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Steve Englehart (writer), George Perez (penciler), Sam Grainger (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), George Roussos (colorist), Marv Wolfman (editor)
In 1873, Hawkeye, Thor and Moondragon along with Two-Gun Kid have received the information they need to get into Kang's citadel. They appear before the citadel, and their arrival is witnessed by Kang. He wants revenge against the Avengers for keeping the Celestial Madonna from him. He recognizes Hawkeye and Moondragon, but not Thor (in his Don Blake form) and Two-Gun Kid. He traps them in his citadel, boasting that after all this time he will finally destroy the Avengers. Kang sets a monster against them – the mixture of 41st Century science and a local coyote. Moondragon is taken out first, followed by Hawkeye, leaving only an nervous Two-Gun Kid, for the disguised Thor has somehow escaped, and appears behind Kang. Thor confronts Kang, knocking him out of the citadel, he is determined to settle Kang's fate once and for all. The monster has taken hold of Two-Gun Kid, and just in time, Moondragon wakes, to use her psychic power on the monster, taking it out and freeing Two-Gun Kid. Thor's battle with Kang ends with an out of control Kang seemingly obliterating himself. His citadel vanishes, and the heroes regroup, as Immortus appears before them. He gives them some information about the connections between Kang, Rama Tut and himself, and announces that none of them have now ever been, before he seemingly vanishes. In the present day, Captain America, Beast, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Iron Man and Patsy Walker are being held prisoner by the Brand Corporation. Cap and the Vision devise a plan to break free of their energy cage, which is successful. Patsy reminds Beast about their agreement, and starts to wish he turned her down.
1873, the Wild West, where the Avengers called Thor and Moondragon look shocked as Kid Colt raises his pistol at a bandit and exclaims 'You polecat! You got ten seconds to talk – or I'll blow your innards into the next county!' His hooded eyes glint like desert frost under his Stetson's shadow. His draw is swift and sure and his gun is a big as a butte! 'What's your answer, hombre?' Kid Colt demands.
'I'll talk! I'll talk! Anything you say! Me 'n' the boys didn't mind robbing a train fer Kang – working fer him seemed like a right smart thing to do! But he didn't warn us about these other dudes like him – or you 'n' Rawhide and the rest!' the bandit exclaims, raising his hands in the air, as he finds himself surrounded in a canyon. Kid Colt grits his teeth as he announces that Hawkeye, Thor and Moondragon come from the future, just to hogtie his boss. 'And we're workin' for them – fer free!' he adds as he fires his gun, which shoots the bandit's hat off of his head. Kid Colt explains that after the way Kang turned everybody in Tombstone into walking dead men, just so nobody would attack him, it seemed a right smart thing to do. Kid Colt fires another bullet, and the bandit finds his pants drop to the ground, exposing his long johns.
Thor tells Kid Colt that the bandit will speak now, to which Kid Colt declares 'Lissen, pard – you may be a god, and you may not – but I know how to deal with Ace!' A shirtless Clint “Hawkeye” Barton is standing nearby, alongside the Ringo Kid, and he tells Thor to let Kid Colt go for it, reminding him that until he and the Dragon Lady dropped in, the Kids and him were running this show. 'You tell 'im, Hawkeye!' Ringo Kid exclaims, while Night Rider, Rawhide Kid and the Two-Gun Kid are nearby. 'Nevertheless, we work together now, as Kid Colt said – and we shall work with honor' Thor announces. Two-Gun Kid remarks that there is no need for argument, and that he, for one, is more than glad to help the Thunder God. 'After all, we still have a town to save' he points out. 'Or a world, maybe, Two-Gun. Kang the Conqueror earned his name. That's why once Ace, here, tells us how to get into his citadel – we'll continue our war with Avengers only!'
Shortly, Thor, Hawkeye and Moondragon are all dressed in local clothing, and are riding on horses, Two-Gun Kid is with them. He tells Hawkeye that he doesn't blame him for worrying about his health, but after all, Tombstone is his town, and that means he plays this hand through. 'A'right, a'right' Hawkeye replies, to which Moondragon tells Two-Gun Kid to never for an instance forget who they face. 'Yes, Ma'am! Whatever you say, Ma'am!' Two-Gun Kid replies, before he shouts 'Let's ride!' and the horses carry the quartet down a slope towards the town. Two-Gun Kid tells himself to cool off, and that just because the lady treats him like a greenhorn, when up until now he has been top gun in these parts, is no reason to get riled up. He thinks that maybe they let women prance around half-naked with shaved heads in the Avengers' time. 'Maybe they let 'em give the orders!' he decides. 'That's their look out' the Kid tells himself, while deciding that he is just happy to keep on trying to believe any of this is really happening to a lawyer-turned-lawman, and do what he can for them.
Down the deserted Main Street rides the sombre foursome, their horses' scuffling hooves echoing eerily from the shuttered facades they pass. At the end of the street looms the cause of Tombstone's silence – the futuristic fortress of Kang the Conqueror. They pause, even as other eyes pause upon seeing them. The image is crude, but its maker has spent enough time in this era to make it useful. 'Hmmm.' Kang remarks to himself as he observes the foursome on his monitor system. Back outside, the heroes climb the front steps, and Hawkeye tells Two-Gun Kid to let him and Moondragon go first.
Moondragon remarks that Ace gave freely of his password, but that Kang may have protective devices. She adds that she suddenly feels he has discovered their deception already. 'You what -? Listen, Ma'am – JEHOSAPHAT!' Two-Gun exclaims, and a cloud of warmth billows out into the crisp night air, all around, the crickets cease their song. 'Looks like the lady called it, group. Here's where we do or die!' Hawkeye exclaims as the heroes enter the citadel.
Once inside, they are faced with a screen that depicts Kang's image. Kang welcomes the Avengers to the last place they will ever enter on Earth. 'You nearly fooled me – even after I lured you to this era by returning yhour puerile time machine! I was looking for your entire assemblage. Nevertheless, I have whom I have – and revenge shall be nonetheless sweet' he boasts. 'Revenge, Time-Lord?' Moondragon asks. 'Revenge for allowing the course of events to proceed as fate had long since decreed?' she enquires. 'Silence!' Kang shouts, declaring that he wanted the Celestial Madonna, and it was the Avengers who kept her from him – and for that, they must die!
'You blue-nosed baboon! I've heard of fixations before, but you take the cake!' Hawkeye exclaims, adding 'Everybody knows you're gonna give up this life in time! Why give yourself so much to regret?'
From the safety of his chamber, Kang replies that he shall not give up this life, that Kang the Conqueror will hold fast to his identity till the end of his days – despite any and all reports to the contrary. 'I'll regret nothing – least of all your deaths!' Kang announces.
'All right, then – Avengers assemble!' Hawkeye shouts as he pulls away his disguise. Moondragon does the same, but Kang calls Hawkeye a cretin and presses a button, which causes the chamber the heroes are in to be plunged into darkness – and then the heroes find themselves trapped in bubbles as they bloat about amongst other colored bubbles.
'Heed me well, Avengers!' Kang booms. He warns them that of all the foes they have faced, none can compare with he. He declares that he knows all the subtle secrets of time, from the Dawn of Antiquity to the Twilight of Eternity. He boasts that he has ruled not nations, but whole continents of men, and that he has ground billions beneath his boots – yet the Avengers have always defied him. 'No matter who raised your banner, the Avengers have forever thwarted my will!' he tells them that no longer, for they have held the Celestial Madonna from him and this time, they shall know his vengeance. 'Nothing shall keep me from destroying each and every Avenger who ever lived – from you hapless fools to Iron Man, the Vision – even Thor!' he declares. Kang warns the Avengers that their allies shall know no peace from him, save the peace of the grave – he shall blot them from the face of the Earth, and then this century, their century, all of time to come shall march to the sound of one drummer pounding out the rhythm of his name – KANG!
The present day, in a carefully constructed cage hidden deep within the recesses of the Brand Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Roxxon Oil.
'Now here's my plan' Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America announces. He turns to the Vision and explains that they will need his powers of intangibility. The Vision reminds Captain America that he has already attempted to pass through the bars, but their alien energy nullifies his abilities. The Vision adds that he can't even put his hand through the openings, as the humans can. 'Right! I understand that!' Cap declares, holding up his shield, he remarks that the Vision can put his hand – his whole body – through the shield. 'Right!' Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast exclaims, realizing that Cap can put the shield right in the energy flow, so the Vision would actually be reaching through it and not the cage. 'Outta sight!' he exclaims. The Vision turns to the Beast and states 'I see you harbor a brain beneath your rough exterior, Beast', to which the Beast tells him to shush, as he will ruin his social life. 'Your social life? I'm the one whose ex-husband helped stick us in here!' Patsy Walker exclaims as she stands next to Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch. Patsy tells the Beast that he has honored their agreement, but that she is beginning to wish he turned her down!
Addressing Patsy as “Miss Baxter”, Cap tells her that they can worry about that later, and announces that he didn't return to the Avengers to stay cooped up. 'Ready, Vision?' Cap asks as he places his shield into the electronic grid keeping them all captive. The Vision reaches forward, and places his arm through the shield, 'He's through!' someone shouts. 'Well done! I told the Squadron Supreme not to underestimate us!' Iron Man exclaims, while Wanda thinks to herself that her man is incredible, that he never takes bows, but his powers put everyone else to shame. Outside now, the silent android Avenger looses his solar eye beams, and the object of his gaze – the cage – blows wide open. 'Watch your step, ladies!' Iron Man calls out as he takes the hands of Wanda and Patsy and lowers them down to safety. He tells Wanda that he could have used her husband in his solo battle with Dr Spectrum. As Cap and the Beast drop to the ground, Iron Man remarks that every day, he sees more wisdom in having helped found this team. 'Nuts, I.M! Spectrum and his pals were lost from the start – you know what they say - “four walls do not a prism make”!' the Beast exclaims. 'You're really considering this guy for membership, huh?' Cap asks, before telling everyone to come on, as they have some people to see. The Avengers and Patsy Walker then rush out of the chamber into a corridor.
Back in the past, Moondragon, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid and Thor, who is still in his western garb disguise and his human form as Don Blake, fall to the floor. 'Whee-oo! I've never seen anything as fancy as this – not even back East!' Two-Gun Kid thinks to himself, realizing that the floor is neither wood nor stone, and it is glowing. 'Now, Hawkeye, Moondragon and you others – you must learn what Kang can accomplish, even in these primitive ages!' Kang booms from the chamber where he resides.
He appears to the heroes on a monitor, he reveals that using only the technology of his Time Sphere, he has turned metals yet undiscovered by methods yet undreamt, into a palace – a palace of pleasure and pain. Suddenly, a large humanoid monster appears, looming over the heroes, although Thor appears to have vanished. 'Holy jumpi' Joe!' Hawkeye shouts. Kang announces that within these walls, he has created many wonders. 'Behold the mix of 41st Century science – and a coyote!' The creature swings its long tail – straight into Moondragon, knocking her over.
'Jehosaphat! The bald woman's down!' Kid Colt thinks to himself, admitting that he had no idea he would meet up with anything like this. He pulls two guns from their holsters and starts firing at the monster, telling himself that he better hopes the creature hates lead, or else be ready for the last round-up!
Hawkeye fires an arrow, deciding that the Kid doesn't know what he is up against. 'And I'm not sure I do' Clint realizes. 'I just hope -' he begins, as he arrows explode in front of the monster, but they don't stop it. Clint is then thrown into the air when the monster swings his tail into him. Kang laughs and exclaims 'How long I have waited for this! Each time before, they've somehow slipped through my fingers! Now, at last, the Avengers are doomed! Doomed!' he roars, bursting into laughter again – but unaware that the still disguised Thor has somehow appeared behind him. Kang declares that the two real Avengers are finished, and the masked cowboy is moments from his end. 'And the bearded stranger – eh? Where is the bearded stranger?' he asks, realizing that his scanner isn't picking up the stranger anywhere. Behind him, Thor starts to remove his disguise – the hat, the beard and moustache, and reaches into his jacket for his cane. 'There is a hole in the far wall – a gaping hole! It can only have been made – by someone with extraordinary strength – to escape!' Kang declares. 'Yes, Kang' the “stranger” replies as he smacks the cane against the floor, transforming himself into Thor, holding Mjolnir in his hand. 'T'was the Mighty Thor!' the Asgardian announces, he attempts to swipe at Kang, but a force field appears between them. 'Had I not altered my stature, thou wouldst have easily pierced my disguise – and taken measure more suited for a god'.
Kangb admits that Thor's tactic was clever, and remarks 'Surely you haven't forgotten my ever-present force field?' Thor swings Mjolnir again and replies that he hath not forgotten – not at all. With that, Mjolnir strikes Kang, and the villain is send crashing backwards through the wall, and out of his citadel, where he lands on the street below. 'Blast him! He can't actually strike my person – but if he moves my protective field, he moves me!' Kang adds that he is not anchored to the ground, and therefore he has been ousted from his citadel. 'AS was meant to be, knave' Thor calls out as he lands before Kang. 'Now, 'neath the open skies – thou and I, hand to hand – shall settle thy fate, once and for all!' Thor booms.
As the two berserkers begin to close upon each other, a giant hand closes hard on the Two-Gun Kid. His real name is Matt Hawk. He is a brave man, always has been, but he is a man of a simpler time, bereft of comics, moves of the television. This is the first monster Matt Hawk has seen. He thrashed about in the monster's grasp, and shoots at the monster's face. He panics, an act which will alter the rest of his days. At that moment, Moondragon rouses, telling herself that only her Titain-trained relfexes could have maintained her life, but it is her mind that is needed now. She recalls telling Thor at the commencement of this venture, that it was not a task for mere mortals. Combatting Kang is solely designed for gods. She uses her psychic power to infiltrate the mind of the monster, who suddenly falls to the ground, releasing Two-Gun Kid from its grasp. 'Boy. There's no end to what Kang can come up with! No wonder he never quits! Good thing we can say the same!' Hawkeye exclaims, before asking Two-Gun if he is okay. Rubbing his head, Two-Gun hesitantly replies that he is fine. 'You sure? You're not used to stuff like this' Hawkeye reminds his friend. 'I said I'm fine, mister! Don't yuh understand English?' Two-Gun snaps, while Moondragon thinks to herself 'Ah, yes, but a priestess understands far more! Far more!'
Be that as it may, back outside, Thor's fist meets Kang's face and punches his foe backwards across the street, where Kang crashes into a wooden beam. Thor admits that it is true Kang is unlike all others that the Avengers have battled, for surely he is the most tyrannical – both toward others and himself. Thor's fists slam down onto Kang, remarking that he never recognizes an ending to his lusts, yet there must be one. 'By Lovah – his power!' Kang thinks to himself as he strains under the protection of his force field toward unknown limits that it must conquer the rage of the Thunder God. He grits his teeth and decides that it will hold, however he knows defense is not the way of Kang the Conqueror – he must strike back and overcome Thor. Kang raises a hand and fires a blast of energy that knocks Thor backwards. 'Feel the force of my dissolution beam, godling!' Kang declares. Thor maintain his position: 'I feel it – and I continue to stand!' he shouts. Kang has returned to his feet, and boasts that he will raise the power level even higher, obliterate this whole Hamlet if he must. 'I'll give you more!' he booms.
But it skitters through Kang, now. Like a spider of the spine, a fear... some might say a weakness... a weakness he swore he'd never know. 'MORE!' Kang shouts, wide-eyed, he looks terrified. 'I'll give you more power. You'll fall before me, blast your eyes. Kang twists the buckle on his belt, before telling Thor that he cannot triumph over him, not this time. 'I'm Kang – invincible!' he exclaims. Thor tells Kang to hold, that he has pushed himself too far. Energy radiates around Kang, 'No! More! Kang conquers! Conquers! More! Kang! Kang! KANG!' he booms, as the energy ripples through Kang and he seemingly vanishes. 'Odin's blood!' Thor gasps, realizing that Kang destroyed himself. 'But if I've learned naught else in my immortal life – such is the way of the warrior' Thor adds.
Suddenly, the citadel vanishes, and Hawkeye, Moondragon and Two-Gun Kid find themselves outside, near Thor.
'The citadel! It's gone! We're free!' Hawkeye exclaims. Moondragon points to the red-tinted sky, 'Again – in the sky – Immortus!' she exclaims. Immortus appears before the heroes, and tells them that this is fate, that Kang is gone, his vey atoms split and spread throughout all time, never again to be rejoined – a fitting end and all the more so since Kang himself was its cause. Moondragon reminds Immortus that he once told the Avengers that he was another manifestation of Kang, like Pharaoh Rama-Tut. 'If he is destroyed -!' Moondragon exclaims. Immortus tells the heroes to heed his words, for he will speak them but once. He declares that Rama-Tut suffered after his times with them, for it came to him that despite his excellent intentions, his quest to undo the wrong he had wrought as Kang had only resulted in the Conqueror's strengthening. The Pharaoh had erred – thus, after returning from Immortus's land of Limbo, to his own Egypt, he devoted himself entirely to a further understanding of time, to become its final master. 'Myself!' Immortus exclaims.
Immortus continues, explaining that neither the Pharaoh nor Kang knew this when they knew the Avengers, for Immortus was their last identity, but since the day he took his name, he has worked subtly, but unceasingly, to bring about an ending to this menace they unleashed. 'Now, Kang no longer exists... and Rama-Tut shall never come into being. Neither, too, shall Immortus have been!' With that, the image of Immortus begins to fade, as he utters 'The circle is broken! We are free!'
Tombstone, Arizona, 1873, today and forever, there is one less god. And Moondragon begins to cry.
Beast, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Moondragon, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision (all Avengers)
Captain America (inactive Avenger)
Kid Colt, Night Rider, Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid, Two-Gun Kid II
Ace the bandit
In Illustrative Image
Kang returned the time machine in Avengers (1st series) #140.
Kang's pursuit of the Celestial Madonna and the Avengers' interference is chronicled in Giant Size Avengers #2-4.
Patsy Walker mentions the Beast honoring their agreement, which at this stage has been unrevealed to the other characters, or the reader.
Iron Man's solo battle with Dr Spectrum can be seen in Iron Man (1st series) #63-66.
The cover to this issue incorrectly depicts the present-based Avengers battling the monster, when it is in fact the Avengers in the past who battle a monster.