"The Kang War", otherwise known by its actual title of "The Kang Dynasty", is a storyline of The Avengers, by Kurt Busiek and Alan Davis.
After defeating Immortus during the Destiny War, the Conqueror from the Future Kang thought it was the moment to finally conquer the 20th century planet Earth once and for all. Along with his son and heir Marcus, he appeared in the 20th Century with the "Damocles" base, a giant space station with the shape of a sword. To display their power, a death ray from the sky obliterated the United Nations, but also generated forcefields that saved everybody who was inside. Then, he declared his intentions: Earth was filled of many potential bad futures, and he intended to conquer it to prevent them. With his 30th century technology, he may crush all resistance in a few weeks; and even allowed himself the luxury of announcing the place and date of his first strike. He promised as well that, in the meantime, anyone who conquers some land in his name would be favored in his future regime... and several fifth-columnists (Attuma, the Deviants, mutinied military forces) began to attack.
Despite all the military preparations, the invasion of Europe proceed without problems for Kang. There was a little hope spot for North America: the Master of the World, a villain who controlled alien fortifications that protected the cities and may counter Kang's technology. But the Avengers did not want a civil war between villains, so they sent two teams: one to defeat the master and capture his base, and another to attack the Damocles base itself. Warbird killed the Master of the World, but the controls of his base were too alien and difficult to understand. Kang destroyed the Avenger's ship in the space, and attacked Washington DC in retaliation. He destroyed the city with a futuristic weapon (more or less like an atomic bomb that only kills people, but without radiation). Earth surrendered.
In the meantime, the Triune Understanding (a religious group that had a pair of conflicts with the Avengers) launched a ship to attack the Triple Evil, a threat that would attack Earth someday, and rescued the Avengers floating in space. This Triple Evil was a giant pyramid, that they managed to seize and control. The Avengers at the base of the Master of World finally understood how to operate it, and began to attack the Damocles base once more. Kang announced that, in retaliation for this attack, he would destroy Denver and Atlanta... and then, the pyramid appeared, and joined the fight. All the Avengers in the space, the pyramid and a russian villain fired their many powers to the shield, and the attack of Tremont finally broke it. Warbird destroyed the core, and the base began to fall to the planet. Kang sent his son back to the XXX century, and accepted his own fate.
With his base destroyed and his armour broken, it all came down to a hand-to-hand combat between Kang and Captain America. Kang was defeated and jailed... and rescued by his son Marcus. Still, Kang was very dissapointed of him: for robbing him a glorious death, for using time-travel to undo an honourable victory of their enemies, for helping Warbird and not confessing it, etc. But before killing him, a reveal to make him suffer: Actually, he was just one of several clones of the original Marcus, and he will share the fate all the previous Marcus clones that disappointed him.
The Kang War contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Kang. He tried to create a dynasty by breeding dozens of sons on off-worlds to carry on his legacy and kills them when they don't live up to his standards by showing weakness in mind or body. Marcus, his most 'perfect' son, failed him in the end by falling in love with Warbird and robbing Kang of his final victory by rescuing him, causing Kang to murder Marcus and start his plans anew.
- Animated Adaptation: The storyline was adapted in the episodes "Come the Conqueror" and "The Kang Dynasty" of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Warbird exploited it when the Avengers got trapped and surrounded by the Deviants.Warbird: WHO LEADS THIS RABBLE?! I name you coward, for hiding behind weapons and bodyguards! Coward and worse! I name you unfit to lead! By your own rules, which decree that only the strong shall lead, I challenge you to single combat for leadership of your army!
- Cavalry Betrayal: The government sent an army of Sentinels against the Damocles base. Kang simply used his futuristic technology to hack the Sentinels, and turn them into his own army.
- Colony Drop: The fall of the Damocles base.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: Very weakened for being unconscious for a long time in the cold arctic, Warbird is escaping from the Master's beasts. She is suddenly helped by Marcus, who fell in love with her, and forgot that she's supposed to be his enemy.
- Conqueror from the Future: It was about time that Kang finally showed those 20th century neanderthals how he earned the title of Conqueror of Worlds. Not as a One-Man Army, not diverting his attention with romantic relations with Ravonna or the Celestial Madonna, not with mind-manipulation tricks, but with the old fashioned type of conquest: leading legions and legions of armies to crush the defenses of the weaker armies.
- Continuity Nod: Kang uses the floating chair he had used in Avengers #8, his first appearance by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
- Crazy-Prepared: Before launching his invasion, Kang had made up his military strategy, that involved all possible factors: national armies, superheroes, hidden races, alien technologies, possible "cavalries", everything. But his master plan failed because there was a single power he forgot to consider: The Power of Love.
- Defiant to the End: Kang does not cheat: he may use time travel to escape, reestablish his forces and return at the same moment in time, but he refuses that path. If, despite his superior forces, the Avengers managed to destroy his base, he'll go down with it.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: What Kang had actually wanted the whole time but had been stolen. When he realized that he was defeated, he accepted going down with the orbital base that was falling to Earth, and did not attempt to escape from it. But he survived. Then, the next option: he's held prisoner, he will surely be sentenced to death, and he will die with his warrior honor intact and be known as an infamous conquering legend... and Marcus stole that glory from him, by rescuing him.
- Eye Take: When Warbird killed the Master of the World. Even his beasts were included in the scene.
- The Gloves Come Off: Shown when Warbird aka Ms. Marvel outright kills the Master of the World by stabbing him through the abdomen with a piece of the floor after blasting it much to the notable shock of her allies and the Master's own minions.Warbird: You're making a mistake, Master. You are expecting us to act like nice-nice super heroes... to treat you like a bank robber, or your average megalomaniacal lunatic. But the world's at war, big shot! At war! And that means that the rules have changed!
- Grand Finale: To Kurt Busiek's Avengers.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Whirldwind is among the villains recruited by Marcus, but refuses to wait in line. He disposes of the other guys ahead of him, gloats about his power, and asks to be a general. Kang disposed of him: he has more than enough power already, what he seeks are soldiers with discipline.
- Hope Spot: The walls and weaponry of the Master of the World. It seems that Europe is doomed, but North America is well protected. But when Kang turns his attention to Washington D.C., those walls only delay him for some seconds.
- Identical Stranger: Marcus, the son of Kang, who fell in love with Warbird, and Marcus, the son of Immortus, who abducted, drugged and raped her a long time ago. They are not the same Marcus, but have the same face, the same voice, the same manners... Justified (a bit), after all Kang and Immortus are actually the same time-traveling man at different points of maturity. Or, said more simple, both Marcus are brothers (but don't ever tell him that).
- Internal Homage: The scene of Warbird stepping to the Avengers martial court (for killing the Master of the World) is similar to the previous martial court she had at the begining of Kurt Busiek's run in the title.
- Karma Houdini: Kang never suffers definitive punishment for all the death and destruction he's caused during his conquest. Only being imprisoned, being rescued by his son, and choosing to kill him for robbing Kang of his final victory before planning to carry on his habit of conquest on other worlds.
- Legacy Character: Marcus as the Scarlet Centurion: that's a former identity his father briefly had.
- Meaningful Name: The Damocles base, a space station shaped as a sword, floating undetected over earth... the futuristic Sword of Damocles.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: The subplot about the Triune understanding ends with the Avengers finding out that the organization itself was not corrupt, only their leader Tremont. But, by that time, Duane had already died alongside all the people in Washington DC. Iron Man was deeply troubled, because now he can never tell him that he's sorry.
- No-Dialogue Episode: Avengers #49, when Kang finally conquers Earth.
- President Target: Thor had to interrupt the fight to save George Bush, teleporting him with to stay with the Deviants (a race of monsters that had recently swore loyalty to Warbird... long story). Go with the friendly monsters, or stay in WWIII being fought right outside the White House? Friendly monsters!
- No Endor Holocaust: Infamously Averted. Millions of men, women, and children are shown killed when Kang destroys Washington D.C., leaving only the charred remains of the people behind. Thor himself is at the middle of this mass grave having reached the Despair Event Horizon for failing to save them all.
- Oh, Crap!: Warbird has defeated the Deviant leader's champion. Will he surrender now and hand her leadership, or betray his culture in front of his men?
- OOC Is Serious Business: Thor of all people would be this in the story when he goes from Boisterous Bruiser to exhibiting nothing but Tranquil Fury during the whole story due to the mass death he has witness unsettles many of his allies.
- Sadistic Choice: Kang knows fully well that, when jailing superheroes, any prison will be a Cardboard Prison, no matter how futuristic. So, any time someone is trying to escape, they're given an option: surrender and be executed, or escape and two other unrelated prisoners will be executed. Of course, if they manage to escape at all: if they are killed during the escape, the two others must be executed anyway. Only a very selfish person (and certainly not a Knight in Shining Armor hero) would try to escape under those conditions.
- When Wonder Man makes a successful escape attempt, Kang 'generously' decrees that, since he came back to help the Scarlet Witch against Kang's guards and was subsequently recaptured, Kang will 'only' kill Wonder Man rather than the aforementioned innocents (which was the real purpose of the whole attempt, as Simon and Wanda use the execution to fake Simon's death so he can get away for real).
- Status Quo Is God: Even though Kang kills millions of people and conquers the entire Earth for months, these events are hardly ever mentioned in any Marvel comics following this arc.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Firebird gave one of those to Thor, who suddenly started to view the mortal lives as short and meaningless in response to being at the epicenter of the mass death in Washington D.C. She told him that, even if she's immortal as well, she would always care about the mortals. That her god notices even the death of an sparrow, and that's her role model, not Thor.
- This Is Unforgivable!: It seems that Captain America has died, turned by the Presence into a mindless atomic creature. Thor does not take it lightly.
- Wham Episode: Issue 49; Kang wins and conquers the world. This is the first time in all of Marvel history that mainstream, present-day Earth was conquered, not by mind control or magic, but sheer military strategy and overwhelming might.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: During the fight, Captain America had a moral dilemma. The aliens souls trapped in the pyramid were meant to fight against the Triple Evil, not against Kang, and were crying to be liberated now that the Triple Evil had been defeated. By using them this way, the Avengers were enslaving those souls for their own needs. A dilemma for Captain America... but not for Tremont. "Earth is at stake, you can't have mercy! They are aliens, who cares about their souls!?"
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Thor had a brief crisis over this issue, realizing that he has very strong ties with people who will die some day. Firebird made him realize that, if the time he will share with specific mortals is limited, that's the reason to treasure every second of it while it lasts. Which is much longer than she suspects, anyway.
- Why Did You Make Me Hit You?
- First, Kang warned that if the Damocles base was attacked, there would be retribution. The Avengers attacked it and failed. Why did you force Kang to obliterate Washington D.C. and all of its people sans the President?
- Kang also did when he killed Marcus
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The Deviant leader refused to duel with Warbird. A human can not challenge leadership! And much less a woman!Warbird: Oh? And do you fear women, then, mighty Dulpus? Do you fear women and humans?
- Year Outside, Hour Inside: The brief moments the Avengers were placed into artificial fantasies inside the pyramid, were not so brief as they seemed: they were weeks in them, and in that time Kang had already conquered Earth.