The much anticipated Timeless one-shot from Marvel Comics is out today, promising to “give readers their first glimpse at what’s to come next year.” Customary of the Big Two, this issue serves as a taste tester for potential stories in 2022, but it also serves as a great Kang the Conqueror story. It’s a one-shot expertly written by Jed MacKay that has an event feel due to the exceptional artistry of Kev Walker, Greg Land, and Mark Bagley. It’s so good, I expect every Marvel fan on the planet to pick it up lest they be out of the loop and suffering some major FOMO.
Timeless is a story about Kang and his hyper-focus on an old man who has written a book about Dr. Doom. He’s not pleased with the praise Dr. Doom has gotten in the book and is hellbent on showing him how he’s wrong. Structured well, the plot of the story opens in the past, plays around with time, and closes out strong with a message about humanity.
There are strong distinctions made about Kang and his perspective on humanity that help define the character well against others. That includes a message about his purpose and his point of view. Littered throughout the issue are moments that pay off later in a final fight that makes a statement on him and the old man. Making the issue a very tight story focused on Kang is a clever idea about pirate timelines. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but it’s a clever idea that puts a new spin on time travel.
This book also plays well with the recently finished Kang the Conqueror miniseries and feels like a good transition to what’s next for the character. The glimpse Marvel promised is also very literal, showing readers potential futures for a variety of characters and even new teams too. All this, and the final page still manages to surprise me. It’s a rare thing to audibly find yourself saying “oh my god”, but I did once I reached the last page.
The art throughout is great, but that’s a given considering the credits page: Kev Walker, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy. Each artist gets a specific scene, with Walker opening the book and getting to show off Kang as a true adventurer and killer of wooly mammoths. Following that is Greg Land who shows off a secret base of Kang’s which suits his very clean style. Bagley concludes the book by showing off plenty of detail in a villain’s lair, an epic double-page splash of anarchy, and great acting even from those in masks.
Marte Gracia colors the book well too, from energy effects to subtle grime on the villain’s lair at the end of the story. The glimpse at the future double-page splash uses a purplish hue that helps define each scene without looking flat. A tricky thing to do.
Rounding out the book are Ariana Maher’s letters which do double duty with a handwritten style for the old man’s captions and clean lettering with dialogue. I keep finding myself enjoying Maher’s ability to link multiple word balloons moving from the top down across multiple mid and finish ballons. There’s an ease to it that is natural and allows the dialogue to flow well.
Timeless is a one-shot that was mostly anticipated because Marvel told us it would matter, but once I put this book down I couldn’t stop thinking about the implications it created. From the glimpse at future stories to the tightly-written Kang story arc and the final page, this is a must-read Marvel comic for the ages.
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