Wanna see the future? In this week’s Timeless #1, Marvel fans are invited to get a peek at what’s to come with the help of that slippery time-traveler Kang the Conqueror.
Timeless #1 is an over-sized one-shot showcasing Kang the Conqueror—having quite a moment in Marvel-related media lately—as well as teasing some storylines coming down the 2022 pipeline. The last one of these they did was Incoming! at the end of 2019, teasing a year’s worth of comics through a cross-cutting, anthologicalesque format. (Little did we know at the time, something else would be coming for us in 2020…) Timeless takes a different approach, opting to tell one complete story with Kang at the center while doling out its requisite teases more organically within the narrative.
As for the story itself, we follow Anatoly Petrov, a professor of superhuman studies who becomes Kang’s new companion when the time traveler objects to a tome about Doctor Doom that he hasn’t even written yet. During their adventure, they encounter various threats both physical and existential that promise to leave Petrov a changed man. It’s very Doctor Who, but if The Doctor were a foreboding supervillain with a fixation on the universe’s timeline.
Unlike Incoming!, which somewhat came across as a glorified trailer for Marvel’s 2020 plans (remember life before 2020?) Timeless is mostly a standalone one-off that glances at recent and upcoming developments with a little more subtlety. Example: an ominous “Judgement Day” involving the Eternals is referred to but not explained. There’s also a quick visual sequence that vaguely alludes to upcoming storylines involving the likes of Spider-Man, the Young Avengers(?), and Black Panther. And new stories like last week’s Avengers Forever are already being paid off here, though I’m not sure anybody who hasn’t read it would understand the context of that moment. But this is comics, and that’s par for the course.
Timeless is probably catnip for Kang fans, but it’s also very dense and requires your full attention. I wonder how this issue reads for someone who was introduced to the character in Disney+’s Loki. (This year’s Kang the Conqueror series is probably a better entry point for them.) But to the credit of writer Jed Mackay and the expanded art team, it’s still an entertaining diversion that offers a peek behind the curtain of the unknown future. Just be prepared to bring your full and undivided attention.
- Writer: Jed Mackay
- Artists: Kev Walker, Greg Land, and Jay Leisten; Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy
- Color Artist: Marte Gracia
- Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
- Cover Artist: Kael Ngu
- Editor: Tom Brevoort
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment