What happened in Marvel’s Kang Dynasty comic book storyline?

Cover of the Kang Dynasty collection
Image via Marvel Comics

San Diego Comic-Con was overflowing with massive announcements. And nowhere was this truer than at the various Marvel panels and events. The highlight of these was when Kevin Feige revealed the names of several upcoming Marvel projects, including the next two Avengers films. The first was the long-awaited adaptation of the Secret Wars storyline. The second is named after a less famous but beloved Marvel storyline, The Kang Dynasty.

But what is The Kang Dynasty storyline, and what happens in it? 

When and where did The Kang Dynasty run?

Image via Marvel Comics

The Kang Dynasty storyline ran in 2001. It started in Avengers (Vol. 3) #41 and ran for 16 parts, ending in August 2002 with Avengers (Vol 3) #55. Thankfully, unlike many other major Marvel events, you can enjoy most of The Kang Dynasty storyline without leaving the mainline Avengers comics. The only other thing you’ll need is the Avengers Annual Vol 2 from 2001. 

What happens in The Kang Dynasty

Image from The Kang Dynasty storyline showing Kang's giant head floating over a city.
Image via Marvel Comics.

Warning: While it is currently unknown how accurately the MCU film will adapt the comic storyline, it is safe to assume that the following section will contain heavy spoilers. 

The Kang Dynasty occurred during a period when the Avengers had been given international authority by the UN, making them one of the world’s most vital security resources and giving them the power to operate unopposed by most world governments. However, things take a turn when Kang the Conqueror and Scarlet Centurion (who at this time was his son, Marcus) lands in front of the UN.

The Avengers instantly try to fight the pair and just manage to eke out a win against Marcus. However, Kang then reveals his giant sword-shaped spacebase called Damocles. Kang then uses this base’s weapons to obliterate the UN, showing just how advanced it is. 

Kang then shows the Avengers a series of psychic visions. Each vision is said to be a glimpse into Earth’s potential future, and none are good, with most showing the Earth getting obliterated. Kang says that he is going to save the Earth by conquering it. He then tells the world that anyone who subjugates land in his name will be given a place in his new world order. This causes chaos as several groups, including classic Marvel villains and new foes, start internal conflicts in Kang’s name, making defending the Earth very tricky. 

The Avengers do their best to fight these various groups, but it proves difficult as there are simply too many of them, and the general panic and chaos further compound the issue. Eventually, Kang invades Europe with his army from the future. However, it is a one-sided fight, and the UN and the Avengers fail to hold back the invaders. 

At the same time, the UN has to deal with the Master of The World, a villain who has built a series of special force-field projecting towers that can resist and take down Kang’s technology. Desperate to win, The Avengers decide to try a different method, sneaking into Damocles and taking it out. 

At this point, several long-running plot points come together as the Avengers learn that the Triune Understanding, a religious cult, is trying to protect the world from the Triple Evil. However, the Avengers’ plan to take over Damocles fails, and they are left stranded in space as Kang takes control of the American Sentinel Fleet, making him even more unstoppable. Kang then attacks Washington DC, utterly destroying it. 

The stranded Avengers are saved by Quasar and the Triune Understanding, who tell them that the Triple Evil has arrived. It turns out that the Triple Evil is a massive black pyramid that floats through space, absorbing the souls of those it has corrupted. On top of this, Triple Evil was one of the future visions that Kang gave the Avengers. The Triune Understanding fights and takes control of the Triple Evil, and its powers go into the hero Triathlon, who becomes the new 3-D Man.

But this success is short-lived, as the Avengers learn that Kang has conquered Earth, making him one of only two Marvel villains to do so (the other being Doctor Doom, naturally). However, a group of Avengers is left, and they’re using the Master of The World’s base as their new base of operations. Using the Master of The World’s technology and coordinating several other anti-Kang groups, the Avengers can distract Kang long enough and force him and the Scarlet Centurion to retreat to Damocles. However, just as Kang is about to use Damocles to fire on the Avengers’ new base, the other Avengers turn up with the Triple Evil in tow. 

Kang projects a giant hologram of himself and threatens the Avengers. However, it turns out the Triple Evil can do the same thing, leading to Captain America doing his best Godzilla impression as he and Kang fight as giant holograms. Both the Triple Evil and Earth’s defenses fire on the Damocles, eventually causing it to break from accumulated damage. 

As the ship falls apart, Kang forces Scarlet Centurion to take a pod back to his own time period. When the ship crash-lands on Earth, Kang challenges an Avenger to a duel, as Kang wishes to die honorably. Captain America takes up the offer and beats Kang, and captures him. This causes the rest of Kang’s forces to surrender. People celebrate as it seems like the Avengers have won the day. And for a short time, it looks like peace will reign. 

However, the story has one final twist. Scarlet Centurion comes back from the future to save Kang. This angers Kang as he wants to die honorably. Believing he has cemented himself into legend by conquering a planet, sparking a massive war, and defeating the Avengers. However, Kang relents and goes with his son. But Kang then reveals that Marcus isn’t his original son. He is actually a clone. Kang also admits that he has killed the previous Marcus clones as they were not good enough and, as a parting shot, kills the current one, deciding that Marcus’ decision to save Kang makes him unfit.