From The Ashes of Defeat

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Sam Rosen

Plot Summary

As Kang’s army begins its assault, the mighty Conqueror reminds Princess Ravonna and the assembled Avengers that his actions are really their fault. Had Ravonna given in to Kang’s offer of marriage, he would never have been forced to attack her kingdom. However, as his army begins their siege, the Avengers realize that Kang is trapped with them and that he would make a valuable bargaining chip. Kang, being the master of technology that he is, is prepared for this possibility and begins releasing gas into the chamber. When the gas clears, aided by Quicksilver, the Avengers discover that the gas was harmless smoke and that Kang has used it as cover to make his escape. Though Quicksilver wants to pursue, Captain America warns against it, saying that to do so would only fall into Kang’s plans.

With Kang having escaped, Ravonna and the Avengers must now see to the defense of Ravonna’s kingdom. When Ravonna’s chief-of-staff suggests that the best course action would be to surrender, Ravonna refuses and Cap manages to shame the man into changing his mind and taking action. With that the Avengers join in the defense of the kingdom. Unfortunately, Kang’s army proves more resourceful. When their normal weapons fail to penetrate the plasto-shield, Kang orders his troops to use the delta-ray launcher, a weapon which easily breaks through the barrier. While saving a woman and her child, Quicksilver is caught out in the open during one such attack and is knock out cold by the blast.

As time goes on the situation becomes more and more grim. Kang’s troops manage to enter the kingdom, blocking out the sun with their numbers as well as bombarding the defenders with missiles and barrages from tanks. Though the Avengers are far more powerful than their foes, the heroes are quickly overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. The captive Hawkeye, Cap, and Scarlet Witch are brought before Kang and subsequently imprisoned until Kang can decide what to do with them. Kang also orders a search commence to find Quicksilver and that Princess Ravonna be brought before him.

Meanwhile, Quicksilver is slowly regaining consciousness in the home of the woman whom he saved. She, along with her father have taken care of him since his injury. Quicksilver is disheartened to hear that the battle is over and insists on joining his fellow Avengers. The speedster however, is still too weak, and quickly collapses once again.

When Ravonna is finally brought before Kang, he declares that preparations for the royal wedding be made immediately. Kang’s joy is short lived when his chief commander, Baltag, reminds Kang of their code requiring all local rulers be executed at once so as to minimize the potential for uprisings. Kang initially refuses, but Baltag is insistent and states that Kang should be careful because it is they, the commanders, that actual run his army. Kang is instantly offended and gives his commanders one hour in which to apologize for questioning him.

While he waits for an apology he does not expect to come, Kang takes a moment to reflect on why he is so determined to save Ravonna and what his true feelings for her are. In spite of all his mighty conquests, Kang feels his victories are hallow and that he is lonely. As Kang’s musings come to an end he is suddenly attacked by those commanders he most trusted. After having dealt with the first wave, Kang makes a strategic retreat, knowing his commanders have countless more men they can send after him. Knowing that he alone will not win the day, Kang does something completely unexpected; he joins forces with the Avengers.

After having freed Cap, Kang offers to return the Avengers to their time, unharmed, in exchange for helping Kang put down the revolt being led by his commanders. In addition to Kang’s terms, Cap requires that Ravonna and her kingdom be freed. Given his love for the princess, Kang readily agrees to this and sets about freeing Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch. The first stop for this bizarre team is to free the princess herself. Upon seeing her, Kang is overjoyed, surprising Ravonna with his change in tone. With Captain America vouching for Kang, Ravonna joins the group and they set out to gather support for their cause.

While Kang, the Avengers, and Ravonna’s supporters raid an armory, Kang’s former commander, Baltag, demands that the Avengers be found and stopped, though does little more than shout his demands. Many of Kang’s other commanders begin to realize that they have sided with the wrong man, but feel that they have no choice but to continue down the path they have chosen. While most of the soldiers are off looking for the Avengers, the team begins their assault on the throne room where Baltag is located. Though they are only normal citizens, being led by Kang and the Avengers, they manage to push back the guards until Kang is able to access his controls, destroying all of the heavy weapons that Baltag’s troops have at their disposal. When his troops routed and his heavy support gone, all the heroes have to do is apprehend Baltag himself. When they enter the throne room however, much to their surprise, they find that Baltag has already been taken into custody. Just as they begin to wonder who would have been able to perform such an act, Quicksilver rushes in, explaining that he was the one responsible.

With the revolt at an end, Kang keeps his word by setting Ravonna and her kingdom free, as well as by transporting the Avengers back to their own time, unharmed. Cruel fate has other plans though, and just as they begin to transport, Cap yells out a warning to Kang. Baltag has managed to work his way free and has stolen the weapon off an inattentive guard, taking one last shot at Kang before being gunned down himself. While Cap’s warning may not have been in time, Ravonna was, stepping in front of the blast just before it hit Kang. And with that, Ravonna dies in Kang’s arms, lamenting that though she loved Kang, perhaps it was not meant to be.


Captain America
Scarlet Witch



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