Kang the Conqueror is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in Avengers #8 (Sep. 1964), and was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby.
Nathaniel Richards was a scholar born in the futuristic 40th century. Bored with the perfection of his society, Richards became fascinated with history and discovered the time travel technology created by one of his ancestors, Doctor Doom. Richards then travels back in time to ancient Egypt and becomes the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, with intentions of claiming En Sabah Nur — the mutant destined to become Apocalypse — as his heir. Kang's rule lasts until being driven off after two encounters with the time-displaced heroes of the 20th century, being the Fantastic Four and later the West Coast Avengers.
Embittered by this defeat, he travels forward to the 20th century of an alternate timeline, being Earth-689, and meets his ancestor Doctor Doom. Richards then designs armor for himself based on Doom's, and calling himself the Scarlet Centurion manipulates the Avengers from this timeline — the original team — into apprehending all heroes and villains. The Centurion then transports the Avengers from the mainstream Marvel universe (Earth-616) into the timeline, hoping that they will defeat their Earth-689 equivalents, and can then be disposed of. While the mainstream versions do defeat their counterparts, they are also able to force the Centurion from the timeline. The Centurion then travels back to his home century, and reinvents himself as Kang the Conqueror, and using the resources at his disposal establishes an empire.
On Kang's first foray into the 20th century, his attempt to conquer this time period is thwarted by the superhero team the Avengers. Kang is furious and swears vengeance, and battles the Avengers to a stalemate. He returns, attempting to win the hand of Princess Ravonna by demonstrating his power to her father by battling the Avengers; however, Ravonna is mortally wounded. After an encounter with the Thunder God Thor utilizing his Growing Man, Kang returns and enters into a wager with the cosmic entity Grandmaster in hopes of restoring life to Ravonna, and uses the Avengers as his pawns against the Grandmaster's newly created champions, the Squadron Sinister. This also ends in stalemate, and Kang later has a brief encounter with the Hulk, utilizing him in a scheme to conquer Earth during World War One, before trying to capture the Avengers once more — a scheme foiled by Spider-Man, the Human Torch and the Inhumans.
Several months later Kang reappears, seeking the Celestial Madonna for a mate, whom he believes is on Earth. The discovery that it is the Avenger Mantis leads to another confrontation with the Avengers. The Avengers are aided by a futuristic version of Rama-Tut, who has abandoned his identity as Kang and seeks to counsel and change his younger, conquering self. While Kang is stopped, Rama-tut is unable to prevent the accidental death of the Avenger the Swordsman. As Kang escapes, the Avenger Hawkeye chooses to pursue him (courtesy of Doom's time-travel machine), which results in a final battle in the Old West in 1871. Aided by the futuristic Rama-Tut once more — who has evolved after a study of time into Immortus — Hawkeye, Thor and ally Moondragon confront Kang. In trying to defeat Thor, Kang draws on an excessive amount of energy and destroys himself.
Another Kang was later revealed to have survived, and is invited to join the Crosstime Kang Corps (or, the "Council of Cross-Time Kangs"), which consists of a group of various aliens posing as Kang, searching for a Celestial "Ultimate Weapon." This version of Kang calls himself "Fred" (by his own admission a humorous nod to Fred Flintstone, with a prehistoric name being appropriate for a time-traveler) and has a brief encounter with the Avengers while trying to stop the female space-pirate Nebula from interfering with a timeline. The Prime Kang then attempts to manipulate the Avengers from a time vortex and later encounters the Fantastic Four in a bid to capture Mantis, while "Fred" is incinerated by a Nebula-possessed Human Torch during a later battle with the Fantastic Four in the time-stream.
Immortus reappears and reveals in a battle with the Avengers West Coast that he desires to be master of all time and plans to use the Avenger the Scarlet Witch as a nexus in order to control time. Immortus' plan is foiled when a group of beings called the Time Keepers — who charged Immortus with responsibility for the period of time from 3,000 B.C to 4,000 AD — appear and use him as the nexus point to stabilize the damage done to the time-stream by his interference. Prime Kang then makes a brief appearance as an ally of Dr. Doom when the latter tries to steal the Infinity Gems.
A recovered Prime Kang later aids the Avengers and their companion Rick Jones against another scheme implemented by his future self, Immortus, who is now allied with the Time Keepers. When Immortus betrays the Time Keepers they kill him, and are in turn killed by Kang, though not before resurrecting Immortus by "splitting him off" from Kang. This then allows Kang to be free of Immortus as he has now fulfilled his destiny of becoming Immortus without being trapped by it. After some months Prime Kang embarks on an ambitious scheme (the Kang War) to conquer the Earth, this time aided by a son, Marcus, who now uses the alias of the Scarlet Centurion. Kang first promises any who aid him on Earth a place in his new order, which puts Earth's defenses and the Avengers under strain as they fight off villain after villain. Kang then takes control of Earth's defense system, and after destroying the city of Washington and killing millions, forces a surrender. The Avengers continue to battle the forces of Kang's new empire, and eventually he is defeated by Captain America in personal combat. Although imprisoned, Kang is freed by his son Marcus, who is revealed to be only one of a series of clones. Kang then reveals that he is aware of Marcus' betrayal (Marcus fell in love with and aided the Avenger Warbird) and kills him before retreating from Earth.
In a more recent development, the hero Iron Lad is revealed to be an adolescent version of Kang, and on learning this kills Prime Kang to try and prevent this from occurring. The result is disastrous for the timeline and Iron Lad then goes back in time to undo the damage by becoming Kang.