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.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Kang

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Once An Avenger…

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: John Romita
Letterer: Sherigail

Plot Summary

With the departure of Captain America last issue, the remaining Avengers begin to discuss what has happened. While Hawkeye claims that he had nothing to do with it, Scarlet Witch knows better and refuses to let Hawkeye fail to acknowledge that he has been harassing Cap almost since they joined the team. As the group tries to come to grips with things, Scarlet Witch takes a moment to reflect on how much she will miss Cap’s presence.

Cap meanwhile has made is way north to Westchester where seeks employment as a sparring partner for a boxing champion. Initially the boxer’s trainers don’t think that Cap is up to the challenge and they attempt to chase him away. It is to the trainer’s surprise that Cap quickly knocks both men on their butts. Just as the scuffle is wrapping up, the coach runs up to Cap, offering him the exact job he was seeking, starting immediately. While Cap begins to train with the champ, he quietly reflects on how much he enjoys having a purpose again. At night however, Cap’s thoughts turn back to the Avengers.

From the distant future, Kang the Conqueror watches as the Avengers travel down their separate paths and decides that this is a fitting opportunity to take the Avengers down. Although he is the master of the year 4000, the fact that the heroes of the 20th century still resist him is a constant thorn in his side. This time, Kang chooses to attack the Avengers in their home, landing a fake, extra floor on top of the mansion. Once it is in place, the Avengers are tricked into running into the new room. After making their way inside, Kang attempts to dazzle the trio with brilliant lights, though this is stopped by a quick arrow from Hawkeye. The Avengers suddenly realize that the air in the room is getting thin and they are sealed in. Hawkeye attempts to use a second arrow to blast the door open, but it is stopped by internal defenses. Quicksilver makes a vain attempt to crash through door at speed, but fails and succumbs to unconsciousness.

Just as the team fades, an image of Kang appears and then the conqueror pulls the heroes from their normal timeline and into his future. After completing the task, Kang takes a moment to pay an unannounced visit to Princess Ravonna, Kang’s appointed puppet ruler and the woman whom he is in love with. Kang reminds Ravonna and her father that he could wipe out their kingdom with but a fraction of his army were it not for his love of Ravonna.

While Cap is off practicing with the champ, he hears a radio announcement that the Avengers have gone missing and that foul play is suspected. The momentary lapse in focus due to the announcement allows the champ to land one on Cap, but Cap quickly turns around and knocks out the champ with a single punch. With that Cap rushes off to investigate what has become of his teammates.

In the year 4000, the Avengers find themselves trapped inside some kind of glass containers. While Hawkeye and Quicksilver are unable to escape their chamber, Scarlet Witch manages to use her hex powers to their maximum extent and breaks the glass. Once free, she is able to release her fellow Avengers, though the exertion of using her powers has driven her to the brink of collapse. With Hawkeye offering aid, the team is off in an attempt to escape from their captor. Using three of Hawkeye’s special arrows, the trio is able to avoid most of Kang’s guards by swinging to freedom. Their attempt is short lived however as a massive fan pulls the Avengers from mid-air and smashes them against a large metal grate. Hawkeye realizes that while he may not be able to shoot it, a blast arrow is perfect for this situation. The crafty Avenger instead allows the fan to pull the arrow towards it, causing the fan to be destroyed when the arrow finds it’s mark.

With this, Kang chooses to take personal command in dealing with the Avengers. While he is able to disable Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye with an immobilizing ray, Quicksilver outruns the ray and makes his way towards Kang’s control room. Just as Kang is about to deal with Quicksilver, he sees that Cap, back in the 20th century, is calling him out as a coward. Cap has used a device the Avengers got from Thor to replay the recent past and discover that Kang was responsible for the disappearance of the Avengers. With Ravonna watching, Kang cannot stand to lose face and instead pulls Captain America into the future as well, though to a place of Ravonna’s choosing.

Cap is quickly reunited with Quicksilver and the pair make their way to Kang’s control room where they intend to face off with the conqueror. Both men however fail in their initial assault. Quicksilver merely bounces harmlessly off Kang’s force screen, while Kang turns Cap’s shield against him, enlarging it and trying to crush Cap with it.

With the Avengers seemingly under control, Kang again demands that Ravonna marry him. This time however Kang follows up his demands with a threat that he will call down his army if she refuses. Under the circumstances, even Ravonna’s father urges her to marry Kang, though she continues to hold out. As she does, the Avengers are able to regroup and with the recently freed Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch, the team is once again at full fighting strength. Emboldened by the latest challenge to Kang’s superiority, Ravonna refuses, causing Kang to call in his army just as the Avengers are ready to once again strike.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Kang