she refuses and he renders her unconscious. He apologizes as he lifts her up, saying..."forgive me mother. Forgive me...My love!" as Hawk busts in with a mad-on that just won't quit. He fires a blast arrow and reduces Marcus' machine to rubble. Marcus is dismayed and weeps, but is then consumed with anger, telling Hawk it's now kill or be killed. However before they can throw down, Thor and Shellhead arrive to separate them. Thor states that Marcus' visage looks familiar and asks Marcus his origins. Marcus declines to answer and tells them they must kill him or he will kill them all, but Carol, now conscious, intervenes. Marcus still blusters, but Carol tells him if he is going to kill anyone, he has to start with her. Marcus backs down and tells them he really only wanted them to kill him, stating that he couldn't stand the thought of going back to living like he had since his father left, since the last days of.... IMMORTUS!
Now Thor recognizes his visage, (geez some people just never get it w/o help! ;) ) citing his recent encounter with Immortus (Thor #281/282), but Carol states she has never met Immortus so how can he be the father, to which Marcus again states that he himself impregnated Carol. (Time to jump in the way back machine folks, it's flashback time!!!!)
You see Immortus, the Lord of Limbo and Undisputed Master of Time got lonely and yanked a woman destined to die to be his mate. Immortus created a pocket within Limbo where times flows naturally and Marcus was conceived from this union. Eventually though, his mate was yanked back to the timestream as Immortus didn't realize there was a time limit to how long a mortal could spend in Limbo (hold your tongue 'til the comments!!!) and Immortus seemed nonplussed by this occurrence. Marcus was raised in the pocket of ordinary time so he could grow and develop. When Marcus appeared to be a young adult, Immortus himself disappeared, never to return. We are told in a footnote that this was the aspect of Immortus who died along with Kang in issue 143 (hold your tongue 'til the comments ).
Marcus wanders Limbo aimlessly and cannot even escape to earth as he is a product of Limbo and his presence would cause an irreparable disruption of the timestream. He felt trapped and abandoned until he hits upon the idea of arranging for himself to be born onto earth and develop rapidly enough to negate the time flux distortion. Researching led him to the conclusion that Ms. Marvel's human/Kree mix would make her the perfect vessel for his rebirth. So he abducts her from the timestream, seduces her, implants her with his seed and returns her a second after she left, bringing us to the beginning of the saga where Carol finds herself pregnant without knowing who the daddy was. Now, since Hawkeye has destroyed his machine he must return to Limbo or cause irreparable harm to earth's timestream, or die. He doesn't want to return to his solitary existence, so hoped the Avengers would kill him. Carol agrees to go with him so he won't have to be alone, and Thor uses Mjolnir to transport them back to Limbo. All the out of time attackers disappear, and the Avengers hope Carol will live happily ever after.
Avengers Annual #10 by Claremont/Golden et. al.
Carol returned to earth and had her powers stolen by Rogue. When she meets the Avengers, she blasts them for betraying and abandoning her. Marcus had used Immortus' technology to influence Carol's decisions, essentially forcing himself on her. However, when he returned to Limbo he was unknowingly out of synch with the time flow and aged and died in a matter of days. Carol figures out enough of Immortus' technology to return to earth, but had no desire to associate with the Avengers again, and until Rogue and the Masters of Evil got involved, had no intention of ever contacting them.
Hoo-boy, where do I start. I have avoided most of the previous discussions of Avengers #200 because frankly, I just never liked the story. It all seemed so contrived, and well, when I was younger Ms. M was not one of my favorites, so I was not much interested in the whole thing. Now, however, I still don't like it, it still seems contrived, but I do like Carol's character a whole lot more, and having a fuller grasp of the Kang/Immortus background now makes it much more interesting to me, even if I don't like it.
The main complaint is that there are so many inconsistencies with previous Immortus stories. This in and of itself wouldn't be a problem, if the new revelations made any kind of coherent sense, but they don't. Let's see-Immortus the undisputed Master of Time and Lord of Limbo, who was given a task/quest to monitor the time stream of his lifespan to prevent anyone from tinkering with it too much and fixing what gets messed up is willing to pluck a nameless broodmare/slampiece from the timestream because he's horny and bored?! Second he wouldn't be aware of a "time limit" on a mortal's presence in Limbo after all the research he did, and besides, wasn't Immortus a normal human to begin with, wouldn't that time limit have affected him as well. Let's see now, Immortus, who "faked" his death to the Avengers to allow them to stop worrying about his potential threat, is seen alive and well in Thor 282, and ruling Limbo, but he actually disappeared never to be seen again in Limbo when he faked his death. Hmmm.... something just doesn't fit here, and on top of it all they have Thor refer to the story in his dialogue so it's not like it wasn't fresh in the writer's (or editor's) minds. Whoopsie! So Marcus has none of Immortus' knowledge or skill and kind of learns the machines by trial and error. OK, but even Carol could do this much as stated in Ann 10, and Marcus is supposed to be a genius, so why wouldn't he be able to regulate his aging process, or for that matter his ability to get to earth without having to rape Carol.
Now I don't think good stories should be held hostage by continuity, but this was neither a good story nor a good piece of continuity builder. Now I like and respect all of the talent who worked on these stories, but I just don't think this was a very good plotting effort by the group of said individuals.
I look forward to John and Lonni's attempts to untangle the mess woven in the stories in the latter part of the reviews that I have done. I've had fun, I will still throw in a piece here and there, but for the most part, the curtain has fallen on my performance. Mr. Speaker, I yield the floor........