‘Timeless’ #1 offers up a story in which Kang the Conqueror stars, while also hinting at events in the Marvel universe over the coming year or so. Kang is observed and commented upon by Russian academic Anatoly Petrov, who offers up a narrative take on this super villain that is more objective and thereby thought-provoking than many. An interesting issue and filled with superheroic action and tantalising promises too.
Kang the Conqueror is certainly flavour of the month over at Marvel at the moment, after his spectacular reveal in the last episode of the Disney + TV show, Loki. And so, after finishing up his own mini-series, we now see him in all his glory in this Marvel one-shot, Timeless #1, written by Jed McKay with art by Kev Walker, Greg Land, Jay Listen, Mark Bailey and Andrew Hennessy.
Accompanied by the Russian academic, and expert of super villainy, Anatoly Petrov, who doubles up as the narrator of this one-shot special, Kang drags his new companion through time. And in doing so we get to see aspect of Kang we haven’t seen before, through the eyes of Petrov as well as the civilisations he visits. And so, some 15,000 years ago we have a man seen as a god, and one who takes any opportunity to prove himself. A man in his prime, a man of excellence. And, unlike Petrov, a man of high emotions too, as the academic learns later on in the issue when King abandons on of his many bases as well as the servants therein to die. The reader is reminded of Kang’s cruelty and arrogance, even if he doesn’t see it himself. Indeed, in some ways, Kang sees himself as a hero in the classical sense of the word as espoused by the Greeks. It’s certainly a thought-provoking perspective that’s for sure. Especially from a man who travels through all of time and isn’t hindered by one perspective. A great inclusion by McKay, showing why Marvel have such faith in him as one of their current favoured writers.
McKay isn’t the first writer to take on and try to remould and recast Kang, but he’s one of the few who’s doing a damn fine job of it in this book. Petrov is an academic and so sees King in a different light to other observers. As such, the narration takes on a somewhat observational, objective tone free of judgement. Kang is a fascinating subject that’s for sure. But, within this narration lies the true function of this comic. To hint at events to come in the Marvel universe, and multiverse, across the coming year of publication. A teaser for fans wrapped up in a wonderful written book. As a fellow Brit I have followed Kev Walker’s art for some time and his refined and solid line work really works exceptionally well on the page. His artwork is similar to Patrick Gleason’s in style and Walker is definitely an artist to watch, if you aren’t already doing so. An under-appreciated artist who’s certainly getting his time to shine on such a big Marvel book as this one. Here’s hoping we get to see more of Walker’s art on bigger Marvel books in the near future.
Some of the events hinted – in a double [page spread by artist Greg Land – at have already been promoted by Marvel, such as the Punisher’s new role within the Hand organisation. While the really big reveal has already been spoilt by Marvel themselves. That is, of course, the imminent return of Miracleman/Marvelman after years and years of half-promises by Marvel.
In a book cramped with dialogue and exposition, there is still plenty of room for action too as King and Petrov journey into a “pirate timeline” and encounter this alternative universe’s version of Doctor Doom. All in the pursuit of portraying Kang as one of Marvel’s primary villains. Like I said, this comic aims to reposition Kang as a bigger threat than he has ever been before now. After all, he is going to be an important part of the cinematic MCU, so this elevated status must chime with the comics, right? Synergy and all that, man. Sadly, the takedown of Doom in this timeline is a big weakness of this otherwise entertaining issue. I can understand why McKay presents this finale in this way, based on the exchange between Kang and Petrov that follows, but it’s rather a cliched takedown nonetheless. But then, it won’t be Doom’s downfall in this pirate timeline that the comic will be remembered for but rather the appearance on the very last page of Miracleman/Marvelman’s comic emblem. A sorry, as they say, for another day.
Timeless #1 is out now from Marvel Comics