Michael Korvac was an evil cyborg from the 30th century who wanted vengeance against the Badoon, the alien race who were responsible for turning him into a cyborg. He found the ship of the legendary Galactus and began to take power from it. The alien energies gave him god like power, which he used to restore his human body. With his new power, he made an even greater plan: conceal himself from the cosmic powers and make subtle changes to reality, to end the control of Eternity.
First, some former Avengers and other people close to them begin to disappear, vanishing into thin air, such as Quicksilver and the time-displaced Two-Gun Kid. Then the Guardians of the Galaxy came to the 20th century to capture Korvac, as they believe he will attempt to erase the Guardians from existence by killing Vance Astro in his infancy. To complicate matters even further, Henry Peter Gyrich revoked the special government permits of the Avengers because of their defective security.
Starhawk, with his cosmic senses, locates Korvac immediately, and fights him alone. Korvac destroys him, and then recreates him, but with his memory of the meeting erased and incapable of ever sensing Korvac again. Korvac had also met a woman named Carina at a fashion show, and makes her his girlfriend.
The Avengers begin to investigate the disappearances, and called for all the former Avengers to return to the team. With the help of the Guardians they locate the one responsible for everything: the Collector, who was defeated by Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye and the Wasp. The Collector explains that there was a great menace to the Cosmos, and that he sought to capture the Avengers to save them from it. He had also sent his daughter to spy for him. As the Collector explained this, Carina confesses to Korvac that she is a spy, but has fallen in love with him. Korvac kills the Collector from a distance before he could tell the Avengers who "The Enemy" was.
Everyone who had ever been an Avenger begins to search for this "Enemy". All the clues pointed to the same place: a luxurious house in Forest Hills Gardens. The Avengers arrive in Forest Hills, but only find a normal couple, Michael and Carina. Michael is revealed when Starhawk asks why the Avengers are talking to the air, indicating he could not see Michael, and is therefore the enemy they were searching for.
Michael Korvac is worried because he had worked hard to hide himself, but a fight with the Avengers would be noticed by the cosmic powers. He easily bests them, but loses the will to live when Carina doubts him and died. Then the Avengers turn against Carina, who has cosmic power as well. Although she could also defeat them with ease, she commits suicide by forcing Thor's hammer to fire against herself. Moondragon begins to cry: she had read their minds, and realized that they were not evil, that the Avengers spoiled a well-intentioned plan, and that he brought the deceased back to life before dying.
The Korvac Saga contains examples of:
- Apologetic Attacker: During the final battle, Korvac tells the Avengers that he respects them and wishes he could allow them to live, as he considers them Worthy Opponents.
- Anti-Villain: This story brought back the Collector and gave him a belated backstory. It seems he went crazy with collecting so he could find worthy and strong people to help protect the universe.
- Big Damn Heroes: Engineered by the Collector. The Avengers had been in problems several times before, and Thor (who had left in a search for Odin) makes a dramatic entrance, helps the Avengers, and leaves again. It happened that the Collector was taking him from other times, placing him in the fights, and then returning him to his own timeline.
- Big Fancy House: With nigh-omnipotent powers, capable of living anywhere he wishes, Korvac chooses to live... in a mansion in Forest Hills Gardens, 20th century. Nobody can accuse him of not having good taste.
- Bigger on the Inside: The base of the Collector, just 3 cubic meter floating in space.Vance Astro: Teleport the four of you to an area the size of a telephone booth? All right, metal man, but if you ask me, I think you've just added a new dimension to the word "crazy".
- Big "NO!": When the Avengers discuss how Michael died, as they couldn't have killed him.Carina: NO! You killed him! You! You, with your wretched interference! You, with your dogged persistence! You - you slew his dream — slew my love!
- Bishōnen Line: Disfigured cyborg Korvac's first act upon gaining the power of Galactus is to become a handsome, perfectly physiqued blond man.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: If Michael is a god, what better way to kill the Collector?
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The outcome of the fight. Note that Korvac died when he lost the will to live, and Carina commited suicide. It was never within the power of the Avengers and the Guardians to slay such beings. Accept the word of one who knows!
- The Cavalry: Averted. When they realize that Michael was "the Enemy", Moondragon summons the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's useless, Korvac defeats both groups with the same ease as he would have with the Avengers alone.
- Chekhov's Gunman: An old man in a ship, slowly approaching the United States. His purpose is not very clear, and doesn't add anything to the story. Several issues after the conclusion of the Korvac saga he would play a role in revealing the long ignored origin of Quicksilver & the Scarlet Witch.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Collector. So far, he has always relied on "nerd" stuff, but when Hawkeye defeats him, he reveals his cosmic power, which he doesn't use directly very often because of his age.
- Downer Ending: The story ended with Korvac committing suicide after bringing back the dead, giving up on his plans to improve things.
- Evil All Along: When the saga received its first TPB release in 1991, it was with a new four-page scene in which the Avengers meet at Korvac's grave and muse about how he was really evil despite his good intentions. While there's merit to such a discussion, many readers have since interpreted it as a parting shot at the departing Jim Shooter, who had assumed the Editor-in-Chief position at Marvel subsequent to writing the story and upset many creators with his iron-handed control of the company.
- Fantastic Racism: Quicksilver and the Vision meet each other once more. A good moment to remember that Pietro complains about racism of mutants because he's on the receiving end, but he engages in racism towards robots. That Vision is dating his sister is purely coincidental.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Thor has a strange feeling of being somehow displaced, as if he shouldn't be where he is... and he's right: the Collector had time-displaced him, to save the Avengers.
- A God Am I: Korvac and Carina. The Collector as well.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: the Collector
- Hero Killer: Korvac slaughters most of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy without mercy, though he resurrects them all before he dies.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Starhawk found Korvac immediately, and fought him alone. Korvac killed him, and to secure his secrecy he recreated him, exactly as he was, but with no memory of their fight, and making him unable to see him again despite his deep senses. The Avengers found Korvac's house anyway, but failed to find anything out of the ordinary in it. They were about to return home empty-handed, but then the all-seeing Starhawk starts to ask why they are talking and expecting answers in an empty house? As he said that right in front of Korvac, it became obvious: if he could not see him, it's because he has blinded him somehow, which means that he is "the enemy".
- Honor Before Reason: Averted. Iron Man tells the Black Panther to attack Carina, but he doesn't consider it honourable. Yellowjacket declares "screw honor" and takes Carina hostage himself. Michael burns him in the middle of his threat. At least the Black Panther got a compliment when Michael killed him...
- In Love with the Mark: Carina was sent to spy on Korvac, but she falls in love with him, and supports his plan.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Korvac destroyed Starhawk and then recreated him, exactly as he was, but without memories of their fight.
- Leader Wannabe: Averted. Captain America fills this role against Iron Man (even trying to punch him during a scene). Some issues later, Iron Man accepted that Captain America's criticisms were right, and proposed to resign as leader and hand command of team to him. But Captain America refused, apologized for the old discussions, and accepted Iron Man's leadership.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Although there have been previous stories featuring all the characters who had ever (up to that point) been members of the Avengers, this was the first time the full cast was a multitude and not just a large group. Add to them Jocasta, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel and Two-Gun Kid (who were not Avengers yet), and villains unrelated to the main story as Ultron, Tyrak and Porcupine, as well as the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and you get the idea.
- Messianic Archetype Korvac considers himself the savior of the universe. The What If? sequel to the Korvac Sequel reveals him to be a Dark Messiah, however.
- Mundane Utility: Korvac uses his nigh-omnipotent powers, capable of reshaping the universe, to... summon a cup of tea.
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: The adult Vance Astro has to stay in space and doesn't go to Earth with the others, to avoid getting near his younger self.
- No Body Left Behind: Korvac kills the Collector with an energy blast, leaving nothing but smoke and an ash crater
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Henry Peter Gyrich revokes the government permits on the Avengers, and becomes a royal pain in the ass for a lot of time, beyond this specific storyline. Let's just say that, unable to use the Quinjets, the Avengers have to go to their great battle for the fate of the universe... on a bus.
- Orcus on His Throne: Korvac does not take an active role during the story outside of killing the Collector; he mostly stays at his luxury house and uses his omnipotent powers to avoid detection.
- Pinball Projectile: Hawkeye defeats the Collector with one.
- Speak of the Devil: The Collector only speaks of Korvac as "the enemy". He dies just before revealing his identity, so the Avengers have to keep naming him that way.
- Spiritual Successor: It's considered that Secret Wars was an expanded version of the Korvac saga
- Suicide by Cop: Carina manipulates Thor's hammer to fire at her with full force. She committed suicide to reunite with the deceased Michael.
- Terminator Twosome: Averted. The Guardians of the Galaxy think that Korvac returned to the 20th century to kill the young Vance Astro, and erase them from existence. Korvac did time-travel to the 20th century, but with much more ambitious plans in mind. He was quite happy to let the Guardians stay in the dark about his intentions, so that they made a pointless trip and leave him alone.
- These Hands Have Killed: When Moondragon reveals the real motivations of Michael, Thor accepted that the Avengers' hand were stained with his innocent blood.
- Together in Death: Averted. After Michael's death, Carina fights the Avengers for a brief time, and then commits suicide to reunite with him in death. With her last breath, she jumps towards Michael's body... but her hand can't reach his, falling a few centimeters short.
- Tomboy: Wonder Man, a Human Popsicle from the 60s, sees Ms. Marvel as such, and does not understand "what has happened to women". Unlike the Wasp and the Scarlet Witch, who merely fire from a distance, Ms. Marvel actually engages in physical combat like the men, and has a similar attitude.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Vance Astro returns to the 20th century, along with the Guardians, but only they can go to Earth, where Vance lived in his infancy. The adult Vance Astro has to stay on the ship in space, to avoid messing with the timeline.