Classification: Extratemporal (31st Century) technology
Creator: Engineers serving Kang the Conqueror (Nathaniel Richards)
User/Possessors: Kang; Avengers Forever team (Captain America [Steve Rogers], Captain Marvel [Genis-Vell] of Reality-98120, Giant-Man [Hank Pym], Hawkeye [Clint Barton], Rick Jones, Songbird [Melissa Gold] of Reality-98120, the Wasp [Janet van Dyne] and Yellowjacket [another Hank Pym]), Libra (Gustav Brandt); Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord [Peter Jason Quill], Bug, Cosmo, Jack Flag [Jack Harrison], Mantis), multiple Starhawks from various timestreams
First Appearance: Avengers: Forever#3 (February, 1999)
Powers/Abilities/Functions: Kang's Sphinx is said to be an exact replica of the time machine which his past self (Nathaniel Richards) first used to travel to Ancient Egypt. However, it's unclear if this exactness applies to its capabilities as well as its appearance.
The exterior of the Sphinx is just an ornamental shell that has the form of an Egyptian sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a male human (technically, an androsphinx). Nathaniel Richards constructed the shell in the shape of that strange creature in order to impress the superstitious people who lived in ancient times. The creature part of the shell is (believed to be) about 240 feet in length (from paw to tail), about 60 feet wide (at its rear haunches) and about 66 feet high. Part of the shell is the large, flat rectangular base upon which the creature appears to be reclining. This base does not extend beyond the length or width of the creature but does add about another 20 feet to the overall height of the vehicle. Although the creature part of the shell plays no part in the functioning of the time vehicle, the front of the base does contain hidden doorways through which passengers can enter or exit the Sphinx. The door leading to the hangar where the Chronospheres are kept is also located there. Either the right front paw is hinged so that it opens upward or part of the base is hinged so that the section located beneath the right front paw opens downward.
Only general information about how this time machine functions has been revealed. Like most time machines, the Sphinx is capable of generating a chronal-displacement inertial field which creates an opening in the "reality walls" that separate the various timestreams from Limbo, the transtemporal realm from which all time eras and alternate realities are accessible. Once within Limbo, the Sphinx then creates another opening through which the time machine and its passengers exit from Limbo and enter into the reality located at the specific time and dimensional coordinates that had been input by its pilot. The chronal-displacement inertial field generated by the Sphinx is spherical in shape, with the generator being at its center, and the field has a radius that extends significantly beyond the exterior of the Sphinx. If this time machine is like the one in Kang's time-ship, then it is "a device whose major timestream-bridging components are the size of a two-drawer file cabinet" and it takes up less space within the Sphinx than the large energy-generating devices that produce the as yet unanalyzed type of energy used to power the time machine. It is also known that, if damaged, the time machine can emit radiation that can affect a certain rare herb so as to transform it into an optic nerve restorative capable of curing some forms of blindness.
Kang's Sphinx is known to be equipped with "chrono-engines" but it's unclear exactly what function they perform. The term could refer to the devices which generate the energy needed to power the time machine or to the device which generates the chronal-displacement inertial field. It's also possible that these chrono-engines provide the propulsion needed for the Sphinx to travel through Limbo. However, without more information, their function cannot be confirmed.
It has not been revealed how extensively Kang's Sphinx can travel in time. As an exact replica, it should theoretically be capable of travelling as far as the original Sphinx, a time machine whose only known journey spanned a period of almost 6,000 years. However, Kang's Sphinx may not have yet ever actually traveled in time since its only known voyage was from Chronopolis, a city that existed half in Limbo and half in reality, to "a realm beyond reality -- which flows through, around and above all of time, in its many branching paths." Little has been revealed about this realm except for the fact that it is "outside time itself" but apparently NOT Limbo.
Although any vehicle that can travel in time AND space should theoretically be able to travel to planets in other solar systems, so far neither Kang's Sphinx nor the original Sphinx have yet demonstrated that ability. It's possible that for some reason both vessels were only able to travel to various temporal points along Earth's timeline and not to the pasts, presents or futures of alien planets.
Kang's Sphinx should also be able to travel between two spatial points on Earth without having to pass through Limbo. The Sphinx's lack of wheels suggests that it must be capable of flight, probably by manipulating gravity or electromagnetic fields so as to generate both lift and propulsion. The fact that the Sphinx can maintain an interior environment suitable for human life while it is travelling through Limbo or outside of time implies that it is a spaceworthy vehicle capable of sustaining its passengers' lives within the vacuum of space.
Kang's Sphinx has a life support system that maintains a breathable nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere at the correct temperature and pressure for humans. The Sphinx also generates an artificial gravity field that is perpendicular to the floors of its interior compartments to make it easier for its occupants to move around within it. It presumably also has some form of inertial dampening system that shields its passengers from the effects of any rapid accelerations or decelerations or any sudden course changes. However, since time travel is essentially instantaneous, it's unclear if the Sphinx is equipped for voyages of any duration. It is unrevealed how much (if any) food and water is normally on-board or if the Sphinx has any living/sleeping quarters or bathrooms or any sickbay facilities to treat medical problems.
The interior of Kang's Sphinx has been made to look as if the floors and walls were made of stone, and the walls are also decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphs, even in the control room from where the basic functions of the timeship can be directed. In contrast, the command chair has a futuristic design and hovers above the floor. The controls also appear futuristic and look complicated but are set out in a pretty orderly arrangement. Aside from a panel that controls the Sphinx's chronal travel direction, there are also controls that can launch the Sphinx and others for the scanners, an advance sensor-array and the multiple large video screens on the walls. The sensors can detect and measure chronal anomalies and display the results on the video screens. The scanners can be used to view events that are occurring within different timelines and can record video images from those timelines or from outside the vessel. All of these videos can be displayed on the vid-screens.
Those aboard the Sphinx can communicate with people within timelines via a projected interactive hologram of their head but for communicating with people in the Chronospheres there is only a voice-only link.
Although Kang's Sphinx is not known to be equipped with any weaponry, its interior is protected by preprogrammed defenses which include mini-missiles, force-beams and deadly lasers. Any captured intruders can be detained in a translucent holding pod equipped with a force field that can even block ectoplasmic forms.
The original Sphinx carried an unspecified number of humanoid automatons of several designs that had been specially programmed to perform various functions. However, Kang's Sphinx may not have been stocked with any of these robots.
Little has been revealed about what takes up most of the space within Kang's Sphinx or how much space is occupied by the time machine and the generators that power it and the life support systems. There is probably also a machine shop with tools capable of repairing damaged equipment and, given that Nathaniel Richards planned to become a time looter and conqueror when he designed the Sphinx, there is probably a secure hold for any valuables he might acquire and an armory for advanced weapons (like the ultra-diode ray). However, aside from the control room, the only other area known to have been used by the Avengers was the hangar bay which contained a rack holding at least three smaller time vehicles called Chronospheres, each capable of carrying only a few passengers. This may represent an upgrade from Rama-Tut's Sphinx, which is only known to have carried one smaller vessel aboard. The exit through which the Chronospheres can leave the Sphinx is located beneath its right front paw.
Kang's Sphinx can also transmit a guidance beam meant for its Chronospheres. When the pilot of a Chronosphere that is near the Sphinx locks onto the beam, the computers on the larger vessel will take control of the smaller one and carry out an automated docking procedure. It is not known if this guidance beam has to be activated manually by someone in the Sphinx or if the beam is triggered automatically whenever the Sphinx's sensors detect a Chronosphere in the vicinity.
Kang's Sphinx is also equipped with (at least) one device that can supply travelers with any clothing that they might need in order to not stand out in any era. This device is portable and can be taken aboard the Chronospheres for use by their passengers.
(Fantastic Four I#19 (fb)/What If? II#39 (fb) - BTS/Avengers: Forever#9 (fb)) - In the 31st Century of the alternate timeline Earth-6311 (sometimes called Warlord's Earth), a man named Nathaniel Richards lived during a time known as the "Glorious Age of Enlightenment," the "Century of Peace and Progress" and the "Ultimate in Civilization and Culture." Believing himself to be an adventurous man of action, Nathaniel hated his life there and envied the people from centuries in the past whose exploits were recorded on the history tapes that he watched so avidly.
One day, while Nathaniel was visiting the ruins of the Warlord's Fort that had originally belonged to his amazing ancestor and namesake, Nathaniel Richards, he came across what was left of his ancestor's greatest invention, a time machine, and the plans for it. Inspired, Nathaniel decided to use those plans to recreate the time machine for his own use.
Nathaniel spent "years" rebuilding the time machine. Planning to operate as a time looter from a headquarters in Ancient Egypt and knowing of the superstitious beliefs of people in bygone days, Nathaniel shaped his time machine's appearance into the form of a strange creature. With his vehicle finally complete, Nathaniel set out to travel back to the dim past where he would use his vast scientific knowledge to become an absolute ruler of mankind. After arriving in the Ancient Egypt (c. 2957 B.C.) of the past of Earth-616, Nathaniel cowed the natives and ruled there as Pharaoh Rama-Tut for over ten years until he was eventually forced to flee from that era by the time-travelling Fantastic Four. As he fled in his satellite globe (that Mr. Fantastic speculated was the real time machine that he had managed to repair), Rama-Tut left his Sphinx behind "to mystify mankind for centuries to come!"
(Avengers I#8 (fb)/Avengers I#269 (fb)) - While trying to return to his own era, Nathaniel's time machine suffered a temporary mechanical failure that caused it to overshoot his intended destination and travel instead to a barbaric and savage 40th Century Earth where the human race was constantly at war. In this violent era, Nathaniel created a new identity for himself as Kang the Conqueror, and he soon ruled the entire planet.
(Avengers Annual I#21 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Kang (actually one of the MANY divergent Kangs) created his lifelong masterwork: Chronopolis, his city-state headquarters located on the outskirts of timeless Limbo.
(Avengers: Forever#3 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Kang had his servants build an exact replica of the time machine which his past self (Nathaniel Richards) first used to travel to Ancient Egypt. This Sphinx may or may not have been placed within the Ancient Egyptian section of Chronopolis.
(Avengers: Forever#3 (fb) - BTS) - When the Destiny War began and the forces sent by Immortus began to attack Chronopolis, Kang sent some of his slaves to retrieve the replica Sphinx and manually carry it from the battle lines to the Central Citadel.
(Avengers: Forever#3) - As the Sphinx was pulled closer to Kang, he called out
to the slavemaster, telling him to have a care while moving the exact replica of his first
time machine because he had not ordered it taken from the battle lines in order for it to be
damaged by his clumsy men. The Slavemaster promised the "Great One" that it would be carried
"as gently as the most delicate of eggshells" and Kang accepted this and then told him
that the men must carry it faster so that they would be back at the walls before the next
As Kang then spoke to seven Avengers who had come to Chronopolis, the straining slaves continued to pull the Sphinx past his citadel.
(Avengers: Forever#3) - Hours later, after the forces of Immortus had resumed their attack, there eventually came a time when even Kang had to face the inevitability of the coming defeat. As he prepared to defend the Heart of Forever from the enemy forces, Kang told the Avengers to get Rick Jones away from Chronopolis and that Libra would show them the way. Libra then led them to Kang's Sphinx and when they entered it the Avengers were surprised to discover that the entire structure was one gigantic time machine.
(Avengers: Forever#4 (fb) - BTS) - Libra explained to the Avengers how to use the controls to launch the Sphinx.
(Avengers: Forever#3) - Soon afterwards, Kang was incapacitated by Tempus, and Immortus seized control of the Heart of Forever. As Immortus used the Heart of Forever to cause the Central Citadel and Chronopolis to begin to implode, the Sphinx took flight and fled from Chronopolis, escaping before the chronal essences of the city and its inhabitants fused with the Heart and converted it into the Forever Crystal. Immortus noticed that the essences of the Avengers were not within the crystal, realized that they had escaped, and considered it of little importance because he would find them wherever and whenever they went.
(Avengers: Forever#4) - After having escaped from Chronopolis, the Sphinx hurtled through "a realm beyond reality -- which flows through, around and above all of time, in its many branching paths." Carried within it, the Avengers confirmed that Chronopolis had been completely destroyed and wiped out of existence, and they realized that Immortus must now have the Heart of Forever and the power to change time at his whim. After an aggressive Hawkeye caused Libra to leave, Yellowjacket and Giant-Man discovered how to work the controls. Soon afterwards, Giant-Man used the Sphinx's sensors to run a scan of time that identified three temporal imbalances with similar signatures to the chronal anomaly created by the destruction of Chronopolis. Believing that these were points in time where Immortus was up to something, the Wasp decided to split the Avengers into three squads who would use the Sphinx's Chronospheres to travel to the imbalance points to investigate them. It was also decided that Rick Jones would remain aboard the Sphinx because hovering outside of time was the only way to prevent Immortus's sensors from finding him and so that he could maintain contact with all of the Avengers through the Sphinx's systems and alert them of any imminent threat.
An hour later, three Chronospheres were launched from the Sphinx while Rick stayed behind and griped. One Chronosphere carried Captain America and Giant-Man to Earth-9930's New York City sometime in the first half of its 21st Century where they became involved in a battle against the Martian invaders and met that Earth's team of Avengers. The second Chronosphere took Hawkeye, Songbird and Yellowjacket to Tombstone, Arizona in the year 1873 where Songbird soon realized that the anomaly was caused by a past version of Kang and that a past Avengers team would beat him but their plan to leave before they could disrupt the past was thwarted when they discovered that their vehicle had been moved from the cave where they had left it. The third Chronosphere brought the Wasp and Captain Marvel to a 1959 Fourth of July celebration being held in a small California town on Earth-9904 where they discovered that Vice-President Richard Nixon was actually a disguised Skrull and were then confronted by that Earth's Avengers.
(Avengers: Forever#5) - As the Sphinx continued to float outside time and space, Rick Jones used its sophisticated chronal technology to watch what the teams of Avengers were doing at the three imbalance points. Rick watched as Captain America and Giant-Man aided the human army and the Avengers of Earth-9930 to achieve their last victory against the aliens who had invaded their world ten years earlier. When he felt unable to watch any longer, Rick switched his attention to the monitor showing what was happening on Earth-9904 and watched as the Wasp and Captain Marvel fought a brawl with that timeline's Avengers which eventually ended with the two groups agreeing to work together against the Nixon Skrull.
At that point, the Sphinx's sensors detected an energy-flux manifesting near the team in 1873 Arizona, and Rick decided to check in on that team. Rick then watched as Hawkeye, Songbird and Yellowjacket survived a booby-trap set by the past Kang (who had reclaimed "his" timesphere), and then met up with the Black Rider, Reno Jones and Kid Cassidy who were later exposed as actually being disguised Space Phantoms. No sooner had these minions of Immortus been revealed than the Sphinx's sensors detected that same energy-flux had also appeared in proximity to the Wasp's team. Within seconds, the readings from Earth-9904 went off the scale and Rick contacted the Wasp and Marvel to warn them to leave that reality because there was massive chrono-flux in their area, which he thought meant Immortus must have been present and was doing something seriously dangerous. As the two Avengers retreated to their Chronosphere, Immortus struck, exposing the Skrull and then using the Forever Crystal to generate a temporal wave that began to eliminate that particular timeline, with the Skrull and the 1950's Avengers among the first to be wiped from existence. As the Wasp and Captain Marvel reached their vehicle and prepared to make the chronal jump, Rick warned them to hurry because the wave was coming!
(Avengers: Forever#6) - As the Sphinx remained outside the timestream, the Chronosphere carrying the Wasp and Captain Marvel arrived in its vicinity after barely having escaped from the vortex of nothingness that had been Earth-9904. When they contacted Rick for help in returning to the Sphinx, he informed them that they just had to lock onto the guidance beam and the Sphinx would automatically do the rest. At that moment, the Sphinx's vid-screen displayed an image of Doctor Doom's first meeting with Rama-Tut but with Immortus in the background while those in the Chronosphere also saw images of past events at which Immortus had been present. The video screens aboard the Sphinx continued to display a series of videos featuring Immortus and, once the Chronosphere was back aboard the Sphinx, the trio deduced that their escape from Immortus's time-disruption might have triggered images of other chronal imbalances that had been created or affected by Immortus. They also discussed their recent discovery that that there was more than one Space Phantom serving Immortus as undetectable agents.
Later, after the other two teams had safely returned to the Sphinx, Rick and the seven Avengers discussed how Immortus appeared to have been trying to alter human destiny by selectively changing the timestream and that, now that he had the Forever Crystal, he had already begun reaching into past times. The group then decided that, in order to stop Immortus, they first had to learn what he was planning and to do that they had to travel to his stronghold in the heart of Limbo itself. Captain Marvel was secretly dismayed by this decision because he had hoped to avert what he knew was going to happen but he kept his fears to himself.
(Avengers: Forever#7 (fb) - BTS) - Aboard the Sphinx, Captain Marvel's cosmic senses guided Giant-Man and Yellowjacket as they cannibalized one of the Chronospheres and built a chronal-disruption device that could get them into Limbo and a bracelet that would pull them out of Limbo and back to the Sphinx when they triggered the recall signal.
(Avengers: Forever#7) - As the Sphinx remained outside time itself, the seven Avengers prepared to travel to Limbo aboard a platform created by Songbird. After Captain Marvel VERY FIRMLY told Jones to stay with the Sphinx and to not be an idiot for once in his life, Giant-Man activated the chronal-disruption device he was wearing, and the septet vanished from the Sphinx and began traveling to Limbo, encountering more chrono-flashes from their history until they finally reached Limbo.
While the seven Avengers had some bizarre experiences within Immortus's castle, back on the Sphinx, Rick was unable to see what was going on because the Sphinx's scanners couldn't penetrate into Limbo. So, naturally, Rick decided to rebel against Marvel's command and he took one of the Chronospheres so he could go somewhere else to find out why it was that Immortus wanted to kill him.
After realizing that Immortus had discovered that they were in his castle, the Avengers regrouped (except for Yellowjacket, who had been captured), and the Wasp activated the recall bracelet, transporting the six of them back to the Sphinx. Captain Marvel was upset when he sensed that Rick had left the Sphinx in one of the Chronospheres, but Hawkeye was pleased that he had managed to grab a Synchro-Staff while in Limbo.
(Avengers: Forever#8) - As the Sphinx drifted above the timestream, Giant-Man aborted his plan to capture one of the bugs that had followed them back from Limbo when Hawkeye discovered that the Synchro-Staff was (and always had been) a Space Phantom. After some threats of violence from Hawkeye, the Space Phantom revealed a lot of information about Immortus, his past schemes and motivations, and the truth about the Space Phantoms. Midway through their questioning of the Space Phantom, Captain Marvel used the Sphinx's equipment to study one of the time-flashes, learned the true origin of the Vision and revealed that origin to the other Avengers. As the Space Phantom concluded his story, he and the Avengers were rendered unconscious by Immortus who had been guided to the Sphinx by Yellowjacket who had used the cybernetics in his costume to locate the Limbo Bugs that had followed the other Avengers back to the Sphinx.
(Avengers: Forever#9 (fb) - BTS) - Rick Jones returned to the Sphinx but found that it was deserted. Based on the scorch-marks on the floor, Rick concluded that Immortus had captured the Avengers so he travelled to the Blue Area of Earth's Moon to seek aid from the Kree Supreme Intelligence and Kang the Conqueror.
(Guardians of the Galaxy II#19 (fb) - BTS) - At some point after the Destiny War, Kang found and reclaimed his Sphinx time vehicle.
(Guardians of the Galaxy II#19 (fb) - BTS) - Later, after Adam Warlock had become the Magus as a result of the way in which he had saved Reality-616 by stopping the expansion of the interdimensional Fault, a variation of the timeline in which the Magus ruled the Universal Church of Truth became a possible future. As this Magus future began to take over alternate timelines, the last of the Timekeepers sought out Kang to warn him that all the iterations of the future were rapidly becoming one. To help him fight this temporal conflict, Kang sought out and collected a large number of Starhawks who were all survivors of doomed or lost timelines, and he began using the Sphinx as his base of operations within a white void he called "limbo."
(Guardians of the Galaxy II#19) - When five time-displaced members of the Guardians of the Galaxy team ended up in the early 31st Century of one of the Magus futures, Kang thought they could be useful so he opened a time-door and sent his Starhawks to save them from the Universal Church forces. After the Guardians had been retrieved, Kang restored them to their proper ages as he led them along a path through "limbo" to his Sphinx. Once inside, Kang explained the situation regarding Warlock and the Magus and revealed that they, as anomalies who were untethered in time, could be sent back through the Magus' defenses to his point of creation and stop him. Kang further explained that there was only a very small window of opportunity, less than a minute in duration, between the moment when Warlock sealed the Fault and when he became the Magus. Kang then gave Star-Lord the last Cosmic Cube and revealed that he had programmed it to activate a local Time Flow Hiatus that would stretch that window of opportunity to between five and ten minutes, and that they would have only that long to do whatever it took to save the universe. As the Guardians wondered whether Kang was telling the truth, Cardinals from the Universal Church broke through the exterior wall of the Sphinx on a mission to slay all of the heretics who opposed the Magus. Kang told the Starhawks to prepare to initiate tactical withdrawal K-681 because they were going to abandon the Sphinx and he then sent the five Guardians back to that point in time when they could stop the Magus.
What happened to Kang's replica Sphinx after Kang and the Starhawks abandoned it has not been revealed. The fact that the Guardians did (apparently) prevent the Magus futures from occurring could mean that the attack by the Universal Church forces was retroactively undone but this has not been documented.
Comments: Replica time machine created by Kurt Busiek & Roger
Stern, Carlos Pacheco and Jesús Merino.
Based on a previous time machine created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.
While Nathaniel Richards used the 31st Century technology of his birth era to construct the original Sphinx, Kang had access to more advanced tech from other times and may have used some of it in creating his replica Sphinx. However, if he did so, he never mentioned it and I would have to speculate about the source era of any advanced tech. I have chosen to not do that.
Although a sphinx is present on the map of Chronopolis which appeared in Avengers Annual I#21 (1992), that object may just be a monument and not actually Kang's replica Sphinx...but who knows?
Time Travel Terminology problems?
In the Marvel Universe, time travel is something which is always accomplished by traveling through the extratemporal realm of Limbo, a timeless dimension in which all events happen simultaneously and nothing ever changes. According to the Official Handbook, "Reality in Limbo is comprised of a single, ever-changing moment in which everything that ever was, is and could be coexist." The best description of the relationship between Time and Limbo treats Time as an infinite ocean which encompasses all possible points in space-time and Limbo as the atmosphere above that ocean. In order for someone to travel between different points in the Ocean of Time, they must first rise up into the Atmosphere of Limbo before descending to their chosen destination.
This theory of how time travel works is sufficient for most stories but the Avengers: Forever miniseries posed its own problem because the main storyline was about why Immortus was trying to kill Rick Jones. In order to protect Rick, the Avengers had to take him outside the timestream where Immortus could not reach him. However, if Limbo was what existed outside of Time then hiding Rick there would have meant hiding him in the realm ruled by Immortus. Since that was clearly NOT a good idea, the writers seem to have decided that there must be a third realm, one which was outside of Time and yet not a part of Limbo. And the writers decided to call this new realm...the Timestream!
Wait, what? The writers used the same term for this "realm beyond reality" as they had previously used for realities existing within time? Isn't this totally confusing? Well, yes, it is and I honestly have no idea what they were thinking. To make matters worse, how this third realm was depicted varied from issue to issue. It changes from looking like the "hyperspace effect" from Star Wars (in the image to the left from issue #4) to a realm of bright lights (in the image to the right from issue #5) to the starless void with aurora-like swirling bands of color (in the main image from issue #6).
In any event, for the purposes of this miniseries, existence
itself had to be composed of the following three (types of) realms:
1. Reality, which was made up of multiple timestreams (within a multiverse).
2. Limbo, the singular and timeless transtemporal realm from which all time eras and alternate realities are accessible, and which is perpetually enshrouded by mist.
3. A realm that is outside of Time and Space but which is not Limbo.
Anyway, I've carefully read through the Avengers: Forever miniseries and here's what I've found: In all but two of the twelve issues, the word "timestream" is used to refer to a place where time exists. When in its singular form (as "the timestream") the term is used as a synonym for all of reality (i.e., the multiverse) but when in its plural form (as "timestreams") it is used as a synonym for timelines or alternate realities.
In contrast, in issue #4, the Omniscient Narrative describes the Sphinx as hurtling through "the timestream -- a realm beyond reality -- which flows through, around and above all of time, in its many branching paths." The Wasp states that the Sphinx is "hovering outside of time" where Immortus's sensors can't find Rick and one of the Chronospheres "warps back into reality" when it arrives at an alternate Earth. Then, in issue #5, the Sphinx is described as "floating outside time and space" and the team in Tombstone had "decided to return to the timestream" until they discovered that their Chronosphere was missing. In these issues, "timestream" is not used as though it has the same meaning that it has in the other issues.
All in all, it would have been preferable if the writers had been able to come up with a word other than "timestream" as the name for this third realm that was outside of reality/time/space but was somewhere other than Limbo.
By the way, I find it interesting that the term "multiverse" is NEVER actually used anywhere in the miniseries even though several alternate timelines or futures are visited or depicted. Odd, isn't it?
Profile by Donald Campbell.
The Sphinx owned by Kang is a replica of
The Sphinx owned by Kang has no known connections to
The Chronospheres from Kang's Sphinx are only some of the Chronospheres possessed by Kang and (except for other items owned by Kang) have no known connections to
Also known as timespheres or time-shuttles, these are time travel vehicles designed to transport a limited number of passengers. Additionally, the fact that they are much smaller than Kang's Sphinx presumably means that they are less powerful than that vessel and thus less likely to be able to resist phenomena like time storms which could alter their voyages through time. Although the original Sphinx that Nathaniel Richards built apparently carried only the one "satellite globe" in which Rama-Tut fled from Ancient Egypt, Kang's replica carried at least three of the smaller time ships within it.
In appearance, a Chronosphere is a sphere with a short cylinder attached to it. The spherical section carries the pilot and passengers while the cylindrical section seems to contain the power source, propulsion systems and the equipment that enables travel between realities and through time. Although the exact dimensions have never been revealed, the spheres appear to be between 10 and 15 feet in diameter while the cylinders are narrower and no more than 5 feet in length. Chronospheres may have retractable legs for landing gear but when in storage aboard the Sphinx they were kept in racks which held them suspended (probably in a magnetic field).
Each Chronosphere has a single hatch for entry and exit. Also, certain sections of the hull can be made briefly intangible to allow for the passage of items or beings that are too large for the hatch or to enable the occupants to exit more rapidly than would be possible via the hatch.
The crew cabin contains the controls responsible for launching the Chronosphere and guiding its flight, seating for several human-sized people, and screens upon which the outside environment can be viewed. Additionally, parts of the hull can be made invisible so as to serve as a window for the occupants.
As with the Sphinx, no detailed information about how the Chronospheres function has been provided. They presumably generate chronal-displacement inertial fields in order to travel between realities or through time (via Limbo). Their source of power is unknown but contained within each vessel, and the cylindrical sections propel the vehicles through chronal space or planetary atmospheres by what looks like some form of rocket propulsion. Chronospheres can also warp between two locations within a specific reality without have to fly through the space separating them.
Chronospheres are equipped with unspecified mechanisms that can render them invisible to the human eye and (presumably) to various forms of electronic detection (like radar).
Chronospheres can perform a number of preprogrammed actions without having any pilots aboard. If left in one location, a signal from a remote control can activate a Chronosphere and cause it to warp to where the remote is located. Chronospheres can also be left hovering in mid-air and will remain there indefinitely or for a set time. There is probably a failsafe that would trigger an emergency landing if the fuel supply was about to be exhausted.
After discovering three points of temporal imbalance, the seven Avengers split into squads in order to investigate them. Captain America and Giant-Man took one Chronosphere and used it to travel to Earth-9930 where they warped back into reality near the Statue of Liberty sometime in the first half of that Earth's 21st Century. After spotting a battle being fought in New York City the two heroes landed the Chronosphere, exited through its hull and joined the humans fighting against the "Martian" tripod-ships and their Skorpsmen ground warriors. The fighting ended after that Earth's team of Avengers arrived, led by an aged Black Panther (who somehow knew of the Destiny War). After learning about the situation on that Earth, Cap and Giant-Man stayed to help fight the last battle against the invaders and then, after the Martians had fled the planet, they and the Avengers flew to Wakanda where they encountered Mourning Prey and her children. Once that conflict was resolved, Giant-Man triggered the Chronosphere remote, causing their vehicle to warp itself from where they had left it in New York City to Wakanda. The duo then used it to travel back to the Sphinx outside the timestream.
Hawkeye, Songbird and Yellowjacket took a second Chronosphere
and used it to travel into Earth-616's past. After arriving in the American Southwest in the
year 1873, the trio hid their Chronosphere in a cave and performed a recon that established
that the temporal anomaly was located in Tombstone, Arizona. The Avengers returned to the cave
to use a device from the Sphinx to provide them with clothes that were appropriate to the era,
then went into town to investigate but soon discovered that the anomaly was being caused by a
past version of Kang. Knowing that this Kang's plans were destined to be thwarted by another
team of time-travelling Avengers, the trio returned to the cave where they discovered that
their Chronosphere was gone. Seconds later, they were confronted, via hologram, by the past
Kang who, unaware of his future self's alliance with them, had assumed that they had stolen
one of his timespheres. Considering them a minor annoyance, this Kang didn't even care who
they were so he had simply taken the time vehicle and booby-trapped the cave with explosives
which he detonated once he had finished taunting them. The threesome survived the resulting
landslide and were soon joined by three Western heroes, the Black Rider, Reno Jones and Kid
Cassidy. However, Hawkeye was suspicious of the newcomers and that night he led his team in
restraining the imposters who soon revealed themselves to be Space Phantoms sent by Immortus
find the Avengers and report back to him.
The next day, the trio went into Tombstone to get their Chronosphere back, leaving the captive Space Phantoms behind in a cave. When five Old West gunfighters tried to stop Kang's plans, the three Avengers used the attack as a diversion that enabled them to sneak into Kang's citadel without him noticing. Guided by Songbird, they soon arrived at Chronosphere storage where Yellowjacket, who had been suspicious of how much she knew about the citadel's layout, attacked her and blasted her with his electro-sting, causing "Songbird" to revert to his true Space Phantom form while the real Songbird returned from Limbo. The three Avengers then boarded their Chronosphere and left Tombstone to return to the Sphinx.
The Wasp and Captain Marvel took a third Chronosphere and used it to travel to Earth-9904 where they arrived near a small California town in the year 1959. Wearing clothing from that era as a disguise, the duo activated their Chronospshere's invisibility shield and left it hovering in the air above the town while they flew down to investigate. Learning of a special Fourth of July celebration at the local fairgrounds, the two time travelers went there to search for the temporal anomaly but discovered that one of the special dignitaries, Vice-President Richard Nixon, was actually a disguised Skrull. They were soon confronted by that Earth's team of Avengers but managed to explain themselves after a misunderstanding led to a brief fight. The assembled heroes were then joined by two F.B.I. agents who revealed that they knew Nixon was an imposter and asked to confer with the Avengers but, after they all entered a tent for a private strategy meeting, Marvel's cosmic awareness enabled him to expose the two agents as being Space Phantoms. Before matters progressed any further, Rick Jones contacted them, telling them to get out because the Sphinx's sensors had detected major chrono-flux readings in the area and that he suspected that meant that Immortus was present and was doing something serious. As Marvel and the Wasp flew up to their Chronosphere, Immortus began using the Forever Crystal to generate a temporal wave that began to eliminate that particular timeline. The two Avengers managed to board the Chronosphere and initiate a chronal jump just before the temporal wave reached them but only guidance from Marvel's cosmic senses enabled them to escape from the vortex of nothingness that had been Reality-9904 and get back outside the timestream where they then returned to the Sphinx.
After the Avengers decided that their next course of action would be to infiltrate Immortus's stronghold in the heart of Limbo to find out what their foe was planning, Giant-Man and Yellowjacket, guided by Marvel's cosmic senses, cannibalized the drive from one of the Chronospheres and used the parts to build a chronal-disruption device that the Avengers used to transport them from where the Sphinx was flying outside of time itself and into Limbo. While the Avengers were away, Rick Jones decided to use one of the Chronospheres to go someplace where he thought he might find his own answers as to why Immortus wanted him dead. Most of the Avengers returned to the Sphinx from Limbo while Rick was gone but they were later captured and removed by Immortus before Rick returned. When Rick did return and found the Sphinx deserted with scorch-marks on the floor, he realized that Immortus had kidnapped the Avengers and left again, using a Chronosphere to travel back to the Blue Area of Earth's Moon to seek aid from the Supreme Intelligence (whom he had just visited on his first trip).
What happened to that Chronosphere after Rick used it to reach the Blue Area has not been revealed.
--Avengers: Forever#4 (Avengers: Forever#3 - BTS, Avengers: Forever#4-7, Avengers: Forever#8 - BTS, Avengers: Forever#9+11 (fb) - BTS
A device that is able to produce any type of clothing that time travelers might need in order to be inconspicuous in any given era. The device, which has never been identified by name, appears as a small rectangular cuboid box with a height of less than three feet and a length and a width that are both less than two feet. The box's exterior is decorated in an ancient Egyptian style, with winged humans standing at each corner, and is durable enough to survive a cave-in with no apparent damage.
Details of how this device operates have not been revealed but it seems to function automatically. Presumably it has a large database filled with information on the styles of clothing that were worn in various times and geographic locations and if an operator asks for clothing suitable for a specific era and locale, then the device will provide appropriate attire and in the correct size for the operator. It is unclear how much information the operator has to input about what s/he desires or how this inputting is done. It's possible that the device is equipped with sensors that can determine where and when it is and the gender and measurements of the operator, but it could be that the operator has to specifically request the clothing that s/he wants. The device can apparently also produce small weapons (like six-guns) if requested.
The device is normally kept aboard Kang's Sphinx but it's portable and can be taken aboard a Chronosphere and still function.
When Hawkeye, Songbird and Yellowjacket investigated a
chronal anomaly in the American Southwest in the year 1873, they took the device with them in
their Chronosphere. After confirming that the anomaly was located in the middle of Tombstone,
Arizona and realizing that they would have to search the town, the trio returned to the cave
where they had hidden their Chronosphere and used the device, with Hawkeye commenting on how
"this gizmo from the Sphinx" knew how to "spit out the right kind of clothes for any era."
Later, when a past version of Kang detected the Chronosphere and reclaimed it, he left the device behind in the now-booby-trapped cave, either because he didn't notice it or because he didn't consider it to be valuable enough to retrieve.
Later still, after the three Avengers had survived the cave-in caused by the multiple explosions set off by Kang's booby-trap, Hawkeye noticed that the "dingus" out of which they had gotten the period costumes had survived as well and noted that Kang built his stuff to last.
These Avengers apparently left the device behind in the cave when they infiltrated Kang's citadel in Tombstone, retrieved their Chronosphere and returned to the Sphinx. The device could still be there, waiting for someone to find it.
The fact that the Wasp and Captain Marvel were wearing appropriate clothing when they visited a small California town in the summer of 1959 on Earth-9904 suggests that either there were at least two of these devices aboard Kang's Sphinx or that they had used the device first, while it was still on the Sphinx, before Hawkeye's squad took it with them on their trip to 1873.
The most interesting thing about this device is how such a small box could possibly supply such a large variety of different clothes. Since this was never explained in-story, I have come up with these five possible explanations:
--Avengers: Forever#4 (Avengers: Forever#3 - BTS, Avengers: Forever#4-5, Avengers: Forever#6 - BTS (in the cave)
images: (without ads)
Avengers: Forever#6, pages 2+3, panel 1 (main image)
Avengers: Forever#3, page 22, panel 6 (Sphinx surrounded by spherical field)
page 8, panel 2 (being moved through Chronopolis)
Avengers: Forever#6, page 4, panel 3 (hangar bay open for entry of Chronosphere)
Avengers: Forever#4, page 1 (one view of the realm beyond reality)
Avengers: Forever#5, page 1, panel 1 (another view of floating outside time and space)
Avengers: Forever#4, page 8, panel 3 (Chronosphere leaving the Sphinx)
Avengers: Forever#6, page 15, panel 6 (Chronosphere in Kang's citadel)
Avengers: Forever#5, page 14, panel 2 (clothes-supplying device)
Avengers: Forever#3-4 (February-March, 1999) - Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern (plot), Kurt Busiek (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Jesús Merino (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers: Forever#5-8 (April-July, 1999) - Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern (plot), Kurt Busiek (script), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Jesús Merino (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Guardians of the Galaxy II#19 (December, 2009) - Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Wesley Craig (artist), Bill Rosemann (editor)
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
First posted: 02/24/2018
Last updated: 03/19/2018
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