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Uncanny Avengers Spotlight: Kang

Rick Remender discusses the time-traveling Conqueror and what he has in store for the Avengers!

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By Ben Morse

Whether in one of his alternate incarnations such as Rama-Tut or Immortus or in his classic guise, Kang the Conqueror has literally plagued the Avengers and the Marvel Universe for centuries.

The time-traveling despot has carved out an empire across eras with an intriguing mix of honor and treachery. He has made allies and enemies of powerful figures, putting elaborate plans into place that only he has the time to watch play out.

An omen of dire events to come, Kang has reared his head behind the scenes in recent issues of UNCANNY AVENGERS. As the “Ragnarok Now” story arc plays out, the Conqueror will step to the fore, and we got some info from writer Rick Remender on what to expect.

Marvel.com: The Avengers, as long as they’ve been around, as big as they are, they really have two classic solo villains: Ultron and Kang. Why do you think Kang has earned his place?

Rick Remender: Once you follow the lineage, and once you go backwards, he was Rama-Tut, and then he was Kang and you see the power level that he displays, and then it goes in to Immortus where there’s a future version of him who is benevolent. There are also these really wonderful aspects to how far-reaching Kang is, like his connections to Doctor Doom. Kang is this unstoppable thing. His powers are too intense to actually have much effect on, and it puts the team in total turmoil and total jeopardy. He’s an A-level bad guy. The only thing that is holding Kang back from constantly doing whatever he wants and constantly winning is his desire to earn it and be warrior who actually goes out and fights his way to victory rather than just go back in time and erase the babies of the Avengers. He doesn’t want that, there’s no honor in that. It’s too simple.

So actually Kang is someone, that dealing with the middle period of his life, he’s constantly setting himself with these challenges and traps, and some of them backfire, because there are other things going on that sometimes are even more powerful than he is, i.e. Apocalypse. But he’s looking for the perfect battle where he can prove himself; he’s looking for a challenge that’s so great that he can come out of it, sword in hand, standing over the bodies of his opponents as the victor, and not because he used his jumping to go back in time to just win. He’ll use his jumping to go back in time and set up a trap, for himself even.

Marvel.com: Do you think Kang has untapped potential as an even bigger player?

Rick Remender: Yeah, for sure. I think that all these guys do.

Marvel.com: When we were talking about Wonder Man having an elaborate back-story, Kang puts him to shame in that regard. I feel like you probably embrace that. What does that add to the story, to have this monumental epic surrounding him?

Rick Remender: I think the end result is that you know when Kang shows up, things are going to go wacky and crazy, and that he’s going to be manipulating things that you’re probably three steps behind [on]. Those stories show that, but those stories also show that he still wants to win on his own. He still wants to be the guy to beat down Captain America at the end. And that’s what he can’t figure out. Without cheating, how is he going to defeat these opponents? Especially those prehistoric opponents—how dare they? I really love all of that. So really the limitations of how far he’s going to go are him, which makes it even crazier. He has this own weird sense of ethics and honor that he won’t bend. So reading those past stories and looking at the scope of them—in the Kang stuff that [Kurt] Busiek did, he bombs a city, takes out a lot of people and makes Wasp sign a treaty. That’s Kang level, and something that [editor] Tom Brevoort has made sure that I remember, is that that’s important and if it’s not Kang level, we’re not using Kang. So as I’m cooking these plots up, they have to be of Kang significance, and I’m pretty sure what we’ve got coming up is.

Kang and the Apocalypse Twins by Jim Cheung

Marvel.com: You mentioned Rama-Tut and Immortus; are you going to focus on all these, or are you just going to focus on Kang?

Rick Remender: We’re going to see that Rama-Tut; I even imagine Kang going back to discuss things with Rama-Tut, and maybe even putting plans in motion, saying, “Hey, I know it’s three thousand or four thousand years away for you, but I’m trying to set myself up with this thing to do; I’m bored, it’s a Sunday, can you do this for me today and go out and talk to Apocalypse and do this for me?’ And I love the manipulation, the Machiavellian manipulation of it all. I’m not going to get into Immortus—or I am and I’m lying to you to deceive readers. But one thing that I’m really trying to be mindful of is that I have so many big ideas for this, and such a big cast, but I need Tom to pull me back sometimes. I’ve got a story that could take 30 issues right now. It’s just vast. And the trick then is to go through with a hatchet and just whittle it down. And the quickest way to do that is to cut out characters, and so that I think that it’s important to focus on with Kang and his relationship with Rama-Tut, as that ties in with Apocalypse, and also Kang himself need a lot of real estate to really develop, and if I jump around with too many other version of him it starts to water that down.

Marvel.com: So we’ve got Apocalypse, and we’ve still got Red Skull hanging around from the first arc, and then you’ve got Kang. How does Kang present a different threat than those other two villains? What’s the contrast there between the three of them?

Rick Remender: Classic Apocalypse is very one minded, and he knows what his job is and he’s going to do it, and I don’t see any emotional core to him at all; there’s no reflecting at midnight, like, “should I have killed those guys?” And he is single minded and he is a freight train moving in that direction; he’s not very nuanced in my mind. Kang is crazy nuanced because Kang’s limitations are what he sets for himself based on honor, but he’s also a scumbag, so [there’s] that whole dichotomy: this guy who’s got all kinds of different motivations that stretch out for thousands and thousands of years, but a lot of the time what he can and cannot due is solely based on his ethical standard as to win a war as opposed to steal a war.

Red Skull wants to rule the Earth. Red Skull is a megalomaniac and he is someone that wants to impose his views on the Earth. He wants teeming masses bowing to him and swearing allegiance and servitude. He wants to dominate. I think that Red Skull becomes a very real world villain, whereas the other two are very science fiction, time travel and evolutionary caretaker. So you’ve got meat, meat, and megalomaniacal scumbag who wants to dominate humanity. And I think that the Red Skull stuff all just goes back to the kind of decisions he had to make that he had to make coming up in pre-war Germany, and the decisions that he had to make during war, to dupe the only friend he ever had, allowing himself to present himself as a hero to Hitler by killing his only friend. Whereas Steve Rogers grows up in the Great Depression in the face of all these difficult decisions having the role model of his mother making all the good decisions, the Red Skull only makes the bad decisions, and he slowly sinks further and further into self-serving villainy and megalomaniacal egotism where he just wants to rule everybody and be adored, and he wants to dominate.

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