Time travel stories can be difficult to master, but Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly clearly have had success with the genre in Kang the Conqueror. As AIPT’s Dan Spinelli put it, “the pull of destiny is central to this book”, revealing how even love can be manufactured when you know how things play out. Their story comes to an end this week in one of the character’s best arcs ever, in part thanks to Carlos Magno’s absorbing art style. Can they pull off a finish that truly brings Kang’s destiny to the forefront?
This series has been unmistakably good at recognizing Kang’s history in Marvel comics while building a personal story that is at once heartbreaking, but also understandable in how it has created a true villain. He’s human, complex, and a man who has good intentions but has made some tough choices that decidedly moved him to “bad guy” territory.
In the fifth and final issue, as we can see in the preview, Kang is trying to bring a perfect version of his true love Ravonna back, and his solution is to make infinite versions of her. It’s an insane mad scientist idea fitting of Kang that spills into a final issue, revealing some things can’t beat fate. Or can they?
The issue explores Kang’s attempt to be with Ravonna, but at a cost that requires much effort on his part. The main conceit of this issue is a smart one that puts a spin on time travel, but also the multiverse. It’s done in a way that could be used later in a Kang story but may also take a break while Kang is used in Timeless.
There are the expected time travel tropes here, but for the most part, this is an interesting wrap-up. One gets the sense this series could have gone even longer, but given how quickly the miniseries wraps up it had to close things out quickly and efficiently. By the end, you’ll certainly feel satisfied with how Kang feels and his direction, but also wish there was more.
Art by Magno with colors by Espen Grundetjern continues to be hyper-realistic and awe-inspiring. There’s a cosmic element, especially in the opening, that’s unmistakable. There’s a particular twelve-ish panel layout that utilizes tube TV effects that work well to show Kang relentlessly trying, but failing to achieve his goal. The hyper-realistic visuals give the book a tone that suits the heavyweight of Kang while keeping him grounded enough to not be a parody. There’s an attention to detail Magno gives him that makes him well-rounded and worthy of further exploration.
Kang the Conqueror ends on a note that’s tragic but also suits his demeanor over the decades. This creative team has done this character justice by giving him new complexity while staying true to who he is and what he stands for. What’s most incredible about this story is how it’s at once romantic, but also suitably villainous.
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