Collects Thor 140, Hulk 135, Avengers 69-71 and 267-269

Writers: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Roger Stern
Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta, Sal Buscema, Sam Grainger, Herb Trimpe, John Buscema, Tom Palmer

This is a collection of stories centered on the early appearances of Kang the Conqueror. However, they don’t include Kang’s first appearance which I found a bit strange.

Thor 140 focuses on the mystery of the Growing Man, Kang’s henchman. After the Troll War, Thor returns to Earth and fights the Growing Man.

Next up is Avengers 69-71.Tony Stark has been badly wounded and is in hospital, waiting for a doctor Thor is bringing to him. However, before the doctor can do much, the Growing Man kidnaps Tony and the Avengers chase him. They (Yellowjacket, Giant-Man, the Wasp, Captain America, Thor, and the Vision) are transported to Kang’s presence. Before the Avengers can pummel him, the Black Panther stops them and forces them to listen to Kang’s tale. He has started a contest with the Grandmaster and the prize is Earth. If Kang loses, Earth will cease to exist and if Kang wins, he will gain powers over life and death so that he can revive his beloved Ravonna. The Avengers agree to become his champions. Four of them are sent one by one to various places on Earth to battle The Grandmaster’s minions, the Squadron Sinister. In the second phase the rest of the Avengers battle the original Invaders in WWII setting. They still need the Black Knight’s help to get free from Kang’s clutches.

Next is Hulk where Kang is thrown about in a timestorm. He needs help from something or someone indestructible to destroy the Avengers and so he tricks the Hulk into helping him. Kang sends Hulk into the past to alter the present.

The final three issues are another Avengers story with multiple Kangs. Kang has traveled so much through time that there are lots of Kangs around from timelines which have splintered off from the original. They’ve apparently formed a Council which is eliminating some of the Kangs. The Avengers (the Wasp, the Black Knight, and Hercules) are boring a tunnel underneath their mansion when they’re surrounded by thick fog and strange sights. They encounter old Avengers, such as Hulk and Giant-man. Meanwhile, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and the newest Avenger Namor are enjoying the sea air until they find out that the others have disappeared and try to find them.

This is an okay collection but I don’t think these are actually the best Kang stories ever. I was also rather surprised to see that the first Kang story was not here. Because the rest of the stories revolve around Kang trying to revive his beloved Ravonna, it would have been better to show the story where Ravonna was originally hurt. It’s told in a flash back but that doesn’t quite feel enough.

It’s also interesting to compare the different style throughout the years. Most of the stories are quite old and they show it, in cheesier dialog (especially in the Thor issue) but also in the treatment of female characters. The last story has both Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) and the Wasp and their treatment is a far cry from how the Wasp is sidelined and forgotten in the first Avengers story. In the second, she’s the Avengers’ leader. In fact, Avengers issue 71 focuses on the Black Knight.

Overall, an ok collection but not really special.

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