REVIEW: ‘Kang The Conqueror,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kang The Conqueror #1

Kang the Conqueror #1 is written by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly, illustrated by Carlos Magno, colored by Espen Grudentjean, and lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna. It is published by Marvel Comics. In the 31st Century, a young Nathaniel Richards encounters his future self-better known as the time-traveling tyrant Kang the Conqueror. Kang takes Nathaniel back 65 million years in the past to the day the dinosaurs were wiped out, intending to hone his younger self into a warlord. However, an unexpected discovery soon drives a wedge between the two.

Kang the Conqueror has long been one of the most infamous villains in the Marvel Universe, not only for the stories that feature his battles against heroes such as The Avengers and Fantastic Four but for his rather convoluted history. He’s been the Pharoah Rama-Tut, the Scarlet Centurion, and even the self-proclaimed “Master of Time” Immortus. Eagle-eyed fans will also notice that young Nathaniel’s actions in this issue hint at him taking up the mantle of Iron Lad and forming the Young Avengers-yet another identity Kang took up. Lanzing and Kelly said when the series was first announced that they intended to cut the Gordian knot of continuity surrounding Kang’s history, and the interactions between Kang Prime and Nathaniel showcase this. Kang Prime has been hardened by countless battles and losses, while Nathaniel is a bit more unguarded and optimistic about the potential of time travel.

Magno, who previously illustrated the Avengers: Mech Strike series, tackles a different flavor of sci-fi with this series. He crafts sequences that span multiple decades and offer him the chance to tackle different settings, which are given life via Grudentjean’s colors. The 31st century is a towering mass of pristine white buildings, yet it feels rather cold and antiseptic compared to other universes like Star Trek. The age of the dinosaurs is full of lush green vegetation, with the dinosaurs themselves possessing dark green and amber scales. Magno’s biggest accomplishment with the issue is illustrating a two-page spread where Kang Prime shows Nathaniel his various defeats, with panels that seem to leap out from the page. Grudentjean, who previously served as the color artist on The Rise of Ultraman, uses mostly green and purple in her palette-the same colors that adorn Kang Prime’s armor and Nathaniel’s time-travel suit. This extends to the captions, with Carmagna’s letters depicted as pure white against a green background with a purple edge.

What really surprised me about this issue is how introspective it is. The reader is put inside Nathaniel’s shoes as he grows dissatisfied with life in the 31st century and eventually takes up with Kang Prime. Yet, he also sees the flaws in his older self’s psyche-including the torch Kang Prime carries for his wife, Ravonna. Writing a series with a villain as the main character is a tricky tightrope to walk; the writer must build a rapport between character and audience while still pushing the character down a darker path. In focusing on what makes each Kang, well Kang, this series has managed to fare rather well.

Kang the Conqueror #1 offers an introspective look at the time-traveling tyrant’s life and promises to unravel his complicated history. If you are a fan of character-driven high-concept science fiction, or you want to learn more about Kang following the Season 1 finale of Loki, I’d suggest giving this book a read. With Jonathan Majors set to portray Kang in Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania, the timing for this series couldn’t be more perfect.

Kang the Conqueror #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Kang the Conqueror #1
4.5

TL;DR

Kang the Conqueror #1 offers an introspective look at the time-traveling tyrant’s life and promises to unravel his complicated history. If you are a fan of character-driven high-concept science fiction, or you want to learn more about Kang following the Season 1 finale of Loki, I’d suggest giving this book a read. With Jonathan Majors set to portray Kang in Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania, the timing for this series couldn’t be more perfect.