With Jonathan Majors set to make his official debut as the character in Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania, Marvel has decided it’s finally time for Kang the Conqueror‘s first-ever solo series, pitting Kang against his own worst enemy: himself. And if you know anything about Kang, there’s no shortage of those going around…
Kang the Conqueror is an origin story, with our protagonist here specifically being the younger Kang (real name: Nathaniel Richards), who goes on to become Iron Lad, co-founder of the Young Avengers. When Nathaniel takes it upon himself to make a difference in his stagnant future utopia, he crosses paths with—you guessed it—the classic Kang we all know and love. Kang offers to take Nathaniel under his wing and share his vast knowledge of everything, but it very quickly becomes apparent that Nathaniel doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the man he’s destined to become, thus setting up the rest of this series’ plot.
Kang the Conqueror #1 is interesting in that it gives the reader more than enough context you would need if you’re coming in fresh to the character, but I also don’t know if I would recommend it to anybody interested in his whole deal after watching Loki (Majors appeared in the season one finale as a variant of Kang, but this is left purposefully vague for later material). Even as time travel and alternate realities become more prevalent in superhero media intended for the masses, it can be a lot to wrap your head around if you’re new to multiversal concepts. At the very least, this series seems to be in good hands with an impressive creative team.
Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelley touch on some intriguing themes here, particularly the idea of nature vs. nurture and whether or not people are destined to live certain lives from inception. They’re all very fitting for a character like Kang, whose many variants over time are meant to invoke these questions. If you can work through the (admittedly) convoluted history of the character, then I think you’ll find some worthwhile material here. Carlos Magno’s art is also very good, delivering visuals that are epic in scope but still feel expressive and utilize some interesting layouts (there’s one double splash spread in the middle that plays with form to convey Kang’s chaotic history as it’s being taught to Nathaniel). Despite the potentially confusing nature of this series, I do think it’ll make for a pretty sturdy collected edition when it’s done, and a good “official” introduction to the character’s comicbook counterpart when audiences finally get to meet him on the big screen.