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Comic Book / Avengers Forever

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Kang and Immortus, in their forever struggle
Kang: History is not written, scholar, and neither is destiny! History is made! Made by the deeds of the strong and the brave! And destiny is forged! The historians, the students, the gray-beards - They come in the wake of the strong, and write down what the brave have done. But it is the conquerors who change the world, and it will always, always, be thus!
Immortus: Conquerors are swept up in destiny's tides as surely as anyone else, Kang. And the scholars see the patterns, the truth. I have learned this, and you will, too, in time.

Avengers Forever is a twelve-issue comic book limited series of The Avengers published from December 1998 to November 1999 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern and drawn by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino. It has a massively complex plot, with a battle between Kang (a Conqueror from the Future) and Immortus (a Guardian of the Multiverse); actually, Immortus is the future self of Kang.

Let's try to make it short. Rick Jones suffers a strange paralysis, and the Avengers send him to the Supreme Intelligence of the Kree (who's held "captive" at the Blue Area of the Moon), to see if he could heal him. Immortus tries to kill Rick Jones, but Kang intervenes on his behalf. Rick Jones, mastering once more the "Destiny Force", an all-powerful force he once wielded during The Kree/Skrull War, summons several Avengers from many points of time: Henry Pym and the Wasp (from the present), Yellowjacket (Henry Pym when he had a mental disorder; yes, he summoned the same man from 2 time periods), Captain America (right after the Secret Empire storyline, demoralized by it and on the verge of giving up the superhero thing), Hawkeye (right after the Kree-Skrull War) & Songbird and Captain Marvel (from a future). The fight moves to Cronopolis, Kang's stronghold: Immortus destroyed it and turned it into the "Forever Crystal", which allows him to change timelines or destroy them at will.


The Avengers use a time machine of Kang's to escape into the timestream, where Immortus would not locate Rick. Not knowing what is Immortus up to, or why he wants to kill Jones, the Avengers explore 3 points of time, to no avail. Then, they visit Limbo, Immortus' stronghold, and take a Space Phantom captive. The problem is basically this: with the "Destiny Force", humanity would become a conquering empire. Immortus spent years manipulating human development to keep humanity confined to planet Earth, to keep the Time Keepers from destroying it, but Rick Jones' death was non-negotiable. Immortus then captures the Avengers and sends them to a trial.

The Time Keepers decide that humanity is a menace and that they should destroy most timelines, leaving the bare minimum needed to guarantee their own existence. Reinforced by Kang, Rick, and the Supreme Intelligence, the Avengers follow the Time Keepers to the end of time, where they are finally destroyed.


Elements of this storyline (namely, time travel and continuity porn) appear in the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers Forever provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Both Songbird and Genis-Vell are from the near future, where they are (unlike in the present day) members of the Avengers. Since Kurt Busiek was writing the main Avengers book at the time, it seemed that he would eventually introduce Songbird and Genis into the Avengers roster there, with the present day catching up with their future. But this never happened, and none of the later Avengers writers have chosen to follow up on Busiek's foreshadowing either. (In 2015, 616-Songbird finally became a member of the New Avengers, but even though the writer of that book Al Ewing is very big on Continuity Porn, Songbird eventually left the team without Ewing having made any references to this story.)
  • Archived Army: At the final battle, the Time Keepers summon all the Avengers from the past, present and future that became evil and destructive. Rick Jones reinforces the goods guys by using the Destiny Force to summon every other Avenger from all the myriad timelines.
  • Army of the Ages: Immortus' army
  • Bad Future: It begins with one. Earth and humanity become The Empire of the Universe, and the Avengers are the Praetorian Guard as humanity carves a campaign of subjugation across the cosmos as a brutal, enslaving army. Also, the one visited by Giant Man and Captain America, similar to the "War of the Worlds".
  • Broad Strokes: Despite all the Continuity Porn on display, there are a few tidbits that can't be spelled out directly. A panel showing Doctor Octopus escaping prison with Lex Luthor in tow from the first Superman/Spider-Man crossover is mentioned in the annotations as being Doc Ock and a "striking-looking bald man."
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: When Songbird returns to the future, with a vague memory of the Destiny War ... she was with the Wasp and Jack of Hearts, and tells the Wasp that "you were there".
  • Call-Back: In Future Imperfect, a much older version of Rick Jones maintains a memorial room of the many heroes who died over the years (most, presumably, murdered by the Maestro, but that's neither here nor there). Here, a less aged version of the same character wears an outfit made up from parts of other heroes.
  • The Chosen One: Rick Jones
  • Chronoscope: There are several here and there. The sensors of the time machine, Immortus' machines in Limbo, the visions that appear when entering Limbo, images summoned by the Time-Keepers, and so on.
  • Continuity Porn: Kurt Busiek lets loose with his full knowledge of Avengers lore.
    Hawkeye: Well, I'm glad you understand it, tall-socks. Alla this divergent stuff, it's givin' me a migraine!
    Space Phantom: I would not expect one such as you to understand the byzantine schemes of Immortus, archer...
  • Deal with the Devil: The deal of Yellowjacket and Immortus has been described as such.
  • Death by Irony: Averted. The Time-Keepers tried to give one to Kang: as they could not kill him without creating a temporal paradox (he has to live on to become their servant Immortus, whom they had just killed), they sought to punish him and neutralize him as a threat by speeding up his transformation and turning him into Immortus right there. But they couldn't, Kang's will was just too strong and remained being Kang.
    • Also for the Time-Keepers themselves. They're defeated by the indomitable human drive, the very thing they tried to destroy.
  • Enemy Mine: The way the Avengers fought alongside Kang and the Supreme Intelligence
  • Enemy Without: Yellowjacket for Giant Man. He's the same man, Henry Pym, but lives in denial.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Averted. The casual destruction of alternate timelines is not just an undesirable thing, it's the very thing that the Avengers are fighting to prevent.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Yellowjacket
  • Future Me Scares Me:
    • Taken up to eleven. Here, "Future me is the single being I hate the most in all the multiverse".
    • It also counts, in a lower degree, for Yellowjacket towards Giant-Man.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Libra
  • Heel Realization: When Yellowjacket realizes the ultimate plan of the Time-Keepers, he declines his deal with Immortus and silently calls in the cavalry.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: With the Forever Crystal, Captain America could have changed history. And not simply creating an alternate timeline, the Crystal allows him to actually change history. He could have erased Nazi Germany from history and prevented World War II (as well as resurrecting Rick Jones, Bucky and erasing the Secret Empire from U.S. history), he's tempted by the idea, but realizes that Reality Warping Is Not a Toy.
  • Homage: The future visited by Giant-Man and Captain America is an homage to The War of the Worlds, complete with "walkers" and all the stuff. Didn't you wonder why would the Badoon claim to come from Mars, in a comic book line filled with more fancy galaxies?
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The motivation of the Time Keepers. Nothing stops the march of the First Terran Empire, as no race in the universe proves to be a match for the human drive or the power of the Destiny Force.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The Time-Keepers wanted to prevent the existence of the sons of the Scarlet Witch, but Immortus tried to do so without killing anyone. He arranged things that prompted her romance and marriage with the Vision, as he reasoned that she could not have any children if she was married to a machine. But "Immortus is not infallible, and destiny requires careful handling: it does not like to be thwarted". Using magic, the Scarlet Witch had sons anyway, so Immortus had to help Mephisto to vanish them from existence.
  • Internal Homage: Captain Marvel saves Rick Jones' life, fusing himself with him, in the same manner than the original Captain Marvel did at The Kree/Skrull War.
  • I Warned You: At the beginning of hyper-complex Continuity Porn that is issue #8:
    The Wasp: Tell us what's going on, then. Why is Immortus trying to kill Rick? What does this have to do with the path of human destiny? What are we up against?
    Space Phantom: It's... it's complicated.
  • The Kirk: the Wasp
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In a single panel, there's the presence of Thorion, from the Amalgam Universe, which is a merge of Thor with Orion. He's shown only partially and not named, as Marvel shares ownership over him by DC Comics, as with all the other characters from the Amalgam Universe. A pic can be seen in Thorion's page at Comicvine.
  • Lost Aesop: Everything was set in motion because, in the future, humanity may become The Empire. As things go on, the Time Keepers become the villains of the story, then they die and everything is right again. But... what about those bad futures? What's preventing them from coming to pass? A mere lecture from Captain America and that's it? At least they could have used the Forever Crystal to erase the "Destiny Force" from the human race.
    • Potentially justified as meddling with the timestream in that manner is exactly what the Avengers had just condemned the Time-Keepers for in the first place, and the odds are still in favor of the bad futures not coming to pass.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: Songbird and Captain Marvel
  • The McCoy: Hawkeye
  • Meaningful Echo: Captain Marvel has two big secrets that he was not telling: That he was bound to an older Rick Jones, and that he loves Songbird; but this one was from before that. In both cases, he delivers some lines here and there that hinted those things.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Immortus had to make the Avengers return to Earth immediately after "Operation: Galactic Storm", so he influenced the Avengers with xenophobia, so that they refused to stay among alien races. He miscalculated: this xenophobia led them to execute the Supreme Intelligence for destroying its own empire (long story). And worse: this would begin actions that laid the first steps of the Avengers Stellar Corps, the antecedent of the First Terran Empire... the very timeline that Immortus was instructed to prevent!
  • Noodle Incident: Exactly how does future Rick Jones end up losing an arm and wearing an outfit that includes Ghost Rider's jacket, Falcon's boots, Superman's cape, and Batman's utility belt? The world may never know.
    • These details are explained as Rick being subjected to accelerated aging after he temporarily became the host to Death and was later separated from Death by Thanos.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • The Time-Keepers are not gods. They are beings, just Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with great technology, but just technology, which may be countered by other technology.
    • Also for Kang. In his place of greatest strength, backed by all his armies, he fights against his most hated enemy, for the highest stakes he could conceive... and loses.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Immortus is firmly on the side of preserving universal stability and order, while Kang wants to preserve his freedom at the cost of bringing down the multiversal timeline like a house of cards.
    Kang: He calls himself the Master of Time! Faugh! "Gardener of Time" is more truthful! He prunes away the chronal branches deemed by others to be dangerous—-reducing reality to a bloodless meadow! But such is not the way of warriors—of men! I say let it be a forest! Let it be a jungle! Let it be something we must strive against and conquer whatever comes! Fight it! Kill it! Crush it!
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Deconstructed. Someone might wonder, with all the fancy technology available in the Marvel universe, which includes ships capable of going to other galaxies, why does Earth still has the overall technological level of the real world? Answer: because Immortus, Guardian of the Multiverse, is arranging things to stay that way until mankind's technology does not outstrip its moral judgments.
  • Retcon: A lot of this story was basically damage control for The Crossing, revealing that it was Immortus and not Kang who was the main villain, that Iron Man was only under Immortus's control since the events of Operation Galactic Storm (and that Iron Man leading half of the Avengers to kill the Kree Supreme Intelligence was an attempt to keep the Avengers out of intergalactic affairs that backfired) and not since the Avengers first fought Kang, the "Mantis" who worked with "Kang" and many other of his minions were Space Phantoms, and that Kang didn't cause Hank Pym's breakdowns.
    • Also retcons the idea that the Space Phantoms were aliens from a planet called Phantus. They're really anyone who gets stranded in Limbo long enough for their identity to erode away, turning them into identityless shapeshifters.note 
  • Ret-Gone: In-story, the timeline visited by the Wasp and Captain Marvel. Immortus erases it completely.
  • Richard Nixon Was an Alien Spy: Lampshaded. He had already been discovered, and the men in black were going to deal with him; but Immortus simply erases the whole timeline as a result. He couldn't risk humanity arming against enemies from the stars.
  • Screw Destiny: All this was because the indomitable warrior Kang, as a time traveler, knows that he will eventually become Immortus, a scholar who relies on manipulation schemes. He hates the idea, fights against the universe to prevent himself from becoming Immortus... and wins.
  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • Don't tell Yellowjacket that it's pointless from him to hate Henry Pym, that he is Henry Pym: he will deny any relation whatsoever with him.
    • Back in The Celestial Madonna Saga, Kang denied that Immortus was his future self. Not anymore. He accepts as a fact of life that Immortus is him; but he still hates him more than anything else, and refuses to let himself become him.
  • Sequel Hook: Several.
    • While talking about the threat humanity poses, the Time Keepers mention "the mechanations of the Infinates." They appear in the Avengers Infinity miniseries.
    • After the heroes win, Kang regains his zest for life and conquest and leaves to rebuild his empire. Followed up in The Kang War.
    • After everyone else leaves, the Supreme Intelligence summons the Forever Crystal. This was followed up on in the Maximum Security event.
  • The Spock: Libra
  • Throwing Off the Disability: The Hulk had left Rick Jones crippled, and he begins the story that way. He managed to heal himself with the Destiny Force.
  • Time Stands Still: Seen in the bad future that begins the story, and before Immortus tried to kill Rick Jones.
  • We Have Reserves: Immortus does not go to war himself, he simply uses his time manipulation to summon soldiers from all ages (from antique Babylon to futuristic soldiers and everything in-between). All 100% loyal to him, and it does not matter how many Kang kills, because Immortus can summon hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, just by wishing so.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Time-Keepers have very legitimate concerns about humanity becoming The Empire. Their solution? Exterminate countless timelines. A mass-murder that would leave Galactus or even the Anti-Monitor as mere amateurs.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Tempus keeps whining about this.
  • Worthy Opponent: Kang treats the Avengers as such.

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