A Brief History of Kang, Part 33: The Terminatrix Objective
By John Simons
What a revoltin' development this was! By the end of the "Citizen Kang" annuals, Kang had been laid low by Thor's hammer, and was stuck in a stasis chamber to stave off death. And so he remained for the next year (our time, that is) until some of the loose ends of "Citizen" would finally be resolved in the 4-part limited series AVENGERS: TERMINATRIX OBJECTIVE. When last we looked in on lovely Chronopolis, Terminatrix
(AKA Ravonna) had usurped Kang's throne for herself. But soon we will see being supreme time overlord may not be all it was cracked up to be...
Terminatrix is traveling through the timestream in a specialized capsule when she encounters a mysterious barrier which bars her from traveling backwards past a certain era. When she blasts the barrier with a warp cannon, she encounters beyond it an immense cloud being. A sinister face appears in the cloud, and the creature identifies itself as Alioth, "The supreme time being of the timespan prior to Kang's!" Ravonna has never heard of the being, and decides to flee until she can learn more about it.
The time capsule reappears in Chronopolis, where Terminatrix has been ruling since she incapacitated Kang. The thousands of employees of the city (which include chrono-technicians, quantum mechanics, theoretical physicists and temp workers) are unaware of this fact, because Ravonna wears a Kang holo-disguise in public. Only in her private quarters does she drop the false appearance.
Ravonna has found that ruling Kang's "fifteen world, eight millennium empire" is not as much fun as she might have imagined. Even as she is unsuccessfully trying to learn more about Alioth, she is interrupted by Deathunt, who has come to tell her that the Anachronauts are leaving Chronopolis. They had sworn to serve Kang, "and lady, you're no Kang," he tells her. Deathunt agrees that the Anachronauts will keep the secret of Kang's absence from the public, then departs. Terminatrix has her robot servant Brideshead change all the security fields. On top of this, she is constantly called on to attend meetings of the Council of Crosstime Kangs. It makes her testy, and she takes it out on her poor robot.
Meantime, in the year 9999, an armored woman who has been observing Terminatrix calls from the past three mighty heroes: War Machine, Thunderstrike and USAgent. She introduces herself as Revelation, an enemy of Kang's who seeks help in defeating him. The Avengers are suspicious, but after discussing it among themselves they agree to play along for now. Revelation tells them that Terminatrix will find a way to revive the comatose Kang if they do not intervene.
Terminatrix (disguised again as Kang) meets with three members of the Kang Corps in her planetarium. They report that they have uncovered the location of the next Congress of Realities meeting and they have the chance to sneak attack and destroy many congressional leaders. "We could annex untold new alternate provinces into the empire!" enthuses one Kang. Terminatrix muses that any slip-up could lead to an all-out crosstime war. She dismisses the Kangs, saying she will consider their proposal.
Just as the Kangs depart, Revelation's allies teleport in. With a well-placed shield throw, USAgent destroys Terminatrix's image projector. They see that she is not Kang, and she capitalizes on that moment of surprise to time-jump several duplicates of herself into the planetarium. In the confusion of battling multiple Terminatrixes, the
Avengers allow the true one to escape back in time, where she arrives in the Old West.
She returns to another part of Chronopolis.
In order to counter the Avengers who have been sent against her, Terminatrix calls to her presence her own potential allies: Captain America, Thor and Iron Man! She doesn't have sufficient time to persuade them to help her before Revelation's Avengers track her down. She decides to travel back a few minutes in time and subliminally persuade her Avengers to help her. Suddenly Cap, Thor and Shellhead get the compulsion to fight the other three. Let the fisticuffs commence! After several minutes of pounding on each other, they all end up fighting together against a legion of Kang's battlebots, which attack them all for damaging the facility.
While the heroes are fighting amongst themselves, Terminatrix uses her devices to learn where USAgent, War Machine and Thunderstrike teleported in from. She materializes in 9999, where she is greeted by a muscle-bound man in armor, who is wielding some sort of energy-claws. Although he is rather polite to her in dialogue, he attacks her, and presently admits that he is having a lot of fun fighting her. He also keeps referring to her as "mum", and identifies himself as Marcus Immortus. Mention of Immortus's name is enough of a distraction that Terminatrix steps on a "razorweed pod" and is suddenly intertwined in acid-coated thorny wire.
After the Avengers dispatch the robots, War Machine grabs Cap and puts his repulsor glove up to Cap's head and demands some straight answers. "Let him go, Rhodey," says Iron Man, "You're embarrassing me." Cap easily flips Rhodey over his shoulder, asserting he "was never really in any danger". Then they finally get around to discussing their situation like rational adults.
Revelation is watching over both the Avengers and also Terminatrix, who is at the mercy of her son. She teleports Terminatrix to another place, where she suddenly stands paralyzed alongside five other women and in the presence of-- Immortus!
However, this Immortus is quite elderly and near death. Immortus describes the six women as "intermediary aspects" of Ravonna: aside from Terminatrix there is also a
Princess Ravonna (circa AVENGERS #23), Nebula Kang (circa AVENGERS #291), the blonde Temptress (circa "Citizen Kang"), a female Grandmaster (no previous appearance) and also Nebula the Space pirate (circa AVENGERS #257).
Marcus Immortus wheels in an infirm old Ravonna who, like Immortus, is at death's door. Immortus dotes on the old woman and tells the other aspects that he wants them to ponder "the motivating force as yet unknown to you-- the power of love." He asks that one of them volunteer to end the old Ravonna's life support at the exact moment that he dies, so that they will pass together. He cannot ask Marcus to do it, because they are his parents.
He also rambles, rather off the topic it seems, about his giant servant Tempus. He says he never knew where Tempus originated from before today, and now he knows that he himself created the construct. He plans to send Tempus back in time so that his younger self will discover him.
Terminatrix agrees to "push the button" on old-Ravonna. Almost as soon as she is released from her paralysis, Immortus clutches his chest and keels over. Terminatrix stops old-Ravonna's life support, who then dies. Tempus's eyes suddenly alight with a red fire. Terminatrix kicks Marcus in the throat and flees. She is soon confronted by
Revelation, who describes herself as "Your daughter. Your sister. You. You decide!" (Real helpful, ain't she?)
Kang, still in his suspension tube, is unknowingly the host of three guests: the Time
Keepers, who are most distressed to find him incapacitated. They take off their masks, to reveal that they all seem to be of the same blue-skinned, yellow-eyed race. They muse that Chronopolis will fall on this day in half of the divergent timelines. Vort considers reviving Kang himself, but is chastised by the other two.
While this is going on, Revelation for some reason teleports the Avengers into the middle of a Crosstime Kang Corps meeting. Suddenly, thousands of alien Kangs are blasting at them with energy weapons! They retreat, busting out of the dome ceiling of the meeting hall, and fly across Chronopolis with sky-troopers in pursuit. They locate another time portal and fly through, arriving in Timely, Wisconsin in the early 20th century. There they are confronted by Victor Timely himself!
Revelation tells Terminatrix that all of the bother with the Avengers was just a means to lure Terminatrix to Revelation's era. It is now too dangerous to travel back to Terminatrix's time, and besides she needed Termy's help in croaking old-Ravonna.
Revelation admits that she is merely yet another incarnation of Ravonna, one who rules the time period after Kang's.
She shows Terminatrix a diagram of various time empires ruled by Kang, herself, the Time Variance Authority, the Congress of Realities, and Alioth. Revelation knows that only Kang can stop Alioth when the creature comes to attack Chronopolis, but she knows not why. If Kang's empire falls, hers will be next and so she tries to convince
Terminatrix to revive Kang. Terminatrix is skeptical, because she doesn't see how it benefits her to help. But Revelation argues that Alioch is as much a threat to her as anyone, and anyway she and Kang will eventually reconcile and rule time together.
Terminatrix reluctantly agrees to help, and Revelation sends her back in time with a device to cure Kang's injuries.
Cap accuses Victor Timely of being Kang in disguise, but the mayor just seems confused. The Timely police force shows up and, although they look like the Keystone
Cops, they possess full armor under their uniforms and energy-blasting nightsticks.
Once again the heroes retreat (they run away a lot in this story), jumping in a police car. Upon realizing that it is a disguised time craft, they are able to fly it back into Limbo and over Chronopolis-- just as Alioth is attacking!
Terminatrix revives Kang, who is perturbed to find that the threat of Alioth is upon them. Kang describes Alioth as "a primordial force-- he grows by absorbing into his mass the bodies of time travelers!" Kang says they must reach the chambers of the
Council (that is, the Kang Corps) because those Kangs have "residual energies" that can be used against their enemy.
The heroes fall through the sky, semi-conscious and about to be absorbed by Alioth, when they are rescued by benevolent "Limbic Infundibula", giant floating creatures native to Limbo. Safely back on the ground, the Avengers are approached by Terminatrix, who apologizes for being unable to send them home. Revelation appears, and the two Ravonna aspects convince the heroes to help battle Alioth.
Suited up in goofy-looking high-tech armor, the Avengers head out for battle and are seen off by Kang himself. Kang explains that he never totally devoted himself to conquering the 20th century because "I've had bigger fish to fry-- in your vernacular." His fights with super-heroes have been "chess games" to relax and hone his skills while he "was waging a real war with a real enemy". He claims that his struggle against Alioth is the only thing that has thus far kept the creature from destroying time, including the Avengers' era. He gives the heroes a "special weapon", a strange staff called "The Chrono-Key", and then disappears.
The Avengers enter the Council Chamber, where the various unconscious members of the Crosstime Kang Corps are being absorbed by the gluttonous Alioth. Thor brandishes the Chrono-Key, which suddenly transforms into a tiny Tempus. This Tempus absorbs all of the time energies of the Corps members before Alioth is able to, growing to immense proportions! Then he begins to feed on the energies of Alioth, as well.
Back in Chronopolis, Kang congratulates the Avengers, saying that Tempus will soon reach "reality-wide proportions," creating a living barrier between Alioth's and Kang's realms. Thor and Cap are infuriated that Kang sacrificed all of the Crosstime
Kangs in order to come out on top. Kang argues that they would've been dead either way, since Alioth was after them. When the heroes are not placated, he transports them back to their own time.
In the aftermath, Kang is pondering his next few moves when he is approached by Terminatrix. Removing his mask and appealing to her face to face, Kang explains that he let her take control of his empire to see the full nature of his accomplishments.
Kang tells her that now she may go to the future and become Revelation, with an empire of her own to rule, or stay and rule at his side. From the future, Revelation and Marcus look back on this as the moment when Kang and Ravonna joined forces.
They are shocked when Terminatrix's answer is to literally stab Kang in the back.
Terminatrix explains to the prone and badly-wounded Kang that she refuses to be fit into any tidy little role devised by him, Revelation, or anyone. Watching him lose consciousness, she tells him that when next she revives him, they will rule as "co-equals".
...and in the year 1903, Victor Timely (AKA Kang) welcomes his fiancée Rebecca Tourminet (AKA Ravonna) to sleepy Timely, Wisconsin.
... and at the perimeter of recorded time, Tempus continues to eternally struggle with the creature known as Alioth.
Okay, I will admit it-- this series could have been worse. I credit writer Mark Gruenwald with letting his imagination go to town here, especially in the area of how Kang's empire is run, and also the various factions who control different timelines.
While I can't pretend to understand everything he threw in this book about the ruling of timelines or Alioth's ability to overrun time, I do get a sense of wonder from it all, much in the same way Gru's work on QUASAR affected me.
Of course, there is a downside too. For a book that has the word "Avengers" in the title, they really have precious little to do with the story. At one point even Thunderstrike comments, "We keep this up and we'll have to rename our team 'the Retreaters!'" because all they seem to do in this story is observe things, and then run away. However, if the story was simply about Terminatrix and Revelation, who would buy it? Also, I had problems with some of the characterization; I'm not exactly an expert on Rhodey, but is it really true to his character to do something as knuckle-headed as pointing a repulsor at Cap's head?
I tend to discount Kang's assertion that his life's work is to stop Alioth, and his encounters with super-heroes have been pleasant diversions. We've certainly never seen any mention of this being before, not even any ominous foreshadowing. More likely, Kang is trying to bolster his heroic image-- even as he is choosing to stay behind while the Avengers deal with Alioth!
I'm not aware of any other appearances, or even mentions, of the "Congress of
Realities", who are apparently a bureaucracy in competition with Kang's Empire. As far as I'm aware, this series is the only time to date they've even been mentioned!
Is Marcus Immortus the Marcus, from AVENGERS #200? Well, it is too soon to rule anything out yet, but I have doubts. Marcus of TO is much more physical, and has a more colloquial speech pattern, than the Marcus of #200, who was very cerebral and a bit pretentious. They may be divergent reality counterparts of each other, or it may be that they are just two offspring of a Kang aspect who just happen to have the same name (maybe Kang/Immortus just really likes the sound of "Marcus"). Seeing that Terminatrix has apparently been killed off in passing in AVENGERS FOREVER #3, it seems unlikely that this will clarified anytime soon!
If nothing else, this series contains a pivotal moment in the Kang mythos-- his death! Assuming all is as it seems, we watch as an elderly Immortus succumbs to old age in TERMINATRIX OBJECTIVE #3! Lest anyone wonder how Immortus can still be running around causing trouble when he has already died, I'd point out that the Immortus seen here is quite old, probably a good 20 more years older than the Immortus we see in AVENGERS FOREVER. So Immy still has plenty of time to cause trouble!
I have to admit I don't get the bit about Tempus. As far as I can tell, elderly-Immortus created him, in order to send him back in time to serve younger-Immortus. But then Tempy gets into a big tussle with Alioth, and apparently is forever consigned to be a big ol' time barrier. So when exactly does he go back in time and make all of those earlier appearances?
While we are all scratching our head about that one, I will be taking my leave. It took a bit longer than I wished to complete my section of this project, for which I humbly apologize. Also thanks to all whom have offered praise and encouragement for the history as I've plodded along. As soon as the premise of AVENGERS FOREVER was announced, I knew that I wanted to do something for the list that would help set the stage for the latest Kang/Immortus tussle. I knew that not everyone who was going to read the new series would have access to all of the back issues. Most likely I would never have gotten my butt into gear to actually do it without the help and inspiration of my fellow chroniclers: Rob, Michael, Owen and-- Lonni the Avenger Lady, who now has the daunting task of trying to make sense out of Kang's appearances in "The Crossing".
Thanks to all-- and good luck, Lonni!
John, Lord of Time