Monday, October 9, 2017

Council Is Again In Session!

As we've previously seen, a three-member council made up of alternate-reality versions of Kang the Conqueror had convened to, in essence, clean up after themselves--that is, to exterminate the thousands of Kangs who had been brought into existence as a result of their extensive travels through time and the divergent versions of themselves that were created. But this is Kang we're talking about, after all--so when their task was completed, it wasn't long before two of the council members were eliminated due to the treachery of the third, as part of a scheme to place a robotic double of each of the slain Kangs in their respective realities, allowing the sole surviving Kang to take control and rule all of their empires.

What Kang was unaware of was that he himself had been manipulated by Immortus, another manifestation of himself, who then dealt with Kang by having him absorb the combined memories of all the Kangs who were killed, thus driving him near-mad and trapping him in Immortus's realm of Limbo. It seemed that Kang the Conqueror had finally seen his last attempt at conquest.

Yet whatever his failings, it's generally a good idea never to underestimate Kang--even in the case of Immortus, who isn't as much on top of things as he'd like to think.

As for Kang, he's possibly thinking that he can pick up where he left off, since, Immortus notwithstanding, his prior scheme left him as the only surviving Kang.

He's wrong on both counts.

Almost immediately, Kang finds that hostilities haven't ceased at the site of his final battle with both the Avengers and the last divergent Kang who was equally devoted to ending his double's life. But while the unseen assassin's intentions are clear, his identity indicates that Kang's prior plan wasn't as comprehensive in its scope as the Council thought.

No sooner does Kang begin to form his questions as to the nature of this attack, when another Kang appears, this time a female--immediately firing a blast that removes him and sends him elsewhere in time and space.

Wait--"Council"? Another one? From what we've seen and heard here, it almost seems like the cycle of divergences for Kang has begun all over again--especially when the targeted Kang materializes in another chamber and finds himself standing before images of yet another tribunal of Kangs, a council of judgment which he himself had been a part of. But as it turns out, his own Council was only part of a much, much greater whole.

If you're feeling this sort of storyline for Kang the Conqueror is starting to wear a little thin, that's a fair enough judgment. Writer Walt Simonson has recycled Roger Stern's original idea for this concept, which was limited to a single scheme and which ended with all the divergent Kangs eliminated--with the exception of the Kang who led the Council, incapacitated and benched indefinitely until the character was needed again. Simonson now implies that there were a number of such councils--and, assuming they had the same mission, a mass of divergent Kangs far greater than the original council reckoned with. Appropriately enough, many of them are involved in hostilities with each other within their respective councils; yet there's no explanation of how all of these councils are ignorant of one another's existence or operations.

This recent council, the Council of Cross-Time Kangs, considers itself the most powerful of them all--though what other claim would you expect a Kang to make? Simonson perhaps designates it thus to distinguish it from the previous Council and avoid the feeling that we've all been here before--but he borrows enough elements from the original to make that difficult to swallow, e.g., the Council's leader donning a cape, as well as the internal strife caused by a Kang who seems to have his her own agenda. That agenda appears to be the Council's goal of acquiring a powerful weapon that will see them rise above their fellow Councils in both stature and power; but as to the multitude of Kangs in attendance, what do they believe they're doing here? We never know.  They appear to be mainly window dressing for the story.

As to how ridiculous it's all begun to feel, Simonson seems in on the joke, with an abundance of alliteration that kapitalizes... that is, capitalizes on the name and sound of "Kang" to a degree that would have him hauled into Kang's presence in irons for excessive mockery if the writer were actually a fictional comics character. The Council of Cross-Time Kangs (used interchangeably with the Council of Kross-Time Kangs)... meeting at KangKrossroads... and, making up their number, the Cross-Time Kang Korps/Kross-Time Kang Korps. It's no wonder Immortus is giving this Council a wide berth--it must be so outlandish to him that he probably wouldn't have the patience to monitor their activities. (In all seriousness--where is Immortus in this story? He made such a point of stepping in when it came to the prior Council--yet this group's plot to obtain a weapon that will threaten all universes isn't worth his attention?)

As we've seen, one important difference in this newest incarnation of the Council is also its greatest danger--Nebula, who has had dealings with the Avengers before and now has disguised herself as one of the many Kangs in order to take advantage of their technology while pursuing an agenda of her own, one where the Avengers will play a crucial role in her plans. To that end, she has begun steadily seducing and influencing Dr. Druid, her manipulations resulting in Druid subverting the other Avengers into voting him in as the team's Chairman.

Meanwhile, the newest Kang to join the Council uncovers Nebula's deception, as well as the fact that she's interacting with the Avengers--and in a quid pro quo arrangement, the full Council is made aware of Nebula's activities, while Kang is made aware of the Council's true goal. Soon, it becomes clear that Nebula has been able to advance so far in her plans by, er, making the rounds with those Kangs who have been willing to *ahem* cooperate with her.

With the Council's investigation implicating several Kangs and who knows how many more, the next step is to identify those others in order to piece together the entirety of Nebula's activities and to confirm that she is indeed after the same weapon that the Council plots to obtain. That step leads to a scene which underscores Simonson's questionable handling of one of the Avengers' major villains, making one wonder how the Kangs in question ever became conquerors of their respective realities.

The need to curtail Nebula's progress now becoming even more of a priority, the Council takes its newest member into its confidence, as its leader finally explains the nature of the weapon both they and Nebula pursue (once they've all left behind the embarrassing spectacle of their brethren, needless to say)--and why, with the Avengers' unwitting help, Nebula may actually succeed where others have failed.

Using their own time-spanning technology, three of the Council members (including the newest Kang) manage to "hitch a ride" underneath the Avengers quinjet that Nebula and the other Avengers board to attempt to fly into the Celestial's time bubble. One of the Kangs soon perishes from the amount of turbulence the ship suffers; and with Nebula closing in on her goal, the other Kangs attempt to deactivate the "mindbender" devices that Nebula is using to enthrall Thor, the Black Knight, and the She-Hulk, so that the Avengers can take part in stopping Nebula.  The two Kangs succeed, but at the apparent cost of their own lives.

Eventually, the Avengers overpower Nebula and prevent her from succeeding, though the turbulence during their escape from the time bubble claims both Nebula and Druid.

The denouement serves to effectively dissolve the current Avengers lineup, wiping the slate clean in time for an interim lineup to headline the book's 300th issue and act as placeholders until the crossover "Inferno" event winds down. The issue marks Simonson's departure from the title, and also indicates how Kang, who barely lives following his experience in the time bubble, plays a part in forming the new lineup in order to ensure his own survival. The story of the Council would become more convoluted (that's putting it mildly), no thanks to issues of Fantastic Four from Simonson's run on the book, one or two Avengers stories, and The Terminatrix Objective series.

This post covers events from Avengers #s 291-297.


Anonymous said...

Boy, you can't throw a rock in the Marvel Multi-verse without hitting a Kang in the head with it, although I wouldn't recommend that!
I noticed a reptile Kang there, no doubt from an alternate timeline where dinosaurs evolved into an intelligent species on Earth.


Comicsfan said...

I kept trying to spot a Kang that resembled Popeye, M.P., since it seemed a perfect opportunity for Buscema or Palmer to slip one in, but no dice (as far as I could tell).

Anonymous said...

Question: is the Council of Kang(s)? similar to the Council of Ricks on "Rick and Morty"? I wonder if the creators of that show read this comic...

Comicsfan said...

They do have similarities, don't they, Anon? But if the Council of Kangs was indeed their inspiration, then props to the producers for being dedicated Avengers fans, since that story was about 25 years before the COR's debut.