KANG THE CONQUEROR #1/ Script by JACKSON LANZING & COLLIN KELLY/ Art by CARLOS MAGNO/ Colors by ESPEN GRUNDERTJERN/ Letters by VC’S JOE CARAMAGNA/ Cover by MIKE DEL MUNDO/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
SPOILER WARNING: This review does discuss the series finale of Loki. You have been warned.
Kang has been many things in his life. A conqueror, of course, but also an emperor, an adventurer, and, very occasionally, a hero. But before that came to pass, he was a simple boy seeking the excitement his utopian society lacked. Now, as he has made his first step toward becoming the legend he is meant to be, a young Kang has met himself, older and seemingly wiser, and determined to train him to be a better man and avoid the mistakes that he will make. Shouldn’t this cause a massive paradox? Bah! Such concerns are for lesser men; not Kang the Conqueror!
Kang the Conqueror #1 is well-timed, given the curiosity around the character following the finale of Loki. Of course Kang’s background in the comics is confusing and contradictory, as tends to be the case when time travel is involved. The concept of variants makes the whole question academic and complex beyond the purposes of a simple review.
Thankfully, you don’t need to have any great knowledge of Marvel Comics history to understand this issue. It is, at its heart, a story of a boy becoming a man and being guided by a strange and inscrutable mentor, with the twist that the mentor is an intergalactic despot trying to change his own past. Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing give this story tremendous heart and do a fantastic job of making the young Kang a sympathetic protagonist.
The artwork by Carlos Magno is as complex as Kang’s machinations, yet beautiful in its subtle intricacy. Magno proves equally skilled at depicting the mechanized future from which the young Kang hails and the savage environs in which the elder Kang chooses to train his younger self. The color art by Espen Grundetjern is similarly varied and skillfully applied. The lettering by VC’s Joe Carmagna is also good.
If you’re ready to know more about Kang (to the degree that anyone can be said to know Kang), this issue is a fine place to start. It is a ripping yarn in the fine tradition of the Mighty Marvel Mythos.