A Brief History of Kang, Part 30: To Infinity and Beyond!
By John Simons
Now we turn to the next big mega super-crossover that Kang was sucked into: the mind-numbing Infinity War! Kang's part in this is a bit more significant than during the Secret Wars, but just when we think he is finally getting his due-- well, read on...
A terrible calamity threatens the universe-- Eternity itself, the universe's living embodiment, has been rendered catatonic by an unimaginably powerful outside agent.
This dilemma attracts the attention of several different entities, including Thanos,
Galactus, and Dr. Doom. Thanos travels down a "dimensional chute" to the source of the power, and finds a vast fortress floating through the void. Within he finds Magus, Adam's Warlock's evil self-- and in his service, a doppelganger of Thanos! When Thanos (the original, that is) tries to convince Magus that ultimate power is too much for any one individual to handle, Magus teleports him away dismissively.
Doom, meanwhile, has already surmised that he alone does not possess the level of technology necessary to reach the power source. He places a call to a potential ally, "the only one I can trust in this matter", and presently Kang the Conqueror arrives to accept Doom's proposal of partnership. (Where and when Doom placed his call to, and how he knew to call there, is unexplained. Does Doom have Kang's beeper number?)
Even as they agree to work together, both villains are already planning to betray each other down the line.
Although Magus's fortress is cloaked through mystical means, Kang locates several planetary "transferral receptors" which are funneling its powerful energies. They travel to the Earth-bound receptor, but before Kang can break its codes (note that Kang does all of the work here, while Doom stands around), Galactus' world-ship arrives, and they must hide. With the aid of Dr. Strange, Galactus is able to pinpoint the origin of the energies. The Worldship heads down the dimensional corridor. Kang and Doom hop into their own craft and discretely tag along behind. The villains wonder how they can reach their destination ahead of Galactus. Their question is answered soon enough-- monitoring Galactus' progress from afar, Magus nonchalantly destroys the world-eater's vessel with the press of a button! When the allies reach the source of their calculations, they find yet another relay transmitter. This time Kang's calculations are interrupted by the arrival of Thanos and his new allies, the Infinity Watch. Once again, Kang and Doom hide. Before the Infinity Watch can pinpoint the way to Magus' fortress, they are attacked by the greatest heroes of the Earth, who have been teleported there by the combined mystical might of Dr. Druid, Agatha Harkness, Shaman and the Scarlet Witch. While the melee rages, Doom and Kang slip on ahead unnoticed.
The partners finally reach the fortress and don personal cloaking screens. They are so minor and insignificant in power that Magus has completely overlooked them. Kang muses to himself that now may be a good time to eliminate Doom, but decides the Latverian may still prove useful. Doom is similarly almost ready to get rid of the Conqueror.
The villains fly their way into the heart of the fortress, and locate the mysterious energy source: not one, not two, but five cosmic cubes!
(Actually, they are not all cube-shaped, but we get the point) Tamper-proof explosives protect the cubes, and the duo realizes they must seize the fortress's control center in order to release the cubes. Just in case they fail, Kang leaves behind an explosive of his own. (Vengeful cuss, ain't he?)
In the control center, Adam Warlock is the captive of Magus and the Thanos doppelganger. Magus has possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, which would give him the combined total power of all six Infinity Gems, except it is currently inert due to a previous injunction by the Living Tribunal. (Man, this cosmic stuff gives me a headache)
Kang and Doom wait for the doppelganger to leave the room, then attack. To everyone's surprise, Adam Warlock fights on the side of Magus, thinking "better to deal with the devil you know than two who are strangers." Kang blasts Magus a few times; Magus puts Kang's head through a viewscreen. Dr. Doom fells Warlock with an energy blast and, when Magus flies off to reach his cosmic cubes, Doom blasts Kang as well before pursuing.
Kang doesn't appear again in the story-- he just lies there and smolders. When and if he ever wakes up isn't mentioned. Dr. Doom, meanwhile, completely defeats Magus, but just before the vanquished hands over the Infinity Gauntlet to Doom, the Gems are suddenly activated, and the Latverian's efforts are for naught. Oh well, you win some you lose some...
Sorry if this doesn't give the bigger picture of what INFINITY WAR was about, but in the grand scheme of things, Kang really wasn't a central player, in spite of his "screen time".
Alas, once again Kang is made to look pretty bad in favor of Marvel's numero uno master menace, Dr. Doom. The Kangster does all the heavy lifting, and all the thanks he gets is a face full of blaster. By this point, the Conqueror really owes the Latverian some major lumps; it should be interesting to see what happens when next they cross paths...