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Marvel's Avengers relaunch sees the return of a major big bad (but he might be here to help)

Will this classic villain destroy the Avengers, or join them?

tthe avengers fighting against a large villain
Image credit: Marvel Comics
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Avengers #1 (2023)!
Cropped cover featuring the Avengers all looking to the right
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Avengers assemble! Captain Marvel has just put together a new incarnation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The latest Avengers roster includes Captain Marvel, Captain America (Sam Wilson), Iron Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, and Thor. But is there room in their lineup for another powerhouse?

Avengers #1 (written by Jed MacKay and penciled by C.F. Villa) ends with the surprise arrival of Kang. But the time traveling conqueror doesn’t want to attack the Avengers, he wants to warn them. What’s going on?

Kang, ally or enemy?

Kang asks Captain Marvel for help
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The Avengers are taking a moment to reset. After the events of Jason Aaron’s Avengers Assemble storyline, the group has decided to temporarily disband. This has allowed the team to reassess their place in the world so they could forge a new beginning. Carol Danvers is named team chairperson, and most of Avengers #1 involves her putting together the new roster.

As Captain Marvel explains, this new iteration of the Avengers will get back to the core of what made the team inspiring in the first place. “The Avengers aren’t cops. Or, at least, we shouldn’t be. That doesn’t work, that just gets us into civil wars,” Carol tells Iron Man. “The Avengers are firefighters. We’re the ones who fly into the blaze, whatever it is.”

The new Avengers then battle Terminus, a behemoth who enjoys destroying planets. During the battle, Scarlet Witch casts a powerful spell, which causes a huge surge of energy. Captain Marvel then finds herself displaced in Null-Time, the space between time. It’s unknown if this was a result of Wanda’s spell or other forces.

As Captain Marvel gathers her bearings, she’s surprised to find herself face to face with Kang. However, the Avengers’ enemy has seen better days. The deadly villain is severely wounded and missing most of his armor. “You’ve come to my deathbed Carol Danvers. We must speak. I have a warning for you,” Kang weakly says.

Why is Kang wounded?

Kang is stabbed (Timeless #1)
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Kang the Conqueror has a reputation for being one of Marvel’s most fearsome villains, so the sight of him humbled and broken might be a bit surprising. However, you wouldn’t be surprised if you read Timeless #1 (2023). The one-shot followed Kang as he searched the timeline for something called the Missing Moment. As you have probably gathered, the search didn’t go so well. The thing about searching for mythical items is that you usually find yourself clashing with others.

A group known as the Twilight Court sought the Missing Moment for their master, a villain named Myrddin. It wasn’t long before their paths crossed, and Kang was in for a world of hurt. Myrddin stabbed Kang through the chest, critically wounding the time tyrant. In a last-ditch effort for survival, Kang transported himself to Null-Time. “If I’m to thwart Myrddin, even from beyond the grave, then I will require heroes of my own,” Kang says.

So, Kang is looking for heroes, and now he’s face to face with Captain Marvel. She said that her new Avengers would rush into the blaze to save people, but does that include madmen like Kang?

Will Kang join the Avengers? What’s next for the villainous conqueror?

Avengers #2 (2023) cover
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Will this lead to Kang joining the Avengers, or destroying them? Popverse doesn’t have a time machine, but we can look at comic solicitations for a hint on what the future might hold. Avengers #2 goes on sale June 21, and the solicitation states, “The Avengers find themselves with a rare gift – foreknowledge of the dangers coming their way in the form of the deadly TRIBULATION EVENTS. But can this information be trusted? And can even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes triumph in the face of cascading disaster?”

Avengers #3 goes on sale July 26, and the solicitation states, “The first Tribulation Event strikes the Earth! The Avengers fly into the action as the Ashen Combine – a collection of the Multiverse’s greatest monsters – descend from the Impossible City to follow their respective appetites. Cityslayers all, pursuing the assassination of metropolitan areas for sport!”

Neither solicitation says anything about Kang, but they don’t have to. The copy makes it clear that the Avengers will be going on Kang’s quest to stop Myrddin, which includes making their way through the Tribulation Events. As established in Timeless #1, Tribulation Events are fixed moments in history. You cannot find the Missing Moment without going through the Tribulation Events, and only heroes can access them. This is why Myrddin formed the Twilight Court, as he wasn’t a hero.

There is a lot we still don’t know about the nature of the Missing Moment, but it appears that it will be deadly in the wrong hands. Whether the Avengers trust Kang or not, it’s in their best interest to stop Myrddin from obtaining the Missing Moment. And then what? Will Kang betray the Avengers once his rival is out of the way? Is he just using them to get the Missing Moment for himself? Probably.

However, Kang might surprise us. Plenty of reformed villains have become central parts of the Avengers’ roster, including Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow. Maybe Jed MacKay has a surprise up his sleeve, with plans for a Kang redemption arc.

However, the difference is those reformed villains wanted to change. For now, it seems Kang just wants the Missing Moment for himself, and he isn’t after Myrddin for any moral reasons. Plus, Kang is currently gearing up to be the MCU’s next big bad. Making Kang a hero in the comics while he’s a villain onscreen might hurt some of that corporate synergy Marvel loves so much.

It looks like Kang’s journey is at an interesting crossroads, and only time will tell which way it goes.

Avengers #1 (written by Jed MacKay and penciled by C.F. Villa) is available now.

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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.
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