WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Savage Avengers #25, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
The Savage Avengers have relentlessly sought a way to stop the ancient, evil sorcerer Kulan Gath from conquering the world. For Conan of Cimmeria, this has been a never-ending fight throughout the majority of his life. With Kulan Gath now having killed almost all of Marvel’s heroes during his conquest of the globe, Conan has turned to desperate measures in the hopes of setting things right. Acting on one of the final requests of Doctor Strange, Conan has turned to one of the Avengers’ deadliest foes, Kang the Conqueror, for help. Unfortunately, Savage Avengers #25 (by Gerry Duggan, Patch Zircher, Java Tartaglia and VC’s Travis Lanham) reveals the conqueror is of little help against Gath, who appears to have surpassed Kang as the universe’s premier time traveler.
When Kulan Gath took over the world, he kept Doctor Strange alive long enough for the Sorcerer Supreme to witness the full extent of the mad wizard’s cruelty. In his final moments, Strange was found by Conan, and he gave the Cimmerian instructions on how to find their last hope of survival. Following the magician’s instructions, Conan was able to enlist the aid of Kang the Conqueror, who understood the threat posed by Kulan Gath due to his prior experience with the ancient wizard. It turns out that the conqueror once formed a “Kang Corps” to stand against Gath, but retreated into the timestream when his forces were defeated. Despite having mobilized his campaigns in different eras, the cannibalistic wizard managed to stay one step ahead of Kang the entire way. For Conan, this means that there is nowhere in time that he can go where his nemesis isn’t already waiting for him.
When Conan suggests going back in time to before Kulan Gath had amassed his dark powers, Kang informs the Cimmerian that the sorcerer has managed to protect his younger self across all ages. From the way it sounds, Kulan Gath has managed to become omnipresent within the confines of his own timeline, a feat that has left him literally untouchable.
Although there are a nearly infinite number of tactics and weapons for Conan to employ in his efforts, Kang assures him that none of them have proven useful so far. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Conan and Kang have had this conversation. Conan might not remember it, but he has fought this same battle before, and he has lost every single time. Not only has Kang had to carry the burden of defeat over and over again, he has done so for so long that he now considers the cycle an unbreakable time loop.
Kang has had many names over the years, and he has suffered many losses under each of them, but nothing has ever compared to the soul-crushing, never-ending defeat he has been dealt by Kulan Gath. Considering the severity of the threat, it’s no wonder Kang has been so willing to endure the loss so many times.
Even with this knowledge, Conan retains hope that the loop can be broken despite the hopeless odds that Kang has laid at his feet. However, if the barbarian is unable to do what the conqueror feels is impossible, the time traveler runs the risk of being defeated once and for all by the evilest mage in the entire Marvel Universe.
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