Marvel Studios’ recently released trailer of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania finally brought the Kang out of the bag. If you thought Jonathan Majors enjoyed his turn as ‘He Who Remains’ in Loki, the actor seems to be having a blast as Kang in this film, with the clip showcasing him in his iconic helmet and costume from the comics. With theories rife of which version of Kang we will get to see in the film, we decided to compile a list of our favourite Kang storylines from the comics.
The Kang Dynasty
The fact that Marvel will adapt this comic series into its next Avengers film highlights just how important a story this is. Based on Kang’s conquest of Earth with his son Marcus, this saga runs through 16 parts and is one of the most comprehensive events in Marvel history. Not only does it feature Kang defeating the Avengers and the United Nations with futuristic weapons, but also has major consequences, including the death of everyone in Washington, DC. It also comprises the iconic image of Kang running a sword through Earth. While the Avengers do reign supreme in the end, this comic book series has gained cult status for showing the harrowing cost of war.
Before he became Kang, he was Nathaniel Richards, a boy on the brink of a bullying incident gone wrong which would set him on the path of villainy. In this storyline, Kang decided to visit his 16-year-old self, with the intention of preponing his antagonistic transformation. However, Richards was so shaken by what future had in store for him that he vowed to change it. Travelling back in time, he fashioned a superhero suit based on the Iron Man armour, took on the Iron Lad mantle and became a founding member of the Young Avengers. The entire run is heartbreaking, as Richards does everything in his power to defy fate and be a superhero, while his existence outside his natural timeline only makes things worse. This story also has one of the most powerful endings in Marvel history, with Richards slaying Kang while returning to his original timeline, knowing what lies in store for him.
This 12-part series goes a long way in fleshing out Kang beyond a time-travelling villain, and as one of the most layered Marvel characters. In fact, Kang is more of a protagonist in this storyline. He saves Rick Jones’ life and battles his future self Immortus in a bid to prevent his eventual destiny. Not only does Kang help the Avengers in their fight but also kills the Time Keepers in a landmark event. His will power in resisting his turn as Immortus despite being pressured by the Time Keepers is an enduring image in the character’s lore.
Council of Kangs
While you might be tempted to believe that the Council of Ricks from Rick and Morty was an original idea, Marvel did it way before. Although there have been multiple mentions of this Council, one of its most memorable storylines is when ‘Prime Kang’ forms a council of Kangs from across timelines on the pretext of ruling the timestream with their combined might. However, it's just a cruel ploy for him to wipe out the other Kangs and become the sole Kang in the multiverse. Not only does this storyline show his pragmatism, but also the lengths at which he is willing to go for his conquests.
Kang the Conqueror
This 2021 mini-series has widely come to be regarded as the definitive origin story of Kang. The villain seeks his younger self to enlighten him about the extent of his powers, and stop him from making the mistakes he made in the future. In the process, he introduces Nathaniel to his true love, Ravonna, thousands of years before they’re scheduled to meet. Their relationship puts Kang in a fit of rage, and he ends up killing her entire tribe, beginning a long rivalry between Nathaniel and Kang. Over the course of five issues, Nathaniel comes across many more Kangs and Ravonnas, each bringing fresh fury and heartbreak, before he finally snaps and becomes the very Kang he so deeply resented. This mini-series shows how his immunity to time actually leaves Kang stuck in a cycle of pain and anger.