Marvel Champs Monday: A History of Kang

Hey folks, and welcome to a new series… within a series, called A History of… where we talk about the history of a Marvel character as it relates to their design in Marvel Champs. I’ve been helping to lead a comic book reading club on the Marvel Champions Discord dedicated to reading up on heroes and villains the weeks prior to their release in the game.

Keep in mind that, while I will try and keep spoilers to a minimum and focus on early plot points, you will likely run into spoiler-related notes in this article for Kang-related series. You’ve been warned!

Kang was a fairly interesting character to explore largely because he’s not a frequently used baddie. Appearing in only a handful of comics, mostly Avengers-specific books, Kang is best known for his time-traveling antics (likely one of the primary reasons why he doesn’t show up more regularly).

As the game design suggests, there are various Kang’s scattered through time. In an early series, a council of Kang’s attempt to judge and condemn other Kangs who aren’t living up to a code of honor he follows, which explains Kang the Conqueror and Kang Master of Time. As for the iterations you face in Phase II of the Kang fight:

  • Iron Lad is Kang as a kid attempting to thwart his own fate to become a villain
  • Rama-Tut is Kang in Egypt before he took on his masked persona
  • Immortus is an older, more contemplative version of Kang
  • Scarlet Centurion is sometimes depicted as his son and other times as another version of Kang… it’s not terribly clear

The phases of his scheme, while non-specific, references a few larger plots Kang attempts over the years. Kang’s Arrival refers to his first appearance, punctuated by him lounging in a chair. The Master of Time is a clear homage to the 2016 Avengers series, as is punctuated by the inclusion of Vision, Hercules, and Jane Foster’s Thor. And Kang’s Wrath appears similar to his assault on Earth in the Kang Dynasty story.

Kang is armed with various pieces of technology pulled from the future, primarily the 41st century, but most notably his wrist gun, called his Future Weapon here (kinda on the nose, dontcha think?) and his Temporal Shield. His only minions in his main deck, the Macrobots are pretty generic Sentinel-type beings that showed up in the earlier comics primarily.

But many of his most insidious cards, the Obligations, are clearly inspired by some of his time-hopping shenanigans. Things like Depowered, Stolen Memories, and Time-Travel Hijinks look to point to when Kang jumped through time to toy with the Avengers’ past in the 2016 series, attempting to weaken them in retribution for their actions against him. They are rather nasty and show a more ruthless, calculated villain looking to bring the heroes down a peg.

In this way, it feels like Kang is more based on these later interpretations of the hero than any early storylines. The dinosaur stuff is very clearly inspired by his appearance in the Inhumans storyline, a fact that has been confirmed on their streams in the past. A number of cards pull art directly from his battle in Young Avengers. In other words, it’s clear that this version of Kang isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty if it means him getting ahead, a strong deviation from early depictions of him.

The Anachronauts set uses Kang’s person squadron of generals, a group very rarely seen, to devastating effect. Some of their abilities are just cruel and gives you an idea of the type of company Kang kept in his armies. The Temporal cards shed light on how Kang, being a master of time, would pull soldiers from armies from across time, aiming to throw off his enemies while having a variety of tactics at his disposal. And his own modular set showcases his tenants of strategy; fear, ruthlessness, and persistence.

There are a lot people could read that could give them insight into the ideals of Kang, but for my money, I think the team at FFG looked to 3 series primarily to tell their story:

  • Young Avengers (2005) #1-6
  • Avengers (2016) #1-6
  • Uncanny Inhumans (2015) #1-4

If you’re looking to educate yourself on the primary inspirations for the time-traipsing baddie, you’ll have the best luck here.

What do you think? Do you feel other versions of Kang better encapsulate what we see here? Let me know your thoughts and recommendations in the comments, and we’ll see you next time!

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