Episode #18: The Kang Dynasty
Original Airdate: January 23rd, 2011
Kang the Conqueror’s takeover of Earth is well underway, and the Avengers launch a last ditch offensive to stop the time traveler’s plans. What hope do the Avengers have? Kang’s Damocles Base has the power to destroy the world, his technology is more advanced than anything Iron Man has ever seen, and his personal guards are unstoppable. But what secret is Kang hiding that could lead to his downfall?

Written by Brian Reed
Directed by Sebastian Montes
Reviews by ShadowStar, RoyalRubble
Media by Marvel Animation

Review by ShadowStar:
A good conclusion to the story arc, even if some of it was just going over old ground; Kang had already outlined his reasons in "The Man Who Stole Tomorrow", so I could’ve done without his gloating over the defeated Captain America, and indeed, without too much of the Star Wars style action. Not that I wasn’t very interested to know how the Avengers would fell Kang, but I think we were cheated out of a more emotional conclusion to this arc. Where was the insight into Kang and Ravonna’s relationship? We didn’t learn anything about the princess that we didn’t already know from “Meet Captain America”. Anyway, if you can forgive that, then you’re bound to have fun watching the siege on Damacles base.

The slow-motion walk past the Ultrons was quite a lame way to start the episode, but admittedly the space-gear outfits were somewhat neat. It culminated in Thor’s sacrifice to stop Kang’s beam, which was a great defensive attack showing his devotion to Earth (previously touched on in “Breakout, Part 1”, and in his chat with Jane Foster in “Masters of Evil”). I’m still not sure of the reasons he gave to Baldur for staying on Midgard (when he said, “On Earth, everything matters”, was he just trying to avoid Odin?) but it was nonetheless a shining moment for the thunderer, seeing his godlike power meet that of Kang’s 41st century technology and come up trumps. The animation may not have been as pleasing to the eye as it was in the previous episode, but the battle ushered in some surprising moments, like the thunder god falling comatose and four of the Avengers finding themselves outmatched against Kang’s guards.

I didn’t like the Wasp/Iron Man interaction when they were trying to find a way into Damacles base; Tony seemed a bit stupid to me in failing to see that Wasp was trying to make the ships blast them a way in. Watching Janet in the environment of space, I did get the impression that someone more experienced should have filled her shoes, but I suppose no-one has had more time to learn how to use the stinger technology than her. It's a bit strange that Kang's men opted to trust her, but I guess they're more impressionable when their master isn't hovering over them, demanding them to do his bidding. Wasp still comes off as a bit of a rookie, so Hank should and would feel very responsible if something were to happen to her, but she earned her keep here by playing an important role in the resolution of the story.

It bugged me that Princess Ravonna was only addressed towards the very end of the trilogy. Had the Avengers learned about her before the end of this episode, it might have influenced their opinion on how to deal with Kang and caused them to wrestle with their consciences. Alas, this wasn’t to be. Another peculiar point of fact is that they cared about Ravonna, but not about the henchmen who went to their deaths in the previous episode upon being sent back to the 41st century (I guess Ravonna was acting as the team’s bargaining chip, so to speak). Since Damacles base was the only ship that didn't get sent back to the future, the people occupying all of the other ships were presumably killed and it strikes me as odd that Hank, let alone the other Avengers, wouldn’t realise that dispatching the villains in this way was tantamount to killing them. I know, I know, it was the only way to stop the fleet, but still.

On the bright side, that ending was just chilling ("His betrayal is just the beginning. The worst... is yet to come."), though Kang was foolish not to confide the details of Cap’s betrayal in Iron Man at the end. He could still try and avert that chain of events, but he seems to have given up for the time being. I wonder what will become of the Damacles base now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has appropriated it… I was also thrilled to see the cameo by Mr. Fantastic in that short montage and the final battle had some terrific moments: it’s not exactly wise to tick off someone who can take down the Hulk, but Hawkeye had the guts to applaud the fact that Kang’s future was set to be wiped out. The gloves were off in the ensuing hand to hand combat when it started to sink in for Kang that he could lose, the fight choreography stepping up in the process as it became clear that Ultron held the upper hand.

One other thing: Hulk has largely been ignored of late, with his, “Maybe I will rest now… Good luck!” scene in the previous episode being the only thing he has contributed to this arc (aside from upping the ante on the action simply by being caught up in the fray, I suppose). Still, when he reassured Wasp that Thor would be all right, it served as a reminder that he’s capable of respecting his teammates, even the ones who’ve come to blows with him in the past.

All in all, I liked it but I had expected more, like one or more of the Ultrons turning evil (which we all know is going to happen sooner or later, and might as well have happened here – it would’ve been an exciting twist). It was no “Starcrossed” but it didn’t bore me. I think this arc should've been a two-parter, with an ominous hint at the end that Kang would escape the Negative Zone prison and stop at nothing to save his future. As it stands, “The Man Who Stole Tomorrow” was the best of the trilogy, and whatever comes next will really have to raise the stakes as far as action is concerned. From what Kang has said, we could be looking at a schism that goes to the heart of the Avengers and threatens to drive the team apart, so that too is something that I’m looking forward to seeing the team overcome.

Review by RoyalRubble:
An amazing conclusion to the Kang the Conqueror story-arc.

The fight scenes between the Avengers and Kang's elite guards (I have no idea what their names are, if they're from the comics too) were perfectly enjoyable. Hawkeye was the first one who managed to start a counter-attack on them, and it worked. The way they arrived to Kang's Damocles base was great as well, with Thor making a heroic sacrifice to stop Kang's weapon, and using the Hulk to open the doors to one of the airlocks on Kang's ship. Hulk's line about "Goldilocks" being tough shows that he cares at least a little about him. The way Iron Man and Wasp interacted while fighting Kang's scarabs outside his base in outer space was pretty amusing. I liked how easily Wasp got distracted, and Iron Man's comment about her going nuts. She did manage to get them inside the ship after all, using a rather unique method.

I loved the fight between Captain America, Iron Man and Kang himself. It was great seeing them go all out on Kang, and using Ultron to take control of Kang's technology was a nice touch. The dialogue was great as well, especially Kang's speech about conquering, and I liked how Captain America throws his shield to Iron Man to block Kang's final blow; similar to how Black Panther saved him from Baron Zemo a few episodes ago. I was surprised by the way their battle ended; I wasn't expecting them to lock up Kang in their prison, and try to help save Ravonna. I liked it how it was Wasp who discovered the truth and tried to convince the others to stand down. I liked the little talk Captain America and Iron Man had towards the end of the episode, too.

I just knew that after Thor's heroic act he'll wake up in the hospital, with Jane Foster near him. Jan looked great in her street clothes too. I wasn't, however, expecting a cameo from Mr. Fantastic. That was a nice surprise. H.E.R.B.I.E. was there too, but that wasn't nearly as important. And Ultron's eyes lighting up on their own like that... I guess we'll see more of him soon. Even Hawkeye mentioned he considered Ultron creepy. And Ant-man's line about why he designed Ultron to look like that was just funny. Even though Black Panther wasn't in this episode, I thought it was a nice touch to mention that Kang's forces were defeated in Wakanda before Kang confronts the Avengers in his base.

On another note, I liked seeing the Avengers in their outer-space armors; all of them had a cool design (maybe except for Hulk's) and I'm glad they didn't need any special armors on the show until now, and I hope they'll use these kind of armors only when they really need too; otherwise it would look too much like the silly Avengers: United They Stand show where they wore armors for just about every mission.

Favorite quote of the episode is from Iron Man: "My tech may not be as advanced as yours, Kang. But I'm a quick study". It is impressive how he managed to re-create Kang's technology to use it against him, with the help of a Ultron unit.

And a little Marvel Animated Chronology about H.E.R.B.I.E. He first appeared in the 1978 The New Fantastic Four series, where he replaced the Human Torch in the team line-up, and he is a member of the currently airing The Super Hero Squad Show. And the computer on the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes series was also called H.E.R.B.I.E., but it wasn't a small floating robot, just a super-computer that ran the entire laboratory.

So according to Kang, this was only the beginning... Not entirely sure what he was talking about, but I can imagine that being pretty accurate. Can't wait for the next episodes.